Lula Masters, 86, shares “burden bears” with people she hears about who need comfort. She recently gave away over 150 bears in less than one year. Photo courtesy Tina Bankhead.
For most of Lula Masters’ life, she has been helping to ease the pain of others through lovingly made handicrafts. When I met Lula 27 years ago at Black Hills Missionary College in South Dakota, she was the cook, in addition to being everyone’s friend. During that time, Lula and her mother were making quilts and sending them to people around the world in need of comfort. She gave me one of her special quilts because she knew I was going through a tough time and needed to personally know a God who truly loved and cared about me. I still have that quilt on my bed today.
Lula is now 86 years old and lives in Hartsburg, Missouri. Her current comfort project is “The Burden Bear.” Lula purchases a small stuffed bear, wraps it in a crocheted or quilted blanket that one of her friends makes, then, with the help of her granddaughter attaches a poem. She sends a bear to those in need of encouragement.
Lula’s work is not only a blessing; it’s a miracle. Lula has given out over 150 bears in less than a year. She has done all this while living with macular degeneration, arthritis, breathing difficulties and pain in her legs.
Lula says that almost every time she picks up the phone she hears about someone who is sick, or has had a stroke, or is discouraged, or has just been released from prison. “It’s worth it all,” she says, “because it’s God’s time and energy and money, and if I can make someone happy, that’s what I want to do.” She goes on to say, “If anyone is touched it’s because of Jesus, not me. He’s the one who gives me strength to do the work.”
Matt. 25:36 says, “I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.” Or in Lula’s case it would read, “I was cold and you warmed me with a quilt; I was discouraged and you sent me poems to help me keep my faith in God; I was just released from prison, and you sent me a burden bear to let me know that someone was praying for me.”
Jesus sums it up when He says, “In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).
Tina Bankhead is a speech and language pathology assistant from Berthoud, Colorado.