Suzanne and Richard Geiss of Swenksville, Pennsylvania, have been missionaries for many years. But it was on a trip to Romania that began the Woofi ministry. Suzanne shared her story at Effort UMC's Mother's Day banquet hosted by the Methodist Church Women.
James 5:16-"A sincere prayer brings wonderful results."
Suzanne was an orphan who grew up unwanted. She understood how an orphan wanted to be loved. She was on a trip to Romania and visited an orphanage and it was having children cry in her arms that led her to walk outside and pray, "Lord, Lord, what can I give them to be a reminder that God loves them and someone cares?"
A dear friend had an aneurysm that burst in his stomach and became very ill. His nickname is Woofi. She purchased a little stuffed puppy and laid it on his bed and said it was a reminder of God's love for him and that they would be praying for him. Woofi lived.
The Geiss were going back to Romania and she asked Woofi if she could borrow the stuffed puppy to go with them. On the airplane she realized she had only one puppy to share with 100 children. She prayed to God and told him she needed a story of how this little puppy became a missionary puppy. Through prayer, God gave her a story. When they got there, she told the children the story and they loved it and the puppy.
When she got home she decided she wanted 400 puppies to go back to Romania. She ended up designing her own puppy. A cuddly, soft and lovable white and brown Woofi was born.
An illustrator, Alan MacBain, heard about what she was doing and asked if he could read the story and he thought she should make it a book because there was nothing else like it out there.
So "Woofi, the Missionary Puppy" was born and MacBain illustrated it.
"The Lord says He loves small beginnings. Well, we were small, starting out in our garage," says Suzanne.
Today, there are 40,000 Woofi puppies out there in 39 countries and 42 states with a second book, introducing another character, Gabriel, the church mouse in "The Key to a Christmas Miracle."
It has led to several other Woofi items that are available for sale.
All of this helps the Geiss in their "Because We Care Ministries." Being nonprofit, all the proceeds from Woofi go into their ministry. A donation of $20 gets you a Woofi and they give you a second Woofi to be given to a hurting child, hurting adult, or wherever God opens the door.
It is their goal to raise enough money to build a "Home of Hope" where people have a burden for children, giving abandoned children a home and a refuge where they can see God's love. They will provide the funds needed to clothe, feed, and give them shelter. But most of all, provide a safe place where God's word is taught and they will learn to live their life for God.
Their mission is "to reach the children in the U.S. and around the world, sharing with them the love of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation."
If you would like to learn more about Suzanne and Richard's ministry and Woofi, visit www.woofi.org.