Two years ago, a small group of women from Palmerston North Central Baptist Church, inspired by a message by Tearfund during missions month, set up a charitable trust to raise money for victims of human trafficking.

International estimates suggest there are around 40 million people in modern slavery today —10 million of whom are children.1 Figures from 2019 indicate that traffickers are profiting by $150 billion a year, $99 billion of which comes from commercial sexual exploitation.2

It’s hard to know how to help when the figures are this daunting. But Still Water Scarves hopes to make a difference one silk scarf at a time.

Lisa Emerson, one of the co-founders of Still Water Scarves, says the idea seemed to come to her out of nowhere: to make big, beautiful prayer scarves that are designed to wrap women in aroha, and to use the profits to support the work of organisations like Tearfund and Hagar. There was just a small problem: she didn’t know how to make a scarf! So, she set about looking for answers, and doors opened for her. This is how she describes it:

For me, this process of creating and selling scarves has been an act of trust—of just taking one step at a time, relying on God’s direction. Edward O’Connor, who is a teacher of Christian meditation, describes our work with God as a dance: God plants an idea, and we take one step of obedience. He responds and we again take one more step. We are called, in other words, not to be passive observers, or to force something through our own volition; we are called to the dance. This has been my experience of developing these scarves.

One of the doors that opened was finding the images for the scarves. Lisa knew she wanted images by New Zealand artists, so she contacted five artists on Facebook, thinking that perhaps one artist might respond and give the Trust permission to use one of their images. To her amazement, all five artists responded with enthusiasm, fired by the mission of helping victims of human trafficking, and allowed the Trust to use their images for free.

Each art scarf is designed by a New Zealand artist and includes a quote from scripture. “Wearing one of these scarves is like wearing a prayer” says Lisa. There are also silk praise scarves, covered in words from scripture, and peace scarves made from merino silk depicting the holy spirit as a gentle dove. Being sustainable and contributing to ethical business practices is important to Still Water Scarves: most of the scarves are made from sustainable fabrics (the Trust is phasing out manmade fibres) and made in an ethical fashion in India and China.

$10 from each prayer scarf is donated to Tearfund or Hagar, organisations which work with the victims of human trafficking. The Trust donated $1800 to Tearfund in 2020, their first year of operation—and they are hoping to double this figure in 2021.

“Please pray for victims of human trafficking” says Lisa, “and be assured—together, with God’s help, we can make a difference.”

If you would like to learn more about Still Water Scarves or buy a scarf, visit their website or contact them on [email protected]. Trust members are keen to visit churches to tell their story and sell their scarves—please feel welcome to contact them to arrange a visit.

Still Water Scarves are offering a discount for anyone from a Baptist church between now and Christmas. Just enter BAPTIST15 at check out for 15% off all scarves.

Contributor Emily MacKay, Still Water Scarves


  2. “Human Trafficking by the Numbers.” Human Rights First. Accessed July 31, 2019.

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