My name is Bikonzi, and I am the Coordinator of Strategic Projects here at Mission ONE. I work directly alongside our local partners as they are serving and meeting the needs of their communities.
A few months ago, I had the honor of visiting our local partners in South Sudan. I left feeling inspired by their stories and encouraged in the work that is being done there. Not only did I spend invaluable time connecting with our partners in person, but I was also able to meet with and hear from the women who are employed by our bakery project.
Due to the immense amount of conflict and war, the people of South Sudan have faced instability and oppression for many years. The volatile political and economic state of the nation has also led to a devastating lack of opportunities and resources. The friction that is still present today makes it nearly impossible for individuals and families to move forward in their lives. People are without education, jobs, and hope, which has led to cycles of violence and poverty.
Along with our indigenous partner, we have responded to the needs of this community and started a bakery which is currently employing 14 women from the local church. The women take turns with their shifts, working in pairs for two hours at a time, so they are still able to care for their young families at home. This allows them to contribute to the amount of bread that is being made each day and sold to the community across several markets. Any excess they have at the end of the day, they give to those in need in the community.
One of these women is Jospine Abalo Peter. Previously, she found herself in an abusive marriage with four young children. She provided for her family by selling alcohol, which only contributed to the violence in her home as her husband was an alcoholic. With the help of her parents, she was able to separate from her husband for the safety of her and her children. It was at this point that our local partner was evangelizing in the community and arrived at her home to share the gospel. Jospine accepted Jesus Christ in that moment and began to attend church regularly along with her children and sister.
When our partner later began the preparation for starting the bakery, he thought of Jospine and asked if she would like to be a part of this project. After going through training, she is now an employee of the bakery and is earning a dignified-wage which is able to provide for her family and her children’s school fees.
This bakery is changing lives. And not just for Jospine’s family. The women at the bakery shared with me how this project is benefiting not only the community at large by selling bread at an affordable rate, but also the individual families of the women employed at the bakery. They expressed how grateful they are not just to be given the opportunity to financially contribute to their families, but also to serve them physically as they use the skills they have learned to bake.
Interest in the bakery has grown immensely since it began as I met many women who aren’t currently employed by this program but hope to be in the future. As the bakery grows, we are hopeful and expectant to provide room for these women to be a part of the program as well.
This project is not only providing vital resources and opportunities for those in the community, but it’s also reclaiming truth as it reminds these women of their God-given value and identities as image-bearers.
These women are able to earn a dignified-wage and contribute to their families, but they are also experiencing true fellowship as they are given a safe space to share and process their own stories.
In the midst of the instability they face, many lives are being transformed and healthy, sustainable systems are being established. Most importantly, people are coming to know the name of Jesus Christ. The impact of the gospel is our greatest focus, and I am thankful to have been able to witness first-hand the powerful work God is doing through the bakery.
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3 Ways to Honor God on Your Next Mission Trip
We're sharing three things you should consider before you organize or participate in an international mission trip, seek to do work in the multicultural neighborhood in your own city, or embark on any cross-cultural partnership.