This article was originally published in the April 2021 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Meet the first grip of South Sudanese women to receive Biblical financial training in 2021!
They hadn’t known that the Lord wanted them to put Him at the center of their business, but left determined to do so.
Twelve South Sudanese women sat on hard, wooden benches, their shoes on the cement floor of Living Word of God Church in the Buluk section of Juba, South Sudan.
Unlike many of the rough hewn benches found in other meeting places - made by halving a log and adding legs - these benches had the smooth finish of a craftsman’s handiwork.
Their sleek finish and stain of reddish hue, the fact that they had backs, and the artful cross design engraved on each end, set them far above the seating accommodations found in most South Sudanese meeting places.
The women were mostly widowed believers from two churches. They were chosen by ITMI’s Vicky Waraka because they are in need, unable to get jobs yet physically able to do work, and they displayed that something special that Vicky has identified as potentially willing to learn, grow and commit to handling a micro-business that honors the Lord.
After opening prayer, Vicky listened carefully as each woman introduced herself. There was Zainab Ephraim and Roma Sebit, whose colorful dresses were highlighted by splashes of yellow. There was the tall Mary Deng, who wore a colorful head wrap with a large golden flower and Aware Morrison, who wore a black sarong with yellow highlights.
Peniniah Bariyona looked younger than the others, with high cheekbones and a tapered jaw.
Mama Abuk Ayet wore a busily patterned dress with her hair neatly smoothed back and gathered behind her head. There was Eklas Manas with her clean white collared shirt, Silvia Oliver, in a boldly patterned ankle length purple dress, and Nancy, whose brother owns a large local supermarket and Mama Catherine, the only participant who wore closed-toed shoes.
The women enjoyed meeting other believers from other churches, even though the required social distancing prevented them from shaking hands.
“We prayed together. We sat as friends and people from one family,” Vicky says.
Vicky teaches the Finances chapter from the SALT material.
Then Vicky began teaching. She taught the Finances chapter from the Seven Areas of Life Training (SALT) material, which shares the four things the Bible tells us we can do with money: Earn Honestly, Give Generously, Spend Wisely and Invest Carefully.
The SALT material teaches Biblical principles for each of 7 areas of life, using scripture references.
It addresses behavior, but it digs deeper and helps reveal to people the things that are in their heart that prevent them from Biblical behaviors.
Vicky teaches the material, then facilitates a discussion on the topic where the participants can share what God is teaching them and engage past the normal trauma-dulled answers. During the discussion of the Earn Honestly chapter, Silvia Oliver confessed that before she was saved, she brewed and sold alcohol illegally in her village.
On the advice of some questionable friends, Silvia had been in the habit of watering it down in order to make more money. Vicky’s group was able to learn from Silvia’s personal story of regret over doing business that way.
When the women proceeded to the Give Generously section, Mama Catherine chimed in the discussion, and encouraged the others to give the first fruit of their labors to the Lord.
She talked about how she earns very little, but as she has been faithful in giving her first fruit to the Lord, she has seen the goodness of God in her life. She testified that random blessings come her way and she knows they are from the Lord.
Roma also encouraged the others with her story. She was heading home when she passed an elderly lady. She felt the urge to give the aging woman 1000SSP (~$7.68 USD, about a third of the average monthly salary in South Sudan) and she did. That evening, she was blessed by a phone call from her brother, who she hadn’t heard from in a long time and was calling to check on her.
After Vicky had taught the Spend Wisely section, Eklas gave an example of the opposite of spending wisely. She referred to the door-to-door Egyptian salespeople that are currently common in the area, selling Egyptian utensils on credit and concluded that it would be wiser to save up and buy utensils from wholesale stores to avoid the burden of debt.
SALT material training participants discuss what they've learned.
The women all said that before this Biblical training, they’d never had any kind of training or learning about how to operate a business, much less how to manage money or run a business by God’s principles.
Though they were believers, they hadn’t known that the Lord wanted them to put Him at the center of their business, but each woman left determined to do so.
They were greatly encouraged by the teaching, and eager to share what they’d learned with others and invite them to one of Vicky’s future SALT financial seminars.
Vicky reports that after the training, the women were given a small amount of seed money, donated by ITMI supporters through our 2020 Christmas Giving Catalog, so they could purchase supplies to start their individual businesses.
When you put resources into the hands of our godly, national believers like Vicky Waraka, they can see great change through the teaching of God’s Word and the sharing of the Gospel. Together, we are changing lives daily, and that’s something to get very excited about!
Would you consider empowering In Touch Mission International to help these precious and sincere, yet needy believers with an extra measure of support this month?
About the Authors
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.
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