Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — When a person is open to God’s plans, their life impact has no limits. One of EFCA’s fastest growing ministries, Tabitha Center, is a result of one woman asking God to show her what action she should take. Amy Richey with EFCA ReachGlobal shares the story.
“So often we see Biblical examples of God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things. And this is another one of those stories.”
Claudine and her husband moved to the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo a few years ago. Her husband, a pastor, was overseeing all of the EFCA churches in Africa. Being new to the area, Claudine wasn’t sure what was in store for her.
Richey says, “She just started wondering, ‘What does God have in store for me ministry-wise here?’ So she started asking Him.”
And God answered. Claudine noticed many women in her community who went about their daily duties with their children carried on their hip. And, as it turned out, many of these women were working hard to provide for their children. All too often, poverty was leaving its ugly mark in their lives no matter how hard they worked.
“It leads them, often times, to a point of desperation where they’re either willing to sell their bodies so that they can provide food and shelter and necessities for their child, or even to the point of saying, ‘I can’t do this. I don’t have the resources for my child,'” Richey explains.
Richey says that often the mothers give their children up to a situation they know nothing about.
Change begins in the heart
Claudine knew this need was God’s answer to her prayer. But in order to care for the women, she had to get to know them.
“Claudine started by just a simple Bible study and inviting women that she met on the street,” Richey says.
Claudine listened to the women’s stories and in return, she told them of God’s love.
Richey says the women were so touched by the Bible study that they couldn’t wait to come back.
“These women would come early the next day or the next week because they were so eager to hear about God and His involvement in our lives and understand who He is,” she says.
Equipping for daily survival
As Claudine began to learn about these women, she felt there was more she could be doing as she shared Jesus with them. She could just tell them they needed to find a way to take care of their children, but why not help them find a way to do that?
Using her skills as a seamstress, she began teaching some of the women how to sew.
Some women were good at sewing. But Claudine decided to make a new skill available to those who didn’t pick it up as successfully. People were brought in to teach them to braid hair.
Richey says it was an answer to the need Claudine saw. “In this part of Africa, if you can sew or braid hair, you can make a living so you can support yourself and your child.”
This was the beginning of the Tabitha Centers–places where women learn a healthy way to support their family. And best of all, they learn about Jesus.
In addition to sewing and hairdressing, women can learn other skills like cooking and doing makeup.
Tabitha Centers have been extremely successful and are growing at a great rate. The first one was opened in 2013. The organization hopes to have 1000 of them set up by 2019. Last month, the 43rd, 44th, and 45th centers were built. Earlier this month, the 46th one opened.
More than a nice story
Claudine’s story is certainly inspirational. But too often, inspiration remains a warm feeling that fizzles out instead of becoming motivation to do something.
Richey says, “This is a way that Claudine intervened in the lives of people in her community: she prayed and asked God how He wanted her to respond and what He wanted her to do. We can all do that.”
So, wherever you are, Richey says, “You name the city, the community, the country, and God will show us what He wants us to do.”
She identifies one particularly pertinent example:
“Human trafficking is an issue–it’s real, it happens everywhere, and unfortunately, it seems to be growing.”
Even as it grows, so does the group of people fighting it. Read more about EFCA ReachGlobal and what they’re doing about it here.
“Our response as the Church worldwide is that we need to get involved. We need to get involved in the messiness of people’s lives,” Richey says in regard to human trafficking. However, her words can apply to any situation we see unfolding around us.
She leaves us with this thought: “I know that we serve a God who restores and reconnects and redeems creation to Himself, including people, no matter what the circumstance. But we also serve a God who is compassionate and loving and kind and just. He is asking us to get involved in people’s lives at points of intervention where we can be tangible hands and feet of Jesus.”
Learn more about the Tabitha Centers here. The link will connect you to information on how you can help.