The Honey Value Chain Experience
Eat honey, my son, for it is good;
honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
Can sweet, organic honey impact the world for Christ and advance our calling into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost? Is that even possible? Just have a quick conversation with smiling Paul from West Africa, and you will say a resounding “yes!” Paul and his wife, Mary, have an exciting ministry with the farmers of their country. Paul was burdened for the rural poor who had little means of income, including a way to pay for their children´s schooling. In central West Africa, where there are consistent attacks by cattle herdsmen (the remaining active arm of a militant group) on the poor villagers, the possibilities are scarce. As Paul thought and prayed about how to reach these people for Christ and disciple them, he was guided by the philosophy: “Don´t give them fish. Don´t only teach them how to fish. Go fishing with them.” That makes sense to us as Navigators as we walk with people through life, but how could he do this in rural Africa?
One day, after a visit to a beekeeper in Zambia, God gave Paul an idea about beehives. If he could provide beehives to people in the rural villages and let the bees make honey, he could then buy the honey from the people and sell it for a profit. This would create a business that was financially sustainable that could also fund the ministry in the future. If he could organize the villagers into beehive groups, where they could watch over their beehives and be accountable to each other, and if these beehive groups could also double as savings groups that provide a forum for them to save their money, loan it among themselves to start or grow enterprises, and pay their children’s school fees, this would create a business that was having a great social impact. And if he could share stories of Christ in their regular beehive groups, trusting in the Holy Spirit´s work in each heart to bring the person to faith in Him, this business would have a transformational spiritual impact. Thus, the Honey Value Chain Experience was born with grants to Paul from two Navigator sources: the British Navs for the honey processor, and NavPartners Children Mission for the beehives. He began his business under the care of the Africa Navigator Global Enterprise Network (GEN).
Paul and Mary serve together in this endeavor as they wrestle through ways to protect the beehives from theft (deciding to give the people the beehives for free), to wrestling through ways to ensure that there is a spiritual generational impact. They carefully watch and pray that the Gospel is shared in a natural way as discipleship is taking place. They have mobilized 233 villagers and are working with them in two groups. Forty-five of these people have either started or are growing their enterprises in West Africa. Five young people are also being discipled and have been trained as apicultural technicians. They have also now trained the six group leaders with Insider skills to be leaders in this transformational ministry. Paul says that the Gospel is shared more frequently now and better understood by the rural people. He and Mary are excited about how God is using sweet, organic honey and His powerful Word to transform lives and advance the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the Nations. His Word is going forth, and it is good!
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
GEN Desk Contributing Writer