Economic and spiritual hope for North Africa
by John Stuart
13 December 2016
July 18 used to be a difficult date for Miriam. On that day years ago her husband walked out on her and their two children. It has been a painful date each year since.
Miriam had many hardships over the years, raising her children alone and struggling financially in this North African country where unemployment is high. But at 50 years old, she now has her first job.
Her start date at that job? July 18.
"Usually on this day, July 18th, I am very sad as I reflect on a failed marriage, hopes lost, and how hard my life has been as a result," Miriam says. "But now, on this day I have started a new life and I can start making new memories. This can only be from God."
Miriam is one of the first employees of a transformational business that Charis and Bill are partnering with,. These SIM workers were involved in establishing this business, providing locals with much needed employment and as a ministry to those they work with.
"One of the greatest felt needs in our country is to have gainful employment so that people can take care of their families," Bill says. "You typically see streets lined with men with nothing to do, devoid of hope. Our business gives us an opportunity to be a small part of restoring hope and dignity to their lives by providing legitimate work in an environment where employees are valued, and encouraged to develop their skills."
In a region where there are virtually no Christians, the business is a natural avenue to make local friends.
"There are several advantages of operating a business," Bill says. "The people you work with, both employees and professional contacts, are there eight hours a day. That's much more time for discipleship, for speaking into their lives. Whereas you might meet once or twice a week for discipleship, we have that opportunity every day."
But there are many challenges for starting a new business, from a language barrier to government regulations. Theirs, like many missional businesses, are slow growing and require patience, endurance and prayer. There are additional challenges as the culture is extremely closed to Christian teachings.
"Where we serve, the church is close to non-existent," Charis says. "There are four believers in our area that we know of, three of whom have come to faith since our arrival. A church, as defined where two or three people gather together, has taken shape over the last few months, as we've seen these new believers study the Word and pray together. The church here has been described to us as a sand dune, ever changing. Likewise these meetings phase in and out, but we long to see this fellowship grow, and to see whole households come to faith."
MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIESCome serve with this transformational business for 2-6 months, or more! The following skills are particularly needed: engineering, administration, finance, marketing, photography, graphic design, web design.