Wednesday, July 8, 2009

starting something new...

We have had an exciting past couple months here in Montepuez. I (finally!) finished up my master’s degree, our team received 7 interns, and we also took the first steps towards a new project that I have been dreaming about for some time now. After living in Mozambique for over five years, we have a deeper appreciation for the needs of the people here. Some of our friends require help in the form of relief (one-time help in a time of crisis) and others could really benefit from some type of sustainable development (changing the dynamics of the system here to enable people to find meaningful employment). A little over a year ago, I began to have a vision for something that would bless people in both ways. My dream was to start a non-profit business that would pay a good salary for its employees and provide enough profit to support some development projects and give consistently to ADEMO, the association of handicapped and disabled people.

While on furlough in 2008, I spoke to a number of individuals and Bible classes about these ideas and was blessed with $2000 of start-up money for this enterprise. After returning from the States to life and ministry in Mozambique, I began to more thoroughly investigate what it would take to make this dream a reality. Our team’s goal, here in Mozambique, is to help get a church planting movement going among the Makua-Metto people. I spend a lot of time in villages and in the city helping young churches get started and training church leaders. I enjoy what I am doing and feel gifted and called to it. Because of these ministry commitments, realistically I can only commit about five hours a week to this new project. So, as I looked at what it would take to start the non-profit business, the biggest initial barrier was finding a trustworthy manager to run the day-to-day operations. As part of my final two classes in finishing up my degree, I met regularly with a Makua-Metto pastor of an evangelical church here in town, Domingos Aurelio. I have known him for a few years now and he is well-respected in the community and one of the few leading pastors in area churches that is actually Makua-Metto (the majority of them are from other parts of Mozambique). Domingos has been employed for the last eight years as the manager of a wood-cutting business in Montepuez. He was responsible for overseeing their human resources as well as keeping track of finances and materials. In January of this year, I started praying more earnestly about this venture and shortly thereafter learned that Domingos’ boss was closing down his business in order to move on to other things. Domingos and I talked about our vision for this project, he was excited to join something that sought to bless the community and agreed to manage the day-to-day operations of the business.

As we looked for a small plot of land to house the business, we came across a larger piece of land (about four acres or roughly the size of two city blocks here!). Besides being in a prime location, the price was very good as well. One of the Smiths’ supporting churches had funds available, and we were able to purchase the land for just under $10,000. I am continually amazed and overwhelmed at God’s timing and plans. The original vision was to have something relatively small, and God has surprised us with a much bigger vision than we could have asked for or imagined.

In June we completed the sale of our first round of chicks and made enough money to pay the guards, manager and buy another round of chicks that will be ready to sell in August. We have employed one of the church leaders to sleep in the coop and feed and water the chickens. As far as our business plan, we are buying chicks from a business in Nampula and are raising them to sell here. Eventually, we would like to have housing for three or four groups of chickens at different stages of growth. We should be able to turn a profit of roughly $500 for every round of chicks. While that does not sound like much, it could really make a big difference here. At some point, we would also like to have layer chickens in order to sell eggs (which would make a good profit and bless people through the added nutrition/protein).

The land is large enough to house a number of different ministry projects, not just the chicken coops, and there are a number of costs involved in getting the land ready for long-term use. For the near future we have identified some things that would help the non-profit business run more effectively.
• start another group of broiler chickens and a small group of layers ($2500)
• construct a storage building used to hold feed and other supplies (about $3000).
So, with about $5,500 we could finance the first permanent building for this project and help stabilize it financially. If you are interested in helping out financially with this project, please let us know.

The non-profit business and resource center will initially only use a small portion of the new land. We have brainstormed a number of possibilities and are excited to see how God may use it for his glory. Please pray for the success of this new initiative and let us know what you are dreaming and imagining.

We’ll send a more newsy newsletter soon.

Grace and Peace,