By David Lyons
Can honey be a tool for advancing the Gospel in Africa? Ask one smiling couple serving with the Africa Navigators and they will give you a resounding “yes!”
Peter and his wife, Charity, have long had a heart for serving farmers in their country. These farmers often struggle to earn a living or pay for their children’s schooling. As Peter thought and prayed about how to reach these people for Christ and disciple them, he knew that he also needed to help them economically. But he wanted them to be self-sufficient rather than dependent on charity.
One day, after a visit to a beekeeper in Zambia, God gave Peter an idea about beehives. If he could provide beehives to people in the rural villages, he could then buy the honey from the hive owners and sell it for a profit. This would create a business that would bring economic benefits to the community and also fund the region’s ministry.
The business started with grants from the British Navigators for the honey processor and from the NavPartners Children Mission for the beehives. Oversight and direction was provided by the Africa branch of the Navigator Global Enterprise Network (GEN), the entity that coordinates Navigator “missional enterprises” around the world.
Peter decided to organize the honey producers into groups. He encouraged them to share the responsibility for caring for the beehives, to be accountable to each other. Then he arranged for the beehive groups to save money collectively, and to use the capital to start or grow businesses, and to pay the school tuition for village children. Thus, the beehive industry is producing a generational social impact. Moreover, Peter finds ways to share about Christ among the honey producers. The business has become a natural platform for the Gospel to bring about spiritual transformation.
As with all Navigator missional enterprises, business leaders work toward financial sustainability, social impact and the spiritual transformation of people who connect with the business. Peter and Charity serve together in this endeavor to ensure that the business is operating well on each of these three interconnected efforts. So far, they have engaged 233 villagers. Forty-five of these people have either started or are growing beehive enterprises. As a result of the financial growth, more and more children are able to attend school.
As for the impact of the Gospel, five young people are being discipled and have been trained as apicultural technicians. Peter and Charity have also trained six group leaders to be ministry leaders. Peter says that the Gospel is shared more frequently now and is better understood by the rural people, in part because they see biblical truth expressed through the business and relationships.
Please pray for Peter and Charity as they advance the Gospel through this honey business. We ask God to spread His powerful Word among the nations and to transform lives. As Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
Navigator staff Jodi Hook provided the original reporting for this story.
David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in more than 100 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.