Baking for Charity Part 1

Posted on Apr 24, 2013 in Blog, Brand, Cookies, Micah 6:8 | 16 comments

Baking for Charity Part 1

When most people think of baked goods, I believe they think of expanding waist lines. I like to think about cookies and cakes just a tad differently. Three years ago I began baking for charity by selling lots of brownies and cupcakes. What started as a simple bake sale to raise money for Permina and my husband, Dann’s, first mission trip to Southern Sudan slowly morphed into something else.  It is hard for me to believe that I have been baking for our charity for three years now.

I am very bad business woman.  My brand tag line is “sweet treats for charity.”  While I thought most people knew that I baked for our charity, there are many who had no idea. When I announced that Dann was leaving for our farm this week and  that the proceeds went to support our farm in Southern Sudan, people began asking a lot of questions.

This is our signature picture for Micah 6:8 Sudan. I will never forget scrolling through all the pictures when my husband first came home from Southern Sudan. This one captured my eye. The land in the South is rich, lush and fertile. This led to a lot of questions from me. If the land is so fertile why is US Aid just delivering food to Africa? Why don’t we teach them how to farm their land instead? Before I fast forward to where we are today, I thought I would take you back in time to where it all began.

Baking for Charity

Three years ago my husband and I were at a church barbecue where he met Permina. Permina and Dann talked for about three hours straight that evening. Permina is known as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. If you have never heard about the Lost Boys plight, CBS just recently aired a story about their journey.

Permina was 7 years old when his village was raided during the Sudanese Civil War. He and other young boys walked to Ethopia where they sought refuge. Can you even imagine? I can’t imagine my 15-year-old walking that far.  He saw many things on the journey. Some to difficult for me to even write about.

As we were leaving the barbecue, Dann gave Permina his phone number and said,”if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to call.” Permina did not hesitate. He called Dann the very next morning. Our lives would never be the same. Dann began to mentor Permina. In the process he shared with us his dream. He was so grateful to have an American education and desired to go back and help his people. We decided we would come along side Permina to help him realize his dream.

Baking for Charity

We began to pray. We asked God for direction. We had no idea what we were doing. But God provided. He provided people who knew what they were doing. He provided resources and knowledge around the challenges that we would face in Southern Sudan.

We read a book called, When Helping Hurts, and it changed how we viewed everything. Originally, we wanted to bring water and food supplies but the more research we did revealed that it was not what the Southern Sudanese needed. Micah 6:8 Sudan seeks to help train Sudanese men and women in sustainable agriculture and biblical studies. One of the greatest problems that plagues many countries in Africa today is that we attempt to solve their economic problems through aid.  Aid helps temporarily relieve the suffering but it does nothing to help the long-term problems.   We are teaching men and women to stand in line for food instead of  truly giving them what they need; the training and education of how to work with the amazing resources they have in Southern Sudan.  Only one in ten individuals in the Sudan have a job.  There is a dire need for employment opportunities in the Southern Sudanese region where we are situated.  We are hoping to change these statistics by providing long-term employment opportunities as well as providing the only truth that can sustain.

One of the first charities we began to work with was Acres 4 Life. They were doing exactly what we wanted to do. My husband and I are not big fans of recreating the wheel. We reached out to Charlie at Acres 4 Life to learn more about what they were doing in Uganda.  Acres 4 Life seeks to feed orphans and widows through building farms in their home country. See their video{LINK HERE} to learn more about what they are doing in Uganda.

Today Acres 4 Life has a 12 acre working farm at African Renewal Christian College in Uganda. Jeff Atherstone is the principal at the college and fellow alumni from The Master’s College, where I went to school.  Pieces of the puzzle were beginning to come together. We were blessed to be surrounded by people who were so knowledgeable.  We were starting to have our vision focused on where we were going and what we were going to do in Southern Sudan.

We began to raise funds for the boys first trip to Africa. They would travel to Uganda to meet Jeff for the first time while they were waiting for their entry Visas into the Sudan.  Three years ago, Permina and Dann traversed all over areas of  Southern Sudan to find suitable property for our farm. Our original intent was to train pastors at African Renewal Christian College and have a farm but we learned at this point we can not handle both. We are starting with the farm and will work from there. One day we would like to be able to send men to be trained at ARCC.  Take a moment to watch the video below.  Investing in people is always worthwhile.

Brownies is where I come into the equation. While my husband travels and works with villagers, I am working behind the scenes.  Once the decision was made that we would move forward with Micah 6:8 Sudan, I went into fundraising mode. Most people heading out on a missions trip send out letters to raise support. We did that as well. But in a climate with a hurting  economy, people no longer had as much to give. Yet, the brownies were still selling like hot cakes. During the fundraising process, I found out that I loathe sending out letters asking for money. It’s just awkward. Then it hit me . People are always buying goodies. People are always having parties. I will bake my tushie off and raise money that way.  I started making trays of brownies. Seriously, I made trays and tray of them. Baking for charity was the answer to my dilemma. My husband would cart the brownies to his office and sell them. The girls in the office would sell them to the Fedex man and just about anyone who came in the door. Trust me, if you walked into Sterling Title you were not leaving without a brownie.

Baking for Charity

 

That is the snapshot of the beginning of our journey. You will have to come back for Part II of our journey. The value of land, the red headed mzungu, a Cottage Law, and a venture into crazy cookies. What ever you do don’t ever say, “I will never do ______!”

Baking for Charity

 

 

16 Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. vicki

    Hi, Melissa!!!

    I loved this story and re-reading how it all started.

    What is the best way to give directly to your efforts?

    • melissa

      Thank you so much for reading Vicki. I am in the process of writing part 2 right now. The best way to give right now is to order cookies or brownies. We are in the process of setting up the 5013c. Once that is up people will be able to make donations directly to Micah 6:8 Sudan.
      melissa recently posted…Baking for Charity Part 1 My Profile

  2. Christina @ Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe

    Yes!!!! xoxo
    Christina @ Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe recently posted…sponsor spots now open for MAY…My Profile

  3. Hayley S

    Wow, wow, wow. You and Dann are an amazing couple and I’m in awe of your story and your enormous hearts. Well done my friend!

  4. Lene/Not Your Everyday Cookie

    Thank you so much for sharing this wild and crazy journey you guys traveling on right now! I am one of those people that never realized that you baked for charity. I am a bit embarrassed that I didn’t know! (Pay attention to the details, Lene!) I can not say enough about how wonderful this post is! I love how you and your husband are doing this together! <3 I recently read Half the Sky (if you haven't read it – you should…amazing book) and found myself thinking about what I could do to make a difference. You, my friend, have found your way! <3 you and all you stand for!! I can't wait for part 2!
    Lene/Not Your Everyday Cookie recently posted…Silent Auction CookiesMy Profile

    • melissa

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Lene. I will have to pick up that book.It’s amazing even the little things that we can choose to do that make a difference. :-)

  5. Christine Shen - Sugar Cravings

    Beautiful post, Melissa!!! You are such an amazing woman and the people of Sudan are so fortunate to have your family working on their behalf!

  6. Paula

    Incredible story written by an incredible woman. Looking forward to reading Part II.
    Paula recently posted…The Man Behind the SmileMy Profile

  7. CookieCrazie Pam

    I love reading your story, Melissa. It is so exciting to see how God is working. I am doing something similar and yet so different. But we are both following God’s plan and seeing Him do AMAZING things. I’m anxious to read more. I knew you helped in Sudan, but I had no idea the extent or history of it. I will be praying for your ministry. It is such a joy to have a sister in Christ who has such a kindred spirit. :)

    • melissa

      Thank you so much Pam! Thank you so much for praying for me. I pray for you as well. I can’t wait for the day to just sit and talk over a cup of coffee.

  8. Kim @ The Celebration Shoppe

    What an amazing story Melissa! I’m so proud to call you friend. And I can’t wait to see the next round of cookies. The USA to Africa road trip over hearts is genius.

    Good luck in all your sales!!!
    Kim @ The Celebration Shoppe recently posted…Mother’s Day picnic + gift ideasMy Profile

    • melissa

      Good Morning! Thank you so much for your kind words an encouragement. Secretly, I am hoping to win the Mother’s Day giveaway, I could use a snazzy bag for my camera!

  9. Susan Dobbs _ The Tailored Cookie

    It is a blessing to be able to make a difference. You and your husband certainly are. I would LOVE to help you guys — how about getting all of the cookiers and doing a HUGE cookie fund raiser and all of the proceeds go towards your farm?? I would TOTALLY participate…
    I got started doing cookies in a similar way. I was able to raise money for a family that was being hurt by cancer and I figured I had no money to give to them, but I had the resources to bake cookies…I bakes 200 cookies, sold them for $5 each and was able to give this family $1000 so they could take their little kids to Disney World.
    Anywho, please let me know if you would like to start up a new cookie fundraiser…and a major pat on the back to you and your husband!!!

    • melissa

      Susan! Thank you so much. I love, love, love what cookies can do. They got a cookie for $5 and you got to raise money to help a family. Our 5013c is currently under another company. When Dann gets back from the Sudan I think we are starting the process to go out on our own. Once we have that in place, I would love to organize a “cookies for a cause” bake sale.

      • Susan Dobbs _ The Tailored Cookie

        Love it!! I cannot agree more — being able to take something and help someone else is rewarding for everyone. Please keep me in mind for any future fundraising efforts! — I’m in!! You and your husband will be blessed 100-fold for helping others! :)

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