VISION. I believe it is special gift that God reveals only to those who both seek it and are responsible enough to handle it. Yet, EVERYONE seems to have one. Companies have mission and vision statements, people have visions for the rest of their lives, couples see the vision of their lives together as one. And we all know that one of the biggest challenges in Christianity today is seeking GOD’s vision for your life and “dying to self” – giving up your own vision, no matter how grand and elaborate it may be.
I believe God does equip certain people with the ability to be a “visionary” – someone who can consistently look at the big picture, plan ahead, and then lead others to complete the vision. And every so often, a visionary chooses to pursue God’s vision, not their own. This person always does great things for the Kingdom. Folks, one example of such a person is Pam Demott, or “Mom” as she is known as by so many.
To say Pam Demott is one of my heroes is an understatement. Her walk with Christ with both admirable and challenging. Her devotion to serving others is contagious. And her firm stand on her beliefs and principle is unwavering. And to top it all off, she is like a second mom to me.
I know humble Mrs. Pam is probably dying as she reads this right now, so I’ll cut to the chase. Project Talitha Cumi is the life-changing ministry it is today because Pam has consistently chosen to pursue God’s vision for her life, rather than her own. Girls’ lives are changed each and every day, the Gospel is spread, and people are ministered to, because of her leadership and devotion to the ministry. Sure, she isn’t a “one-man show;” many great staff members, board members, teams, etc. together make this ministry what it is, but her visionary leadership, rooted in scripture and prayer, has allowed this ministry to rise above many “tough times” and continue spreading God’s Word.
I first visited PTC in May 2011. Our Anderson University Team spent many months figuring out how we could best help this ministry. Our hearts were instantly sold out to this cause, but we needed some direction as to where we needed to “plug in.” When Enactus took over the project, we knew what our organization’s objective was: to evoke entrepreneurial action to empower the lives of those in need. Our Enactus team specifically has a large focus on education, so our clear first step was to begin teaching the girls here at PTC about business and financial principles, teaching them how to save money, budget, and other important skills needed to run a small business. I think for a while, I personally thought this would all be theoretical. I wasn’t sure if the girls would have the chance to actually put these skills to the test. I mean, teaching marketing to middle schoolers? What’s the point of that? We don’t even do that in the States! However, as we’ve seen, this has all been part of God’s vision.
The first entrepreneurial project our Enactus Team became involved with was Café Cumi, the process of marketing the coffee beans grown on PTC’s farm to avid coffee drinkers in the States. This was the result of a vision that God revealed to Mrs. Pam. Allow the girls, who harvest and roast the coffee, to understand the process of working to produce a product, and selling it to generate revenue. The idea that Mrs. Pam and our team developed was for this “coffee money” to be placed in savings accounts for each girl, so that they are earning money, but it is being saved to provide them start-up money when they turn 18 and go to college, start their own business, etc. While this business is still in its early stages, God is already blessing the partnership between PTC and our Enactus Team. We have become great “business” partners, but more importantly, great friends. I honestly consider the staff here to be some of my best friends. They have hearts of gold.
However, here is where the story gets exciting. Mrs. Pam approached our team last fall and shared that she felt God had laid on her heart that PTC needed to do more ministry in the community. She referred to the ministry as a “black hole for blessings” – all these blessings were coming in from teams, interns, staff, etc., but little was going out. (What an awesome philosophy – if our goal in life was to bless someone else each time we were blessed…the world would be a much better place)
Mrs. Pam is all-too-familiar with the poverty in this area of Honduras. She knew the most effective way to minister to “locals” is to improve their quality of life and financial standing. So Mrs. Pam and our Team began working on entrepreneurial projects that PTC and our Team could complete to better the lives of those in Honduras.
The first need that God revealed to Mrs. Pam was that of a group of local women we know as the “Basket Ladies.” This group of 14 women comes to the farm each week that a team is here and sells the baskets they hand-made from pine needles and colored thread. It takes them days to make these baskets, they walk between two and three hours to sell them at the PTC farm, and sell each one for about $10.00 USD. How crazy is that?! These baskets are BEAUTIFUL. There are about five sitting throughout my house already, and another five are in my luggage waiting to join them. You go to Charleston and see hand-made baskets made with less quality and not as attractive selling for $100+. And perhaps the most moving part is that most of these women are single mothers, and with this income they attempt to provide for their children. When we asked the women what they used this basket money for, our responses included food, medical care, clothing, and their children’s education. (Example of a basket is below)
We decided to act on this. Our goal was to develop a website, where PTC could sell these ladies’ baskets to people in the United States via the Internet. The prices would be increased, but the additional proceeds would be returned to these women in the form of a love offering and also scholarships to pay for their children to attend school. This website has been one of the biggest projects ML and I have worked on while here in Honduras. Additionally, this once-competitive group of women is now developing a co-op business partnership, where they can work together to ensure the success of this business. This teaches them teamwork and how to really utilize their talents to develop a product for the marketplace. Name for this business? Keeping with the theme, we’ve entitled it Canasta Cumi. Canasta is Spanish for basket. Clever right? J
Launching in the next couple of weeks, viewers can buy more than these baskets. The girls here at PTC are going to begin donating their beautiful artwork (paintings, sown handbags, etc.) to be sold on the website to add to the scholarship fund. What an amazing opportunity? The girls are using their God-given talents to give other children the gift of education. We’re calling this incubator business Cumi Arts! The coffee, PTC tee shirts, and more will be available online as well!
As we see over and over again, God’s plan is always greater than ours. For me personally, it has been incredible to see the “pieces” of my life fit together in a way that could only have been orchestrated by the Creator of the Universe. Let me back up to where our Enactus Team has been teaching the girls about running a small business (including economics, budgeting, marketing, etc.) God has provided our ministry with the opportunity to open our own business here in Yamaranguila, allowing the girls practice at business and the ability to learn valuable skills that they can use in adulthood.
In just a few weeks, the doors will be open at Cumi Café, a bakery and coffee shop sponsored and managed by Project Talitha Cumi. God provided Mrs. Pam with an excellent facility for this project at a great price. And so, we have been working hard to prepare the building to serve delicious coffee and treats! (Below is the building before we started)
What didn’t look like much to begin with is quickly becoming a vibrant space that is going to draw crowds from the nearby church and bus station. While this bakery is going to allow some of the girls to learn to bake goods and how to manage the day-to-day operations of a small business, it is also a platform that our ministry can use to spread the Gospel with those in Honduras. When a customer walks in to Cumi Café, they will be greeted by smiling faces and provided Christ-like service, all while uplifting Christian music will be playing in the background. Both incoming travelers and locals to Honduras will be able to enjoy this one-of-a-kind environment. Indeed, this bakery will be used for evangelism. (Below is what it currently looks like. Much more is still to be done)
As you can see, when I get asked “What is it that you’re doing in Honduras?” a one-line response is pretty difficult to come up with. So what I will say to close this post is that God has provided a three-part vision of Education, Evangelism, and Entrepreneurship for Mrs. Pam, this ministry, and our Enactus Team. Together, we are not only changing the lives of our girls here, we are changing the lives of those in Honduras who need help. Those who need Jesus.