"And they will know we are Christians by our love..."
Where Christianity is a minority and professing your faith could be costly, how do you make Christ known? You love your neighbors! And this is precisely what Pastor Lilik does.
She lost her husband to COVID-19 early in 2020. It was a heartbreak and a loss she was not prepared to experience. She and her husband served the church and the community together. Without him, she was unsure if she could do it alone. Though grieving, she found comfort in her faith and her heavenly Father, who embraced her.
Knowing that life goes on for her and that her community, now more than ever, needed food on their tables and income to support their families, she started Kelompok Tani Wanita (Women Farming Group). Sadly, they showed no interest in this initiative. Instead of being disheartened, Pastor Lilik invited her neighbors, mostly Muslims, to join her in this endeavor. Eleven of her neighbors gladly supported her and even contributed a sum of their money, 10,000 IDR ($0.50) each, to buy the seeds they'll need to get started. The village chief also helped them by allowing them to farm on his land. Not long after, their efforts bore fruits, and they did not only have enough to provide food for their families but were also able to produce a surplus they could sell and generate income of about 50,000 IDR ($3.50) to support their families.
Seeing the impact of Tani Wanita, the village chief shared the work of Pastor Lilik with the government, and the governor visited their farm. Witnessing firsthand how this initiative has empowered the community, the governor extended a scholarship to Pastor Lilik to learn and equip herself with more skills in hydroponic farming. Through this scholarship, the company built a greenhouse for her as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility project.
Her success didn't come easy, and many criticized her for what she was doing. However, she didn't let her critics discourage her - instead, she pressed on and kept moving forward.
When Pastor Lilik became part of the trainees of the Partners Worldwide Microenterprise Curriculum training, this solidified her faith that business is indeed a holy calling! She discovered her calling as a farmer and an entrepreneur!
Today, Pastor Lilik, along with the women in her community, has over 30 products; they started producing local snacks that are healthy and affordable. They also opened a catering business, using their talent in cooking. Always thinking of ways to serve and address the needs around her, she also opened a small stall near the hospital that sells food at an affordable price. Many customers have family in the hospital and have it hard with medical expenses, so paying for a meal would be an added expense.
Just last September, our team had the chance to visit her. Her radiant smile is contagious! And though she spoke in a language, we barely understood (without an interpreter), her heart connected with ours! Pastor Lilik is an inspiration; her life is a light shining brightly on a hill!