How do you bake cake without an oven? This is the question I was asking myself for the third time while standing in front of an audience of fourteen women and waiting for a miracle.
Last year God led me to start a Baking Supply Business that would teach women to bake, sell kitchen tools, foster friendships and provide an earning opportunity for the ladies. It would be what is called a “missional business”, otherwise known as “business for transformation” since the ultimate aim is for God to use the business to transform individual lives and society for His glory.
In one of my early classes, I had just begun teaching what it means to ‘preheat the oven’. I turned to my demo oven, adjusted the dial, and then - the lights went out. The whole room fell silent. I looked to my hostess who had gathered all her neighbourhood ladies together for this baking demonstration. We laughed nervously while I stalled for time by promoting some of the products for sale.
After five minutes we moved back to preparing the cake batter. Still no electricity. “What are we going to do?” I muttered. “We can pray” I heard someone utter back. I’m not sure if it came from one of my two believing friends or one of the ladies from the majority religion. Someone else commented that sometimes the electricity does not return for several hours.
By now, ten minutes had passed. The batter was ready. Even though this was a beginner’s Learn to Bake class, everyone could guess that the next step was to pop it in the oven. The oven that sat cold and lifeless behind my teaching table.
I looked over nervously to my friend again, not able to hide my desperation and fear that our efforts to build community had just flopped. Soon my cake would too. She quietly lifted her shoulders as if to say, “What can we do?” Everyone was waiting for me to do something. I was stuck! So, I did what any soldier in the trenches does - I prayed. I clasped my hands together and lifted my face upward. I didn’t mean to make a demonstration of my prayer - I was just so desperate. “Oh Lord, PLEASE” escaped my lips.
Would you believe it?! In that instant the electricity came back. I could hear everyone’s relieved sigh - they had been worried too. I even overheard two of the ladies whispering, “She prayed and the lights came back.” The class ended with delicious BAKED cake, new friendships, and promises to return to the next class. I love the creative ways in which God makes His Name known. For most of the women attending the class that day, it was the first time they’d heard prayer offered to the living God and seen Him answer so quickly and specifically! Praises to the God who hears prayers!
A few months later I found myself stuck in the same dicey situation! Once again, I was standing in front of a group of expectant ladies anxious to learn how to bake cake and once more the electricity failed. Lights out! I was so excited and encouraged about the last time the electricity had failed and how God showed up and responded immediately to prayer that without thinking, I figured He could just do that again in front of this new group of ladies. So I began to tell them the story: how the lights went out and I prayed to God and instantly the lights came back. Then I added to this new group with total confidence, “So we will pray again and see what God does.” The electricity did not come back. I continued mixing my batter and what I had just done began to sink in. I had just put God’s name on the line. Doubt started to creep in.
I had boldly testified about the God that listened and turned the lights on. Now the ladies were watching me, waiting for the lights to come back. What if the power did not return shortly (which often happens) - what does that say about the God I just testified to? I kept stirring my batter and started silently apologizing to God… I had not planned to give that testimony. It was just such an exciting testimony. I wasn’t really thinking… If only I hadn’t started rambling off again...and then - the power returned!
I often feel like God is building this business and I am running to catch up with what He is doing. The hostesses report feeling encouraged and blessed. The ladies attending the classes are happy to learn and try out their new skill. They can’t wait till more classes are added. I’m encouraged to see two of my Indian hostesses, both kingdom-minded believers, being able to expand and deepen their network of friends from the majority religion.
Like Saint Paul making tents, like Joseph and Daniel with his friends – those engaged in missional business work faithfully at the jobs given them in the nations to which they’re sent. We seek to listen to the movement of God while building businesses that do good and spread his glory in our communities. Through redeemed work, we seek “to let the world see evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in business” (BAM Global).
This evidence of God’s Spirit comes in dozens of different ways as we engage in businesses. It comes through the relationships built through our work. We bear testimony by doing work in honest ways and offering dignity and fairness to employees. And sometimes, God reveals himself to a group of women anxiously watching a cold, dark oven.