UMC gifts bring beekeeping to Mara District

In the Mara region of Tanzania, East Africa, beekeeping is increasing the income of local churches, helping them to carry out their ministry to local communities, while becoming self-sufficient.

By teaching church members a skill such as beekeeping, products get to the market more quickly and efficiently, resulting in good income for bee harvesters.  The hope is that churches can start to raise their own funds for ministry and have more control over the work they do in their local communities.

This beekeeping project was made possible by UMC #GivingTuesday donations given to Church Construction and Development, Advance #3021923. The gifts were used to purchase beehives for five local churches, plus the equipment necessary to harvest honey. Funds were also used to send six individuals for training in beekeeping and honey harvesting.

Because beekeeping has to be done on a large scale to be self-sustaining, the donations provided enough budget, as well as certainty of funding, to confidently start this project with the ability to see it through. This is also important in building faith within local churches, assuring them that we will be with them through every step of the process.

UMC #GivingTuesday gifts were used to purchase beehives for five local churches, and the equipment necessary to harvest honey. Photo: Courtesy of Eric Soard

Ingrichini United Methodist Church was one of the first churches to be planted in Mara and it was one of the five churches selected for this beekeeping training.

For a long time, Ingrichini UMC struggled to meet the needs of their community and to even pay the pastor a small salary. Most of the church members are very poor and they cannot offer much in terms of tithes and offerings. However, when members learned that their church was selected to receive training, they were very excited to have the opportunity to generate much-needed income for the church.

Today, beekeeping has brought new life and confidence to members of Ingrichini UMC. The members have started to understand that the development of the church is in their hands, and they don't have to wait on outside donors or supporters.  They now have their own source of funding.

Overall, the beekeeping project has been successful. We placed beehives and equipment in five local churches, and the bees have begun producing honey.

In the future, we envision a co-op where the churches can process honeycombs, wax, and other products produced from the beekeeping and honey-harvesting project.

This year, we hope to raise additional funds to expand the project to five more churches, and purchase honey-processing equipment that will increase the yield. We also hope to support entrepreneurship training for project leaders to increase their market effectiveness.

Eric Soard, United Methodist missionary, serving as a church planter and discipleship trainer in the Mara region of Tanzania.

The Advance is the accountable, designated-giving arm of The United Methodist Church. The Advance invites contributors to designate support for projects related to the General Board of Global Ministries. Individuals, local churches, organizations, districts and annual conferences may donate to The Advance. One hundred percent of every gift to The Advance goes to the project selected by the giver.