Making disciples and furniture

Ellyn Schellenberg | South East Asia

“[This] is a beautiful country, full of natural resources, including teak and other wood,” says Jose* an OM worker from Latin America, who has a background in carpentry. “There are more people [here] looking for good quality furniture.” But even in the capital city of this Southeast Asian country only big heavy furniture, traditionally made from one piece of wood, that is very expensive, or things that are of cheap quality and break easily are found–there is nothing in between.

It is into this gap that an OM-run carpentry business is stepping: to create quality beautiful pieces of furniture that are affordable to the many expats and the growing number of locals with more modern tastes. The business is set up in a rented warehouse, which includes both a workshop with machinery and tools to make a variety of tables, chairs, beds, closets and more, a teaching space, as well as living quarters. Good job opportunities are scarce in many developing countries, and this business will also serve as an opportunity to train up young men interested in learning the skill.

Currently, four men are living on-site, and learning the carpentry trade, while also being discipled by Jose in their faith; with the hope that they will use the business in the future to replicate the discipleship aspect and start new churches.

“If I have the opportunity, I would like to go back to my village and start a carpentry business because there is no one in my village who does quality work,” Will* a 19-year-old apprentice says. Everyone in his community are farmers in the mountain rice fields, with very few other employment opportunities available. When Will came to the capital to live with family, someone told him about the work opportunity with OM. “I’ve learnt a lot about detail work, to pay attention to the small details of the project, or otherwise the whole thing won’t work out,” Will explains.

“My goal is to train the guys to learn how to make quality furniture, with the hope that they will learn how to run a business and can then expand and make their own businesses in other locations,” Jose explains. “I want to see them grow in their relationship with God, and then be able to disciple others and start a fellowship of Jesus followers together.” Often, the local church does not provide reliable teaching on the Bible and young people move between family members’ homes because of poverty–which leads many to live without a secure identity of who they are and who they are created to be.

Through this carpentry business OM is equipping young men to learn a skilled trade, grow in their knowledge, encounter God’s love and become a blessing to many around them.

*name changed

Published: Friday, 30 August 2019
Credit: Ellyn Schellenberg
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