Editor’s Note: Karen Lee serves with her husband, Richard, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
DAR es SALAAM, Tanzania (BP) – I always say I have a sweet ministry.
I teach cake baking to women in Tanzania. My husband Richard uses the evangelism method Creation to Christ, which tells the gospel story through a series of stories that starts with creation and ends with Christ’s death and resurrection.
I like to say that I teach Cake to Christ. When women are learning how to bake a cake, they’re getting the Gospel.
When I’m teaching Christian women, I always ask them, “How many of you have neighbors who don’t know Jesus?”
All of them raise their hand.
I then ask if they share the Gospel with their neighbors, who are predominantly Muslim.
They say, “No, we don’t share because we’re scared.”
I ask them if their neighbors like eating cake, and all of them say yes. I suggest that they take a cake they baked and give it to their neighbors to help build a relationship. Bringing a cake when their neighbors are breaking their fasting during Ramadan is a great way to love and serve, and they will rejoice that they have this treat to eat after they fasted all day.
I tell the women, “When they bring that plate back to you, they’re going to keep saying ‘thank you,’ because that’s in their culture. And then you can say, ‘This was a sweet gift, but let me tell you how Jesus is sweet in my life.’”
Cake allows me to build relationships with women in Tanzania, and it also connects me with women in the African American churches that my husband and I have been interacting with through Church Connections while we are back in the U.S.
Hearing about my cake ministry forms a connection with women, especially older women, in the churches. Baking and cooking resonate with the African American community. Being African American, I know our culture, and I’m sharing how I’m using something that is a beautiful part of our culture for Gospel purposes. That fosters relationships and interest in missions.
Richard has told people, “When Karen uses Cake to Christ, she’s using her gifting, which is service, and leveraging that for God, leveraging that for Gospel proclamation or evangelism. That’s another thing that connects us because I know a lot of these churches are always looking for better ways in which to help motivate their congregations to be involved in evangelism.”
We have had churches ask us to host trainings on evangelism to help their members effectively share the Gospel, both in their neighborhoods and overseas.
At a recent global missions conference at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif., I shared about my Cake to Christ ministry in several classes. When I finished sharing stories, I asked, “How many of you have neighbors, and what is preventing you from bringing them cake or cookies? I don’t just mean your neighbor to the left or right, because Jesus gave us a definition of who our neighbor is.”
Though most of the people in my classes were women, two men told me they are the baker in the family.
“Well, get! Get your bake on,” I tell them. “Bake some cookies and go take them to your neighbors. Tell them, ‘Jesus is sweet in my life, and I was baking, and I thought, I just want to share some sweetness with you.’”
One woman told me after the class that she was so excited for the weekend because she planned to bake for her neighbors. I look forward to hearing about the conversations she has as a result of her act of service.
Baking has allowed me to share the Gospel with Tanzanian women, and it has provided an inroad for women on two continents to share the gospel with their neighbors.