WENDELL, N.C. (BP) — Church bake sales are a common way to raise funds for missions and ministry projects. But Melanie Wallace and Rita Bragg from Hephzibah Baptist Church are discovering what happens when a missions fundraiser meets uncommon success.
Sweet 31 Baking Company grew out of passion for the Great Commission and a practical need to cover travel expenses.
Wallace, Bragg and other Hephzibah members participated in a mission trip to the Philippines in 2016, which was organized in partnership with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Selling cinnamon rolls helped make the mission project a success, so Wallace and Bragg decided to continue the effort year-round.
In 2018 the baking duo went through the proper state inspections and licensing procedures to launch the business in earnest. Sweet 31, a reference to the biblical passage Proverbs 31, began selling cookies, cakes and treats in local businesses and other food service venues. More importantly, Wallace said, the business provided funds to help cover the costs of multiple mission trips and ministry opportunities.
“It started as a mission trip fundraiser and has developed into a legitimate bakery business that has funded both of our families’ mission trips literally all over the world,” said Bragg. “From the Philippines to Canada, Ukraine and Moldova, to the latest trip to Guatemala, where over 70 people prayed to receive Christ as their Savior.”
Sweet 31 Baking Company has done so well that it led to an addition on Wallace’s home to make room for more work space, and it has even raised questions of work-life balance.
“How busy do we want to get?” Wallace said. “Because if you get too busy you don’t have time for the things you’re called to.”
The bakers try to look for opportunities to serve each individual they interact with. Bragg said she feels “honored and privileged to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Chuck Register, who serves as the associate executive director treasurer for the state convention, said Wallace and Bragg “have hearts as big as Texas for the Great Commission.”
“Their passion to reach the nations led them to launch Sweet 31 Baking Company to support the sending of their families – spouses, children and themselves – to make disciples globally,” Register said. “The apostle Paul was a tentmaker, these ladies are bakers – all in simple obedience to ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.’”
Register added that he highly recommends Sweet 31’s citrus cinnamon rolls.
“It’s important to us to have a ministry and missions heart twenty-four-seven, not just when we go overseas,” Wallace said. “Everything we’re doing is to the glory of God.”