Women & Work
Women & Work Podcast
Episode 6: Sara Beth Fentress
COURTNEY: Welcome to the Women & Work podcast, the show that inspires you to confidently step into your God-given calling & view your work as meaningful to the Kingdom of God.
I’m Courtney Moore.
MISSIE: And I’m Missie Branch. We want to introduce you to women who through their own unique vocations are seeing what they do make an eternal difference.
COURTNEY: We pray these conversations will inspire you in your own calling to honor God, image Him to the world through your work, and leverage your potential for His glory.
MISSIE: Thanks so much for joining us today.
COURTNEY MOORE: Today we have on the show, Sara Beth Fentress. And Sara Beth, we are so happy to have you on. She is the founder and executive director of 127 worldwide, an organization that seeks to connect, equip and empower the global body of Christ, working together to care for orphans, widows and vulnerable communities. It’s based on James 1:27 in the Bible that says, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Sara Beth lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, but she gets to travel all around the world serving with 127 and Sarah Beth- Thank you so much for joining us today.
SARA BETH: Thank you guys. I love, I love you both, and I’m just excited for this conversation.
MISSIE: Sara Beth- I am so excited for this. Courtney knows- you and I go to church together, so it’s been sweet to watch your ministry growth over the years. Tell us a little bit briefly like… Well, one of the things I did learn about you, which I thought was great, was that you have an embarrassingly large collection of office supplies.
SARA BETH: I do!
COURTNEY: tell us, what is your favorite?
SARA BETH: I don’t know where you all got these quick facts…So traveling around the world, I wanted to have something I could always bring back, and I just love office supplies. Pens, mostly pens and markers. So I am a connoisseur if you need a recommendation for the best gel pen or ballpoint or felt. I have not Marie Condo-ed my pen collection yet.
COURTNEY: So you have a favorite color ink or are you just like black blue?
SARA BETH: It’s more the flow. I like, depending on if I’m writing like a birthday card versus taking notes for a class, so it’s more the tip and the way the ink hits the page. I’m a real nerd when it comes to office supplies for sure.
MISSIE: I apply a lot of pressure when I write, so I really care about the tips, so I can really understand that.
SARA BETH: There you go- i can send you some recommendations.
MISSIE: Awesome, well, I was a little bit about where you grew up. And just about how you came to know the Lord.
SARA BETH: Yeah, so I’m originally from Kentucky. I’m a big Wildcat fan, although this year in basketball, that was not much to write home about, and then I tell people, I grew up from nine months before I was born, I was in church. My parents just were so faithful to show me the Gospel and to just keep putting me in places where I couldn’t resist just hearing the gospel and knowing the gospel. So we moved to my hometown when I was two, so that’s really all I remember is the small town outside of Lexington, Kentucky, called Lawrenceburg. And just really loved my childhood, I know a lot of people have miserable years of junior high in high school, I just really have fond memories of growing up in a small town, but then I did exit small town life as… I guess as soon as I could, I’ve lived in big cities since I’ve been an adult, but yeah, I just had a great childhood and… Just very blessed.
COURTNEY: Awesome. To tell… Your educational background. Where did you go to college? And some of that.
SARA BETH: Yeah- I went to Carson-Newman College. I did a little stint at Western Kentucky, I thought I wanted to go to a big school, but I like being a big fish in a small pond better, I think. And then I went to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth [TX]
MISSIE: You got two degrees from there, right?
SARA BETH: I do. I thought I wanted to be a counselor at the time, and so now I tell people I indirectly use all of my degrees, but the interesting thing is I now lead a non-profit and I never took a business class, administration, marketing- mostly anything that I needed to start a non-profit, I did not have those formal education classes, so I have another degree from the School of Hard Knocks.
COURTNEY: It’s like the Lord, I think it causes us to depend on him when we just don’t have that strength. Well, fun, one of the things Sara Beth we like to do with every single guest is ask them three rapid fire questions, and they’re just kind of fun, get to know you questions. So here’s the first one as a kid, What did you wanna be when you grew up? What did you see yourself doing?
SARA BETH: So I wanted to do something in the medical field. I thought physical therapy. I actually started college as a pre-med in the pre-med track, but my first class was Anatomy and Physiology. I’m like, Nope, this is not for me. So only for one semester was a pre-medical major. I still wanted to help people, but just not quite with the bodily ways.
MISSIE: Yes I do have a problem with all the bodily fluids.
COURTNEY: It’s a good thing you figured that out. Your first semester and not year two.
SARA BETH: That’s true.
MISSIE: Okay, next question. What was your first job?
SARA BETH: Okay, you guys are gonna love this Dairy Queen. So I can make the best blizzards and chocolate dip cones. My friends would come through the drive-through, and I might have snuck a few cones their way.
COURTNEY: Was this in your… When you were in high school in Lawrenceberg?
SARA BETH: Yeah, small town, so the people go cruising and they would just cruise through the Dairy Queen, I get them a little ice cream cone.
COURTNEY: I bet you were adorable, I can just see you in that drive thru window passing out cones Sara Beth.
SARA BETH: Yeah, with that red visor!
COURTNEY: Alright. Here’s the last one. What kind of work do you wanna be doing when you’re 80
SARA BETH: Ugh- This question. I hope I’m not still working in my 80s, but I thought maybe testing and reviewing beach chairs could be fun. But a little bit younger than that- like a serious answer is I’ve thought through the next career of maybe doing some consulting or mentoring for people who think they wanna start non-profits ’cause I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I feel like I’m pretty transparent with like, “Hey, why don’t you not try this?” So that might be more like my 50s or 60s, but I hope by 80, I’m finished working
COURTNEY: I hear ya. That’s a great idea though. The consulting and the mentoring. I love that, that would be helpful. I
SARAH BETH: I thought you meant the beach chairs (laughter)
COURTNEY: That is too… I kind of wanna join you… Maybe I had finasteride or hair.
MISSIE: Well, your story is really, really incredible and just… It’s a lot of fun to learn about you, I would love to just hear… I know that what is true about the Christian life is a lot of our life experiences and the things that we have gone through, even the things that have left scars are almost always the thing God can use to motivate us into ministry, and so then we say as Christians, nothing is ever wasted. So tell us a little bit about some of maybe the challenges that you’ve had to overcome, and just some of the things that you know,” this is the thing that God used to propel me into ministry.”
SARA BETH: Yeah, yeah, that’s a great question. So thanks for asking. I love sharing things like this to you, so… Just a little bit about 127. Courtney mentioned James 1:27 talks about taking care of orphans and widows, and it was probably… The ministry is 10 years old, so it was probably about… Honestly, not until about five years ago, I had this light bulb moment of: God has brought me through some specific circumstances that have allowed me to be able to resonate specifically with orphans and widows.
So my mom passed away nine years ago with cancer, and I was able just to walk through hospice with her and be her caregiver, and she was just my hero, so I… I don’t compare my life to being an orphan ’cause I was older when she passed away, but having that experience of losing a parent, it really helps me to resonate with kids who have never known the love of a parent, or who have lost a parent.
And then both of you have heard me talking about, I call it “prolonged singleness”. And so this like- I’m in my 40s, I’ve never been married, and honestly, this is not at all how I thought my life was gonna turn out and Missie and I joke about that. That her life doesn’t look like she thought it would turn out either, and maybe everybody says that to an extent. But when I look through singleness in the eyes of… I’m the head of my household, I have to pay my bills. If something’s getting done at my house, I’m the one doing it- I think God has given me really a heart for widows, and again, I’ve not lost a spouse, but not ever having a spouse, just being able to relate to some of the challenges. And so I just think leading this organization really with those two components helps me have more compassion and understanding, and it was just like… It’s almost like through the suffering, God has given me a gift of being able to relate to people, and I was able to appreciate that even though I still don’t like it. Sometimes I don’t like the suffering ,who does? But I just love when we can look back and see God’s hand through the hard times, and it kind of brings purpose to that, so I’d say those are definitely the two most defining times.
MISSIE: So beautiful.
COURTNEY: t really is beautiful. Well, tell us about 127 a little bit more specifically. You use the three words connect, equip and empower, and so just talk about that a little bit and how it all works.
SARA BETH: Yeah, really it’s kind of hard to explain what we do sometimes, because we work with local leaders who have their own non-profits in their own countries. We work in Kenya, Uganda, and Guatemala. So I kind of just like to give the Cliff Notes version which is: We believe that vulnerable communities can flourish and that God has already placed local leaders in those communities around the globe. And so we’re just in the business of connecting and equipping everybody, so we help Americans kind of understand cultural differences. How to get on a plane. What shots they need. That’s part of the equipping. When helping hurts: how to have dignity and respect as we’re offering assistance, but it’s not just us going and assisting other people in other countries, it’s this mutually beneficial relationship where we can learn from other people too. And so I just… I love this idea that we kinda just get to be a megaphone for what God’s already doing and connect and equip people who might not otherwise know who to help or what to do. We wanna just educate people and teach them to be advocates for what God’s already doing through local leaders.
COURTNEY: Well I really love that you’re partnering with people in these other countries who- God has already led them, he’s already put on them and you’re really supporting the work he’s already doing there, so you’re not having to start from the ground up in Kenya. I think that’s so smart.
SARAH BETH: I have to kind of defend… I’m pro-American missionaries moving overseas, I’m not against that, but I feel like especially working in vulnerable communities, the people that we’re partnering with have a culture and a knowledge and the language. A lot of them grew up in poverty themselves in those areas. So I feel like maybe 10 years ago, I wished that God would just call me to move to Kenya and stay there forever and help people, but I realized that I can help Kenyans better by staying here and advocating for what they’re already doing. So it is a little bit of a unique perspective, but I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
MISSIE: Sara, How did you stumble upon this?
SARA BETH I think we’re gonna need a longer podcast for that whole story. But I was working with another organization who worked with IMB missionaries doing sports ministry, and this lady in Kenya was starting a school. She was a Kenyan lady, and she sent me- she Googled sports equipment and missions or something like that, and she found our organization and we were pen pals for a year. She really wanted us to bring soccer equipment, and my boss at the time was like, “Oh, there’s no missionary within an eight-hour radius of her that we know of” and she wasn’t ready for me just to hop a plane. So we were pen pals for a year, and then I finally convinced my boss to let me take a small team, that was in 2007- and Rose is still one of the partners that we have today. So God just planted a seed in her for education for kids in rural areas in Kenya, but she didn’t… She was just being introduced to the internet, she didn’t have a network of people. And so honestly, God just brought us together. She’s one of my dearest friends now. I mean, we’re just like sisters across the ocean, so that was the beginning, and then I just loved that, I was like, How can we reproduce this? t’s kind of hard because it was just an organic relationship and I’m very… We’re very careful who we partner with. 10 years in, we only have four partners, but it’s that same model of people who are doing things without the white dollars, what we call it, they’re not looking for us to support them, they’re just looking for us to walk beside them and to help to foster those relationships and connect them to people.
COURTNEY: So… What kind of ways? When people say, Yes, I wanna partner with 127. What does that look like?
SARA BETH: Yeah, so we do some short-term projects, they’re not your typical mission trips, it’s more- Let’s go and observe and see what’s happening. Probably the most unexpected thing from my perspective, I would say from 10 years ago, this was not on my radar.- is connecting people who have a skill set more towards the agricultural projects. We’ve had a lot of success.
So there’s a fish farmer in South Georgia that just wanted to go and teach people how to grow aquaponics. So again, I never thought I would learn about aquaponics 10 years ago starting an Orphan Care Ministry. Just to give you a little bit of context that there’s a plant system and a water system, and so the plants used to fertilize water from the fish waste and then they clean the water and it drips back down into the pond, clean. So again, it’s this mutually beneficial relationship. And now we have… That guy has visited all four of our partners but we have 3 functioning aquaponics ponds in East Africa. Well, three areas, but there are actually eight ponds that are functioning. And those ponds- they can have up to 1000 fish age, and so their kids are being fed, people are learning how to reproduce that idea and other families are taking this into a smaller scale and keeping- Their kids are able to stay in their home and not go to live in a children’s home because now their family can provide.
So I love this idea, again, in orphan care world that’s called Orphan prevention. What can we do upstream to prevent these families from having to put their kids into care of someone else? And that’s really what I love to do. So I know nothing about fish farming, I know nothing about Agricultural Sustainability in Kenya or Uganda, I’m kind of that connector. And so that’s an easy way to explain what 127 does. So some of them are more drastic like that we have big projects, but we also have people who are just like, Hey, I’m a teacher or I’m gonna go teach, do an in-service day for a school in Kenya. We’ve been able to do some smaller scale projects like that too, so it’s kind of like: how has God gifted you and how can you use that to tangibly live out James 1:27?
COURTNEY: Amazing. I think a lot of people read that verse and they do, they think, What can I do? And you’re like, Let me connect you to Kenya.
SARA BETH: I’m also a pro-foster care on pro-adoption, but that’s such a small minute percentage of the people that need help, so it’s also this kind of expanding, what are other ways outside of that… I’m pro you doing those things, but I think in the American church, it’s like I can’t foster and adopt, so I’m not gonna do anything, I’m like, No, God still wants you to be involved in this work.
COURTNEY: I love that you’re providing that honestly, really a resource for people to be used by God around the world, so..- good job.
SARA BETH: It’s very rewarding work.
COURTNEY: Okay, Well, a minute ago you talked about how your life really doesn’t look like how you thought it would look, and you talked about… What did you call it? Prolonged singleness.
I’m just thinking about when my husband and I have purchased a house together, and all of these big responsibilities that come with just life growing up, becoming an adult, and you’re saying I am… I am a grown woman, this is… I am responsible for me. And so talk about… Just tell us about thinking through those kind of issues, and then especially starting in this non-profit where financially… You’re depending upon the Lord to take care of you.
SARA BETH: I think that could splinter off into a lot of different conversations too, so you guys feel free to ask different questions. I don’t think of it as a disease. I think prolonged singleness the phrase sounds like a disease. Just to clarify.
Yeah, so I think, Goodness, I’m trying to decide which topic to choose, as far as starting the ministry, I would say it was still a risk at the point when I’m like, I’m gonna see if I can do. At first, I kinda thought, this will be something I do on the side, and I’ll go get a “real job”to be able to provide for my financial needs. And so it was kind of a Gideon, fleece to throw out. I’m like, “God, I’m gonna give you six months.” My mom had just passed away, so I was living with my dad at the time and just kind of thinking through what next steps might looks like and… So I would say it was a risk, but it was a very calculated risk at the time, so I knew If drastic things happened, I knew that there were family that would support me or provide for anything that I would need. But at the same time, that six months turned into… We’re celebrating 10 years of ministry this year, so just being able to walk through those steps.
As just a tag about singleness, I know that’s not the topic necessarily of today’s conversation, but I really feel like in my age, most of my friends are married and have children. And so one thing that I have kind of taken on as my responsibility is just to kinda help educate married people. An example would be during the pandemic, whether you have, Courtney- you have young kids at home. Missie- has older kids at home, and so you might be thinking, “I just wanna break… I want some alone time” and I think of how much time you’ve spent with your family this year, I’ve spent most of that time alone. And so I think just helping my married friends realize that solitude… And I’m an introvert, so people are like, Oh, this is your dream come true, I’m like, No, I was over Solitude by April of last year. And really kind of processing even this we’re family, we’re in the body of Christ, unless there’s a pandemic, then we don’t want people who are in our house that aren’t family. And it’s not anything that my church hasn’t done anything wrong. I feel like my voice in my kind of… I wanna, again, advocate and educate people to say, Hey, have you thought about what we say and then how we act and what those differences look like in the Church? So I think in the last year, it looked like that that’s kind of been in the forefront of my mind, but in the big picture of my singleness, I see where God has called me to do things I couldn’t have done if I had gotten married when I wanted to. I thought by, surely by 30, I would have kids. And I think there has been some wrestling with this… “God will give you the desires of your heart”. Well, I’m not saying that verse isn’t true, but it’s not… That’s kind of taken out of context ’cause I still do desire to be married one day, but I also trust in God’s timing and know that he sees part of the plan that I can’t see, and I have to just be okay with that. So I value my singleness, while at the same time, I wanna help my married friends understand maybe some things they can’t see because they’re so enmeshed in what’s under their roof.
MISSIE: That’s really helpful, and I think sometimes it’s not even about being married a single, it’s just that we’re very… Also very self-centered. So we have to just be what’s under our roof. It’s just about me. I don’t have time to focus on you because I’m only focusing on me. So that’s really helpful.
Well, in that vein, you have had the opportunity because like you said, God knows the plan, and he hasn’t given you a husband and kids, but he has given you a fulfilling ministry, so can you share with us what has been some of the greatest joys that you experienced in walking out 127 world-wide?
SARA BETH: Yeah, I’m super relational, so I’m a relational introvert, so that’s kind of an anomaly- but I would just have to say just the amazing people that I’ve been able to meet even before the last 10 years. the 10 years before 1-27, I was still in full-time ministry, and a lot of those people kinda made the jump with me of like, Now we wanna support Sara Beth doing 127 world-wide. So I think it’s those relationships. I kind of wrestle with… I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t consider myself a fundraiser until I realized that fundraising is mostly building relationships and telling stories of what God’s doing, and I love both of those things. So then if at the end, I have to ask for money, I’m okay with that. So I think just a little preview, I will tell you guys, I’m planning to do for our 10-year anniversary, to take a big road trip and just sit down with some of people that have gone on trips with us or donors that have given… Sit in their living rooms and just tell stories of what God’s been able to do for the last 10 years, and I’m just really excited.I’m like, That’s work, I get to do that for a job. It doesn’t seem like something you should get paid to do, but I’m really excited about that. We’ll
MISSIE: Courtney, I don’t know if you know this, that here- this year and actually coming up, we were supposed to be going with you to Africa. If it wasn’t for the pandemic we would be on our way.
SARAH BETH: Absolutely. I remember Peter was in your office- one of our partners came from Kenya.
MISSIE: Yes and they told us the story and we were convinced and we were like, I hope make it happen.
COURTNEY: That’s amazing. Well, I can’t wait to hear about it when you go. We’ll have to post pictures and updates.
Well, you were talking about stories and how you love sharing them. Tell us a story, tell… Help us put in our imagination, in our mind your ministry, and tell us about the people. Whatever you wanna share.
SARA BETH: Yeah, I’m kind of stuck on the agricultural project, that’s kind of what… That’s been our most successful stories to tell, so similar to the Fish project there- I didn’t know this before moving to Raleigh, but North Carolina is the barbecue capital of the world, and so there’s a pig farmer who goes to my church. For 20 years he was a pig farmer, and then he moved to wait for us to go to seminary and he always wanted to do agricultural projects and was just praying for ways that he could use that in ministry. So 12 years later, our Ugandan partner comes to my church to visit, goes to a small group and says, it’s great if you’re a pastor or worship leader, like you’re welcome to come to Uganda but what I really need right now is somebody who knows about pig farming. This was five years ago, almost six years ago, and so he has a really strong Ugandan accent, and even I wasn’t sure ’cause he was calling it a “piggery”. And so I looked across the room and the pig farmer and his wife were crying ’cause they’ve been praying for 12 years that they could have a way to use this passion that they have for farming.
The farmer had never left the US other than to go on a cruise, so he didn’t have a passport, didn’t know how to travel, so again, I kinda get to be that connector. He’s now been three different times in Uganda, so fast forward six years. There are 12 families in this community who are pig farming in the small town in Northern Uganda, paying their kids school fees, providing food for their family, keeping their children out of children’s homes because of pig farming. And so I think that’s another thing I say, I never thought I would learn about the gestation period of pigs when starting an orphan care ministry, but a pig can have 12 to 15 piglets at a time, and a cow gives birth to one, maybe two cows and so in the market, they sell for the same amount. So for Jeffrey in Uganda, hewas thinking, What’s a great way we can quickly multiply the income and take things to the market at a much faster rate? And so now if you get a Northern Uganda to visit Jeffrey acres of hope, there are 50 pigs, and there are 12 families who now use Jeffrey as kind of a hub for their pig farming businesses now, and that to me is just a beautiful picture of a favorite favorite stuff. God using skills that He gifts people with- talent and then he gives you opportunity to use those to bring Him glory.
COURTNEY: Well… And don’t you think it’s amazing. One of my big things that I love to do is to step back and see the big picture. And in my mind, just as you’re telling that story, I’m just thinking of the globe, literally. You’re picking of a globe, and here are these families in Uganda that you did… I mean, somehow the Lord has connected you all the way in the US with these people in Uganda, because He loves these people and he loves using you for His glory, and it’s astounding to think that in this big world he made… He is connecting people in the body of Christ, because he loves them and wants to provide and show “I am a good provider, see how I care for yo”… and then it uses the pig farmer in North Carolina., the whole thing. The Lord right this
SARA BETH: It’s like a tangled web of God’s glory.
COURTNEY: Beautiful. It’s really beautiful and amazing. Really?
SARA BETH: Yeah, and it’s also changed the lives of the pig farmer and his wife. The wife has been to Uganda twice now and have been on multiple mission projects. and it’s also a revolutionized their life… And not just helping people in Uganda. I love it,.
COURTNEY: I love what you talked about with the adoption prevention. I just… When you were sharing that, but these 12 families and just thinking of these children probably that are being served and just like you said, they’re paying for their education or all their needs, it’s wild. It’s great.
MISSIE: Thanks for sharing that. So how has God used all of this to grow you personally? I know that you said you’re an introvert, but that you are relational… And I just can’t imagine being impacted by these stories and not reflecting on “Lord, this is what you are doing to me.”
SARA BETH: Yeah, yeah, I feel humbled and blessed. I tell you, that’s kind of the token answer, but I know that in the Bible, God uses people who are not really qualified to do the work, and that’s how he gets the glory, and I think there is… That’s the true… That’s from straight from scripture, but there’s also this embracing that and not trying to pretend like you’re something that you’re not… And so I think I’ve learned to be vulnerable and transparent. It really just open handed of, I’m very well aware of what I’m not good at, and I’m okay with that, ’cause I know God has gifted me in other areas that maybe he hasn’t gifted, someone else might need my gift things in other areas, and I definitely need other people’s giftings. So I’ve learned a lot just to be real and not to pretend like I have it all together, or pretend like I know what I’m doing, that would not be beneficial for me when it’s very obvious that I need other people to continue moving forward in what God has.
And also just that he’s exceeded my every expectation. If I look 10 years ago, what I thought this ministry was gonna look like, it’s nothing like what it looks like today, and I’m so glad about that that I didn’t get in my way, and I think just thinking back to other previous questions, I think what we want, what we desire- you don’t always get to see that how God has a better plan in the bigger picture in the moment, sometimes it takes 20 years to figure out, or not till we get to heaven, and so I think just that patience and trusting that even when I don’t know… That God knows and that just being enough.
MISSIE: Yeah, yes. Oh my goodness Sara Beth.
COURTNEY: Sara Beth, do you know your enneagram number?
SARAH BETH: I do- I am an enneagram 2 with a strong wing 3.
COURTNEY: Ok, tell me about enneagram 2’s real fast.
SARA BETH: They’re helpers. I tell people I knew I was an enneagram 2 because of all the negative things about 2s. ’cause I think a lot of Christian women think they’re an enneagram 2 because they’re starting the meal trains and wanting to go serve and do missions and help people, but I’ve taken a deep dive on the enneagram 2. Well the enneagram- ot just the number two. And so part of one of the negative things about those is like, I’ll give you the shirt off of my back, but I want you to notice that I did it, and I want you to thank me for it. And so I was listening to a podcast about that, I’m like, Ouch, she is stepping all over my toes right now, and also usually 2s make a very good second-in-command, not a good leader. Because they care too much about what people think. And so I think that is interesting, my strong three Wang can kick in when I need it to, but for the most part, I like this idea of our staff kinda feels like a family and a team, and I don’t really pull the trump card very much if I’m the one in charge, but I do feel like I can do that when I need to, so…
COURTNEY: Well, I was curious about that because I feel like the first time we met, we were just beginning women&work, and it was just the cusp of… I had no idea how the Lord was gonna lead. And I knew when I talked to you, I knew we were different, you and I… And I’ve taken enneagram test and I always thought I was like, the nine, the peacemaker. Isn’t that nine? I’m not an expert, I haven’t done the deep dive yet, but then every time I answer it, it’s always the three, right, until maybe I’m somewhere mix of that, but when I would leave those conversations, I would always think, Wow, Sara beth- God has really made her in a way that is different than me, but it was so good because I felt like every time I would talk to you, it was just such an encouragement to me to keep pressing into the Lord and think about things I hadn’t thought about yet. As far as the organization, and so that’s why I was curious like,
SARA BETH: I think the counselor in me too, I love to ask questions partly to avoid people asking me questions- maybe sometimes, but I ask good questions, I think. And so that could be part of the reason we click so easily, but also an ultimate reason we clicked easily as it was over tacos hat we first had a serious conversation. You can’t go wrong if you’re having to tacos together.
COURTNEY: I agree, that’s awesome. Well, Sar Beth, youre 10 years in. God has done this thing for 10 years. Who knows. Only the Lord knows the future, but what is… As you think about the future and sort of your hopes and goals, and you already said he’s exceeded everything that you’ve set out to do in this, what would you say, Man, if this could happen for 127 worldwide, I would just be thrilled. Now, what do you see? What was your ultimate vision? Or hope.
SARA BETH: Yeah, well, again, because I love relationships, I love just one-on-one, going deep with people, if we’re having tacos or if we’re discussing ministry. I’ve always been more interested in investing deeply into a few places instead of, I call it a shot gun approach to missions. And so I think just me personally and our staff is more concerned about doing things with excellence then to turning into this huge organization that’s producing pig farmers all around the globe, thousands and thousands of pig farmers, it’s more like working in small one-on-one. How can I connect and equip people, real everyday people who want to learn and grow, and maybe they just need a little bit of direction, a little bit of coaching and consulting, and also just at 127, we wanna be good stewards of the people and the resources that God is bringing our way. And so I don’t really have this 10 years, we wanna have 10 partners in this many different countries. We’re really open to the direction that God leads and really leading open-handed in the ministry to say… Right now, we have four partners, they’re very different, we’re open to exploring new possibilities yet we’re not seeking out buying plane tickets to go visit anywhere new currently.
So I would think this idea of continuing what we’re doing and polishing it and making it better, and orphan care with excellence is kind of the words that are in my mind. Even in the last few years, a lot of places… Or some of the places we work with don’t directly have orphans, it is more in this prevention area, so it’s more caring for vulnerable communities with excellence, I guess it’d be a better way. Even before kids have an opportunity to be orphans, what can we do to infuse that community to be able to take care of the vulnerable people that live there.
MISSIE: Sara Beth, how can people find you and how can people support 127 Worldwide?
SARA BETH: Yeah, so the website is just 127worldwide.org. That’s the best way. Just to hear a little bit more. I actually have a podcast I’d love to share on yalls podcast, it’s called Simply 127, you can search for that on Apple or Google. I think it’s on Spotify too. So yeah, we really just want people to be interested and learn more and then figure out ways that God is stirring and working for in ways that they can click into what God’s already doing.
COURTNEY: Well, I really hope as women are listening to this, that the Lord is either stirring within them, something that they could see, oh my goodness, I could serve a community of vulnerable community in this way, or that the Lord would even put in their mind someone else maybe it’s on a pig farmer, but maybe this family in their church does artisan crafts or… I mean, who knows, right? Just I pray that the Lord will use this conversation to get more people connected to serve around the world with 127. Yeah.
SARA BETH: For sure. Also, I don’t mind sharing my personal email, it’s just [email protected] So again, I love relationships. If anybody wants to chat more about anything they’ve heard, I would love to do that.
MISSIE: what this reminds me, is that the way Jesus worked was that he while, Yes, he did speak to 5000, he really invested in those relationships in the 12 and the 70, more intimate in that of 5000. In the work that we think we need to do is the loud and everyone sees me and it changes the world kind of work, but your experience in mine too has been that it’s that one-on-one change in one life and the life of one family with one woman on my child or whatever. And so I’m blessed really by what you’re doing, and this is an encouragement to the women listening that God can use you even in a very small way, like a pig farmer can really be changing someone’s life across the world. The little things that they do. You know what I’m saying?
Well, as we close, what is one piece of advice you would like to leave with women who want to honor God through their location, who see that God has cut them out for something, but they may not necessarily know how to go run in that?
SARA BETH: Yeah, I realize this is a little bit of a stereotypical answer, but I would just say challenge people to know themselves… In similar to what we’ve been talking about today, I feel like so many Americans are not really self-aware positively and negatively, how has God gifted me? What situations have I been in that he might wanna use in ministry for His glory? And even the weaknesses: Where am I not gifted? Where do I need help? And I think kind of tying that in. One thing that my dad taught me that is just stuck is to always surround yourself with people who are gifted in areas where you’re not… And be okay with that and learn to work together, and if I’ll look at the 127 staff right now, there are a lot of people who are not like me, and yes, maybe that’s frustrating and challenging at times, but we also make each other better and we realize where our weaknesses are and where our strengths are, and we’re able just to operate in those… So I think self-awareness and then also just embracing where your weak spots are and finding people who love things that you hate to do and who are good at things that you’re not good at.
COURTNEY: So good, Sara Beth I wanna ask you just to follow up to that. Similar to this question, Okay, let’s say that the Lord is working in someone listening right now, and he’s put an idea in their heart about a way to serve and they have a dream of like, Man, I wish I could start a non-profit. Maybe it’s not the same as what you’re doing, but they’ve got something working in them that they sense… This could be the next thing that God wants me to step into. Now, I know you said your story really started so organically with this pen pa; situation, but is there anyway, and this might just be kind of hard to answer since everyone and their stories are so incredibly different, but is there anything just for that woman out there who’s listening that specifically wants to start a non-profit, like there’s just something for her that you might encourage her with?
SARA BETH: Yeah, I already shared my email, so step one would be -I’m super relational, so let’s have a chat about it and see, I sort of say this jokingly, but I really am serious, someone told me 11 years ago, do not start your own non-profit, if there’s any way you can find a way to plug in with someone else who’s already doing something similar. And obviously for me, I couldn’t find exactly what I was wanting to plug into, but I would say Take some time. There are lots of great ministries who are doing lots of great different things. And if there’s a way you can kind of collaborate and go in tandem with something that’s already existing, that definitely is not just the easy way, sometimes that is the more wise way. I did a lot of research. This was never on my 10-year plan, 15 years ago to start a non-profit. I’m really leery, but also I would love to chat with people. I also meet with a group of Executive Directors in Raleigh, we’re on over zoom now, obviously, but I love just hearing different founder stories and problems that founders have and connecting with people who can resonate. So I would encourage people, if you’re looking into the non-world, there’s lots of coaching, consulting, other executive directors that would be happy to meet with you and visit. Whether this is something that should happen or maybe to help you steer into a different direction, but I would be always thankful that God is stirring, that you feel like God’s leading you to do something, just don’t make too quick of a jump would be my advice.
COURTNEY: That’s Really wise. Yeah. Awesome.
Okay, well listen, sarath has been such a joy to have you on. And we love the work that I find God’s called you to, and it’s so fun ’cause all the three of us, we all knew each other, and then you two ladies actually go to church together. Right, so it’s just been like catching up with friends,
SARA BETH: Thank you guys so much, this has been so much fun.
MISSIE: And thanks to our listeners for joining us today. Be sure to check out our website at women work.net for today’s show notes. There will be more information about today’s conversation there.
COURTNEY: While you’re there, take a look at the Women and Work podcast discussion questions. We’ve provided those so that you can lead your friends from work, your neighborhood, or your church into useful conversations that will encourage you as you take *your* next step of faith into your calling.
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COURTNEY: And with that, we hope you’ve been inspired to more confidently step into your God-given calling and view your work as meaningful to the Kingdom of God.
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