One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyratira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth.

She was a worshipper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.  Acts 16:14 (NIV)

 

Lydia was an impressive entrepreneur.  Not only was she a very good businesswoman, but she was quick to use the proceeds of her business to support Paul and his missionary companions as they passed through her area.  Lydia is credited by Biblical historians as one of the key people in planting the church in Europe.

In the spirit of Lydia, PEER Servants sponsors the Annual Lydia Awards. Read the inspiring stories of the three finalists below and then vote online through 4 pm ET on Thursday, August 10, 2017 for your favorite. We will select the 2017 Lydia Award winner at our Lydia Awards Celebration on Thursday, August 10, 2017, from 6:30-8:30 pm. Join us for delicious food from the three countries of our finalists, compelling stories from our PEER Servants volunteers of why you should vote for their finalist, and the final voting to determine the winner. Admission is free and we'll meet in Room 205 of Grace Chapel's Adult Learning Center, 2 Militia Drive, Lexington, MA.



Maria Delfina Hernández

Garbage Recycler/Doll Maker

Guatemala

 

Life at the garbage dump of Guatemala City, one of the largest in Latin America, is difficult.  Maria Delfina Hernández knows this all too well. She was born just a block away from the garbage dump. In her 30s she found herself widowed and the sole support for her three children, so she began working as a scavenger on the garbage dump.  But Maria always had a vision for something better for herself and for her family, so she began a recycling business part time, making it her full time work a few years later.

 

Over the years Maria was able to continue to grow her business, even after dealing with the violent death of her son.  She added the refurbishing of dolls to her business.  Eventually she came to hear about Vida Nueva, the micro-loan program of Potter’s House, PEER Servants’ partner in Guatemala.  Through loans from Vida Nueva, Maria was able to purchase recycling materials and materials for doll repair, and to continue to grow her business.

 

Now Maria’s business employs 11 full time employees, and much of her family as well.  In addition, Maria buys recycling materials from 40 scavengers, paying them in cash so that they can provide for their families, and she sells to 40 recycling centers.  Maria bought a truck to transport her materials to the recycling center, and now she is saving to purchase a second truck given the ongoing growth in the business.  She is able to give to her church and community, and provide a future for her family that already has extended not only to her children but to her grandchildren as well.  The whole community looks up to Maria, and she trains and inspires others to work hard, provide for their families, and overcome their difficult circumstances. She thanks God for His provision and acknowledges that “God gives enough for everyone.”



Mimosa Cortez

Seafood Catcher/Processor

Philippines

 

Being laid off by your company can be a devastating, but for Mimosa Cortez from the Philippines, it was an opportunity.  Mimosa was laid off seven years ago when the crab canning company she worked for closed.  She decided to use some of her severance pay to buy a bangka, a motorized fishing boat, and started a business catching fish and crabs, employing family members and others to help.

 

Shortly after she started her business, Mimosa learned about the Center for Community Transformation (CCT), PEER Servants’ partner in the Philippines.  Despite the many typhoons and difficulties that come with fishing, Mimosa has been able to grow her business rapidly by buying more fishing boats and gear with loans from CCT.  Mimosa decided to open a crab processing business so that she could sell direct to a crab canning facility.  Now, just seven years after being laid off, Mimosa employs four family members and 80 others to run the crab processing business and to fish with her fleet of 11 bangkas and 8 barotos, a smaller boat used to catch squid.  She has recently obtained a license to use nets, so that her workers can catch fish more efficiently.

 

But the goal of Mimosa’s business has never been just growth.  With the profits from her business, she pays for the school supplies for her children and 21 nieces and nephews.  She put a nephew through welding school and now he is paying for his siblings’ school.  She is paying all college expenses for three nieces with the expectation that they also will get jobs after graduation and put their siblings through school, too.  Mimosa is a faithful giver to her church and has bought music equipment for the worship team.  She encourages her employees to attend church, and now 10 are following Christ as well.  Mimosa sees herself as blessed by God, and has used her business to bless others.




Retnasingam Mayurathan

Farmer/Pastor

Sri Lanka

 

Do people refer to you as “superman”?  People in his Sri Lankan village say that about Retnasingam Mayurathan.  It is not because of his exceptional vision or hearing; when Mayurathan was a teenager during the civil war, his village was attacked and he was savagely beaten.  As a result, his hearing is impaired and he is blind in one eye; he was also left with severe joint pain in his legs.  A Hindu priest, he heard that Jesus could heal him, so he went to a Christian church, where he was miraculously healed of his joint pain.  He became a follower of Jesus, and eventually a pastor.

 

Still, life was difficult for Mayurathan.  He did farming on rented land to support his new family and to help his father.  Eventually he saved enough money to buy an acre of land.  About that time Mayurathan found out about Holistic Empowerment and Enterprise Development (HEED), PEER Servants’ Sri Lankan partner.  With loans from HEED, Mayurathan has been able to buy seeds, an irrigation system, and two more acres of farmland.

 

Even though his region is prone to floods and droughts, by wise crop selection and by using the materials purchased with the loans from HEED, Mayurathan has been able to grow his farming business.  He has purchased a fourth acre of land and hired four women to work for him, all of whom are the sole supporters for their families.

 

 

 

Now Mayurathan’s farming business is thriving.  He plans to rent a stall at the farmer’s market to sell his crops (and his neighbor’s) directly to customers.  He is able to send his children to school.  He has donated ½ acre of land on which to construct a church, and now 30 families attend.  By God’s grace, this differently-abled “superman” has been able to bless the church and the entire community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


You can vote online through 4 pm ET on Thursday, August 10, 2017. The online voting represents 20% of the overall voting to determine the 2017 Lydia Award winner. Thanks for taking the time to read these stories and to join us in thanking God for the transformation taking place in and through the lives of these Lydia Award finalists.