Our favorite pollinators are helping a ministry teach hard work through the practice of beekeeping. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, at John 3:16 missionary, Beeloved Trading teaches individuals how to become beekeepers, with the mission occasionally using beekeeping to parallel biblical teachings. The products harvested, like their honey, are used to help support the mission and hopefully help individuals expand their skills for the future.
Two years ago, a single hive was donated, and it has now evolved into 20. Organizer Steven Whitaker said, “We want as a part of Beeloved Trading is not to just sell the honey and make money for the mission and kind of make our own way—we want to equip the people that…are in our care to learn to work and have skills.” Beeloved Trading aims to teach residents how hard work and unity can pay off. Given John 3:16 Mission’s motto is “you are your brother’s keeper,” this is exemplified well through the beekeeping venture.
As per the word of Whitaker, “Bees are magnificent creatures in the way they organize and work together, and their camaraderie and single-mindedness. There’s so many things that we can use to instruct people, and their work ethic and their desire to contribute to something greater than themselves, to believe in something greater than themselves,” he said. This belief does show itself in the way bee hives operate—female worker honeybees evolved over millennia to give up their own breeding capabilities to one queen, making their lives and all their work go toward something, in fact, greater than themselves.
The work people have put into the program after the first harvest are being bottled up and sold. The year-long program uses profits from their products to help the mission sustain itself and rely on more than just donations. One hundred percent of the proceeds go back into the mission. “Local honey has its benefits to your health – it helps with allergies if you’re eating that local honey,” Whitaker said. All the bees for Beeloved Trading use locally grown wildflowers and plants. “The goal from this locally harvested business is to grow the mission by building a special ‘refuge’ for men and women in the program to live. We are trying to make it something special,” Whitaker said.
The mission believes that saving bees through beekeeping equates to saving lives through vocational training. Individuals suffering through homelessness, addiction, and an overall lack of resources can equip themselves with a new trade. So far, the mission has received support from all over Tulsa. John 3:16 Mission hopes to keep up momentum and eventually use some of the profits to build a special refuge for residents.
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