When our daughter, Emily, was a preschooler she wanted to give something for missions. All she had was a dime and a penny. She gave it all. In the following 35 years, she has found 11 cents (always as a dime and a penny) in many places including on the floor in the house, in the car, on the street or sidewalk, in change after a purchase, etc. Maybe she is just focused on that amount, but she finds it everywhere. That original 11 cents gained significance to her in her life. When she was nine years old we went to the Philippines as missionaries. We talked with her about how far her 11 cents went when it was combined with the gifts of others. Her 11 cents paid for our plane tickets, it provided a house and car, it paid for furloughs and return trips, and continues to provide for missions in many new and exciting forms. Never underestimate the power of sacrificial giving to missions.
How can you bake if you don’t have an oven? You make one, yourself. It is easier to show you how it has been done, than to describe the steps. There are numerous variations and alterations to the original idea, but that doesn’t matter. The main thing is you need a fireproof box, that can set on or above a heat source (wood, charcoal, gas or electric burner), and has a rack to hold baking items above that heat source. It needs a cover that fits tightly enough to stay on. Wooden blocks, fastened to the top and to the cover, will make it easier to open and close the oven while it is hot. Punch holes in the bottom to allow the heat to enter the oven and, at the same time, prevent flames from entering. (Some people cut a round hole in the bottom and then punch holes in the cut-out piece. They modify the cut circle with a wire handle, and use it to cover the hole as needed to control the temperature.)
Maybe you are wondering how you can tell the temperature of the oven. Old-timers, who didn’t have thermometers, used the terms “slow,” “medium,” and “hot” when describing the correct temperature. If I may use the same terms, there is a simple way to judge the temperature. If you put your hand inside, just above the rack (don’t touch the hot rack!), and can hold it there three (3) seconds before you have to jerk it out, it is a “slow” oven. If you can hold your hand there for two (2) seconds, it is a medium oven. And finally, if you can hold it there for only one (1) second, you have a hot oven.
Almost everything you bake will require a medium oven. Breads, cakes and casseroles are typical. Cookies and quick breads (muffins and doughs that contain baking soda) usually require a hot oven. It will take some practice to get it perfect every time, but your family will probably enjoy your efforts. If you try this, please send me pictures of your oven and your baked goods. I will enjoy them, and be glad to post them for all to see.
In many parts of the world, ovens are too expensive to be practical. Baking is an unknown skill for homemakers. This oven is a big part of our ministry as we reach out to people. Many are curious to see how it works since it is unique. But they are happiest when the brownies are done!
The tin can oven (to the right, on the shelf) sets on top of a round charcoal burner (on the left). The tin can oven is constructed from a cooking oil can and features a separately constructed tin cover. Both the oven and the lid have wooden handles for easy grasping when hot. There is a round hole–a little smaller than the charcoal burner–cut into the bottom of the can to allow the heat to enter. The round cut-out has holes punched into it and a wire handle attached. This is used as needed to prevent flames from entering the oven. Heavy wire is woven horizontally through the middle in three or four places to form a rack.
I will publish additional versions and alterations in detailed pictures in the near future. If you have questions about judging the temperature or maintaining the proper heat, please ask in the comment space below.
The journey through life–especially if you unquestioningly follow God’s leading–can take many twists and turns. Although I have written many instruction manuals, articles and letters, I never had any ambition to write a book. I didn’t even enjoy creative writing classes in school, and never thought of myself as an author. But, how things can change! I am now nearing completion of a church planting book that comes from a lifetime of experience–from first hand knowledge and from first hand reporting from other sources.
Those of you who know me, know how much I like to see the humorous side to almost every situation. My working title of the book is CHURCH PLANTERS HAVE ALL THE FUN(DING)! Not only do we have all the fun, we have amazing resources for funding. There are many books on the market that talk about church planting. They tell you all about why you should plant churches and how to do it. That is not the primary purpose of my book. I am attempting to help church planters find the funding that is needed to plant their churches without getting grants and large donations from outside sources. There is strong evidence that large donations to the church from outside the congregation create a sense of church welfare and dependency. The young congregation doesn’t see the need to give when the provision is already in place. Consciously, or subconsciously, they don’t understand the sudden need when the donations dry up. In their minds, either the pastor just wants more money for himself, or surely the pastor will find another source of funds. Many churches have disbanded due to lack of funds.
Whether your church plant is reaching the wealthy, or it is located in a tribal Third World situation, there are creative ways to solve the church’s financial needs. Best of all, you can have fun doing it. God doesn’t call us to be sad in service to Him, even if he places us in situations of hardship, grief, and despair.
If you want to learn more about these exciting possibilities, watch my blog for excerpts from my book and the big announcement of its publication date, expected by the end of summer, 2017.