By Stan Friedman
PUNE, INDIA (March 27, 2012) – The wafers that Hindustani Covenant Church (HCC) pastors break when their congregations celebrate communion were most likely made by women whose lives were once broken when they were forced into sexual slavery.
The women live in a secured shelter that also serves as a rehabilitation center. Making the wafers is the latest step in helping the women reclaim their lives.
“It has been a challenging process,” says Stephen David, HCC moderator. “It has involved repeated visitation to the red light areas, counseling and motivating the women, negotiating with owners and agents, getting the support of police officials, and the legal procedure. But all these challenges fade away when we see a woman liberated from a lifetime of slavery.”
The goal is to help the women develop skills needed to support themselves. Finding jobs for the women proved nearly impossible, however, because they had few skills.
“But these women wanted to do something for Christ,” David says. “They said, ‘We have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and want to share the love we received from him with others.’ They wanted to follow in the footsteps of the Samaritan woman who had turned to be ‘a well of water springing up unto eternal life’ and had witnessed Christ in front of the Samaritans.”
The women and church leaders began to collectively consider alternatives and then developed the idea to make communion wafers. The plan has worked better than anyone imagined.
“It gives women the opportunity to work from the rehabilitation center,” David says. The women get a share of the income from sales and are now capable of earning a livelihood. Click here to see additional photos that trace the wafer creation process.
Hindustani Covenant churches were the first to use the wafers, but other churches in Pune began purchasing them. Sales now extend to churches from other denominations in different parts of the country as well as Sweden and the United States. The wafers were used during the communion service during the Midwinter Conference in Chicago earlier this year.
Communion tells the story of how Christ suffered and died so that humanity might have life. Through the wafers they make, “a group of ordinary women, who were once slaves, are now proclaiming the message of deliverance in Christ,” David says.
The women want to do more. They want to make communion wine and begin producing framed hand-written Bible verses so that they might continue to share Christ around the world, David says.
The shelter was made possible by funds contributed through the Department of Women Ministries’ Break the Chains project. Click here to read a previous story.
Editor’s note: Given the numerous challenges related to importation and resale of products containing food ingredients, production capacity limitations, and monetary exchange considerations among others, there is no system in place to accommodate sales of the wafers through the online Covenant store. Should the situation change, Covenant News Service will post an updated online news story.