October 20, 2017

The Secret’s in the Cake


“Vinegar and Cocoa,” Bitter and sweet, “and cafe.”

“Ahh, yes, coffee makes everything better,” I declared, priming Selena for her secret chocolate cake recipe,” we can be coffee loving sisters together.”

“I owned my oven for a long time before I ever learned to use it,” she confessed.

I chuckled, “Believe me, the majority of American women own kitchen appliances they have never used either. The difference, you actually learned. Many American women never do.”

Meet my entrepreneurial hero, Selena.

Another single mom, her husband walked out, leaving her to carry the load for her three children. Instead of stirring bitterness and resentment  into her pot of  ingredients,  Selena cooked up determination.

When her youngest daughter turned six months, a friend told her about Compassion’s Child Survival Program, which partners with mothers and at-risk children from newborn – age three. Selina applied, desiring help for her sweet blessing girl, but little did she know that less than two years later, she’d acquire the skills necessary to begin her own at-home business.

It’s been said that if you give a man woman a fish, you feed him her for a day. Teach a man woman to fish and you feed him her for a lifetime.

She took up the challenge and learned to “fish.”

“I’ve known how to cook since I was 9 years old and was responsible for cooking all the food for my family by the age of 12, but I never knew how to bake or decorate cakes. I learned how to create pastries through the Compassion program.”

“Some of my friends and I work together in our baking. We share. If one of us doesn’t have the money for flour, we borrow the flour, but then, the next time, I might need something. Every Thursday, we can bring our ingredients to the center and use the ovens at the church. Otherwise, I use my own “oven” to bake. Then I sell. People come to my house or else I will go around. I sell the chickens, ducks and guinea pigs I raise too.”

Oh my, to hear women empowering and encouraging other women. Fellow-shipping together over the breaking baking of bread warms my heart.

You see, I’m passionate about equipping women with the tools to make something out of nothing. But to see it lived out before my very eyes, in the middle of a dessert, on the side of a rocky cliff, truly extraordinary!

Her “For Sale” sign

Selina defines the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Can you imagine how mastering just this one life skill impacts generations?

Just one extra ingredient added to the bowl.

“You are modeling so much for your daughter. Just think of  how she will learn to bake along side of you and then she will be able to create a business for her family,” I encourage.

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship is more than just creating new money streams and providing for ones family, it’s “creating” in every sense of the word.

It’s taking creativity, initiative, and risk to pioneer change.

Deep down, we all yearn to truly create, just as we all long to worship. These are aspects of what it is to be made in the image of God.  God creates: we are made like Him, and therefore desire to create as well.

For most of the Peruvian people, the day to day stifles, but instead of letting it best her, Selina creates. She empowers. She bakes. She sells. She dreams.
She probably never even knew she had it in her, until He touched her life.

Creating pastries, creating business, and thereby creating a better life for her children, all because of your help.

As two mothers swap recipes, life moments are shared together. We dream of better futures for our children. It’s vastly different for both of us, but at the core, our mommas hearts beat as one.

Compassion’s desire doesn’t cease when children are freed from the bondage of poverty, they want to smash it, and rebuild a new tomorrow.

I really struggled with what to write today.

The extreme poverty which I’ve experienced has left me with no words to go there. I can’t. It’s too painful, and still so raw, but Selina’s story brings action. It brings hope. It’s the first chapter in a success story, still being written.

Hope through Compassion. With your help.

When she had no where to turn, Compassion took her by the hand and taught her to fish.

Her foundation is solid, her net is wide, and her cakes delicious.

As we were ready to leave, I asked if she was familiar with the scripture passage found in Titus 2.

She replies, “No.”

So we read it to her.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live…but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger ones…”

“You are a Titus 2 woman,” I explain. “You have much to teach these younger women, and model for them. When it says “older,” it doesn’t necessarily mean age,” I chuckle, since I am older than her, “it means wisdom, spiritual maturity and experience.You are brave and courageous and wise. You are a smart business woman too. I can tell you are a wonderful mother with such a tender heart for your children. Teach the others.”

I pray blessings of truth over her life.

She is a strong women, modeling many Proverbs 31 attributes. Honestly, I’m convicted of my own laziness. There’s no excuse.

These Peruvian women inspire.

I think of her cake – cocoa and vinegar, such an odd combination.

Sweet and bitter.

Yet her sweetness and joy casts out all bitterness. What’s left is the pleasant aroma of Christ. It’s a beautiful thing.

Won’t you sponsor me as we help others learn to “fish,” therefore freeing one more child from the bondage of poverty?

Peruvian children are starving. They’ve yet to eat cake.

5000 blessings wait to be sponsored. Won’t you make it 4,999?

One Sponsor. One Child. One Generation Impacted.

Release a child from Poverty. Sponsor a Child From Peru1 Boys Will Be Boys, but... (Peru: Day 3)

If you really wonder if one sponsorship makes a difference and you need to SEE first hand the families that Compassion are helping in more graphic detail, visit one of our homes. This is the coolest feature. The camera takes a 360 degree shot, so just click on the picture and you can rotate the lens to see all around where we visited.

Visit my sweet friends, Shaun GrovesAngie Smith and Kevin and Layla Palmer who are all on this journey this with me.

To read all my posts from Peru, click here.



  1. Seeing Peru through your eyes is a gift, Jen. I love how you see the mothers and the business – just like back home.


  2. Wow, Jen. We were together almost all day, but I missed hearing this woman’s experience and I’m SO glad you were with her so that I could!! What an inspiration!
    I loved that you shared Titus 2 with her…and now here on your blog, with me. 🙂


  3. Oh. Jen.
    Hanging on every word.
    And this woman’s story? And that poverty? Makes me eat and cook and *live* differently.

    *Thank you*… for changing the world with these words.


  4. Truly inspiring and encouraging! THANK YOU!!!


  5. Great post Jen. After seeing so much need, I love how you found the hope and inspired us with it.


  6. Christina Blalock says:

    Such hope here!! Our God is amazing to give so freely to them that love Him. Selina IS a Titus 2 woman, what an encouragement to her (and me). Thanks for sharing it and all these posts, it is wrenching to see what fallen men do to one another, I am praying for you and for strength! But to see His hands serving, giving, posting, loving and just being with the least if us, touches me deeply and give me such hope. Deep thanksgiving to you, Jen. God is good!!!


  7. Steve Jones says:

    I have loved reading your posts this week! You have truly blessed me. Thank you for what you have given and I pray that what you have received from opening your heart to what breaks His heart will continue to bless you and your family long into the future.


  8. Love that you shared Titus 2 with her! What a great story of overcoming circumstances, she has truly learned how to ‘fish’!


  9. Wonderful, beautiful post! The extreme hope paired with extreme poverty was the thing that left me reeling last spring as well. You are so right. It is the perfect mixture of. Utter and sweet. Praying for Salina now. Thanks for sharing her story.


  10. I’m always amazed by how God seems to bring the stories of women together who have so much in common even if they’re separated by countries. You with your bulk cooking days and entrepreneur’s heart connected with Selena? oh my, only God….

    LOVE that.


  11. Jen… This is amazing. I’ve been reading your posts and feel like I’m walking beside you. Thanks for sharing their stories with us.


  12. mary needham says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I am so glad God chose to send you, and I know it has been a wonderful, yet heartwrenching experience.


  13. Disappointed says:

    “Our God is amazing to give so freely to them that love Him.”

    But the children whose parents are not Christian can starve? What is this group doing to help the families that are not attending an affiliated church? Not whoring them out to American women who want to feel good about their faith while making money, anyway.

    The Prosperity Gospel is a self-serving contrivance at best.


    Jen Reply:

    So sorry if I was not clear in my post and there was a misunderstanding. I looked over the quote that you mentioned and I didn’t write anything like that, but just to clarify their mission.
    The majority of the parents that Compassion ministers to are not Christians. It’s the local church in their area that are reaching out to the unchurched, and those whose children are being ministered to do not even attend church and never have, nor does Compassion determine who they help based on church affiliation. The parents are not required to attend, but the children that are part of the program do come three times a week to the project for classes etc, so it truly is an organization that is being the hands and feet of Jesus to reaching out to all.

    And your comment about Prosperity Gospel, I agree. I don’t ascribe to any of its sentiment.


Share Your Thoughts