“As a church in the capital Tbilisi, we can have a positive influence in Georgia through Business As Mission (BAM). 80 percent of the inhabitants are Orthodox believers, but only come to church during heyday to light a candle for a saint. I strongly believe in the power of the local church that is active in society. We are already seeing this with our day care, homework support or the families we support, but with the collaboration with Worldpartners we can increase our impact.” Speaking is 45-year-old Merab Gaprindashvili. He is pastor of a Baptist congregation in Tbilisi and ‘bishop’, chairman of 27 Baptist congregations in Georgia and contact point for Worldpartners projects.
How did you get in touch with Worldpartners?
Through the network. We work together in a project with the Dutch foundation ‘Kom over en help’ and they brought us in contact with Jouke and Hans from Worldpartners.
What collaboration is there now?
First of all, it is an honor to work with these people. We had several meetings online during the corona pandemic. In 2021 we had a physical meeting and visited places in Georgia with, among others, Erik de Vries, who is the operational manager of a BAM pig project in Ukraine.
In southwestern Georgia, 8 hectares of farmland have been acquired and stables will soon be built to keep pigs. In the east, we help a winegrower to make his business organic and profitable. In addition, maize has recently gone into the ground to be harvested around September this year.
How is the balance between the business and the spiritual aspect?
Through this project we create employment to be able to pay four people full-time and we also help many seasonal workers to work places, especially around harvest time. With the profit from the pigs we want to help 20 – 25 children who will also enter an education program. They are currently on a waiting list.
“We want to use the profit from the pigs to help 20 – 25 children who will also enter an education program.”
The project is a good opportunity to talk about various themes such as ‘stewardship’ and taking your responsibilities. My wish and hope is that the working community hears more about Jesus, but also sees how we as Christians treat each other and that this is contagious.
What moment did you remember during the collaboration?
When Jouke, Erik and Hans were in Georgia we visited different places. Working together, sharing knowledge and discussions were valuable. The experience that Worldpartners has is very important for the success of this project.
Worldpartners works cooperate as much as possible with the local population, churches and pastors. Through the church we are meaningful to the people around us.