Two Anderson County Natives Help Orphans and Widows Around the World

Bryan Proctor and Sara Beth FentressAquaponics System

Helping orphans and widows in third world countries is something that two Anderson County natives are passionate about as they work to connect those with special skills to improve the lives of those less fortunate.

Sara Beth Fentress grew up in Anderson County and graduated from Anderson County High School although she now lives in North Carolina.  She became involved in a ministry helping to train students in Africa how to play sports as well as providing equipment. During a trip to Kenya in 2007, she realized that the students there needed much more than just soccer equipment and training.  They were so malnourished that they couldn’t even sustain playing a few hours.

A few years later in 2011, she decided to start a new ministry to help provide food, education, shelter and more to those in need in third world countries but in a way that would bring those who could help to those that need it.  Called 127 Worldwide, she began going to local churches and talking about how members can help orphans and widows.

During a time at First Baptist Church, she talked to the congregation about her work and that inspired another local Anderson County resident, Bryan Proctor, to join the cause.  Together, the new ministry grew and more staff members joined across the country.

According to Bryan, 127 Worldwide’s main mission is to help orphans and widows, which also inspired the name from the Bible passage James 1:27 that describes that pure religion is helping orphans and widows.  “Connecting people to meet the needs of orphans and widows around the globe,” Sara said explaining that this is their mission statement.

To help, 127 Worldwide created connections to credible organizations in third world countries like Kenya, Uganda, Honduras, and more who need the help as well as connections in the US who want to give help.  They then bring them together. “We want to be like eHarmony for orphan care,”  Sara said.

One example, Bryan explained, was during a trip two years ago when local Kenyan partner leader, Rose Bugusu, came to the US to meet with the 127 Worldwide staff. Bryan decided to take her to the Cumberland Fish Hatchery.  There, he wondered if building something like that in Kenya would help the orphans.  Asking Rose, she thought it was a great idea and prayed for it to happen.

A short time later, through a connection that Sara had, they were able to meet with a fish biologist who wanted to help in a third world country but felt that being a fish biologist wouldn’t help there.  With some planning, the biologist, Sara, and a few others traveled to Kenya and built the first workable aquaponics system that would provide fresh fish as well as fresh vegetables to the people.  It was a huge success and a year later they went back and built an acre pond that could hold more than 4000 fish.

“It’s empowering people who have skills here who can help but might not think that’s really a ministry gift,” Sara explained.  It’s one of the four major pillars that 127 Worldwide holds, including showing how poverty really affects people, speaking on behalf of widows and orphans, investing in credible partnerships, and empowering leaders.

Through the years, the organization has received national recognition and continues to grow.  They are looking to expand their partner organizations in more countries around the world to help even more people.  They also hope to continue connecting with more people who want to help from churches and organizations from around the country.

For more information about 127 Worldwide, check out their website.

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Posted in Faith & Values, Family & Community.

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