She can’t read or write, but Rakele Jacob is known as the Computer. Read her a Bible passage, her friends say, and she will cram it and start preaching it back to people.
Rakele is a 65-year-old member of Africa Inland Church in Juba, South Sudan. On important days when she takes the trip from her house across the Nile River into town, she wears satin and colored turbans.
On the days she stays home running her shop and entertaining visitors, she wears loose-fitting and comfortable clothes, her hair in tight braids, and a plastic bag over her head to protect against the rain.
She’s the two-time recipient of Partners International-funded microfinance loans for 200 South Sudanese pounds each, roughly equivalent to US$50.
The loans helped expand her ground nut, or peanut butter, business. She buys the nuts in bulk and grinds them into a paste the South Sudanese use to season many of their dishes, including the cultural favorite “Combo,” a stew of spinach, beef and peanut butter.
Before the loans, she was preparing ground nut paste on a small scale and selling pieces of crochet-work. She’d been selling the ground nut paste in the local market, but now her profits have allowed her to build a small shelter of bamboo in her compound wall.
What was initially a commodity enterprise has now become a small shop. Rakele bought a refrigerator where she can store buckets of ground nut paste, water, and cold drinks to sell. She’s also invested in charcoal to resell to customers in the community. Still she crochets, and her high tin-roofed house is stacked with warm blankets.
The day I visited her, the rain had become monsoon-like torrents and a short trip to see her shop turned into an afternoon visit as the rain seeped through her bright blue metal windows and rushed in sheets past her front door.
We sat inside in wooden chairs with orange velvet cushions and she told me I had brought her a blessing in the rain. When it looked interminable, we rushed outside with black and white striped plastic bags over our heads.
When she asked for prayer, it was for the children of her son, a police colonel, who has recently died in the conflict still running wild in the Juba streets. She asks for encouragement for herself as she looks after them, and for blessings on those who are sending money for loans.
200 South Sudanese pounds pays for two buckets of ground nut paste, she says, and while it has wrought a great change, it is not enough.
Let God bless their hands, she prays, looking at the rain. “The Lord says, ‘I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you.’”
How to pray for Rakele Jacob:
- pray for the orphans of her deceased son, especially for their ability to continue in their studies.
- pray for encouragement and strength for Rakele as she looks after and provides for them.
- pray for teaching for those who would like to learn to read the Bible.
- pray for blessings on those who are sending money for loans, that God would continue to bless their generosity and increase their gifts.