How It All Began...
"I think I want to teach people how to plant a garden using burlap bags"
Janet Johnson and Julie Hirschauer became close friends through their work with another mission. They traveled to the Philippines, China, and South Korea together. They have promoted children sponsorship in impoverished areas, and have taught girls who have either fallen into the sex trades or are at risk of it. They have helped young girls and boys to become educated in Jesus. They have helped young men and women attend Bible College. They have helped new mothers with childcare education and provided pictures to these mothers of their babies for their keeping.
In 2021, Janet’s dear husband David went to live with the Lord. Also in 2021, Julie sold the business she had been building for 25 years. Both Julie and Janet found themselves searching for the Lord and asking what is next.
In February of 2022, they spent a week together in Florida seeking God. One evening, Janet said, “I think I want to teach the people in the slums of Bacoor Cavite, Philippines how to plant a garden using burlap bags.” Julie’s entrepreneurial mind responded with “Why just one bag? We could teach farming and aquaponics.” That was a fun evening! Their minds raced with ideas. Some brilliant; some not so much!
The next morning, Janet and Julie still felt what they talked about was possible and felt as if it was God-led. They began researching others who already are teaching these concepts. They visited Echo Global Farms in Fort Meyers, Florida. From there, they discovered many other organizations that helped them frame their new ministry, A.W.A.K.E. International Ministries.
Julie and Janet continued through the week with many “what if” scenarios. Janet was most excited about teaching the individual person and helping them to fulfill their potential. This excitement aligned well with her lifelong career of teaching. “What if we can help one family learn farming, fishing, or animal husbandry and they become healthier and have more money than just a day’s worth?” Julie was most excited about teaching the individual person how to build a sustainable and scalable business for that had been her lifelong career. “What if their small garden became an agricultural center that taught others? What if their one sewing machine became 20 machines that employed other people in their community.” And then it became eternal. “What if these endeavors lead people to Jesus.” The last “what if” excited them the very most!
That month, A.W.A.K.E. International Ministries was created and registered with the US government as a 501 3c ministry.