The most recent water well sponsored by Jesus’ Economy provides 600 people with access to clean water in Bihar, India. Most of the people in the village where the well was drilled are extremely impoverished and previously lacked access to clean water. Having this basic need met has changed their lives.
Prior to this well being drilled in May 2019, the only people who had sustained access to clean water in this village were a few wealthier people, who had hand pump wells in their own homes. The remainder of the villagers work in agriculture and couldn’t afford to drill a water well for themselves.
That’s when Jesus’ Economy sponsored church planter Rahul stepped in. He heard of these people’s need and encouraged the villagers to apply to Transformation India Movement (TIM), the organization to whom Jesus’ Economy issues grants for the Renew Bihar, India initiative. Rahul guided local village leaders through the application process. Transformation India Movement performed a survey and found the village’s need was something they could help with. With granted funds from Jesus’ Economy, they were able to dig a water well 80 feet deep for this village. Now hundreds have access to clean drinking water.
When a water well is completed, there is an inauguration ceremony. This one was held on May 24, 2019 with more than 50 people in attendance to celebrate. During the ceremony, church planter Rahul was able to share with those in attendance about the Living Water, Jesus. He was also able to share that the well was made possible by the generosity of Christians. This is a tangible way for villagers who have previously never heard about Jesus to know Jesus’ love, concern, and care for them. And to see that Jesus can do exceedingly more than one can imagine.
This water well was sponsored by the 2019 grant of Jesus’ Economy to Transformation India Movement. It was made possible by the generosity of people like you. This water well is the eight water well sponsored by Jesus' Economy. We’re preparing our 2020 grant now, so it’s the perfect time to donate to clean water so that another water well for the impoverished may be drilled.
You now have extra time at home, why not use it to refocus your life on ...
Check out Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. Years of learning are packed into this one, practical book by our founder. And Jesus' Economy is endorsed by over 40 Christian leaders from around the world.
The book Jesus’ Economy:
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“An inspiring ... account about Jesus, poverty, and the mission of the church.”
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“Deep insights ... well worth reading, pondering, and putting into action.”
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“The message of Jesus' Economy is ‘You can do this!’ ... helps us believe all over again.”
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In this time of great need in our world, we here at Jesus' Economy join with you in prayer. We pray for God to heal our world.
I often walk in the trees. It helps me to reflect on what I'm rooted in. As I see the deep roots of the trees, I ask, "Who are you God, and who am I in light of who you are? Am I rooted in what matters to you or am I rooted in what matters to me?" And that's the big question for all of us. That's the question we're exploring via Proverbs 11–12 in this week's Jesus' Economy Podcast episode, "Be Rooted Like a Tree of Life."
In this sermon, I examine Proverbs 11–12 to show that God calls us to be rooted like a tree of life. That rootedness changes our lives and our communities. Some key verses from these chapters are:
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. ... In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality" (Proverbs 11:30; 12:38).
That's a powerful thought. Jesus also talked about trees as a metaphor for growing in faith, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches" (Matthew 13:31–32).
The person who accepts the kingdom of heaven, God's wisdom and Jesus' message, not only finds life but becomes a person who offers life. This leads me back to that question I ask among the trees, "Who are you God, and who am I light of who you are? Am I rooted, O God, in what matters to you, or in what matters to me?" Reflect on that today.
What better way to transform our lives in 2020 than by God's wisdom? This podcast episode is a segment of the 16-part series, "Wisdom is a Choice." In this series, we are examining every chapter of the ultimate wisdom book, Proverbs. (Today's sermon was originally delivered on September 8, 2019 at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA.)
Enjoy this talk? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.
Behind many fair trade products is a desire to be eco-conscious. Fair trade is about fair wages for workers, but it's also about treating the environment fairly. There is an ethic to the fair trade effort. It's an ethic that honors people and the planet. It's also an ethic that honors cultural traditions. The Azizi Life Collection from Rwanda is a beautiful example of this.
Now you can shop fair trade, take care of the environment, and decorate and organize your home at the same time. Here are a few of the beautiful fair trade baskets and storage units created by artisans from Rwanda.
This fair trade basket comes in small, medium, or large, and is perfect for serving or display. You could put a small basket near your front door and use it for keys, or a medium basket on your dining room table filled with fruit. Each basket also has a loop on the back for easy hanging, and they would look gorgeous on your living room wall. And when your guests ask about it, tell them the story about where it comes from and how you positively impacted a community in Rwanda.
This banana leaf tray is crafted from locally-gathered stalks of leaves from banana trees. The leaves are carefully threaded around the stalks, and the result is a super sturdy tray that’s great for any use. Buy one, or buy three—they’re easy to stack!
This unique and beautiful bamboo basket is handcrafted in the traditional Rwandan technique. It is lightweight and delicate, perfect for display or for holding your treasures. Each of the colors is created with natural dyes such as tea, soot, and rock applied to the grass with banana flower.
The banana twine magazine tote is a great basket that makes a practical decoration, and an easy on-the-go carrier. With hand-spun banana leaf twine, this basket is sturdy and durable, and perfect for a stack of books, a few skeins of yarn, or some of your tot’s favorite toys. It could even work as a little picnic basket! Buy one and bring hope to artisans in Rwanda!
These beautiful rustic boxes are a wonderful way to stay organized in fair trade style. They are available in three sizes, and they fit inside each other nicely. These cubes are practical and durable, and are the perfect way to manage craft supplies, toys, or sweaters. The large size is even designed to fit into regular modular storage shelves. You can’t go wrong with these storage cubes, and you can’t go wrong with fair trade.
This striking basket is the quintessential Rwandan gift. In Rwanda, these baskets are often used to hold other gifts—like the one given by every bride to her new husband’s mother. This type of basket is often used to hold dry goods like beans or rice. Each grass basket takes an entire week to weave, and it’s made from all-natural and locally grown materials. Be smart about the environment, support artisans around the world, and buy one of these baskets!
Having trouble staying organized? These banana panel storage boxes are the answer! Created with banana leaves. These boxes are practical and can hold up to your demands! Use one to store your favorite photos, some small toys, or use it to stack napkins in the middle of your table. Pick up a fair trade storage box and change a life in Rwanda today!
Shopping fair trade brings communities together, treats the earth right, and is an all-around ethical way to buy things for yourself and for others.
What better way to transform our lives in 2020 than by God's wisdom? In this 16-part podcast series titled "Wisdom is a Choice," we are examining every chapter of the ultimate wisdom book, Proverbs. In our fifth podcast episode in the new series, we examine Proverbs 9–10. Behind these chapters is the big question, "Why fear God?" Some key verses from these chapters are:
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. ... The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing" (Proverbs 9:10–11; 10:27–28 NIV).
Why do we fear God? To answer this question imagine this: A long time ago, in a place not that different than our own, there were two women. These two women held opposite beliefs. Their convictions ran deep. Each woman did what she could to call the inhabitants of that place to follow her. One woman was named Wisdom; the other, Folly. Wisdom and Folly dueled for followers, day in and day out. They each claimed they could bring joy. They each spoke of the fears in life. Proverbs 9–10 is how they speak. This is their story, as told by God.
In many developing world contexts, women often face a distinct disadvantage when it comes to overcoming poverty. While the reasons may vary from region to region, this disadvantage is often rooted in long held patriarchal beliefs and gendered assumptions. This problem is only heightened when resources are already limited, like they are in the developing world. In these regions, women are often excluded from key industries and denied an education. Instead of seeking work, women are encouraged to tend to the home and community. In addition, women often have less access than men to important community resources such as medical care, credit, and career training.
When women are offered few resources and few opportunities for their voices to be heard, they have little ability as individuals to improve their means. Yet they have the potential to make an extraordinary impact on their households and communities if given the chance. They’re often tasked with the society sustaining responsibilities of rearing children, tending to crops, and providing clean water. If given the proper information and adequate resources, women make immediate improvements that serve as building blocks for future growth.
When considering sustainable aid, human rights organizations and fair trade companies seek to break down traditional employment barriers by offering impartial, equal opportunity employment. Fair trade jobs not only provide consistent work and a livable wage, they create an infrastructure that empowers women through training, educational opportunities, childcare, microloans, team building, and savings match programs. They give women independence and they give them a safe space for voicing concerns. In the long term, they help balance the power between male and female, making it possible for societies to function for the benefit of everyone.
But how do we ensure that fair trade opportunities are truly fair? How can we, separated by hundreds or thousands of miles from fair trade co-ops, provide opportunity without encouraging dependence?
A successful fair trade operation relies on strong local leadership. Jesus' Economy partners with fair trade cooperatives around the world who are based in this impoverished communities. These cooperatives have relationships with fair trade artisans in the community. They're on the ground with them, guiding them, helping them, and watching them succeed.
Likewise, Jesus’ Economy’s Empowering Women program in Bihar, India relies on local representatives to organize community projects, provide training, and spread the message of Christ’s redemptive love. It’s a fair trade model with the potential for longevity—for positive, global change.
Fair Trade empowers women, thereby empowering communities. Empowered communities can change the world!
We as Christians have an obligation to support and promote fair wages and safe working conditions for all, to build up our sisters and brothers, to walk beside them on this rocky path of life.*
In these last of the dreary months of winter, we're dreaming about Nepal. And we're dreaming about what could be for the artisans living there through fair trade opportunities.
When you shop fair trade products from Jesus' Economy partner Cheppu from Himalaya:
What better way to transform our lives in 2020 than by God's wisdom? In this 16-part podcast series titled "Wisdom is a Choice," we are examining every chapter of the ultimate wisdom book, Proverbs. In our fourth podcast episode in the new series, we examine Proverbs 7–8. Some key verses from these chapters are:
"I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. ... Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power. ... I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver" (Proverbs 8:12, 14, 17–19 NIV).
The prevailing view of our culture is that wealth equals wisdom. There are few things that are further from the truth. Furthermore, pursuing our own desires will not bring us happiness. There are things far more valuable. The most valuable thing of all, the currency that we should seek, is God's wisdom.
As you contemplate how your resolutions are going, consider making this simple but important choice: Choose fair trade when you shop in 2020. Fair trade, which ensures that workers get paid fairly for the work they do, is a responsible way to shop for the things you need, and the things you want. Here are five reasons why you should choose fair trade in 2020.
When you shop fair trade, artisans are better able to afford basic necessities like food, water, and school supplies. When you shop fair trade you are helping other people build a more stable future for their families and communities. (Learn more about Fair Trade Standards.)
Are you looking for a new centerpiece for your table or vase for your mantle? Look for these items in the JesusEconomy.org Fair Trade Shop. On JesusEconomy.org, you’ll find dozens of beautiful and unique options to add character to your home.
Part of serving God is taking care of the earth he gave us. Many of the products in the Fair Trade Shop at JesusEconomy.org are created with natural, renewable, recycled, and local resources. Many of the baskets are woven with leaves dyed by teas and soot, while the leather bound journals are made from locally sourced goat or sheep leather in Haiti. The wooden bookends from Rwanda are carved from Jacaranda trees, a tree that grows back quickly even when cut down.
It’s easy to pick out a new necklace or set of earrings at your local big box store, but consider picking out fair trade jewelry the next time you need a new piece. From casual to dressy, the fair trade store has everything you’ll need to suit your style.
No matter who you are, you’ll probably have to give several gifts some time in the next year. Whether you’re looking for a gift for graduation, a baby shower, a birthday, or Christmas, we have you covered. The JesusEconomy.org Fair Trade Shop has everything from dish cloth sets to baby mobiles to tree ornaments. There is something for everyone on your list. And if you can’t choose something, go with the timeless option—a gift card!
Shopping fair trade is a way to get the things you need, while bringing hope to others in 2020.
It seems that learning the art of vulnerability is now a movement, thanks to people like Brené Brown and her incredible TED Talk, "The Power of Vulnerability." What if we embraced the power of vulnerability in not just our relationships, but also in our prayer lives? That's a concept that I think could transform our entire year, and potentially, our entire lives.
It’s hard to ask other people to pray for you. But asking for prayer is an opportunity to admit that you can’t do it all on your own—that you need Jesus and other people. Paul the apostle set this example for us.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul the apostle offers this short, but telling, remark:
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may progress and be honored, just as also it was with you, and that we may be delivered from evil and wicked people, for not all have the faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:1–2 LEB).
After offering his prayers for the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:3–4, 11–12), Paul asks that the Thessalonians pray for him. Paul’s motive is simple: he desires to proclaim the saving message of Christ. Paul makes himself vulnerable because the gospel going forth requires him to do so.
Paul and his colleagues established the church at Thessalonica (Acts 17:1–9). So the Thessalonian Christians well understood the value of Paul’s words. If Paul was given an opportunity to speak the word of the Lord, amazing things could happen. Paul’s request is rooted in the reality of his struggles—people opposing him because he represents Jesus.
Likewise, the Thessalonian Christians experienced this opposition first hand, when Paul and his colleagues were in Thessalonica. Thus, when Paul asks for prayer in light of the “wicked people,” the Thessalonian Christians understand what he means. Paul is concerned about persecution from those who do not believe in Jesus. Thus, Paul's request has in mind the context of an urgent need. Urgent, vulnerable prayer is required to overcome these difficulties.
We need to pray for one another regularly—especially in the context of the gospel going forward. It’s good that we ask for prayer. When we request prayer, we make ourselves vulnerable in front of other Christians. And the vulnerability before other Christians is also an admission of vulnerability before God. Collectively, we are asking for God’s intercession and grace. We are inviting God into our circumstances.
Paul’s context is not so different from that of many Christians around the world. We need to pray for those who are regularly experiencing persecution for the sake of the gospel. We do not need to fear; instead, we must trust that God will see through his work. We must petition him to work on our behalf. We must admit that, as frail people, we need divine help.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself, as you embrace vulnerable prayer in 2020:
Being vulnerable in our prayer lives is transformative. Being vulnerable means bringing our very deepest emotions and needs before God. And in being vulnerable during times of group and partner prayer, we can invite God to speak to us as a community, to intercede in our frail and fragile lives. We can also invite other people to walk alongside us in our deepest needs. Our world needs vulnerable prayer.
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*This post is adapted from my earlier article, "Be Vulnerable When Asking for Prayer."