Here at Jesus' Economy, we love to take you on adventures. During the last few weeks of June, we have taken you around the world, talking about God's global perspective along the way. Here's a round-up of our fun together:
For our "Living for Jesus" Wednesday post, I offered you an essay about God's global perspective, showing you what it means for God to love the entire world, not just one nation, culture, or people group. This has the power to change the way we view our place in the world.
Kalene Barry imagined life in Zambia, taking you on a journey from Manhatten to the Village of Hope, a beautiful sanctuary created by our partner The Zambia Project.
Charlotte Van Werven surveyed summer, water fun and discussed the problems with people getting access to clean water, taking you across the planet in the process.
For "Living for Jesus" Wednesday, Charlotte asked the most major existential question: "Why am I here, really?" Charlotte's answer came from reframing the question as "What does God want from me?"
Seasons and fashion seem to go together. Charlotte's research into summer fashion trends takes you on a journey around the world and results in a surprising answer to the question: "What's in?"
As Christians, we're called to bring the gospel to the very ends of the earth, providing access to all people. But how are we doing at hitting that goal? Utilizing statistics from Issachar Initiative, Charlotte tells you.
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 NIV).
We know Jesus commands us to spread the gospel across the earth. But how are we doing?
The following is a summary of findings from the Issachar Initiative.
Currently, the Global Church consists of an estimated 5 million churches, and 2.3 billion Christians, about 250 million of which are Americans. The numbers are growing, but the gospel still hasn’t reached even close to everyone.
More than 1 million neighborhoods don’t have a single church, 4,000 language groups still don’t have the Bible, and 3,100 people groups have no missionary. These unreached corners of the world are mostly illiterate, meaning they need to receive the gospel orally, which cannot happen without sufficient missions funding by the Church in the rest of the world.
About 99.7% of the resources (missions activities and financial support) of churches are directed toward the Church where it already exists; whereas it is estimated that only 0.3% is being directed to where the church is not.
The Global Church is growing, but the Great Commission won’t be fulfilled without the resources to go out and reach the entire world.
There are so many people who are yet to hear the gospel, but we can’t give up. It’s an issue that is enormous, no doubt, but there are 250 Million Christian Americans who can do something about this—so let’s solve the problem. And that's just us, on this side of the globe. Think of what would happen if developed nations everywhere got on board.
The statistics in this post are sourced from Issachar Initiative, who is dedicated to serving the body of Christ by bringing vision and focus so its resources are strategically directed towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Jesus' Economy is working towards fulfilling the Great Commission: See our efforts to provide access to the gospel in Bihar, India, where millions are yet to hear the name of Jesus.
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Seasons and fashion seem to go together. To kick off the sunshine, we’re holding a summer sale at Jesus’ Economy. (What better way is there to start summer?) And to celebrate summer fashion, here’s a rundown of summer fashion around the world.
As I was trying to guess what the summer trends are going to be this year, I came to the conclusion that the trend is essentially “our decision.” Of course, designers have already proposed their own interpretations of summer, but there doesn’t seem to be a set style.
If you’re like me, when you walk around the mall you’re shocked by the diversity of choices. This is now the fashion industry—choose who you are. Nothing seems to be particularly “in” or “out.” What’s “in” is to wear what you like; what’s “out” is to dress merely to impress.
It seems like the world is taking an approach at letting us, well, be us. Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour:
“Create your own style … let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”
Fashion is about the people. It’s about who we are and who we want to be. It’s about what kind of story we want to tell—or at least it should be.
“I believe fashion is an expression of your style,” says Abeer Nauman, an Indian Designer who puts pieces of herself into her designs. Fashion “reflects your personality and culture. It has the power to transform an image and make a social statement. So fashion defines who you are.”
In fashion, trends appear to be shaped by culture. Whatever direction a certain culture is heading, fashion will follow.
And as cultures are blending together in our interconnected world, what we are wearing reflects that. Fashion now reflects the fusion of different places.
Right now, the “in” seems be a celebration of differences, diversity, and our merging cultures.
Through Jesus’ Economy fair trade shop, you can celebrate diversity with accessories from around the world. We have hairclips, bracelets, belts, headbands, necklaces, earrings, sandals, t-shirts, and bags from Haiti, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, and Uganda. From all of these places come many different styles and unique interpretations of culture. Nothing looks exactly the same, and all of it is “in” right now.
Even better than looking fashionable this summer in your unique accessories and apparel is making a purchase that gives hope to the artisans who created it. With Jesus’ Economy, you can do just that while also helping the global economy.
May your summer be filled with joy!
As you begin to slow down and enjoy the fashion of the season, don’t forget our summer sale: All Rwandan accessories are each $10 for 10 days! You have nine days left to get in on our first sale since Cyber Monday!
Why am I on earth? It’s the most major existential question we ask. But perhaps it’s better framed as: What does God want from me?
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17 NIV).
These may be some of the most misinterpreted verses in the Bible. I’ve seen people read these verses and then completely shun the world. They think that this passage is telling them to live secluded lives and to ignore the people who ignore Christ—to simply reject the world.
But that’s not what God tells us to do. God loves the world, for he sent his son to die for it (John 3:16–17). Thus, God is not saying to shun the world; he is telling us to not love what the world loves. We should not love the world’s desires and passions.
In 1 John, the world is a metaphor here for evil desires. And the evil of this world will pass away, but “whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
God doesn’t want us to hate the world; he simply wants us to fulfill His good and perfect will.
God’s will is for us to love him, and to glorify him in all that we do. Part of loving God is loving the people he created. If we truly love him, love for his creation follows (Matthew 22:37–39).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16–17 NIV).
Here in John’s Gospel the metaphor of the world is representative of all of humanity—God loving humanity in spite of humanity’s evil acts.
It is not our job to shun the world; it is our joy to love the people in the world, as God loved them first—that all of humanity might be saved through Christ.
Sometimes, loving the people around us can be incredibly hard.
A few days ago, I passed a group of kids who were smoking and way too young to be doing so. They were dressed very inappropriately and disrespecting the people around them. As a do-gooder, my natural response was to shake my head. I then simply looked at them, took pity on them for their ignorance, and kept walking. Then, a feeling of pride rose in my heart as I considered myself as someone who knows better. But that’s not what’s supposed to happen, nor what did.
As I walked by, my first thought was, yes, one of judgment. But as I kept walking, God reminded me that he wants something more of me: I am not supposed to judge nor just simply walk by.
We are supposed to take it a step further. We are called to love them.
Instead of just walking by, maybe I should have smiled at the kids, said hello, or tried to show them that I cared. I don’t want to be the scoffer that walks by. I also don’t want to be the person who “proclaims God’s Word” and then walks the other direction. I want to live out my beliefs—I want to glorify God. I want to truly show love.
If we are to glorify God, we must truly love the people around us—all of them. We must love the rich and the impoverished, the mean and the nice, the whole and the broken. Whether we like it or not, this is what we are called to do.
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:33 NIV).
The needy are not just the people who live on the streets. The needy are also those who don’t have Christ. The needy are the ones who are alone.
And we can be here for them. We can ask them what they need, and we can do our best to empower them—thus shining the light of God.
When we are able to see what really matters in life—when we see what God’s will truly is—we provide for the impoverished and needy, and we store up our treasures in heaven instead of on earth. We see what it means to live out of God’s desires instead of the desires of the world.
I am here to glorify God. I am here to satisfy God’s will. I am here to love the whole world. I am here to love all of the people in the world.
How can I show them love best? I can show them I love them by empowering them. I can be here for them. I can walk up to them and have a conversation. I don’t need to push my love. I need to let it flow from me—just as God’s love flows into me.
We are here to love the world.
Our world is more interconnected than ever before. And that means that the gospel can finally reach its full fruition as Jesus intended. Today is the day that we change our world. The time is now.
Water is a part of life. It is a part of life, everywhere. And God is in it.
As the weather is getting warmer, we are getting ready to spend our days outside enjoying the peace of summer. We watch little kids swim in pools with their little water wings and goggles, we run through sprinklers to cool ourselves off, and we water our thirsty plants with water straight from the tap. School is out, and people are flocking to the beaches, rivers, and lakes for water sports and sun bathing—people are coming together to stay cool and enjoy their break.
Just a few days ago, a water main collapsed in Burbank, California, causing a huge sinkhole—the streets nearby flooded with water. Several homes were without water and some homes were flooded. But citizens have positively spun this entire difficulty by taking to streets to enjoy their little river. Kids have brought their boards and inner tubes out, floating in the sun. Although this is an unfortunate circumstance, people are making the most of it—making their own great start to summer.
In Fresno, California, the city is taking charge of drought awareness, and recently taught kids about understanding water at their City of Fresno Kid’s Camp. The camp was filled with 8 and 9 year olds who were learning how and why to conserve water, while learning how water plays a crucial part in their lives. The camp decided to show the kids how to have fun with water this summer, while saving it. They also showed the children the role water plays in the making of their favorite foods and treats.
In Sheffield, England, an annual fun run just took place to provide clean water in Nigeria. Last year, they were able to provide 10 bore wells. For the last several years, people have filled Weston Park to run about the same length that many people in the developing world go each day to get water. Runners run for fun and the joy of helping others. But of course it isn’t just parts of Nigeria that lack access to clean water.
In Africa alone, 345 million people don’t have access to clean water. In Eastern Asia, 200 million people are without access to clean water. In South, West, and Central Asia, 196 million people lack the simple staple of fresh and clean water.
Around the world, 780 million people lack access to clean water. 3.4 million people die each year from water related diseases.
India is facing extensive issues as a result of unclean water. It is estimated that 6% of the world’s population lives along the Ganges River in India. Several cities dump their untreated sewage directly into the river, which is used downstream for drinking, bathing, and washing—exposing these people to many dangerous diseases. This pattern of river pollution occurs in many other developing countries, and is depriving many people of their futures.
We don’t have to sit and watch, though, we can all help.
Out of many things people are doing to help solve the water crises around the world, Jesus’ Economy is working in Bihar, India. One of things we do there is fund the digging of water wells. Every well provides access to clean water for 2,000 people. Each well costs only $1,000. This means 50 cents can provide clean water for one person.
Water is so integral to life that Jesus used to explain his very personhood:
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13–14 NIV).
In Jesus, there is an answer to the spiritual thirst of our world. Jesus is this water will satisfy us forever.
Throughout the summer, we will drink water for refreshment and hydration. We will sit back and enjoy it as summer moves along far too quickly. But this summer, let’s also remember the needs of our world as we do so—and let’s rise to meet those needs. In the process of doing so, let’s share Jesus—the living water—with others.
Today you are a world traveler.
You look out the windows of your sharp Manhattan apartment. The world below looks busy and crowded. People are running about on the street, selling things, dashing underground for the subway—getting in each other’s way. You sigh. For a simpler life, you think as you hail a cab to the airport.
The next afternoon your plane lands on the flat, grassy strip of runway at the Mongu airport. Western Zambia is warm this time of year, but not unbearable. A car awaits you and takes you to a nearby village the locals call the Village of Hope.
Stepping out of the car, your senses are entangled in your new surroundings. Rice filled with foreign spice is cooking in a kitchen somewhere.
There are children, bear-footed and dirty with sweat, kicking a soccer ball across a dusty field. A woman in a bright pattern skirt and shirt with a colorful cloth wound around her braided hair steps out from the largest of the buildings and calls the children to her. It’s time for school to start again. The late afternoon sun shines on their ruddy cheeks. The children run to their matron and she gathers them under her arm and into the large building.
Escaping, a little girl runs across the grassy field towards the home she shares with seven other children. The woman in the bright skirt looks imploringly at you to bring the little girl back. You run after the swift-footed child, by a playground, and finally into a small house. The wooden poles that form the walls of the house let in little shafts of light and the wind rustles softly through the thatching on the roof.
The child retrieves what she was after, a small green bear with the words, “from your American mom, Kathy” written on the side. The child flashes you a smile and escapes through the open door.
Back in your apartment in Manhattan, you sigh and pull down the shades to your bay windows. In your hand you hold a picture of the girl with the green bear. Her bright eyes and flashing smile move you to something, though you’re not sure exactly what. Putting down the picture, you turn and leave the room.
Although this story is fictional, the Village of Hope really exists. Jesus’ Economy’s partner The Zambia Project founded the Village of Hope as a haven for orphaned children of men and women who died of HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, or one of the many other common illnesses that plague the impoverished of Zambia. The Hope Art bracelets sold in Jesus’ Economy’s fair trade store raise money to support the children in the Village of Hope. Now that you have seen the picture, what will you do?
God loves the whole world—not just a single person, culture, or nation.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine).
How we look at the world is a driving force behind who we are and what we do. When I think upon the fact that God gave his son so that all the world could be saved—not just me—I realize that I do not always act like that is the case. How often do I think about my felt needs over the needs of the planet?
I’m not just talking about recycling here—which is a good idea, of course. I’m talking about the need to move from a “me as the center of my concerns” viewpoint to a “other people being the center of my concerns” viewpoint.
Being a Christian means shifting our viewpoint. We need to shift our focus to our neighbors and outstretch our arms to the nations, like Jesus did when he outstretched his arms on the cross.
We need to change the way we interpret our world—so that God and his work is our focus.
Our praise for God should cause others to praise him. We should think as the psalmist does:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations” (Psalm 108:3 ESV).
If we praised God as the psalmist does—ensuring that others heard our praises of God—I believe we would see a significant change in our world. People would hear about who he is and what he is doing and be moved by it. As people see Christians praising God because of his great work in the world, they will be moved by our worship to take action themselves. By praising God for his work around the entire world, we can put in a good word for Jesus, explaining how he has transformed our lives.
But praise is not so easy for many.
I regularly feel disheartened; I think we all do, if we’re really honest with ourselves. And as someone who has struggled with depression, I am even more aware than most of when I am feeling a bit down and out. But tackling poverty has helped me move beyond my own demotivating thoughts to a greater perspective.
Tackling poverty requires looking beyond today’s circumstances towards the future of what God wants to do. It has been through tackling poverty that I have been able to overcome many of the things that usually make me depressed. The work of empowering people in the developing world to overcome poverty forces you to think globally. It makes you look beyond yourself, to see how God is at work all over the world.
It is in having a type of global perspective that I find the ability to overcome negative feelings. I find comfort when I reflect upon how God is at work everywhere, orchestrating powerful changes for the world through his people, Spirit, and angels. Using these same ideas, and near the end of his life, Peter offers these comforting words to Christians:
“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” (2 Peter 3:1–3 ESV).
It is easy to be a hater and a scoffer. And false teachers will preach against what God is doing—Peter is primarily speaking against them in his letter. But we can have hope in the promises of God and his work. We can look beyond our current circumstances and into the future of what God is doing and how he will move.
God’s global perspective allows for us to shift our focus, even when things are hard.
God’s global perspective has also changed the way I view my efforts as a non-profit leader and as a publisher: Is what I’m doing to empower a particular community not just good for them, but all of humanity? Is it possible for me to publish content that will help the entire human race, not just one people group?
God is moving towards empowering the nations. It is within his plan. So why would I not want to be a part of it? The prophet says in Isaiah 52:10:
“The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
The prophet goes on to reveal how the suffering servant is the figure that will bring this about (Isaiah 53:10–12). And it is in Jesus that this is fulfilled and that all people can come to God.
The idea that God has a global perspective has also changed the way I pray. Why is God not saying “yes” to my request? Perhaps it has a negative affect upon someone else—and in my finite perspective, I can’t see that. I can’t point to a particular Scripture to back this up; it is just a hunch. After all, didn’t the disciples pray that Jesus would be freed? It sure seems likely. But if Jesus was freed before he reached the cross, we all would be without salvation (see Isaiah 53:10).
And this reveals something essential about prayer: Prayer is meant to center us upon who God is and what he wants to do. It’s not really about us—although it involves us. It is about him. And it is a chance for us to give others a great gift—prayer intercession on their behalf.
How often do I pray about my community, my company, and my life, before turning to the nations? When I hear a sad news story, do I pray only when it seems that it will affect me in some way? I hope that my emphasis isn’t on things related to me, but my concern is that it very well may be.
I am ready to shift my focus to God’s global perspective—and believe I can do so—but I know that it is only in God’s good grace and strength that I can do so. It is only through God that I can make significant changes (Philippians 4:13). Are you ready to focus on God’s global perspective?
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"For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, but are we overlooking something critical about it? In our new VLOG, I tell you about an often overlooked part of this beloved verse and its implications about each and every one of us.
For the rest of June, our "Around the World" series will bring you posts about simple and profound things happening around our planet. We will discuss how God is at work everywhere, as well as the work that we believe he wants to do. We will tell you about everything from summer fashion around the world, to God's global perspective according to the Bible, to how people are having fun with water (but also need it).
Join us as we journey around the world, to gain perspective on what God is doing.
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