For her birthday in 2017, Jesus' Economy volunteer, Rachel Thompson, took on an ambitious task: to raise $500, half the value of a water well in Bihar, India.
When the donations came pouring in and Rachel's campaign surpassed its goal, she went one step further. During the Christmas season of the same year, she asked friends and family to donate in order to raise the full $1,000 value of a water well, providing thousands of people with clean water. We interviewed Rachel about her campaign journey and the stories of God's faithfulness she saw along the way.
Q: Rachel, tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your involvement with Jesus' Economy.
My husband and I both work in church ministry in Ithaca, New York. We have two beautiful young children. I've volunteered with Jesus' Economy for several years. I started out throwing house parties for products and more recently have served as the executive assistant. I enjoy being part of a driven and talented team.
Q: Why did the idea of a birthday campaign appeal to you?
There is such a disparity of wealth and resources in our world. When I think about accumulating more stuff, it just strikes me as ridiculous. Especially after moving all of that stuff recently! Fundraising through Jesus' Economy is really attractive and easy. I think people are looking for meaningful gifts to give their loved ones. I thought I could leverage that to shine some light in the world. Many of us want to help people in need, and are looking for the way to do so. While I was thrilled about the generosity of my friends and family during this campaign, I wasn't surprised. Good people are looking for ways to help others, and organizations like Jesus' Economy are offering streamlined ways to do so.
Q: Why did you choose to raise money for clean water in Bihar?
Especially since becoming a parent, I have refocused my priorities. The most important thing to me is that my family's needs are met. When my husband comes home to a peaceful sanctuary, my kids know love, they have food to eat, and a warm bed to sleep in, I can also thrive. My heart aches for parents who do not have access to basic needs like clean water for their children. I don't understand how people can be dying from water-borne illnesses in 2017. We live in such an interconnected world, and organizations like Jesus' Economy are connecting Western prosperity with third world needs. Jesus' Economy's Renew Bihar project is promoting a holistic approach to empowering the impoverished. I love that the church planters we partner with in the area will have the opportunity to share the love of Christ, the Living Water, through this well.
Q: Please share with us some stories from your campaign. How did you see God working through your efforts?
It was really beautiful to witness God inspiring the people who donated to this campaign. Donors included people from all walks of life—farmers, missionaries, teachers, nurses, stay-at-home moms, ivy league grads and PhDs, teenagers, and children. A student from our youth group made a large donation. There was one story in particular that was really special. My sweet friend and fellow pastor's wife shared the well project with her children [and invited them to participate]. She recounted the story below.
"'So you know Mrs Thompson? For her birthday sometime in the summer, she was asking people to donate money to build a well in India instead of giving her presents. She was hoping to raise money for half the well which costs $500, but she ended up raising more than that. So for Christmas, she decided to ask more people to donate money instead of giving her Christmas gifts to see if she could get enough to build a whole well. She has raised [at the time], $911. She only has $89 left to getting a full well built. You don’t have to, but would you like to give some money to help her get her well built?' James had a lot of questions about the well. We talked about how not every child has access to running water like we do. I did emphasize that giving was optional and the amount was optional. No sibling had to know what the other gave. Adam and Sophia gave generously but what touched me most was James (who is 7). He jumped up and ran upstairs for his piggy bank. He had $2 in it and he took out a dollar and gave it to me for 'Mrs Thompson’s well.'"
If you would like to start a campaign for clean water, empowering women, church planting or another aspect of the vision of Jesus' Economy to create jobs and churches in the developing world, start here.
Do you draw a complete blank when people ask, "So, what do you want for your birthday?" Are you feeling like you want to give back but just aren't sure how? Birthday dedications are for you!
Birthday dedications to a cause are an effective way to alleviate poverty and plant churches. Our projects like Renew Bihar are supported by donations efforts such as this. It's one of the the best ways you can make an impact in the remote villages in Bihar, India.
Your family and friends can donate money toward creating jobs, planting churches, or meeting basic needs. It's completely customizable. You can choose where you want the funds to go and your gift giver can choose the amount they want to give. 100% goes to the cause.
To dedicate your birthday, email us at email@example.com. And your birthday doesn't have to be soon to do so, you can pledge your birthday now and we will email you closer to the date.
You can either have a simple photo on your birthday dedication page, create an eye-catching meme, or come up with a video that gets people watching and donating.
Here are some videos and images of people who've dedicated their birthday in the past.
Playing on a pun, Kati Clair ... See Kati's birthday's dedication here.
Our Founder, John D. Barry, ... . See John's birthday dedication here.
Dedicate your birthday to a cause. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Kati Clair. Kati is an exceptional woman and she wanted to do something equally exceptional for her birthday this year. She is partnering with Jesus’ Economy to raise money to empower women in Bihar, India. Instead of buying Kati a gift, she would love for you to donate to help women in Bihar learn sewing and business skills, and also to obtain microloans that help them work toward better futures.
Kati has been encouraged by Jesus’ Economy’s goal of holistic community transformation and is always looking for ways to support this ministry. “Jesus cares deeply for women when they are oppressed and ignored, and Jesus' Economy is extending the loving and dignifying touch of the Messiah through this outreach,” she says.
To her, it is important that we recognize the mission of Christ, which is to meet the needs of all people—both physically and spiritually. She wants to show people what life in Bihar is like and that everyone has the opportunity to support these women in hopes of renewal.
“I am thrilled to be able to multiply the joy that a birthday normally brings by extending gifts to the women in Bihar,” she says, “knowing that those gifts will be used in transformational ways. I couldn't ask for a better birthday gift than that—it is truly more blessed to give than to receive!”
The blessing is what matters to Kati. She cares for the women of Bihar, and she desires to see them receive help. “I would love for people to become more aware of Jesus' Economy and what is being accomplished in Bihar in the name of Christ,” she says. “I also would like for people to be blessed by the joy of giving—as Paul said, ‘I seek for the profit that increases to your account' (Philippians 4:17).”
We seek to glorify God with our lives, and Kati hopes much glory will be given Him through this campaign.
“I am grateful to everyone who has taken the time to click through the page, watch the video, pray, or give financially. As someone who enjoys working with her hands, it fills me with delight to think of giving that opportunity—to make goods, sell them, and support a family—to someone else. It's life changing. It matters. I'm so thankful for Jesus Christ, who loved and empowered women first, even me. May all this be in His name, to the glory of God!"
If you feel called to support Kati’s birthday campaign, click here.