Global inequality is the root cause of much of the world's problems. If you can't feed or educate your children, you will become desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. Desperation even breeds terrorism. But we can do something about it. We have the power.

Impoverished communities are especially vulnerable to corruption and exploitation. If we could fix these ethical problems and create fair-wage jobs, we could cut off the problem at its source. We could change the world. The key to all this: technology, organization, and simple choices. We need action and we need the right plan. In this talk, I explain how we can leverage our interconnected world to fix global inequality.

I believe in these ideas so much that my wife and I gave up our former lifestyle to make it happen: selling our house, our possessions, and quitting a great job. In this talk, I explain what motivated me to make these drastic decisions; and the part I believe we all can play in transforming our world.

This talk was delivered for a special event at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center in Ithaca, NY on April 21, 2017. The talk was sponsored by Bethel Grove Bible Church.

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John Barry here, CEO of Jesus' Economy. Thank you to everyone who supported Jesus' Economy on #GivingTuesday. And thank you to all of you who shopped fair trade during Black Friday through Cyber Monday (and even into Giving Tuesday). We're creating a new global, spiritual and physical economy for those that need it most. Here's what we're accomplishing together.

1. Together, We're Creating Jobs for Artisans Overcoming Poverty via Fair Trade

For all of you who shop fair trade on JesusEconomy.org, your shopping counts for transforming lives. You're looking consumerism in the face and saying, "We can do better than this. I can bless people with great and thoughtful gifts, while blessing those from extreme poverty situations."

Thanks to you, we're creating or sustaining hundreds of jobs this year. Without you shopping fair trade at JesusEconomy.org, this wouldn't be possible. We're helping artisans lift themselves out of poverty, simply by how we shop. So thank you!

2. Together, We're Renewing Impoverished Communities

In one of the most impoverished places in the world, Jesus' Economy is planting churches and meeting basic needs. And later, once enough funds are raised, we will launch an economic development initiative in the same region.

And right now, we're giving clean water to the thirsty. And we're bringing the living water of Jesus to those who have never heard his name. All in the same communities! We're combining meeting basics needs with church planting. (This work is so impactful that Red Letter Christians recently featured it as a case study.)

What does this look like? Jesus' economy in action. Together, we're doing this. So thank you!

3. Together, We're Part of a Movement: Living Jesus' Economy

Every time you give and shop with Jesus' Economy, you're being part of the solution to the problems our world is facing. You're making our world a better place. And that inspires me. Together, we're showing the world what it means to live Jesus' economySo thank you!

Simply, thanks for living Jesus' economy with us. We're grateful to be part of this movement with you.

Renewing Communities Through Church Planting 

A huge part of the vision of Jesus’ Economy for holistic community transformation is creating churches by providing grants. Planting churches in Bihar, India is a vital part of renewing the community in the name of Jesus. When the gospel of Jesus Christ is learned and experienced through the ministry of a church community, lives are transformed.

Did you know that your small group, Bible study, or life group could be a part of this effort? By collectively sponsoring a church planter, you can support the formation of a spiritual community from across the globe. Through Jesus' Economy several small groups have supported renewing communities; now we're making it even easier for you to do the same.

We currently sponsor four church planters who work in different villages throughout Northern India. Rahul, Santhosh, Veer, and Advik are each dedicated to bringing the gospel to unreached people, to those who have never heard the name of Jesus. It only costs $226 per month to support a church planter. In a small group of eight people, it would cost each person less than $30 a month to sponsor one of our church planters’ monthly salary and expenses. The monthly amount also includes the administrative costs of our partner organization in India, which provides ongoing training, accountability, and infrastructure to the planters.

Here's how we're making it easy. Your small group can automatically give each month, by selecting monthly giving. With Jesus' Economy, you can set the sponsorship up once with someone's credit card and then collect the funds each month at your group; we will automatically charge the credit on file. Or, if you each want your own individual receipts, you can each commit monthly in a smaller amount to sponsoring the same church planter. Collectively, that church planter will be supported by your small group, Bible study, or life group. You will have brought the gospel to the unreached.

The Biblical Vision of Church to Church Support

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians about the beauty of church to church generosity. Encouraging the Corinthian church to fulfill their commitment to help the impoverished church in Jerusalem, he says:

“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:12–15 NIV)!

Paul declares that a donation is not only helpful for those who receive it, but also prompts others to praise God. He then connects the “indescribable gift,” that is Jesus, to the gift of generosity. As God has been generous to us through providing Jesus, so we should be generous to others.

A Reason to Praise God

The efforts of people supporting church planters in Bihar have led to us praising God! Here are some beautiful stories of transformation already happening in Bihar because of the partnership between church planters and those who have chosen to support their ministry.

People in Bihar are encountering the love and healing of Jesus for the first time ever. Their lives are changing as they choose to trust God. People are being baptized and churches are being formed. God is working through Rahul, Santhosh, Veer, and Advik—and he can also work through you.

Choose a Church Planter to Support

Click below to sponsor individual planters and read their stories:

 

Please prayerfully consider supporting one of our church planters with your small group today.

On today's Live Your Belief Podcast, Kalene Barry, Chief Projects Officer for Jesus' Economy talks with Victor Momoh, founder of the Sierra Leone branch of Global Missions Africa. His ministry goal is to bring the truth of Jesus to a predominantly Muslim nation and to unleash Africa's potential through the work of the Gospel. Find out how Victor and his team are doing this work. Let the Spirit bless you through their story. Listen below.  

Featuring Victor Momoh, Administer at Global Missions Africa: Sierra Leone

About Global Missions Africa

Global Missions Africa wants to ensure that Africa is for Jesus. Their pan-African missional efforts aim to reclaim Africa as an inheritance of God's purpose until the Word reaches every nation on the continent. They are currently working in Sierra Leone, Ghana, South Africa, and Madagascar -- ministering the Word, planting churches, training pastors, meeting basic needs, and providing entrepreneurship opportunities. To find out how you can support this great effort, write to Victor at globalmissionsafricasierraleone[at]gmail[dot]com.  

Or by mail, write to:
Global Missions Africa, Sierra Leone
7 New Signal Hill Road, Congo Cross
Freetown
Sierra Leone 

 

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On today's Live Your Beliefs Podcast, Kalene talks with Hayley Donor (Development and Communications Associate) and Brittany Barb (Sales and Branding Associate) of Indego Africa, a non-profit dedicated to women's empowerment in Rwanda. 

 

About Indego Africa

Indego Africa is a New York and Rwanda based non-profit whose mission is to break intergenerational cycles of poverty by providing female artisans with the tools and support to reclaim their own futures, flourish as independent business women, and drive development in their communities.

Shop for Indego Africa products in our fair trade shop. Find out more about how you can get involved with Indego Africa at their website

 

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On today's Live Your Beliefs podcast, Kalene Barry and Kathy Brooks, co-founder and director of 2nd Story Goods, talk about the changes she has witnessed God bringing in Jubilee, Haiti. Through partnership with local entrepreneurs and a healthy reliance on God's faithfulness, Kathy and her fellow Kingdom workers have witnessed miracle after miracle of community driven change. "[Haiti] is ready for a different reality," Kathy says. You won't want to miss her stories of the positive steps Jubilee residents are taking towards that new reality. 

About 2nd Story Goods

2nd Story Goods is dedicated to helping Haitians harness their natural skills and talents to create sustainable economies for their communities. They train and purchase goods from dozens of skilled craftspeople, which you can get in our fair trade shop. Find out how you can get involved with 2nd Story Goods on their website

 

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You bought those beautiful aluminum and glass earrings and those adorable daisy clips from Jesus' Economy and 2nd Story Goods, and it has made a difference.

Anite, pictured below with her daughter, is the creator of the daisy clips and other daisy art. Through the sale of her daisies, Anite has been able to add new concrete construction [pictured] onto their thatch house. The new construction is taller, which is better for the flood season, and features a brand new bathroom. Without Anite's hard work and your support, this would not have been possible for her family.  

Anite and her daughter.  

Ginny contributes her talents to the group of women who make earrings in Jubilee. Through the profits from the sale of the earrings, she and her husband [pictured below with their youngest child] have been able to build a new home. Their home [pictured] is about five times the size of the tin home they used to have and is made of concrete, as opposed to mud or scraps of tin.

 

2nd Story Goods is making a difference in Jubilee. Jesus' Economy is proud to partner with them to accomplish this work. Find out more about 2nd Story Goods and shop online to support more artisans in Jubilee. 

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I saw Jesus once.

Bihar, India, 2013. The room was hot and humid. As drops of sweat clouded my eyes, I looked at Kari—she sat at a table on the other side of this large concrete room. Gracefully, Kari moved her hands across the threads wound into newspaper clippings. The clippings were in the shapes of kids clothing; women in the room, one by one, were bringing clippings to her. My friend Biju leaned over and whispered to me: “She is testing them. She was once destitute, but through our empowering women program, she learned to be a seamstress and is now self-sustaining; she teaches these women to be the same.”

Looking into Kari’s eyes as she worked, I realized that this is what Jesus, the carpenter, does. This is Jesus, working through her.

I Know Where Jesus is and Will Be

At the final judgment, when the world as we know it will reach its end, Jesus says he will say:

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:34–40 ESV).

“Lord, when did we see you?” “Here, here, and here,” he essentially says, “among these people, everywhere. That’s where I was and that’s where I am.”

“I am,” God says to Moses, when describing himself (Exod 3:14). Inherit in his self-description is the question, “Then, who am I? Where am I?”

I’m not sure about you, but when Jesus comes again, I want to be found with the impoverished. Because as I understand it, that’s where Jesus is. Kari knows this and lives it: Kari sees Jesus everyday. And when I see Kari, I see Jesus.

The God of Colors and Curry

Kari showed me each of the beautiful creations of these wonderful women, one by one. The colors were as bright as India; the threading as delicate as the balance of a good curry. In the colors, I saw beauty and hope. I saw Jesus turning craft into livelihood, and livelihood into freedom. Here he is, where am I?

I already knew that I wanted to empower women in Bihar, India. I desired to help them take their craft to the next level, so that they could sell products on the western market, generating more income for their families and communities. But it was in this moment that I realized what this really meant.

I had been given the grand vision of Jesus’ Economy. It was my job to be faithful to its ideas, including connecting entrepreneurs in the developing world to global commerce. But I didn’t really know what that vision meant until this moment.

In this moment, I wondered if I really knew Jesus at all. Because looking at the way Kari represented the great carpenter, I wondered if I would ever represent him as well as she did. In the colors and the smell of curry, I saw hope not just for these women, but for my own heart.

Oh, Beating Heart, Learn to Beat Well Again

As I looked at Kari, I thought of Mary the mother of Jesus.

Mary’s response to God was simple:

“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 ESV).

In Kari, there is this type of obedience to Jesus. And as a response to Jesus, Kari has chosen not just to rise out of poverty, but to help others do the same. She knows what it means to share the heart of God. She could capitalize on her skills and monopolize, but instead she teaches her skills to others, because that’s what Jesus would do.

Like Kari, Mary didn’t just become Jesus’ disciple; others came along with her.

“But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25 ESV).

When all of Jesus’ disciples leave, but John, it’s three empowered women at the cross.

Mary’s heart must have been palpitating, as she watched her son suffer and die. As the tears streamed down, she must have felt his pain as only a mother can. And then it happens:

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26–27 ESV).

In this final moment of Jesus’ life, his concern is for his mother. Is he telling her, “Behold, your son!” (speaking of himself) or is he looking at John the Apostle and saying, “Behold, you son”? Either way, the love of this moment is painful to watch. Jesus knows that Mary will need someone now to care for her. Joseph, Mary’s husband, is likely dead at this point and as a widow of this period, Mary needs a male to look after her, as she has little hope of survival in her culture otherwise.

Mary, as the first to truly know and understand Jesus, is the one to watch him die. She shows what it means to be a true disciple.

When I examine Mary’s heart against my own, I know that my own heart is lacking. It’s selfish and ugly; there is much growth yet to happen. My heart is not like Mary’s; nor is my heart like Kari’s.

The Beautiful Things Out of Dust

At the foot of the cross, in the dirt, surrounded by enemies, we see what it means to follow Jesus. Coming off the dusty road in Bihar, India, looking into the eyes of Kari, I see beauty. “You make beautiful things out of the dust,” as the band Gungor says, “you [God] make beautiful things out of us.”

God is making beautiful things, in the colors and the curry, and among the impoverished.

I saw Jesus once. Do you see him?

 

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It was a hot Saturday morning. My family had driven two-and-a-half hours from our home in Lae, Papua New Guinea to worship with a growing village church in the Markham Valley. We sat under a shady tree on a woven mat just meters from the over packed church listening to the pastor’s sermon. Seated beside us were a young woman and her 12-month old son. My husband had given the baby our keys to play with—I couldn’t help but notice that the little fellow had one significantly crossed eye and had difficulty focusing on objects he was trying to see.

With the mother’s permission, I took some photos of the baby playing. After the service had concluded I introduced myself to the mother, taking mental note of the names of her and her baby so that I could locate them again after I talked to an ophthalmologist friend of mine.

“The child has esotropia,” my doctor friend said. He gave me a run-down on how it would affect the child and how it would best be managed. With difficulty we located the child’s mother through a pastor from a nearby village and made arrangements for her to bring her baby to Lae to visit an optometrist with me. The optometrist was to assess the baby and decide whether glasses would correct his conditio or whether he would require surgery.

I Think I’m Helping Here, But Am I Really?

In Papua New Guinea, gaining an education and obtaining a good job seems to be the best way out of poverty. And since parents depend on their offspring to care from them in their old age, parents have a vested interest in ensuring their children overcome poverty. It appeared to me that the small amount of money I might spend on the child’s eye treatment could have lasting dividends for his family.

But on Mary’s two visits to the optometrist in Lae, she appeared to begrudge the time spent in both travel and consultation, commenting that she didn’t think it was necessary: her baby would only pull glasses off anyway and she had relatives with crossed eyes that corrected as they grew older.

I paid for the consultations and both times gave Mary enough money to cover the cost of her travel. However, before leaving Mary asked if I could meet two immediate needs (or at least perceived needs): a mobile phone and accommodation when she visited Lae. It appeared that she would prefer I spend my money on these things, rather than on her son’s eye condition. Perhaps we might question Mary’s wisdom in this regard, but it did change the way I think about poverty.

What Would the Bible Say about My Approach to Poverty?

Throughout the Bible, there are references to assisting the impoverished with their needs:

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17).

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land’” (Deuteronomy 15:1).

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of our Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

These are just a few of the biblical passages about the impoverished; so there is no doubt in my mind that we who love the Lord are called to bless those in need around us. We are meant to use the blessings that we have graciously been given from above to offer hope to others. But my experience with Mary raises an issue with that in my mind: How often do we in our approach to the impoverished decide for ourselves what they surely must want and need, instead of asking them?

I think Jesus has an answer to this dilemma. When responding to the cries of the two blind men in Matthew 20:29–34 and Bartimeus in Mark 10:46–52, Jesus both times asks “What do you want me to do for you?” He does this before taking action.

Helping the Impoverished with What They Actually Need

Before moving to Papua New Guinea, I lived in a remote country town in Australia with a large aboriginal population. I had heard that many aboriginal people slept on mattresses under the bridges around the town and many other places that did not seem at all appropriate to those of my cultural background. I had even heard of the aboriginal people in the town breaking apart their government-funded housing as quickly as new housing was being built. This all disturbed me, until I read an article that explained everything. In a local newspaper, an aboriginal person stated that the government need not spend its money on things that the aboriginal people, with their unique cultural background, did not need or want. The author believed that the aboriginals did not need or want housing. They merely wanted some land, with some shady trees and a washing/bathing block.

It is profound that countless dollars are probably spent on aid work meeting needs that are perceived by westerners, but not felt by the recipients. Naturally when something is not wanted it is hardly going to be appreciated, preserved or respected in the way that donors might expect.

It would appear that the best approach to meeting the needs of the impoverished would be to follow Jesus’ example: Ask the question, “what do you want me to do for you?” The answers of the impoverished might surprise us. 

It is difficult to love a whole person, not just their need. But if we do so, we can transform lives and communities.

In this talk, filmed at the Justice Conference Abbotsford at New Life Abbotsford, I share how I learned to love an entire person and how it transformed my life. I also share about being a voice for the voiceless and the major problems that aid alone can create.

Loving a Whole Person

 

Jesus Stops to Have Conversations

Jesus regularly stopped to have conversations, demonstrating that for him, loving a whole person meant having a relationship with them (e.g., Luke 18:35-43; John 4; Luke 8:40-56). People weren't projects to Jesus; they were friends. This is God, with three years of ministry as a human on earth, stopping to have conversations. We should do the same. We should work to transform entire lives, walking alongside people, not just address needs.

Thanks to the Justice Conference Abbotsford

Many thanks to New Life Abbotsford for the blessing of speaking at the conference and for your hospitality, kindness, and graciousness. (To everyone else: My apologies for the inside jokes; you had to be there for them to be funny. And don't worry, my Canadian brothers and sisters thought they were funny.)

Join Us in Loving an Entire Person

Join us in transforming entire lives by donating to Renew Bihar, India. For just $2.94 you can empower someone. This $345,000 project empowers 117,520 people, making the cost just $2.94 per person to provide medical access for thousands, drill 18 water wells, train and send out 18 church planters, and provide 40 microloans accompanied by business training. 100% of donations go directly to Bihar. Our project in Bihar, India is dedicated to really knowing people and building real relationships, while addressing basic needs, spiritual needs, and transforming the economy through business.