Azizi Life, a new partner of Jesus’ Economy, represents more than 400 artisans and 25 independent artisan groups in Rwanda. One of these independent artisan groups is the Abaharaniriterambere Cooperative. The Abaharaniriterambere Cooperative began with one woman who had a desire to change the world around her.
Immaculee Nyiramuhakwa saw the poverty in her home and community, and wanted to do something about it. She had weaving skills, and knew she could use those skills to do something about her suffering community. She invited a group of women from around her community to come learn to weave and work toward improving their families’ situations. More than 15 years later, Abaharaniriterambere has 26 women and 2 men working to create functional household items from banana tree leaves and stalks.
The group’s goal is to develop themselves and their community through their art. The income these artisans receive helps them maintain their business, and also provide for the basic needs of themselves and their families. This means that, unlike before, they have access to medical insurance, school materials for their children, soap and cleaning products, healthier foods for a more balanced diet, farm animals, and financial independence.
There is a lot of time to talk when weaving, and members of this group use their time together to exchange advice and discuss important topics such as women’s rights. They also talk about their dream of opening their own weaving house and expanding their business.
With Immaculee as a leader, this group is determined to continue to better themselves and their community, and to stand strong in Rwanda’s vision for a better future. The artisans at Abaharaniriterambere have found fellowship and encouragement among one another, and have seen peace and happiness grow in their homes.
Fair trade makes the world a better place. Be a part of change.
As the new year comes with new resolutions, consider choosing fair trade when you shop this year. 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.
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.
Are you looking for a new centerpiece for your table or vase for your mantle? Look for these items in our fair trade store—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. The fair trade store at JesusEconomy.org is 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 Target, but consider picking out fair trade accessories 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 a gift 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. We have everything from dish cloth sets to >baby mobiles to >tree ornaments, and you’ll find just what you need 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 the new year.
The Mayamam Weavers co-op in Cajolá, Guatemala is making waves with their beautifully woven products. In this village, 94 percent of the population lives in poverty and most of the people who live there have no opportunity to get an education. But Mayamam Weavers are creating stunning home goods using traditional Mayan patterns and techniques. These women receive fair wages, education through the sixth grade, and then access to scholarships if they want to continue their education. Life isn’t easy in Cajolá, but these women are determined to make it better.
Right now it's highly likely that you're facing some problem or difficulty that seems impossible to overcome. I've been there. For that matter, I am there. But if there's anything I've learned about faith, it's that Jesus is in the business of hope. Here are four reflections on hope and why it's such a critical part of faith. Here's how hope can change your life, right now.
When the author of the biblical book Hebrews explained faith, he spoke of hope.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 ESV).
As Christians, we do not physically see Jesus. We also do not know when he will return to earth. But we believe (have faith) in him. We have a conviction about that which we cannot see.
Ask yourself: Has God called you to a purpose? Now ask yourself: Do you believe in Jesus' work in your life and the world? If your answer is "yes" to both of those things, then really it shouldn't be hard to take the next step: To hope in what Jesus will do in your life. Have hope that God will see through his purpose in your life.
You may not have faith in yourself, but you can have faith in Jesus working through you. Faith is hope. And it can have incredible power in our lives.
Hope is magical; or better put, it’s miraculous. It changes our perspective and it changes lives.
Consider for a moment one the great problems of our world: extreme poverty, the fact that there are millions of people around the world trying to survive on less than a $1.25 per day.
Now consider that the developing world is full of people with tenacity and strength who lack the resources to make their dreams reality. They need hope. They need opportunities. Those of us with resources can offer them hope. Something as simple as our purchasing and donating decisions can change lives.
When we give of our time, money, or resources, we have the opportunity to watch Jesus’ work in the world. That act of faith should give us hope.
Each of us have a chance to see God at work, to put our hope into action. And doing so can offer us hope in return.
The incredible thing about offering someone hope is that doing so also offers you hope. It makes you believe in what the person you’re helping is yet to see. It changes the way you feel about the state of that person’s life, and in doing so, causes you to think about what hope God has in store for you.
Having hope for someone else gives you a small glimpse at God’s eternal perspective. You briefly see the connections God does: how he has used you to help someone else, and how he will likely use someone else to help you. And it doesn't take long to get from there to believing in what God can do in your life.
Jesus has great opportunities in store for this generation. He is the hope that Hebrews 11 speaks about. It is his work through the Spirit that we’re anticipating and desire to fully realize. It is Jesus’ second coming that we wait for. But it is his work now that we live for.
As Christians, we are convicted that Jesus was resurrected from death and is working even now. We believe in what he is yet to do, and we should do everything we can to be a part of it.
In hope, there is something magical that ignites our spirits—and it’s something we can bring to others in the name of the Jesus.
This article is adapted in part from my earlier article, "Hope is Magical."
Cheppu from Himalaya, a fair trade organization, and a new partner of Jesus’ Economy, uses inspiration from Nepalese tradition to craft scarves, shrugs, and ponchos to share with the western world. These handmade articles are created with renewable and recycled materials and honor the earth as well as the culture they come from.
Cheppu is committed to making the world a better place, and in addition to sharing culture and being environmentally conscious, the organization also sponsors students from the elementary to university level, helps indigenous farmers convert their farms to organic methods, and works with an aid program to provide relief from the 2015 earthquake.
Each of Cheppu’s products is made with hope of a restored future. Each article is intricately designed and woven for all kinds of styles. If you’re looking for a style to keep you warm this winter, the ponchos are a wonderful choice to bundle up in. It’s comfy enough to curl up in with a good book, but also sophisticated to add to an outfit around town. We have three colors, so you can choose one perfect for you. And while you’re shopping, why not get ahead on holiday gifts? Check out all the scarves, shrugs, and ponchos, and find something for your mom, grandma, aunt, or bff.
Be an advocate for fair trade and look fashionable by buying a poncho from Nepal.
Fall is quickly approaching and we have some wonderful products you’ll love as the summer closes. From autumn fashion to school essentials, we have you covered.
We’re breaking out the sweaters from the corners of our closets, and what better to pair with a cardigan than a simple and chic necklace? This necklace is handmade by artisans of a jewelry making guild in Jubilee, Haiti out of aluminum and goat leather. This necklace will wonderfully accent your fall wardrobe while supporting fair trade in the process.
Whether you’re heading back to school or working the same job you’ve worked for 10 years, a new journal is a great way to ring in the changing seasons. There is always something to write down; consider choosing this sleek journal handmade by leather artisans in Haiti.
The weather is getting just a little colder, and with it, you’ll want to bundle up a little more. This scarf created by artisans in Haiti is a perfect option. It’s not too thick and is a great way to stay warm but look cool. Buy this beautiful scarf and support artisans in Haiti through fair trade.
You might be stuck indoors more now, but you can still remember summer with this delicate and beautiful daisy chain, perfect for wall decoration. This whimsical ornament is perfect for dressing up any room, and for making a statement about hope.
2nd Story Goods, a division of Much Ministries and partner of Jesus' Economy, co-labors with Haitian men and women on the outskirts of Gonaives, Haiti, to make beautiful things. These products create sustainable incomes for Haitian families. It is 2nd Story Goods' vision to help people move from poverty to abundance through education, creativity, and practical life experiences. Haiti has a 40 percent unemployment rate (World Bank, 2010), so the work of 2nd Story Goods is desperately needed.
Jesus’ Economy is dedicated to alleviating global poverty, and partnerships with organizations like 2nd Story Goods are the perfect way to empower artisans as they work toward more hopeful futures.
Join us in this mission and shop fair trade today.
Jesus' Economy is transforming lives and empowering women in Bihar, India. In a state where millions live in extreme poverty, it can seem impossible to have hope. But the people of Bihar are strong and resilient and we are coming alongside them as they lift their families and community out of poverty.
Bihar, India has a population of nearly 104 Million. More than 54 Million of those people live in extreme poverty. Most of their food sources are dependent on the weather, which during monsoon season often means few crops.
These families do not have enough money to provide for themselves on a basic level, and this makes for very poor living conditions.
Bihar has a women empowerment measure of .379, ranking among the top 10 worst in the world. In this state, a large percentage of the women are illiterate and jobless, and have no means to help themselves. But with our church planters providing literacy training, they have a chance at a new life.
Many women and children spend their days walking miles to collect drinkable water. By the time they've gathered this necessity, there isn't much time left in the day for work or an education, and the cycle of poverty continues.
To help meet the basic need of clean and safe water, Jesus' Economy has funded the drilling of four water wells. Now thousands of people have access to good water; women are able to work, and children are able to go to school.
We have also funded four church planters. These pastors are actively sharing the gospel with hundreds of people throughout the new home churches and bringing peace to these people and their villages.
With the physical and spiritual needs being met, Jesus' Economy is now focused on long-term sustainability. Forty women in Bihar will be trained to run their own businesses so they can lift their families out of poverty.
As part of the empowering women program, women learn the trade of creating high-quality, handmade clothing, as well as business skills and employer (fair trade) ethics.
The women will become successful businesswomen, thus able to support their families financially, and the cycle of poverty will be disrupted. Their incomes will allow for physical sustenance, and also for the opportunity for their children to go to school regularly.
The women of Bihar, India are immeasurably strong and full of hope for a better future.
Donate to the Empowering Women Program and help end poverty in Bihar.
Here at Jesus' Economy, we're focusing on empowering women. And one of the most amazing women in the Bible is the heroine Esther. Esther shows us what it means to take action for God, even when all the odds are against us. Esther shows us what it means to believe.
What is belief, really? What does having hope really mean? The biblical book of Esther never mentions God directly and in the process profoundly answers these big faith questions.
I delivered this Christmas-themed sermon at The Table, a missional church plant in Bellingham, Washington on December 14, 2014.
As a child, 95% of what I said could not be understood. But my mother insisted that I be allowed to enter school as a normal student and hired speech therapists. Nothing short of a miracle later, and a ton of hard work, I now speak perfectly. But I remember that I was once the voiceless.
Around our world there are millions of people who lack access to these opportunities. And there are millions who are kept poor because of their social standing, or the color of their skin, or corrupt regimes. And I cannot live in a world like that.
I cannot live in a world where there are people do not have a voice.
It takes more than ideas to change the world. It takes more than belief. But belief is a start.
Every significant advancement toward equality in our world has required sacrifice—more than ideas, more than belief. From the abolition of slavery, to the right for women to vote, to civil rights for African Americans, to the end of apartheid in South Africa—a movement of self-sacrifice has backed beliefs.
The biblical book of James put it this way:
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:14–16 ESV).
True faith requires sacrifice—for the betterment of others. True faith requires that we do more than pray, or wish others well, or have the right theories or ideas.
I believe in a few things that are worth sacrificing for: Jesus as my savior for starters. And that this same Jesus has in view a global economy that will make our world a better place. That there is such a think as a Jesus’ economy.
When we talk about ‘economy’ we usually think of GDP, stock prices, and currencies. While I intend for the term Jesus’ economy to evoke these ideas, there should also be a part of the name that is a bit jarring. Jesus and economy aren’t usually paired together, but they should be.
Jesus believes that each and every life is of equal value. And thus Jesus’ economy is about empowerment of the impoverished. It is also based in the belief that empowering the impoverished is for the betterment of the entire world. Jesus’ economy is about creating a new spiritual and physical reality for the impoverished and marginalized—for those most in need.
Today, there are many people who claim faith in Jesus, but I ask: Where then is the action, the change, the renewal of our world? Why are there still millions upon millions of people impoverished? Prayer is not enough. Words are not enough. A mere claim to salvation is not enough. James puts it this way:
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:18–20 ESV).
A belief in Jesus requires action. As James puts it: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26 ESV).
Jesus’ economy is based on self-sacrifice and its currency is love. It is a belief that the voiceless deserve to be heard. It is love in action.
Imagine what could happen if we all rose up and took action. Imagine how the world would view Christianity. Imagine the lives that would be renewed. Imagine.
I remember the feeling of kissing my wife goodbye as I boarded my flight for an extended stay in a remote area of Northeast India. There was a sense of despair, wonder, and well, fear. I planned to shadow a pioneering and indigenous church planter in the farthest corner of the world from where I lived. It’s a 12.5 time zone difference. I was going to the ends of the earth.
This phrase “the ends of the earth” has been used since ancient times. It refers to going somewhere completely other, completely different, than where we are from. Jesus uses it in the book of Acts. Here’s how the story goes.
“Then [Jesus’ disciples] gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 1:6–8 NIV).
There is a movement here outward from Jerusalem to their wider province, to their neighboring (foreign) province—and then all the way to the ends of the earth. This is the mission of the church, as spelled out by Jesus.
Yet, there are over 3,000 people groups without missionaries. It’s estimated that 99.7% of the church’s resources—it’s missional activities and financial support—is dedicated to areas where the church is already present. Only 0.3% of resources are dedicated to where the church is not present. I simply cannot live in a world with statistics like this and call myself Christian, unless I do something about it.
When I went to the ends of the earth, I did so because of a desire to learn, to see, to feel—to understand what God was doing in the far corners of the world. I had heard that it was like the book of Acts. There were hundreds, maybe even thousands, coming to Christ. The ignored, the unreached, the outcast, the lowest of the caste system in India—these people were leaving their oppressive religious systems for the freedom of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit was moving.
I was also there because I’m the CEO and Founder of an innovative non-profit creating jobs and churches in the developing world. It’s called Jesus’ Economy, because that’s what God has called us to do—to create an economy that represents Jesus himself. We’re each day asking Jesus to use us to create a new spiritual and physical economy for those that need it most. We’re combining economic development—through microfinance, business training, and an online fair trade shop—with indigenous church planting efforts, while meeting basic needs. Our one goal: renew communities with the whole gospel, with the gospel that answers both the hunger of the stomach, the needs of a community, and preaches eternal salvation through Jesus.
In Bihar, India where Jesus’ Economy is working to bring the gospel to the unreached, there are 101 Million people who have never heard Jesus’ name. This is why I’ve dedicated my life to this effort—with my wife and I selling our house, nearly everything we own, leaving a great job, and committing ourselves to this cause.
When I was in India, I saw that the gospel was going forth but it needed assistance. It needs funding, yes. But it also needed innovative solutions, such as microfinance and connecting businesses to international markets through an online store. I also witnessed that deeper and more intensive discipleship was needed—that we needed to design programs and training specifically for areas where the gospel has not been preached before.
In much of India, the caste system controls entire way of life. For generations upon generations, people are told they are only allowed to have one occupation, live in one place (or at least place of society), and be one thing. If you’re born a leather worker, that’s what you are. If you’re born a share cropper, that’s what you are. If you’re born a mason, that’s what you are. If you’re born as an “untouchable” (a dalit), the lowest of the castes, that’s what you are. You’re nothing.
I saw how the gospel changed these peoples lives. How it gave them hope where there was none. And I couldn’t help but commit my life to helping. The Holy Spirit was moving and I was lucky to be part of it.
The work Christ gave us to do is far from done. But the Holy Spirit is on the move.
Jesus desired to instill a deep belief in the power of the gospel in us—a renewing hope. We’re meant for more than mere activities. We’re meant for pioneering activities that bring his gospel to the unreached. If only we would listen and act. Here’s what happens after Jesus gives his command to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth:
“After [Jesus] said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9–11 NIV).
And this is my plea to you today. Why do we stand here waiting? We should be moving forward with an urgency for the gospel.