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.
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.
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!
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!
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' economy. So thank you!
Simply, thanks for living Jesus' economy with us. We're grateful to be part of this movement with you.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is November 25, two days after Americans give thanks for a multitude of blessings. Many women in both developed and developing countries will just be giving thanks that they live to see another day.
Violence against women persists throughout the world and takes on many forms. While many people tend to see it as an issue that only exists in oppressed countries where women aren't viewed as equals, it's a problem that runs rampant even in developed countries like the United States. Oftentimes, it takes the form of domestic violence and sexual assault but it can also be genital mutilation and random attacks in the street.
The UN reports that in 87 countries from 2005 to 2016, 19 percent of women ages 15 to 49 said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in the previous 12 months.
This typically translates into 1 in 3 women experiencing violence against them at some point in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization. That means that if you are a woman and have two female friends, one of you has experienced assault in some form because of your gender. If you're a man and you have three female friends, one of them has experienced someone being physically violent toward them.
This is why the UN established days like the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Awareness is key and it can lead to action. That's where we've stepped in to help women in poverty.
Many of our artisan co-operatives are comprised of women who are sewing and creating products by hand to support themselves and their children. This means they can afford to send their kids to school, buy food for their table, and shoes for their feet. When children are educated, human rights issues such as gender inequality aren't as prominent. The children learn right from wrong, fair from unfair, and how to treat others no matter their gender or skin color.
In addition to our female artisans, as part of our Renew Bihar program we have created an empowering women program. When the program is fully launched, we will be able to train women on how to develop and create quality products. We'll also show them how to run a business, hire employees, and practice ethical business standards. We will walk alongside them as they slowly build a small business and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Here at Jesus' Economy, we are in the business of empowering women. When women are empowered, the cycle of poverty breaks which helps the community in which they live. As a result, more people in the community are able to have access to education. When communities see this increase in education, the violence against women decreases.
When International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women arrives this Saturday the 25, talk about it with your friends and family, spread awareness, pray about how you can help end violence against women across the globe, and then take action.
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.
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.
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.
Click below to sponsor individual planters and read their stories:
Please prayerfully consider supporting one of our church planters with your small group today.
During 2017, Santhosh has continued to bring the good news of Jesus to more villagers. 20 new people have chosen to believe in Jesus and 11 people have been baptized. He has also seen growth in the home churches he leads, as 18 new people have started regularly attending Sunday morning services.
He recently held a spiritual renewal seminar that brought together 250 people from 16 different villages. It was the first time something like that had ever happened in that part of India and it resulted in much excitement about the name of Jesus.
Santhosh launched a literacy training center in one of the villages that he ministers to and it has been a great addition to the village. 40 children from that village are studying in the literacy training center, learning to read for the first time. Without Santhosh's work, these children would likely never have the opportunity to learn to read. Several adults have also joined.
Through his ministry, Santhosh has seen a total of 297 people trust in Jesus. Among those 297, 153 people have been baptized. The believers are spread across 13 house churches and eight home Bible study groups. People are regularly coming to Christ.
Santhosh's impact in Northern India continues to be deep, profound, and exciting. Join in this excitement by donating to the church planting fund so he and the other church planters can continue spreading the name of Jesus.
Baptisms abound in Bihar, India, as church planter Veer continues to spread the gospel throughout a dozen villages.
This has been the first full year of church planting for Veer and he has spent the year working diligently to bring the name of Jesus to many villagers. In the first six months of the year, more than 1,300 people heard the gospel for the first time. And in total, more than 4,000 people have heard the name of Jesus through Veer's ministry!
During the first six months of the year, 11 people were baptized and eight people said they wanted to be baptized and are in the process of preparing for baptism. Veer has continued to use the analogy of the water well that Jesus' Economy provided. He tells people that as the water well has given villagers access to clean water, Jesus is the Living Water (John 4:13–14). Through this simple analogy, many people have heard about the love of Jesus and wanted to know more. People are seeing how the love of Jesus is tangible, but also eternal.
Veer has successfully launched five house churches and six Bible study groups. Across the home churches, he has seen a regular attendance of 98 people. Of those 98 church attendees, 31 people total have been baptized over the past year, demonstrating their full commitment to Jesus!
Because of Veer's dedication to his ministry, many people are hearing about the love of Jesus for the first time in their lives. The gospel is reaching the unreached.
Veer is looking forward to another year of church planting and spreading the gospel. Please join us in helping him reach more people for Jesus by praying for and supporting him.
Church planter Rahul's dedication to 11 different villages in Northern India has resulted in many people trusting in God and attending church on Sundays. Through prayer, lives are being changed. The gospel is reaching people who had previously never heard the name of Jesus.
Rahul has been a church planter sponsored by Jesus' Economy since October 2015; and because of his hard work, more than 4,500 people have heard the gospel for the first time. Of the people who have listened to Rahul, 119 have chosen to believe in Jesus.
With these high numbers, especially of villagers choosing to trust in Jesus, Rahul has established a main church in one of the villages. Every Sunday, people flock to the church, which is actually not a building but rather a meeting place under a large tree. More than 70 people attend this service on a regular basis!
This is a huge answer to prayer as this is the same village and church that was experiencing heavy flooding and rains during monsoon season. Because of this extreme weather, Rahul had experienced troubles getting people to come back to church and being regular attendees. Now, people are excited to gather together and listen to Rahul.
In addition, Rahul has established five other house churches and is conducting five Bible study groups. And through his ministry, 24 people have been baptized!
Rahul continues to see more and more people want to change their life and trust in Jesus. All of this work is based in prayer and driven by prayer.
Celebrate with our brother Rahul, as he got married in March and is now working alongside his new bride in ministry! Partner with and pray for Rahul as he strives to spread the gospel throughout Bihar, India.
Millions of people around the world do not have resources to meet their basic needs. These people are living in poverty. Many of them do not have access to clean water, or the ability to buy or grow food. Many of them live in villages or cities with suffering economies, and there are simply no jobs. When people have limited food and water, education gets pushed back. In places like this, families are held captive to cycles of poverty.
Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and we are reminded of our brothers and sisters suffering in poverty around the world. It is discouraging to think of how many people poverty impacts, and of how the pain carries on to future generations.
The good news is this: we are doing something about it, and you can, too.
Taking action against poverty is one of the ways we as Christians are called to love. In 1 John, John reminded the church of the importance of putting faith in action.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18 ESV).
There are many ways you can bring hope to impoverished people. You can give your time and prayers, donate money to a program you’re passionate about, or even start your own. Poverty is all over the world—in other continents, and in your own city.
If you’re looking for a place to start, Jesus’ Economy has some great programs you can get involved in as we work to renew Bihar, India.
Bihar, India is a state with more than a million people living in extreme poverty. A large cause of the problem is a lack of clean water. Some women and children spend many hours each day walking miles to collect drinking water. This takes up so much time that women cannot work and children cannot go school. Our clean water program raises funds to drill wells in Bihar. Each well can provide safe water for 2,000 people, and so far we have completed four wells.
When families have access to safe water, women have more time to work and provide for their families. Our empowering women program is going to train 40 women to run successful tailoring businesses and sell their products on the western market. These women already have skills in tailoring, but need an opportunity to learn business skills. This program is currently 47 percent funded.
We are working to bring hope through the alleviation of physical and spiritual poverty. Our church planting program funds church planters in various villages in Bihar to set up home churches, and also to go into the villages and share the gospel. At this point, we are funding four church planters, all of whom are additionally starting Bible studies and literacy training as they go. Thousands of people in Bihar are hearing the gospel for the first time, and each church planter brings the gospel to thousands more.
Advik was first sponsored in September 2016, and has started five Bible studies and one house church. Another church planter, Santhosh, recently held a spiritual awakening seminar with 250 people from 16 different villages in attendance. We are so excited about how God is moving in Bihar, India.
Eradicating poverty is not only important, it is the gospel. We love because God loves us. And one way we can show that love is through working to alleviate poverty.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16 ESV).
We are called to use what we have to bless others. And it’s not always about money. If you have a little time to give, consider volunteering for an organization that works to alleviate poverty. If you have an extra coat, consider donating it. One small action can be a huge blessing to someone else. Don’t be afraid to do small things and big things to fight poverty. Just remember this: nothing will change if you do nothing at all.
You can alleviate poverty and bring hope to people in so many ways, and we encourage you to be praying about where you can start.
Jesus' Economy sponsored church planter Advik is bringing the gospel to unreached people groups in Bihar, India. He was first sponsored in September 2016 and since that time his ministry has grown rapidly.
When Advik first arrived in the village he is serving in, he found that the people desperately needed clean water. Thus Jesus' Economy sponsored a water well. This well has given people access to clean, safe drinking water. The well helps show people in the village Jesus' love. Because Advik advocated for clean water for the village, people are more than willing to listen to and trust him.
Advik has been successful in starting five Bible study groups and one house church. There are 18 villagers regularly attending the house church. People who had previously never heard of Jesus are hearing Advik tell the biblical story every week.
Due to Advik's ministry, over 40 people have trusted in Jesus. In addition, three people have taken the beautiful step of being publicly baptized and three others have expressed the desire to be baptized.
It is Advik's hope that as time goes on, he will reach more and more villages thereby providing access to the gospel to thousands of people. With the amount of people living in each village (often 1,000 to 2,000 people per village) this goal is certainly possible.
Support Advik in his work to bring the word of God to those who have never heard it before.
Simply put, the Jesus' Economy financial model is 100% to the Developing World. Every single dollar you donate goes exactly where you designate. For example, if you give $100 to planting churches in India, your full $100 goes to India and will be used only for planting churches. We raise our U.S. costs separately from developing world projects. We then go one step further by being completely financially transparent. We even prove our 100% model via grant receipts and field reports.
Here are the details of the third installment of our grant to our partner in Northeast India for our Renew Bihar, India project.
This grant was issued to our partner in Northeast India, Transformation India Movement. In everything we do, partnership is the key and Transformation India Movement has allowed for us to execute our work in India through indigenous leaders. Our work in India is led by, ran by, and executed by people from India.
The third installment of our grant for the Renew Bihar, India project was issued in the amount of $11,062.40. This grant covered the costs of:
We have already issued the field reports related to this grant. View the church planting field reports here. The administrative support per planter, detailed above, helps cover the costs of our partner in India generating the initial versions of these reports. It also allows for our partner to visit each church planter and offer them ongoing mentorship, accountability, and training. Furthermore, it allows for our partner to facilitate everything organizationally needed for a church planting effort, such as bookkeeping and issuing paychecks and reimbursements.
Thank you to each of you who have supported the Renew Bihar, India project. You have made this possible.