Being able to read and write is a privilege many of us don’t understand. Literacy creates opportunities, spreads information, and brings people together. This is true, yet an estimated 781 million adults around the world don’t have the resources or ability to read, and we need to talk about that.
Having access to literature and literacy training should be a basic right for all people. As we work toward equality, we should remember that every person on earth deserves the chance to read and write because of the hope that comes with literacy.
This isn’t a new notion or a new struggle.
These ideas—of opportunity, information, and fellowship—were at the heart of the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. Martin Luther and other reformers believed that everyone deserved the chance to hear and understand the gospel.
Salvation is not only for those with the highest education or for those who live in the most privileged communities. Salvation is an offer for everyone, and fighting for literacy means continuing the fight of the Reformation—the fight to make the gospel accessible because we know that “God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11 ESV).
It is possible to hear, understand, and surrender to the gospel without being able to read, but having the ability to study the world of your own volition is so important. Faith rests on the ability to hear what God is saying and meditate on his truth. Paul reminds us of this and says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV).
On International Literacy Day, it is important for us to remember the value of literacy, both to personal and to spiritual development. Literacy brings people to knowledge of the gospel, but it also provides opportunities for people to fight against poverty. Communication is at the core of many jobs, and knowing how to read and write properly is important. Furthermore, literacy opens up a world of art that enhances life on earth.
Living for Jesus means working to eradicate poverty. Living for Jesus means spreading the gospel. Living for Jesus means advocating for equality in all ways, including the right to literacy. We do these things because of God’s grace working in us, because we love like he loves.
“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?” (1 John 3:17 ESV)
You can be an advocate in your own way—by donating to a literacy organization, offering your time to after school programs that teach reading and writing, or even starting your own project.
Here at Jesus’ Economy, we are funding church planting in Bihar, India. Each church plant we fund supports a local Bihar pastor in building and nurturing several home churches around his community. These pastors are hosting Bible studies, giving literacy training, and spreading the gospel throughout their villages. Thousands of people in Bihar are hearing the gospel and are learning to read it for the first time.
There are so many ways to get involved, but no matter what you do, remember that literacy is so much bigger than reading and writing. It’s an issue of equality, it’s an issue of access to the gospel, and it’s an issue that matters to God.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17 ESV).
Literacy can change the world and give people hope, and that’s what we’re about here.
Beleaf it or not, it's already time to get ready for fall, and we have just what you need. From notebooks and book bags for classes to scarves and autumn jewelry to new kitchen towels to freshen up your home, we have the products to set you up for fall. Here are a few of our favorites, but check out the Fair Trade Shop for more wonderfall options.
You hear from us often, but we also want to hear from YOU.
We want to know how you feel about the products you’ve purchased from the Fair Trade Shop. We want to know if your purchases are working out well for you, or if you’re having issues. So leave a review and let us know!
Reviews are also helpful in letting other shoppers know what they’re looking at. Having the product in your hands is different then seeing a photo on a screen, so when you share your input on a product, you’re helping positively grow the experience of shopping at Jesus’ Economy for other buyers.
Feedback is a helpful resource for us, and the more you tell us, the more we know how to help you find what you need. We care about what YOU think, so let us know!
Every Christian faces the challenge of discerning how to authentically live for Jesus. We’re given a story in our culture. We’re told what it means to live, what we should value; and then there’s the biblical story, which is in in sharp contrast to the story of culture. This makes authentic Christianity difficult to come by.
What is it that makes an authentic Christian? And how can we live as authentic Christians? How can our lives tell a different story, a better story?
For the answers to these questions, we can look to what Paul the apostle told his young apprentice, Titus. Paul had left his young apprentice Titus on Crete, to appoint leaders for the fledgling church(es) there and to inspire them to live authentically for Jesus (Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, located southwest of modern Turkey. Paul wrote this letter at some point in the mid-60s AD, between his first and second Roman imprisonments).
In Titus 1:5–9, Paul has explained to Titus how to identify authentic Christian leaders, noting that they must be: (1) capable and respected; (2) loving, in all sphere of life (at home and publicly); and (3) experienced at living as a follower of Jesus (a true disciple of Jesus). From here, Paul told Titus how to discern the difference between a true Christian leader and a trend seeker, by explaining what inauthenticity looks like (Titus 1:10–16).
In Titus 2:1–15, Paul tells Titus how to minister to specific people groups on Crete, explaining what each of them will need to hear. From these very specific instructions, rooted in the cultural issues on Crete, we can derive some principles for how to authentically live as Christians and then apply these principles to our present circumstances, to our lives.
In Titus 2:1–5 (NIV), Paul says to Titus:
“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.
Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Paul first reminds Titus of the value of sound doctrine, which can be defined as that which is consistent with the gospel message—of Jesus’ saving act on the cross and his resurrection—and with the teachings of the apostles (Titus 2:1; compare 1 Timothy 1:10). Paul gives to Titus here a principle that is applicable to all situations: If you want to know how to live, look to the Bible as your guide.
From here, Paul turns to what he believed older men on Crete needed to hear (Titus 2:2). (In the first-century AD, “older men” would have referred to those over age 50.) From this group, we see five practices or disciplines we should aim to have:
The recommendation of Paul for older women is similar to that for older men (Titus 2:3). Likewise, Paul reflects the value of garnering respect in the teachings he offers for younger women (Titus 2:4–5), which in his context would have been women between the ages of 20 and 30, but this also seems to be a general reference to women younger than the older women group (over age 50). In Paul’s first-century context, the values he gives for young women would have all been cultural norms; Paul’s concern seems to be that violating a cultural norm so central to Graeco-Roman culture would have brought unwanted scrutiny to the fledgling church.
What these four values show us is that at its core, Christianity is not just a faith about belief, or about a commitment to a set of religious standards; it is also about practice. It’s about what we do with our time, resources, and energy. Christianity is not just about what’s coming, or going to heaven, but about the now—what will we do with the fact that heaven has come to earth in the personhood of Jesus, the one who suffered, died, and rose on our behalf? What will we do with sound doctrine? That’s the question of Paul for us.
Jesus came to reclaim our entire lives. About this, Paul elsewhere says: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1–2 NIV).
This reminds me of a line from the band All Sons and Daughters song “Dawn to Dusk:”
Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender
We come before you [and] lay our burdens down
We look to you as our hearts remember
You are the only God
You are our only God.
So let us surrender, lay our burdens down, and embrace the open arms of the God of the universe. Let us authentically live our beliefs.
Jesus’ Economy is dedicated to ending poverty, and through our work in Bihar, India and our partnerships with fair trade artisans, we are making progress. But we need your help. Please pray with us as we continue to work.
Sometimes prayer can feel like a cop-out that takes away the need for action, but this simply isn’t true. Action is necessary, and there are many ways we can physically fight poverty, but let’s not negate prayer in the process of doing God’s will.
Poverty is not God’s plan for the people he created, and that means we should do all we can to end it. While donations and purchases at the Fair Trade Shop all work toward fighting poverty around the world, the power of prayer can too. So pray with us. Pray with us if you don’t have the ability to donate or buy. Pray with us, also, if you do have the ability to donate or buy, because your prayers are valued, too.
Pray that God will use us in Bihar, India. Pray that the artisans we partner with will be blessed. Pray for hope and for poverty to end.
We believe that through prayer, anything can happen. God has provided a grand vision for Jesus’ Economy and we need to join in prayer to make it happen. Partner with us in prayer; let's watch God work together.
Jesus’ Economy was founded in 2012 when John and Kalene Barry decided to do something about worldwide poverty. They adopted an idea for holistic ministry — a ministry that serves people’s physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.
At Jesus’ Economy, we believe that God wants to create jobs, plant churches, and meet the basic needs of the impoverished — all at the same time, one community at a time. We believe that there are answers to the world’s problems in the combination of microloans, fair trade shopping, church planting, and meeting basic needs. We believe that all these things should work together holistically — as one vision and plan for renewing communities. And surprisingly, few people are doing this — holistic ministry is rare.
As of 2015, Jesus’ Economy is the only non-profit dedicated to holistic work on a global scale. Furthermore, we are the only organization that also combines it with fair trade shopping. And 100% of your giving to developing world projects is spent in the developing world — every time, guaranteed. For example, if you give $100 to providing clean water, your full $100 goes to the developing world and will be used only for drilling water. We raise our U.S. costs separately from developing world projects.
The first community Jesus’ Economy decided to help was Bihar, India. As of today, we have drilled seven wells, and this allows women to work and children to go to school. We have funded and sent out four church planters who have planted more than 30 churches, and we are raising funds to give women business training so that they can support themselves and their families for years to come. After the training, the women will be eligible for a microloan from Jesus’ Economy to purchase supplies for their expanding business. Jesus' Economy also changes the economic paradigm by becoming the guaranteed buyer of the products the women are creating. Jesus' Economy will sell these products in our fair trade shop.
Our efforts have changed the lives of dozens of artisans who now have a stable source of income and can send their children to school, buy food, improve their living conditions, and lift themselves out of poverty.
People in Bihar are beginning to trust in Jesus. They’re being baptized and meeting in homes to study the Bible, and while they’re growing spiritually, they’re also being cared for physically. Hundreds of people in Bihar are learning to read, saving time and energy through access to safe water, and training to build their own businesses. These people are changing the future for themselves, their families, and their entire communities.
Jesus’ Economy is dedicated to ending poverty, and everything we do — from our fair trade shop to our Renew Bihar project — is working toward creating hope for people around the world. Everything we do is for the glory of Jesus. We are fighting for what he fights for, and that is hope.
It’s been a hot summer, and after a long day, nothing can beat the feeling of drinking a cold glass of water. And when we get that water straight from our kitchen sinks, we often don’t think about how privileged we are. Water is a very basic necessity, yet many people around the world don’t have access to safe water, and they face limitations because of this.
August is National Water Quality Month, and it is the perfect time to make some changes to how you think about water.
More than 10 percent of the world’s population can’t drink water from their pipes, and this issue affects more than just health and sanitation. When clean water is unavailable, family dynamics are impacted. Since women are usually the ones in charge of collecting water, they have to spend extra time each day walking to a drinkable water source, which can sometimes be miles away. This means the women can’t work for pay, families can’t afford to send their children to school, and a cycle of poverty continues for generations.
This is a problem in many countries, states, and villages around the world. One of these states is Bihar, India.
In Bihar, India, where there is a women empowerment measure of .379, ranking among the top ten worst in the world, women and children spend hours daily walking miles to gather just enough water to live off of.
But Jesus’ Economy is working to change that. Jesus’ Economy has funded the drilling of four water wells in Bihar, providing 7,100 people with access to clean, safe water. Every dollar donated to this program funds the building, upkeep, and safety of the wells.
However, it doesn’t end with clean water. Following the funding of the wells, Jesus’ Economy is also working to empower women through literacy programs, business training, offering microloans, and planting churches.
Lives are changed for the better when clean water becomes available around the world.
This month consider becoming part of the movement to provide the basic necessity of clean water to people all over the world, which will also help families lift themselves out of poverty. Clean water can change the world.
Today is the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, a day dedicated to renewing the fight against human trafficking. Research estimates that about 25 million people are currently enslaved for either labor or sexual exploitation.
While many factors influence human trafficking, and the fight to end it requires difficult, impassioned work, one of the biggest things we can do to work against and prevent human trafficking is to fight against poverty. Most of the people who are trafficked come from impoverished communities, and this makes trafficking harder to stop because of a lack of resources, attention, and power. People with less financial stability are easier to exploit, and the trafficking industry has taken this into account.
Most of us are not human rights lawyers, and we aren’t in politics or law enforcement. Ending human trafficking isn’t something we can directly instigate. But fighting poverty, for most of us, is easy and we should be doing all we can to help lift our brothers and sisters around the world into more hopeful circumstances.
We can combat poverty in a lot of small ways as we go about our day, but one of the simplest things we can do is to shop responsibly through organizations we trust. We all have things we need to live, and we all have things we want, and every one of these items can be bought ethically if we take the time to look.
If you’re looking for an organization that promotes fair trade, take a look at our Fair Trade Shop. Jesus’ Economy is fighting poverty around the world through our partnerships with many fair trade artisan groups, through our project to Renew Bihar, India, and you can join us to make a change.
Fair trade is amazing and here are just a few reasons why:
But the most important thing is that fair trade improves lives around the world.
When artisans are able to make and sell their products for a fair wage, they have a better chance of providing for themselves and their futures. Fair trade artisans are able to lift themselves out of poverty, which lowers their risk of being involved in trafficking. They are empowered to resist a cycle of fear and begin a cycle of hope.
Human trafficking is a complex evil, and buying fair trade will not eliminate it. But we can do something to fight against it, and if we can do something, we should. We should be compassionate and use our resources and privileges to promote justice.
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause” (Isaiah 1:16-17, ESV).
Our God is a God of justice, and human trafficking is severely unjust. As believers searching out God’s will, let us seek justice for those oppressed by human trafficking in any way we can.
In Terrier Rouge, a small farming community in northern Haiti, a group of teenage girls meets to make greeting cards. These cards are sold for fair wages, and the girls are able to save money for education and pursuing their dreams through their partnership with Woven Grace, a partner of Jesus’ Economy.
The Terrier Rouge Teens attend St. Barthelemy on US scholarships, but if they want to pursue jobs or further education after graduation, they have no options. There are no jobs in Terrier Rouge and no means to seek employment in Cap-Haitien, which is almost an hour away. The Woven Grace Fair Trade program provides these girls with a way to earn an income, save money for the future, and pursue their dreams.
Now, with the money they earn selling cards, these ladies have the opportunity to save money for the chance to break the cycle of poverty and give themselves a more hopeful future.
Thousands of people in Haiti live in poverty making it near impossible for families to earn enough money to break through the system. These people are suffering and many children end up on the streets to fend for themselves. But Woven Grace, a new partner of Jesus’ Economy, is working to change that through the Streethearts' Safe House.
The young men of the Streethearts' Safe House in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, were once living on the street, using drugs, prostitution, stealing, and any other means possible to get food and shelter. Streethearts offers them a safe place to live, receive education to meet their learning levels, and develop the life skills needed to rise above extreme poverty.
Woven Grace has introduced the journal-making program at Streethearts as a way for these teens to learn business skills and start a pattern toward a better future. Next time you need a new journal, consider buying one from Streethearts and join their fight to exit poverty.