Jesus’ Economy connects you to developing world artisans. It’s also our goal to connect you to one another. We’re building a community of people passionate about creating jobs and churches through beautiful products. As such, we’re now featuring our customer’s stories alongside artisan stories, right here on our blog.
 
Today I have the honor of sharing the story of J.D. Elgin’s connection to Jesus’ Economy. J.D. is Pastor of Student Ministries at Waushara Community Church in Central Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife, Krista, and son, Jeriah. At one time, he was also a carpenter—so he knows what handcrafted means.
 
JE: Tell us about your connection to Jesus’ Economy
 
J.D.: My connection to Jesus' Economy is, first, very personal. My wife and I have considered John and Kalene Barry dear friends for some time and we are excited to see their shared vision for this ministry unfold. …
 
J.E. Why did you make a purchase from Jesus’ Economy online?
 
J.D.: The unique fair trade products at Jesus’ Economy represent the personal passions of hard working folks around the world. These folks are not mega-anything, and there's no ambition to increase buying power or squash the next biggest competitor; only, hard-working people expressing their skills and passions for a trade. When I shop with Jesus’ Economy, I am sending our hard-earned money to support someone's personal business—I like that. 
 
In addition, the vision of Jesus’ Economy is holistic—that's important to me. I want to help the developing world, but I'm concerned that we meet people’s physical and spiritual needs without neglecting one for the other. Jesus’ Economy is helping train workers for a trade and build a solid, local fellowship of Christ followers.
 
J.E.: Is there a particular artisan or story that especially resonated with you?
 
J.D.: When I was shopping for my wife's birthday, I noticed the handiwork of Mr. Samuel from Haiti. I appreciated his story of how he is working with several apprentices to develop their skills in the trade.
 
J.E.: What did you end up buying and what do you think of it?
 
J.D.: I purchased the Hand-Woven, Sweet Grass Casserole Basket from Haiti along with the matching placemats. I was expecting to receive a good and attractive product, but I kind of expected to be a bit underwhelmed by the basics of the basket and mats: materials, durability, etc. At the very least, I expected to find a loose strand of grass that might eventually unravel. When I received the box at the front door, I could hardly believe the weight of it. The basket and placemats are very sturdy. I was impressed by the superior quality of craftsmanship and the top grade materials used. We were so impressed with the set that we decided against placing them on the table for daily use and have reserved them for occasional usage. Our daily placemats are now a set from a home store that was more expensive and is less impressive.
 
Maybe your story should be told next! We would love to hear from you. Contact us with your story here.
Four years after the historic earthquake struck, many communities across Haiti are still looking for a way forward—most industry was decimated by the natural disaster. Despite all of the aid that has flowed into the country, there are people still struggling with the basics of survival.  For many, this means limited access to resources for rebuilding shattered homes, or the provision of temporary shelters, with no long-term plan. In a quote from The New York Times, a senior technical adviser to U.N.-Habitat in Haiti shared,
 
“It’s the project syndrome—one neighborhood gets incredible resources, the next is in total limbo, or one camp gets rental subsidies, the next gets nothing. We have to spread the remaining resources more equitably. Equity is essential, and so are durable solutions.” 
 
A home of their own is the foundation families need to build a future. The fair trade cooperatives springing up around Haiti are providing sustainable incomes that enable families to rebuild this tangible symbol of hope and begin anew. 
 

The Other Major Challenge in Haiti

Another ongoing challenge in communities across Haiti is the devastating cholera epidemic, which emerged in the aftermath of the earthquake and continues now, years later. An infectious disease spread by contaminated water sources and inadequate sanitation, cholera can kill in as little as 24 hours. The most effective solution to this deadly epidemic is a comprehensive response including vaccination, better latrines, water sanitation, and community education.  
 

No Instant Fixes

There are no instant fixes. Hope and renewal in Haiti are coming about as a result of the dedicated work of organizations that listen to the Haitian people’s needs, strategize long-term sustainable solutions, and focus on holistic change (improving a community’s entire life—not just one part).
 

Our Part in This Story

At Jesus’ Economy, we’re incredibly proud to partner with one such organization, 2nd Story Goods.  The artisans employed by this fair trade cooperative receive a living wage that lifts their families out of poverty and allows them to become agents for change in their community.
 
Click here to receive more compelling artisan stories and Jesus' Economy news from the blog!

There is something powerful about being able to document and preserve the significant moments in life. It is special to be able to photograph a wedding, or film a child’s first steps, and it is equally significant to be able to capture the words that define such events.

While a spiral notebook or legal pad can serve the purpose, a beautiful journal provides a wonderful home for such thoughts, and can culminate in a book worthy of being passed down from generation to generation. 

Although, there are countless journal options available we are excited to offer unique burlap journals from Haiti. These journals are handmade by Benson Thermidor and his fellow artisans out recycled coffee bags. Each journal is one of a kind, and the perfect option for capturing the important moments of your life. Or perhaps you might consider giving journals as gifts, to friends and family members as they enter into new seasons of life. Give one to a new parent, a graduating senior, or newly married couple. They will surely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

What makes purchasing one of these journals even more significant, is that you will be helping to fund life transformation in communities struggling with unemployment rates nearing 40%. While this statistic is hard to fathom, it is a reality for many families. However it doesn’t have to be this way, and you can play an important role in changing this reality. Who knows, you might just find helping these Haitian communities worthy of the very first post in your brand new burlap journal. 

Visit our fair trade shop to find these as well as our leather snap journals to capture the moments of your life. 

Some of the greatest stories and literature ever produced come straight from personal journals and diaries. We came to know much about Nazi Germany’s oppression through the ink of Anne Frank. We are aware of the events of Pompeii when Vesuvius erupted partly because of a journal kept by an elder named Pliny. Mark Twain kept a journal while traveling Europe and the Holy Land that eventually became one of the best selling books of all time called "Innocents Abroad". The diaries of theologians like Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley to Jonathan Edwards and John Owen give us an intimate glimpse into some of the most God saturated minds in the history of the world. Christian journaling is now variously called a spiritual discipline, which is helpful in meditating on and understanding God’s word more clearly. 
 

Handmade Journals Help Haiti

Artisan Benson Thermidor from Haiti understands the creative and spiritual benefits that this activity can provide. For years he had been binding songbooks, Bibles, and other items for his friends when a local non-profit asked Benson if he would be willing to teach his craft to others in the village who were in need of jobs. As a result of this connection, his business has increased in size to employ twenty-five men and women, and also provide a full-sized workshop as a place to produce handmade burlap journals
 

Create Jobs for Artisans

Although the country of Haiti has an unemployment rate of 40%, the artisans who handmade these journals have steady work to provide for their families. The profits from these fair trade products are put back into the effort of offering life transformation to developing world communities; in addition, the artisans crafting these journals make a profit for themselves and their families, which helps lift them out of poverty. Each journal is made with a slightly different design, hand bound and crafted from recycled coffee bags. By purchasing this journal, you will be helping to provide jobs for people like Benson as well as fund life transformation in other developing world communities. Find this journal and other beautiful products in our fair trade shop
 
Click here to receive more compelling artisan stories and Jesus' Economy news from the blog!
There are few feelings more empowering than when you succeed in earning a better income—when you land that job, win the bid on that new project, or sign the agreement with the new partner. But for most people in the developing world, such opportunities are not available. Here at Jesus’ Economy, we’re working hard to change that. And as a result, we have the incredible opportunity of partnering with people who are overcoming extreme poverty in innovative ways.
 
In 2009, in Mongu, Zambia, a group of impoverished, unemployed, and mainly HIV positive Zambian widows decided to face the orphan crisis in their community. In the process of caring for orphans, they realized that they could make a livelihood for themselves. Working in tandem with the Zambia Project—dedicated to empowering the people of Zambia through church planting, leadership training, Bible translation, medical care, and other programs—Hope Art Orphanage was formed.

Beaded Bracelets and the African Economy

To fund the orphanage, the mainly HIV positive women then put their skills to work: These artisans designed and created handcrafted jewelry from recycled paper beads, to generate funds for orphan care and livelihoods for themselves. They are now able to take care of the children in their community and themselves.
 
Hope Art, a subsidiary of the Zambia Project, represents what commerce should be about—providing jobs and changing lives for the better. They represent what serving Jesus and His economy means.
 
The Zambia Project has selflessly served those on the underside of power in Zambia and has been successful in their efforts to empower people in West Zambia. And Jesus’ Economy is proud to be Zambia Project’s partner, and to offer the wider world Hope Art.
 
I know this story gives me hope—and shows me what Christ is capable of doing in the world. I hope it gives you hope today. Learn more about Hope Art beaded bracelets here.
 
Click here to receive more compelling artisan stories and Jesus' Economy news from the blog!
“For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death.  He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight” (Psalm 72:12-14 NIV).
 
Our mission at Jesus’ Economy—to create jobs, plant churches, and meet basic needs—is a direct response to the mandate we see throughout Scripture, to stand against injustice. We believe we are most closely aligned with the heart of God as we become his hands and feet, meeting physical and spiritual needs in communities where injustice and corruption have long held sway. And we believe that the transformation of these communities begins with empowering people.
 
Kenya is one of the most stable and progressive countries in Africa, and the Kenyan economy is a model of development for the rest of the continent. Jesus’ Economy works with several artisans and a non-profit that is focused on funding education in the more rural areas—where the effects of this prosperity are yet to be experienced.
 

Domestic Violence in Kenya

One of the most important issues that Kenya is facing today is that violence against women is being ignored and dismissed. A recent public health survey indicated that 50% of all Kenyan women had experienced violence, often perpetrated by close family members. Sexual violence commonly extends to forced marriage, female genital mutilation, forced abortions and sterilizations, and human trafficking. The normalization of these horrific acts is evidenced in stories such as the recent Guardian article that told the story of a 16-year-old girl in Western Kenya who was gang-raped while returning from her grandmother’s funeral. Her rapists were sentenced to a morning of cutting the grass in the police compound and then released. The girl suffered fistulas and spinal cord damage from the vicious attack. According to the Guardian article, an aid worker “investigated the gang rape and says it was not a chance occurrence: ‘Liz had rejected advances from one of the boys, so he brought his friends to discipline her’” 
 

Women Act Against Violence

Women across Kenya are already mobilizing within their communities and working to change the culture of violence. But what is the best way to support this movement and obey the Lord’s commands to “uphold the cause of the oppressed” and “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 146:-9; Proverbs 31:8–9 NIV)?  According to the International Center for Research on Women, “When women own property and earn money from it, they may have more bargaining power at home. This in turn can help reduce their vulnerability to domestic violence and HIV infection.”  Not only do these approaches bring greater prosperity to communities—they may be the key to ending widespread violence against women in Kenya and around the world.
 

Support Womens' Education in Kenya

If you want to help today, you can support womens' education in Kenya by purchasing one of Tembo Trading Education Project’s handmade, fair trade Kenyan bags, or by donating to fund microloans for entrepreneurs.
 
Click here to receive more compelling artisan stories and Jesus' Economy news from the blog!
With Christmas just around the corner, it’s the time of year when we stress about finding the perfect gifts for our loved ones. This can be both an exciting and daunting task. As advertisements flood inboxes and mailboxes alike—and shopping malls are navigated with special force precision—we can find ourselves asking about the value and significance of the gifts we give. Are they simply nice items or do they mean something more? Do they say something about what we value or merely that we have been successful in checking everyone off our shopping list.
 

Give the Gift of a Fair Trade Christmas

Jesus’ Economy’s fair trade shop is filled with beautiful, handmade products that will not only be cherished by your friends and family, but will also speak volumes about your desire to be part of something life giving and transformational.
 
Whether you purchase a beautiful beaded porcelain bracelet handmade by Anna Nasieku, a set of Peter Maina’s hand-painted greeting cards—or one of the many other unique and special items in the fair trade shop—you will be personally investing in the lives of hardworking men and women around the world by shopping fair trade during the Christmas season. You will be helping to create a sustainable economy. 
  

Shop and Share These Beautiful Products

You will also have the opportunity to invite your friends and loved ones to participate with you in the life changing work of Jesus’ Economy. Who do you know that would love to be a part of this type of life change?
 
Click here to receive more compelling artisan stories and Jesus' Economy news from the blog!

 

"This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage ... for eighteen years. Isn't it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?" (Luke 16:13 NIV).
 
In the poorest regions of rural Kenya, roughly 800,000 HIV positive women are struggling to maintain a viable income to provide for themselves and their families. The numbers of HIV positive women in rural Kenya are so high in part because the low socioeconomic status of many women limits their power to negotiate the use of a contraceptive, talk about infidelity with their partners, or leave dangerous relationships. Lack of access to secondary education (due to fees, poor transportation, need to be home for family, etc.)—fostered by high adolescent birth rates (95 out of every 1,000 births are born to women ages 15-19 according to The World Bank)—leave many women without access to sexual and reproductive health education. This is a vicious cycle. 
 

African Jewelry and the Kenyan Economy

Jesus’ Economy believes that by valuing the work of these beautiful women through our partnership in the arts, they will begin to see themselves as they truly are. Not stigmas, diseased, or lower class women, but beautiful brides of Christ, made in His image and for His glory (Ephesians 5:22). Consequently, Jesus’ Economy has looked far and wide for opportunities to empower artisan women with jobs in Kenya. Through our partnerships, we're working to free women from the stigma of having a disease.
 

Empower Artisans by Shopping Fair Trade

Through her relationship with Tembo Trading Education Project, one of Jesus' Economy's partners, Anne Nasieku is able to grow the production of her handmade porcelain beaded bracelets, thereby helping other women establish themselves and create more jobs for artisans. The name of Anne’s program, “Mayiant," is fitting for her line of work. It means “blessings." This initiative allows HIV positive women to create intricate beadwork for the African beaded bracelets, handmade leather sandals, and other artisan crafted jewelry Anne sells. Selling these fair trade products allows the women to pay for their family’s monthly education fees and food costs.
 
It’s not often that you find handmade bracelets that will match nearly any outfit. These bracelets will. A kaleidoscope of colors contrasted with a black base makes that possible. And to top it off, every bead is made one hundred percent from porcelain. Purchasing this fair trade product and other artisan crafted jewelry helps provide jobs for artisans living in extreme poverty in Kenya, as well as better the lives of others in developing world communities. We hope that you will share these beautiful bracelets with your friends and family this holiday season. Click here to view these bracelets in our fair trade shop. 
fair trade african beaded bracelets
“All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2 ESV). 
 
Isaiah 66:2 says that God made us with his own hand. Our lives with God become personal and purposeful when we understand that He is the artist and we are the canvas, intricately and uniquely designed for his good purposes. Handmade design takes deep thought, time and personal consideration—something that has been partially lost with the rise of mass printing, high volume manufacturing and duplication. 
 

Transform Kenya: Handmade Greeting Cards

Peter Maina, an African artisan, understands the inherent value in personal design and selfless handiwork. He makes his living by selling hand-painted greeting cards in Nakuru, Kenya. Every 5”x4” card is unique, and signed by Peter. Through the creation of his handmade greeting cards and other projects, Peter has purchased land and erected a house for his family, as well as put all three of his children through school. The people of Nakuru are suffering terrible poverty and malnutrition, but artisans like Peter bravely face poverty by laboring to improve his and his family’s living conditions. Jesus’ Economy partners with The Tembo Trading Education Project to provide a way for people just like you to bring life transformation to Kenya and others around the globe and receive the beautiful fairtrade products that Peter and others work hard to create in the process.
 

Supporting an Artisan Creates Jobs

Each time Jesus’ Economy buys Peter’s cards from Tembo, the profits from each purchase go directly to funding transformational education and further entrepreneurship in the community in order to change lives through business. Then, when Jesus’ Economy resells the cards to you, we put all profit from your purchase directly into life transformation around the world—microloans, church grants, meeting needs, and our ongoing operations.
 
Ordering a 5-pack of Peter’s hand-painted greeting cards means you are literally helping lift the Nakuru community out of poverty and suffering. Your set may illustrate a sunset with the baboons, twilight with elephants, midday with gazelles, or other scenes—every single handmade greeting card pack is unique. We hope that you will share these beautiful handmade greeting cards with your friends and loved ones. 

These fair trade gifts fund life transformation

Sometimes a bag is more than just something in which to carry your wallet and keys. Sometimes a bag holds dreams stitched into each seam, and hope tacked into the lining. Sometimes a simple bag is a symbol of freedom.  

Find this bag in our fair trade shop

Second Story Goods is a cooperative of Haitian artisans from Jubilee, a village on the outskirts of Gonaives, Haiti. These men and women are writing new stories for their lives into every stitch sewn, every product they hand-craft, and every piece sold at a fair price--allowing them to save and dream. Second Story is passionate about these personal stories and the mission of freeing families from poverty and dependency by connecting their skills with the Western market. Second Story's sling bags are created as part of a program called Trade School Haiti, which teaches valuable sewing skills to women in Jubilee. Philipe, who is pictured here, is the sewing instructor for this group of women. 

It's not many companies who can, or will tell you exactly how their products are produced. At Jesus' Economy, we know all of this information before we even begin to work with artisan cooperatives. We want to know that profits are being routed directly to artisans and community development, transforming lives and producing real change in the region. Second Story Goods is doing just that, with initiatives like local business classes, small loans for entrepreneurs, and supplies for the Jubilee school.  It's a story we can fully support. Buy your sling bag today in our fair trade shop.

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