Monday, October 31, 2005

Heavenly Treasures

Probably the coolest store I've ever been to... It's full of handmade stuff from all over the world. But even better, the people who make these things are people who otherwise would have no hope: orphans, people handicapped from leprosy, widows, people with AIDS, prisoners... Now they have the opportunity to use the skills, creativity, and talents that God gave them to actually make a living in a place where poverty is the most likely option.

This store is called Heavenly Treasures, and they partner with other organizations that teach nationals living in poverty how to make products that will support them and their families leading them to self-sufficiency. Then a lot of those products are sold here in the states for the price that something of that quality would sell in the states. I love that. If I were to go to a country in Africa and buy a purse, for example, it would cost me probably 2-5 dollars because they are in need and will take anything. So, yeah, they get 2 dollars to live on that day, but it's not helping them rise out of poverty by any means.

Check out to see the beautiful products available to change people's lives. But really, their website doesn't do their products justice because they have so much more in the store. Their store is in Glendora on Foothill and Grand if you just want to go out there. If you live by me, come see me before Nov. 5th because I have a box full of stuff from Heavenly Treasures that I am selling to people to get the word out. But, don't think it's a profit for me; I'm just excited about it and want people to spend their money here. Actually, it's no profit to anyone except the people who should be profiting, the people who made the stuff. Heavenly Treasures also travels to churches to tell about the ministry and sell the products. The website has info about that.

We live in a consumer society, and we all are affected by that making us consumers. Why not help the world at the same time?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Betty's Talent

My friend, Kierra, works for an organization called Empowering Lives International. They work in Kenya, the Congo, and now the Sudan. They don't want to just give handouts and put on "band-aids." Instead, their goal is to empower the nationals by teaching them skills in agriculture, finances, and other relevant stuff like making paper out of garbage. Anyway, they're an amazing organization that is truly empowering lives.

My friend Kierra went to Kenya this last summer and met a special lady named Betty. Kierra just wrote me an email about her, and I want it to change the way I look at life. So, I thought I'd share it...

"Betty has AIDS and worries at night what will happen to her 2 kids after she dies. There is no one to care for them, feed them, or put them through school. And yet Betty has an unshakable joy that radiates out of her wherever she goes. It’s a joy that comes from her incredible faith and hope in her God. She uses all her energy on Sundays to walk to church to lead worship, and during the week, on the days she feels well enough, she visits others in the community who are dying from AIDS. She encourages them, prays for them, and shares the hope that she has in God despite her situation.

"A few weeks ago, one of our staff asked Betty why she goes to visit the sick and speaks openly about her status despite the shameful stigma that accompanies it. Betty answered, "All of us have been given talents. Some 1, 5, or 10. God has allowed me to have AIDS - that is my talent. When I go to heaven, I will be accountable for what I did with the AIDS God allowed me to have." Wow, what an incredible perspective! Lord, may we learn from Betty and be good stewards of the “talents” you have blessed us with – no matter what form those talents come in."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

To learn or not to learn...

We need to all learn Spanish! We are right next to a Spanish speaking country, and a lot of its people come over here to live. Why not expand our sphere of communication and learn their language. I hear it all the time: if they're going to live here, they have to learn the language. Well whatever, but if you've ever been in a foreign country and felt like an outsider, you might have a different perspective. I've been in other countries and felt very out of place at times or homesick. When I would meet someone who could speak English, it would immediately help me feel at home and comfortable. I want to do that for people here. I'm sure they feel out of place. And, with all the controversy about immigration, I'm sure they sense that conflict and feel unwanted as well. I just think it would show so much love if we learned their language in order to more quickly communicate with them. It shows that they are welcome, so welcome that we would go out of our way to speak with them. Let's show them value. Who cares if Southern CA is overcrowded. People can move if they don't like that. There's plenty of desert space available. We'll let the government argue about that while we take care of loving the people who we have the unique opportunity to minister to.