Monthly Archives: July 2013

Will Your Church Be a Pioneer for Economic Change?

As Christians, we tell our kids to be kind to other kids. We tell our kids to neither steal nor cheat.

While I am a Christian in America that has been teaching these godly principals to my daughters for years, I am finding that I am profiting from a system that is doing just that.

What if we, as American Christians, find that we are a part of a system that bullies millions of people worldwide, stealing from them their very livelihood so that we may live in more luxury? What if we find that we are as well off as we are because of other people’s bullying? You may never have stolen another persons lunch as a kid. But, what if someone else routinely stole a lunch from a smaller kid, and then shared that kids lunch with you? If you knew of this action, would you be guilty by association? If you had a suspicion that this was going on but never looked into it, but kept accepting the lunch, (It was a really good lunch), would you be part of the problem?

America had slaves to help them produce. Now, corporations are pulling their production left and right from the United States to other countries where they can pay workers sometimes 1/10 of 1% of the profits they make since there are very low standards of work conditions and wages in other countries, while these same companies are making sometimes billions of dollars for their CEO’s and share holders. As consumers, we feel amazed at the low prices we pay and go home thinking we hit gold when in fact it is stolen property. As factories go overseas, Americans lose jobs. Those families who still have jobs sometimes have to have two full time jobs to support a family. Those who were unable to go to college often work 60 – 80 hour weeks and still get no health coverage for their family, no benefits and no paid time off. The Republicans and democrats argue over how much money we should give to the poor. I believe God would say. “Why don’t you pay an honest wage to your laborer and an honest price for your purchases so that a laborer can support a family on his/her own, drastically cutting down on the number of poor in the country?

When we buy items which are made in other countries and do not concern ourselves with the working conditions of the laborers or if they are receiving enough money to stay even above poverty, we are being complacent. If I had been sharing a lunch with someone who stole it from another kid for years and did not know it, I may be guilty by association. If I was told this was happening, knew it was a possibility but never looked into it, I would be more responsible than the first scenario. If, however, I became aware of that fact that I was eating a stolen lunch and made no effort to either stop eating that lunch or put a stop to the stealing, I would then be held partially responsible for the damages done to the person who lost their lunch.

American Christians have buying power. We also have a voice. We presently have more power than any country on the planet. We can start making a difference. To not try is now complacency as we start to see the truth.

Will your church be a pioneer in a Christian effort to end economic exploitation once and for all?

Write to me with your ideas.

Keep posted.

Learn more from sources such as the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.

Learn how you can support organizations that provide living wages and good working conditions such as Alta Gracia Apparel.

Start providing Equal Exchange Coffee during your church’s coffee hour.

Buy your church’s T-Shirts for functions from organizations like Madres Solteras, one of the very few factories in Central America that has a living wage and fair working conditions.

Either help start a factory/company that is fair trade or support companies that are currently documented by reliable sources to be fair trade.

Network to find other ways to help those who labor for our purchases.

There are small steps you can take now. If the church of Jesus pulls together, we can be a strong force towards ending a tremendous evil. However, if the church supports such evils while continuing to benefit from the profits, without taking any steps towards the right direction, our witness will become less effective. Even small steps in the right direction are important. Complacency is a very dangerous thing. Pray about what God is calling your church to do, even if it is one small step forward.

Blessings and Love to you,

Your Fellow Believer in Jesus Christ

“There are no sewing plants here anymore”

On December 22, 2009, wrote an article called “12 Reasons Companies Outsource Operations Overseas“. The first reason they gave was to lower wages. They went on to say that the average wage for a manufacturing worker in China was still $0.60/hr. and Mexico’s average wage was $2.46/hr. “Needless to say, an executive whose primary obligation is to delivering maximum return to his shareholders is strongly motivated to outsource such operations as can be outsourced without unacceptable losses in quality”.

The fact that the primary obligation is delivering maximum financial gain is where our culture strays from God’s word. (If you happen to not consider yourself a follower of Jesus, this would not necessarily concern you. However, if you truly have a relationship with Jesus, don’t feel judged, just read on) . Gain in and of itself is not considered wrong in the Bible. However, gain by exploiting others is forbidden. Jeremiah 6:13+ states “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain, prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace, they say, when there is not peace’”.

In response to the article above, a person wrote: “I was a spreader/cutter in the apparel industries (sewing plants) making beautiful clothes, helped a few close down to start operations in other countries where they get cheap ‘cheap’ labor… we are being put out of jobs for slave laborers in other countries… there are no sewing plants here anymore…”

If the primary goal of the company, consumer and stock holder is gain, then the decision to outsource to a company in China for $0.60/hr. regardless of their working conditions and insufficient wages, needless to say the loss of jobs right here in the USA, is quite logical. However, Jesus states in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other, You cannot serve both God and Money”.

This example in and of itself is not very convincing evidence that our culture is leaning more towards money as our god than any one religion. However, this is the first entry. Please return at a later date for other entries. Also, it is not very productive to point out a problem without at least looking towards a solution. Therefore, with each entry there will be a suggestion to start change, a goal to work towards, and an invitation for readers to brainstorm together. As a tailor and the Bible would say in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”.

Suggestions to start change:

Pray that God will show us his concern for the people that produce for us, that we will appreciate their hard work an give them worthy payment for their work.

Employ a local tailor to sew one thing for you.

Get your church to buy t-shirts from a fair trade company for things like Bible schools, summer camps and fund raisers. One organization is Madres Solteras in El Salvador. It is owned by the workers, gives a living wage, and their bottom line is the employees.

Long Term Visions for the Church:

The church of God to support or establish a fair trade company that pays a living wage, empowers its employees and has good working conditions.

The church of God to start their own labeling system; visiting factories and giving stamps of approval to just places, hopefully making people aware of their buying power and their responsibility to use it wisely.

Jesus says in Matthew 23:37+ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. We can not systematically love our neighbors around the world as ourselves and at the same time, value money above the common good of the people who produce for us.