Last year I read an amazing book, Rhinestone Jesus. Author Kristen Welch tells her story and shares about how God led her away from her simple, surface-level life and into the great adventure He had planned for her. After a mission trip to Kenya, Kristen felt led to open Mercy House Kenya, which houses pregnant teens and single mothers. When she heard the sickening statistics, she knew she needed to help.
Annually, 21,000 women are hospitalized from having an illegal, unsafe abortion in Kenya.
13,000 Kenyan girls are kicked out of school for being pregnant.
25% of pregnant women in Kenya are HIV positive.
Every 30 minutes, a woman is raped in Kenya.
More than 20,000 children are sex trafficked in Kenya.
1,500 women die in childbirth every day across Africa.
Kristen knew God was calling her to help, and she said “Yes.” From the US, the Welch family started Rehema House (rehema is the Swahili word for mercy) in Kenya. Pregnant girls and new mothers are safe, counselled, educated, and receive medical care. They are taught skills to support themselves but more importantly, they learn about God’s love. These teenagers are safe and loved, possibly for the first time. What an amazing ministry.
However, Kristen didn’t stop there. Mercy House started a ministry last August, called Fair Trade Friday. Rather than give women money, FTF seeks to empower them. When you join the Fair Trade Friday club, you receive a box the first Friday of each month for $31.99 (including shipping.) Each box contains 3-4 unique fair trade items in a handmade bag. Attached to each item is a card with information about where it was made. There is also a card in the box telling you how many women your box employed that month. (Mine usually say 6 or 7!) You see right away the difference you are making. You can keep some things and give some as gifts (but you will want to keep it all!)
The items in the Fair Trade Friday box have a wide range. Jewelry, t-shirts, headbands, journals, and many other things are included. They are all beautiful and from one woman to another.
I won’t lie-getting these boxes each month makes me giddy and more than a little teary. I get to help a woman provide for her family and keep them together. I help give her dignity and a purpose. When she gets up in the morning, she has hope for her babies’ futures and she gets to hug them at night, which is more than many women around her get.
What have been my favorite items so far? Glad you asked! I would have to say my earrings made in Ecuador, picture frame made in India, and journal made in India. (Shocker that I loved a journal, right?)
God has so much in store for Kristen Welch, Mercy House, and Fair Trade Friday, and I am so honored to be a small part in that. If you would like more information about Mercy House Kenya, here is their website. You can make a donation or shop there. If you would like to be part of Fair Trade Friday and experience the joy of empowering women around the world, head to their website here. You won’t regret it!
As Kristen said in Rhinestone Jesus, “We aren’t called to do big things; we are just called to do something that fulfills this command: Love God. Love others.”
Love God. Love others. Yes, let’s make the world a brighter place.