I have some exciting news! Several months ago, I started dreaming about how I could use The Potter’s Hand for “more.” There’s a lot of noise online and I wanted to make sure that I was using my voice for good. I began to wonder how I would carve out my little space in the world.
I started thinking about the things I really enjoy doing – the things that get me excited. The things I’d do for free because they bring me joy (though if anyone wanted to pay me, I’d be cool with that too): Writing. Travel/global missions. Connecting people. And advocating for the underdog.
I’ve traveled to Africa now twice and though I know I am no expert, I do know that it’s my heart call. I’m always trying to figure out how to get back. Right now, living abroad is not really feasible for me. I’ve tried to convince the ol’ spouse, but haven’t had much luck. You know, there are little things like healthcare, and retirement; reliable electricity and wifi. Thank God someone is thinking about those things. Sometimes I romanticize the life of an expat.
But I’ve been conflicted about short-term missions for a while now, being careful that my “helping” isn’t “hurting.” (Two books that should be required reading for anyone interested in missions: When Helping Hurts and Toxic Charity.) In Toxic Charity, author Robert Lupton talks about a church in Mexico that was painted six times one summer by six different mission groups. This isn’t helpful, it just makes us feel good. When engaging in mission work, we need to listen to the locals and work in tandem with them – and if necessary, empower them with the skills needed so that the work is sustainable. Handouts and doing the work that locals could do only takes away their dignity, fosters dependency and contributes to the cycle of poverty.
In my limited travels abroad, I’ve seen how job creation for the most vulnerable (especially women) empowers them to pour into their own families and communities – impacting generations. Equally as important, many of these people work in collectives – so not only are they engaging in meaningful work and earning a fair wage, they’re also building community. I really see it as a significant way to help lift people out of all kinds of poverty.
There are two ways I could envision using The Potter’s Hand for good:
- As a global marketplace for artisans who would not otherwise have a platform to sell their goods.
- As a platform for storytelling. A place to write about my travels, and the artisans, and the people/organizations who are helping to make an impact in the world.
This is not a new idea. There are lots of people already doing this. But considering that roughly half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day, I’d say there are lots of people I could be partnering with.
My vision is to raise enough money to support my travel in order to meet more artisans so that I can sell their work. When I’ve raised enough money, I’ll go back out. The hope is that this project would be self-sustaining. And together we’d be empowering the most vulnerable to earn a fair, livable wage for their work.
This whole project is just a simple act of obedience. I have no idea what God will do with it. But you can help me by shopping at The Potter’s Hand and using your purchasing power for good! Consider it all a donation toward my project. You get beautiful products, I get to travel and share stories and together we help to lift people out of poverty. It’s all good!
So please poke around on my humble little online shop. As promised, it only took me about 10 minutes to set up a simple online store using the “WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart Plugin.” (THAT IS A LIE!) For now, I’m starting with some beautiful products from other artisan groups that are already doing this work. Just click on the “shop” tab in the menu bar on my blog – you can learn more about them there. And if you find a special gift for yourself or someone else, I’d be so grateful for your support.
Let’s love our neighbors folks! This is how we do it!
Here’s a sneak peak of a few items currently in the shop: