Christmas is coming and like every year, the celebration of the birth of the king of Kings, will get hijacked by Black Friday frenzy and overindulgence (in every sense of the word). Guilty here! But God is pricking my heart and bringing to mind the millions of destitute hearts who will be deprived of Christmas joy and merriment. You and I can change that–at least one person at a time. Will you join me to make this Christmas a little different? Will you ethically shop to empower women and children and therefore fulfill Jesus’ command to love our neighbor?
The Forgotten Destitute in the Midst of Wealth
Did you know that it is projected that Americans will spend on average $925 per person (over 1 trillion nationwide) during the holidays this year? It is a ridiculous amount of money spent to fuel our own materialism. While we indulge in this yearly tradition of excessive shopping, there are millions of destitute women and orphaned children who will not see one iota of that amount. Most of the profits will swell the pockets of shareholders, executives, and company owners.
I am not against corporate or business wealth, especially corporations and business that give back to their communities and keep us all employed. But there is so much waste and an endless flow of money that will fuel greed and extravagant materialism in the face of overwhelming suffering worldwide. We cannot control what companies do, but we can control what we do and how we shop.
What is Our Responsibility as Christians?
I have read through the Old Testament a few times, and every time I am struck by how often God mentions the poor, widows, and orphans. In actuality, its failure to take care of those three groups of people is one of the reasons for Israel’s demise in the Old Testament. It is something God does not take lightly.
Biblically, God has put a lot of the responsibility on taking care of the less fortunate on us, both materially and spiritually. Galatians 5:14 tell us that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Katie Davis from Amazima summarizes the concept in this way, “Myself doesn’t want to be starving so I don’t want other people in the world to be starving.”
Katie is also a living example of heeding James 2:15-17.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (ESV Version)
We cannot turn a blind eye. We are not all going to be called to move to Africa and adopt several children like Katie did, but we can make a difference in other ways. One of those ways is by changing the way we shop.
Why Support Women Empowerment by Ethically Shopping?
Christians start to shift in their seats when they hear the phrase “women empowerment.” Regardless of the platforms that modern feminists may support, women empowerment at its essence is to give women the tools to thrive in this world. That is a good thing and even a Christian thing to do. You can read my article here on how Jesus himself empowered women.
Despite the success of professional women in the West, women world-wide (and their children) largely remain a vulnerable group and victims to abuse, slavery, trafficking, etc. This is even true within the borders of our own “prosperous” nation. In many cases, it is also unfortunately true even within “Christian” households.
Women empowerment can take many forms. If a woman is rescued from a trafficking network, you cannot just pat her on the back and tell her, “You are free now to go on your merry way.” You need to provide her the resources, skills, education, and spiritual food so that she can make a living for herself and her family. That is women empowerment.
Here is a little less extreme example and closer to home. A neighbor friend starts her own small business to bring in extra income and help keep the family chugging along. When you buy from her (instead of the big name corporations), you are helping to empower her and her family in the process. That is women empowerment.
How Can My Shopping Help Empower Women?
Support Your Local Entrepreneurs
I alluded to one way above. Are there women in your life that are running their own businesses? Maybe they sell essential oils, books, beauty products or have their own Etsy shop. Seek them out and buy from them. Help their business. Why would we buy a similar item from a big brand name company when we can support a friend?Are there women in your life that are running their own businesses?…Seek them out and buy from them. Help their business. Why would we buy a similar item from a big brand name company when we can support a friend? Click To Tweet
Make a Global Impact with Your Purchase
Another way to impact across the globe is to support efforts that help vulnerable women. Many organization, churches, and other non-profits sell products hand made by women learning a new trade or craft as a means of earning self-supporting income. The earnings from the sales are reinvested back into the women’s communities through more education and/or training, and/or are used to fund rescue operations for others from slavery, trafficking, etc.
What I like the most about these ministries is that they are not hand-outs which last for a limited amount of time and then are gone. These ministries are focused on giving women life-long skills that will keep on giving. That, my friends, is women empowerment.
Organizations That Empower Women
Here is a list of some of my favorite organizations that can be your first step to ethical shopping. And if you don’t find anything you like from this list, do a Google search which will lead you to hundreds more.
Women at Risk Their products are hand-crafted by or sold in support of at-risk women (and even some at-risk men) in their partnering programs in over 40 countries, including the United States. You can also host a Women at Risk selling party in support of their ministry.
Eternal Threads Eternal Threads is dedicated to improving the lives of women and children at risk of extreme poverty, trafficking and other forms of exploitation by providing sustainable livelihoods through income generating projects. Through Eternal Threads you can also host a “Gathering Sale.” They send you inventory and you sell it to benefit women and children in poverty.
Amazima Organization Your purchase will help provide women in Uganda a sustainable livelihood so that they do not have to resort to other means (prostitution). It will also help put children through school and giving a child an education empowers them for life.
Mission Lazarus The Mission Lazarus social enterprise program exists to empower local Hondurans and Haitians and teach them artisan skills and how to maintain a sustainable business. Although it is not woman specific, the mission seeks to support and elevate the entire family and therefore help the whole family thrive. You can shop for artisan goods and coffee in their online shop.
And if you must shop from big named stores, I urge you to find companies that are big givers. Hobby Lobby, for example, is known for donating large portions of its profits towards ministries. You can also use Amazon Smile which will give a small portion of its earnings to any charity of your choosing. It is pretty easy to set up and is one way that I have been able to support my favorite ministries.
If you know of other business that support women, please comment below for the benefit of our readers. Let’s highlight those businesses and promote women entrepreneurs.