The Tension of Telling our Fair Trade Story

March 25, 2014



To say that I had a freak-out yesterday would be a gross understatement.

I put out HELP! text to my sister and a dear friend to request prayer.  I desperately needed clarity and wisdom.  Thank goodness for people who love me and want to be in this with me.

So, why the freak out?  I’m writing a booklet.  Trying to tell the story of the people who make our soap ingredients.  Trying to tell the story of how sustainable work transforms people’s lives.  Trying to tell the story about how people become less vulnerable when they have an ongoing income.  How fraud is an integral part of most trafficking.  It’s getting a loan for medical care that you don’t realize you will never ever be able to repay.  It’s saying yes to the person who is offering to educate your daughter in the city.  It’s letting your daughter go to the city to work in a friend’s friends restaurant because you can’t afford food and school fees.  This fraud is the backbone of how so many traffickers operate.  Our soap is about slow hope.  It’s not charity that gives the poor a hand-out today.  It’s development that provides a sustainable job, which brings hope and dignity over time.  It’s the fact that when you can afford to feed and educate your child, you don’t need to believe the traffickers.  You don’t need your daughter to go to the city for an education if you are already feeding her and paying her school fees yourself.

Discipleship sits right in the middle of our business.  Stewarding our business and telling our story well.  There’s the diligence of bringing every resource that we have to the table.  It’s listening to the hard critique (for which I’m incredibly grateful) and leaning into how I can better articulate what we’re doing.  But, after we bring every resource that we have into doing the very best job that we can do, there’s relinquishing the result.


Because I’m stepping into a story that I didn’t write.  Way, way, long back, there was a crack in the Fall of humanity.  As still happens today, it was rooted in deception, lies and finger-pointing.  And since that brutal Fall, God has been at work using His people to make it right.  We are His plan for redemption.  And that’s the genesis of so many redemptive stories.  From Moses to William Wilberforce to Harriet Tubman to Gandhi, God uses people to bring redemption to the world.  So, yes, I need to tell the story in the very best way that I can.  I need to connect the dots for people.  But, in the end, the story of our company is just a subplot in God’s much bigger redemptive story.  Which helps me breathe and remember that the story is way bigger than I am.

So, I’ll tell the beginning of that story with the knowledge that it’s my best shot today, and then I would love to talk with you.  I would love to hear from you about the parts that aren’t hanging together.  Because I want to do the people involved in this story justice.



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