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Heaven in a Handbag

I recently had the opportunity to travel and meet several entrepreneurs in Kenya. These are motivated, hard-working, focused, inventive individuals intent upon making Jesus known in their country. Everyday folks with a passion to grow their business in order to impact lives for the Kingdom. Folks who, even with all the pressure and hard work, choose to embrace a role of being on mission wherever they are. They are bringing ministry into the marketplace. 

This got me to thinking. Do I see ALL parts of my life as ministry? When did I start to separate my secular and spiritual lives? Better yet, why?

One Kenyan entrepreneur named Grace started a business designing, manufacturing, and selling handbags. Jeilo Collections is a Kenyan fashion accessories company that seeks to integrate Christian principles. For Grace, this means profit is not the ultimate goal. Instead, it is about building community and promoting the name of Jesus through ethical, compassionate business practices, and the creation of a product whose excellence and beauty would reflect the excellence and beauty of God. I refer to it as “heaven in a handbag.”

Grace also ministers the Gospel through her employment practices. She is intentional about hiring those from within her community that might otherwise be overlooked: youth groups to create recycled brass ornamentation for the African print and leather bags, and rural Maasai tribeswomen to do beading. These workers are offered an affordable eight-week training course that equips them with the skills and materials they need to move towards self-employment. Those who show interest and aptitude are offered further training in the areas of entrepreneurship and business planning.

Grace is passionate about the spiritual well-being of her employees, meeting daily with her staff to share a morning devotional. Not all of her employees are Christians, but she prays for each of them by name and has seen significant transformation in their lives, including some making a commitment to Christ. 

I am inspired by Grace and her obedience. As a business leader there are many demands and distractions, but she is focused on Christ’s command to “go and make disciples.”  Her example reminds me to be on mission wherever I am, whatever I am doing. Right now, here in Burundi.

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