Six Christmases ago, my first baby jumping around in my belly, I trudged off with friends to a movie theatre in Shizuoka, Japan to find out what on earth was all the international fuss about Les Miserables.
Three hours and innumerable sobs later, I understood. Among many of the story lines that caught my heart was that of Fantine, a young unwed mother in poverty-stricken lower class of France. She worked tirelessly in marginally decent factory conditions, enough to send money home to her treasured baby girl. A tragic downward spiral leaves her on the streets, desperate for income.
Not yet birthed into motherhood myself, but I was entirely gutted by the reality of extreme urgency, this woman shouldering the burden to the point of selling the molars out of her own jaw to send earnings. What global affliction, and what heartache that still exist this very Christmas. What a position of privilege for my babies and myself to never know work environments that threaten our very lives.
God is consistent in His voice throughout scripture: He cares deeply for the oppressed and cares deeply that His people be set apart to care deeply like their God. Old Testament prophets to New Testament Savior.
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?”
Jesus constantly goes to love the marginalized, and He invites us to join His purposes. But how? It takes very little research to plum nauseating narratives and statistics about vulnerable work conditions that objectify women. This is not justice, and yet our God demands, in fact His very throne is built – on justice and righteousness.
I’m so honored to introduce Interwoven Asia to you. My dear sister-friend, Jill, loves and lives among this population of unreached and at-risk souls. She so kindly connects the heart of God with the practical workings of His justice. I’ll let her tell you a little more about the details:
“The Interwoven Group is a multi-missional project and business in SE Asia – designed to support and work alongside vulnerable women and girls.
The project includes a special program for women and girls who have chosen to exit dangerous work environments. This particular program provides safe housing, counseling, discipleship, personal care, education and skills-training to the women and girls.
Our Outreach Team seeks to educate the families and villages of the women and girls in our program about the pushes and pulls of human trafficking in SE Asia. They also work hard to keep ongoing relationships with all of the family members of the women and girls and pray for open doors to share the gospel with them. This year alone, the Outreach Team has rejoiced over 42 new Brothers and Sisters through God’s work in the outreach program!
Poverty is the leading cause of people entering exploitative work situations, and we believe that small business creation is one way of protecting whose who seek to provide for their families through an earned income. When people purchase products from our Interwoven Store or come to our salon, they are supporting the development of women and girls who have purposefully decided to work in safe environments.
The Interwoven Vocational Training was born out of a vision to provide job skills training and a safe working environment for the women and girls in our program. Currently, the vocational training includes jewelry making, sewing, baking, and cosmetology.
Our Interwoven Jewelry Store opened in February of 2016. Products are currently sold only in our store or through trunk-shows or special events when our foreign staff return to their passport countries. My personal favorites are our real silk tassel earrings and water buffalo horn pendant necklace!
Interwoven’s cosmetology program is about to burst at the seams! While a few of the ladies have received some preliminary training, Interwoven is excited to partner with a foreign team of two who will join us in 2018 for a year-long program to provide further essential training, AND our salon is going to go through renovation beginning in January 2018 in order to provide adequate space for training and more comfort for customers!
Common Grounds is Interwoven’s socially conscience café. The café serves Western food and makes the #1 rated Americano in our country! Our vision is to equip and empower our national staff through professional development and discipleship training. This year has been exciting as we’ve had one of our kitchen workers become a Sister-in-Christ through the discipleship relationship with one of our national staff! Our Believing National staff have become more bold this year with sharing their personal testimonies and the gospel with the rest of our staff!
My role with The Interwoven Group is multi-faceted. I serve as the administrator for our team, I’m also the Volunteer Teams Coordinator, I help with the professional development of our café staff, and I am the Ambassador Training Coordinator as well.
If someone is looking to join the fight against modern day slavery, then our Ambassador Training is just for them! Women and men will gain extensive training in the fight against human trafficking, participate in a work project, and learn how to become an advocate for women and children at risk of exploitation not only abroad, but in your own community. This training is held February 18-23, 2018. Anyone interested in more details about this training can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can we be lifting up the work among women in southeast Asia to the Lord?
• Pray for the program staff as they have heavy, intense casework.
• Pray for the Outreach Team as they continue to seek opportunities to educate people in remote villages about the dangers of trafficking, as well as more opportunities to share the gospel.
• Pray for protection from the Enemy over all of the women and girls in the program as well as our staff.
• Pray for our national staff at the café who do not Believe yet — especially in December when they will hear the gospel shared through the Christmas story on multiple occasions.
• Pray for unity amongst all project teams.
• Pray for wisdom for the leadership team.
• Pray for God’s provision for $5,000 to remodel our salon space.
• Pray for God’s provision to purchase land and build a vocational training center, housing for all the women and girls, and a medical center all on the same property by 2019.”
“Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard…
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.”
Isaiah 58:8 and 10
His kingdom will come and justice will prevail in the end against atrocities of our modern day, but dear Hopers – let’s consider what we can do or give to bring justice TODAY. Let’s lift up our voices in prayer for Interwoven and the women they serve!
Go give them a follow on Instagram at @InterwovenAsia, and make sure Santa knows about that water buffalo horn pendant necklace!