Live Out Your Faith

It was almost too good of a set up.

Yesterday, I wrote about living water. Then at a church meeting last night in a room by the door to the parking lot, a woman comes in and asks for a drink of water…

Thirty years ago, I volunteered to work with an organization whose purpose was to find a way to raise the incomes of the farmers of the world who were squeezed by giant corporations driving down commodity prices and who colluded with corrupt politicians to force them off their land.

They became wage earners with no land to grow vegetables to eat. Suddenly they went from living to destitute.

That organization approached the problem through politics. A strategy doomed to failure.

Today, Christians are taking the lead solving another social problem much as they did millennia ago with schools and hospitals.

Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities. Once again, farmers have been squeezed by market forces–but not by Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” but by power garnered by large corporations.

At one level, farmers began to cooperate and form cooperative ventures where they could sell a little higher up the food chain to get a better return. “Fair Trade” coffee. It may be found in other commodities, too. One trouble with Fair Trade for us consumers is that there is no standard. Not all co-ops are the same. Not always does the farmer get a fair shake.

Faithful coffee roasters have begun buying directly from the farmer removing several intervening steps in the process. Suddenly the farmer is rewarded for his effort. He can feed his family, hire others, and pay them enough to feed their families. Some earn enough to be able to bring their daughters back from sex trafficking. Yes, there are still parts of the world where men sell their daughters into the sex trade–usually because they can’t feed another mouth.

(It’s another topic, but don’t think only Mexico, Thailand or Malaysia. Human trafficking is a big business in the US, too. When men want sex and will pay for it….)

Look for Direct Trade coffee and support this ecosystem of helping people. Because it’s a Christian initiative, many of these farmers use some of their profits to start churches in their rural areas. It’s amazing how things multiply.

We solve global problems not through massive government programs but a bag of coffee at a time.


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