It was a Friday last December when I met Jessica.
My first grader had been telling me about a new girl in her class. She moved to our small Texas town from Ethiopia.
My interest was peeked: What was she doing in Ethiopia? Why was she here?
My little girl sighed at all my questions. “I’m only six, Mom. You should ask her mother.”
And that’s what I did at the class Christmas party the next week. On a Friday.
Jessica was crocheting a last-minute coffee cozy to go with her teacher’s gift. “I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that,” I said and I introduced myself.
I learned they were missionaries, moved back home unexpectantly, temporarily living with family. They were in limbo, both feet in two worlds.
I knew exactly how that felt.
A few weeks later, on a Friday, I found myself in a room filled with displaced refugees. I was teaching loom knitting without much of a plan or skill–go ahead and laugh, it’s funny.
I started looking forward to Fridays–not because I knew what I was doing, but because it felt right. I had found a gaping need close to home, a place for me to get my hands dirty, an opportunity to obey. This little class would eventually become The Refugee Project, now led by a friend of mine.
I remembered Jessica crocheting in the corner of the classroom and I had a feeling she had some free time, so I asked her to help me help the refugees on Fridays.
On the long trips back and forth to serve these lovely refugees in our city, we became friends. Our families became friends.
I learned their story, although different than ours, it was still the same, filled with beauty and brokenness. I couldn’t believe how God allowed our paths to cross with this family who worked on the continent we loved to empower widows and single moms, the oppressed with employment in the name of Jesus.
I don’t remember exactly where or when it happened, but I shared the nagging dream God had given me for a club for women to help women and after seeing the start of a community outreach in Kenya to young mothers, I knew it was time.
And that’s when Fair Trade Friday was born.
In the past few weeks, I’ve talked to missionaries in Costa Rica who work with very poor women in the mountains who will now have a steady income. It leaves me speechless. We are partnering with women who sew in India, and soap makers in Zambia and apron makers in Rwanda to fill our Fair Trade Friday boxes with amazing product.
They have all said the same thing: this is an answer to their prayers.
And I can’t tell you how much this little idea has restored and renewed me. Rather than be constraining and confining, its felt like freedom.
On launch day, with a bulging Club Membership and hundreds on a waiting list, Jessica and I celebrated.
Sometimes you wonder if your yes matters. It always does–through success or failure–it’s not about the result, it’s about the obedience.
But then sometimes, it’s so obvious that God is in charge and you laugh at your doubts and worry and sleepless nights. “I’m amazed,” I told her.
“Yes, it’s crazy–all of it,” she agreed. I knew she was talking about much more than Fair Trade Friday. She was talking about our entwined lives, the common purpose, the opportunity to serve and help so many women.
“This is redemption. This is what God does with brokenness. He repurposes it,” The words caught in my throat.
God doesn’t waste a broken piece of our life. He uses every shattered dream, every hopeless moment for His glory.
And He does it when we least expect it.
Sometimes it gives us another reason to look forward to Friday.
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