By Christy Mesaros-Winckles
Around the world, many people struggle to support themselves and their families.
Particularly in third world countries, it’s difficult to start a business.
Yet, within the Free Methodist Church, there are two organizations that are providing training and opportunity to gifted artists around the world. With the help of the SEED Livelihood Network and Heavenly Treasures, micro-enterprises are springing up in developing countries around the world.
SEED is the Free Methodist international livelihood ministry, which partners with International Childcare and FM World Missions to support microenterprises in FM churches around the world. The ministry works as a wholesaler, buying products from artisans and paying them twice the living wage for the time and materials they use. By visiting the FM missions displays at General Conference, individuals can see the variety and quality of products made by SEED artists.
“One of the surprising themes in the
artisans’ stories is healing. When we started talking about SEED, and what is SEED, and what are our core values, and what happens when SEED partners with livelihood groups, then one of the surprising themes was that people are healed socially and spiritually through the fellowship of the church their livelihood group is based in,” said Rose Brewer, co-director of SEED. “They are healed economically, but also relationally as they are interacting with people and gaining more dignity and more hope for their life.”
Rose Brewer and her husband, David Brewer, serve as directors of the ministry.
The theme of healing is central to both SEED and Heavenly Treasures. Heavenly Treasures founder Kathy Gaulton was a corporate buyer making a comfortable living and supporting her husband’s pastoral ministry. However, after visiting Tanzania on a short-term mission trip and helping women set up a business there making drawstring bags from local fabrics, Gaulton realized she could use her gifts in merchandising to help the poor and, in 1998, she founded Heavenly Treasures.
Like SEED, Heavenly Treasures has a website where individuals can buy products. They also have a storefront in Glendora, Calif., and host shows at churches around the country. Heavenly Treasures gives 100 percent of its profit back to livelihood projects for the artisans.
“I wanted to serve God in a way that I could use my gifts and abilities. I didn’t feel I had any gifts, but now I realize I have the spiritual gift of shopping and could use that to help the poor,” Gaulton said.
The Brewers and Gaulton are U.S. missionaries in the Free Methodist Church, which means they raise their own support, and all proceeds from the nonprofit organizations go back into the ministries. To support SEEDS and Heavenly Treasures, visit each organization’s website: www.seedlivelihood.org and www.heavenlytreasures.org.