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The Jesus Army does not only practice community of goods, but they also have several business which are owned by the communities, called Kingdom Businesses. What make these small corporations stand out is firstly that everyone gets the same wage – the managing director does not get any more than the one who wipes the floor. Secondly, you have to be a part of the Jesus Army, either as a community member or as a covenant member – meaning someone living outside the community but who still have made a commitment to spending time, energy and finances in the church – to be employed in the businesses. Thirdly, all profit go to one of the charitable funds of the church, either the Jesus Centres who are social centres for people in need, or stuff like evangelism, national conferences and other church stuff.
The Kingdom Businesses are basically “church at work”, and the Jesus people surely bring in a lot of ethics in what they do. Goodness foods distributes organic health food, TBS building supplies have started an EcoCentre programme that sells windmills, solar panels and other green technology. Several of those who are employed are people who have had difficulty getting a job.
I was very inspired by this – generally I’m skeptical towards businesses but since these are social, green and Christian I think they make a lot of good impact. Most churches don’t really care where people work, and so church goers worship Jesus on Sunday and sell products produced by child slaves on Monday without anyone reacting. For the people living in Jesus Army’s communities, church isn’t something you go to – it’s something you are, live in and work in 24/7. And while it brings several challenges, it’s scriptural, ethical and way more fun than the usual two-hours-a-week church.
This is as the title suggests the third part of my God vs Poverty series.
In the last part of God vs Poverty, I talked about the importance of giving aid to the poor. I am critical to the “trade instead of aid” idea expressed by people like Dambisa Moyo (who thinks that all aid to Africa should be stopped in five years) simply since it is irresponsible, harmful and not very smart. Trade is not the magical solution to poverty reduction, since many companies only have their own profit in mind. In contrast, aid agencies have a genuine goal to help the poor.
Still, trade is important. In fact, it’s necessary for poverty reduction. Acts 20:33-35 says:
“I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
In other words, if we are able to work but aren’t doing it, we are using resources that could have been given to the poor. As long as we are healthy and there are job oppurtinities, we should work. But we must remember that all jobs aren’t good jobs!
I’ve been putting together a playlist on YouTube called Activist Animations. Using visual communication is very effective in mobilizing action for a better world, and so a well-performed animation can get a lot of impact. Please spread them on! Here are some of my favourites: