Agrowing trend in business is to have meaningful mission work as part of a company’s mission statement. Two local companies – GraceFull Goods and Rahab’s Rope – are examples of businesses blazing that particular trail.
Rahab’s Rope was founded by owner Vicki Moore in 2004 after she read about the sex trafficking of young girls in India. Having volunteered in an orphanage there several times, Moore was familiar with the country and its people. Eventually, her husband and daughter, Jennifer Lunsford, now the director of sales for Rahab’s Rope, accompanied her there to learn more about the trafficking of children.
One specific young woman’s story – she had no chance to attend school and was illiterate and unable to get a job – touched their hearts. Moore decided she could teach women in similar situations useful skills to help them become self-sufficient.
“And so the journey began,” said Lunsford.
At the same time, Moore was taking an Old Testament survey class at college, and learning about the O.T. story of Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute. Rahab helped the Israelites defeat Jericho, and is an ancestor of Jesus. She is Boaz’s mother and the great-great-great-grandmother of King David.
“The professor pointed out that Rahab had enough flax in her house to hide … two Israelite spies,” Lunsford explained. “Flax makes linen and rope. … the rope represents Rahab’s rescue both physically and spiritually.”
Rahab’s Rope employs a multi-faceted approach to eradicating sex trafficking, which is the fastest growing crime in the world. On the prevention side, it has age-appropriate after school and life skill programs. Other services include direct rescue of trafficked women and a detox program for women, mainly between 18-30, who are on drugs and alcohol.
“It was too compelling not do something,” Lunsford said. “My family and our team strive each day to make a difference and eradicate this problem both globally and locally.”
Rahab’s Rope is a 501©(3) nonprofit
corporation, and receives donations, but their success lies in their three retail shops – in Gainesville, in Clarksville and the third at 320 Mallery St., on St. Simons Island.
The shop inventory includes handcrafted jewelry, shawls, bags, home décor and some food items, much of it made by the women the organization is assisting.
“About 35% of our items are made by the women we work with directly in aftercare (and) prevention or women who are still being trafficked,” she said. “We also buy from other organizations (and fair trade companies) that help women in India and other parts of the world.”
Lunsford said 65% of the organization’s funding comes through product sales. The more product Rahab’s Rope sells, the more work the women and families they serve will have. Rahab’s Rope also has a growing wholesale division that assists with selling the products to more than 65 retail shops.
Visit rahabsrope.com for more information.
“People are helping us to provide dignified jobs, sustainability and hope.” —jennifer lunsford
GraceFull Goods is the brainchild of St. Simons Island resident Sharon Roberts. Roberts had been visiting Romania on mission trips and had served on the lead team for Beloved Ministries (a local ministry for single mothers). GraceFull Goods grew from those works, and now also serves women in recovery.
“On my second trip to Romania, God put it on my heart to teach the ladies there skills in jewelry making. When I returned home and resumed with Beloved Ministries, he showed me the dire financial needs some of the single moms have.” —sharon roberts
The women wanted to earn an income, so GraceFull Goods became a 501©(3) nonprofit corporation on Oct. 10, 2015. By December, three women were making jewelry with Roberts and selling at local markets.
A Christian nonprofit organization, GraceFull Goods got its name from Roberts’ favorite Bible verse.
“(It) reminds me of the grace that we are given as a gift, Ephesians 2:8, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God,’” she explained.
The organization’s mission statement further reflects its biblical values.
“When I was given the nudge to begin this, the scripture 2 Corinthians 2:14 was the inspiration for our mission,” she said. “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
The organization creates and sells an eclectic array of merchandise.
“We sell jewelry, crosses, bookmarks and ornaments,” Roberts said. (We specialize) in crocheted wire, handcrafted crosses, hammered metal and pendants handmade with local sand; every piece is one-of-a-kind.”
The first items the women are taught to make are wire crosses and paper beads.
“From that the creativity grows; I tap into each person’s gifted skill and develop from there,” she said. “For example, I have ladies who make beautiful perfect paper beads that I can pay for by volume. Others may love to link the beads into gorgeous chains for necklaces.”
Two women she works with in Romania have perfected crocheting with wire, which helps Roberts with her role — to piece together each of these strengths and use the pieces they create to make a unique accessory. (continued on next page)
“As we’ve grown, learned more and had more opportunities for missions and outreach, we have gone to Haiti to teach students the process of making paper beads,” Roberts said. “We also connected with 2nd Story Goods in Haiti and formed relationships with Kathy Brooks, who inspired me from a nonprofit fair trade perspective. By having that connection, we are able to purchase some beads, crosses and upcycled aluminum for some of our pieces and (continue) to support the artisans at 2nd Story Goods.
GraceFull Goods merchandise can be found on St. Simons Island at Two Friends and Gentlemen’s Outfitters. In November a new store, Wild Hare Wares, on Newcastle Street in Brunswick, will carry the line. For more information, visit GraceFullGoods.com.