March 12, 2017
Text: Genesis 12: 1-4a
God’s call to Abram and Sarai give them new identity. They are called to go from identifying solely with their nationality, their local family, and their ways of making a living into a whole new way of relating to the world. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” They are called into a global community that will include both blessings and curses for themselves, but for which they have an important role to play in God’s blessing of the whole creation. God promises that they will be blessed to be a blessing.
Women in Castille of the Chaco Region in Argentina also claim a new identity through the group they named QOM. This local language version of the Spanish “La Shepia” or English “Working Women” expresses the role of this group in the global community. For twenty years, women in Castille have met together to sew and then travel to nearby towns and villages to sell those items at open-air markets. They multiplied the impact of external funds, including OGHS funds through Global Ministries, for the sake of their families and the local community. During the past few years though, they have begun to ask themselves questions about the sustainability of their group and method of work. With the high cost of materials and of personal travel to local markets, sewing was no longer financially sustainable. Drawing on their experience of connection outside their local community through the church, they asked themselves about their role in the national and, yes, global economy. Church connections enabled the pairing of women in Castille with women from the capital city of Buenos Aires with experience in global marketing in a process of determining their next directions.
The brand, QOM, resulted. The indigenous women of QOM created their niche in a distinct form of basket-weaving and online marketing that is supported by a complete cost analysis of all the materials and labor and marketing costs of their product. Local government officials in Castille now order these baskets in bulk as local gifts to visitors. Bicyclists in Buenos Aires order QOM handle-bar baskets on-line. QOM has become financially self-supporting and the women and families and local community are sustained and empowered. Challenges still exist, but the women express blessing in their new identity. It is an identity that has implications of blessing for the world. During a recent visit of Global Ministries and OGHS staff to Castille, the women told their story of their journey to the gathered group. Joya, one of the matriarchs of QOM, sat quiet. She then nudged the interpreter with her own leading questions – to ask us about our church, our families, our challenges, our journey. Joya insisted that we be in mutual relationship. Their expertise and experience can help us and others. “…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”