GraceConnect eNews, No. 162, Week of July 25, 2016

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
Vocational Faith

When an active faith is intentionally integrated into one’s vocation, it opens up exceptional possibilities for holistic impact. The story of June Cashmere, a company that sells high-end luxury cashmere yarn from fiber sourced in Kyrgyzstan, is a perfect example of this.
 
The people living in the mountain valleys of Southern Kyrgyzstan depend on their livestock as their primary source of food and income. Research projects by developmental organizations had demonstrated that a significant amount of the cashmere produced from the local Kyrgyz goat breed has quality characteristics on par with the best in the world. Yet virtually nothing had been done to follow through with helping individual households realize the economic potential of their cashmere.
 
The Christensen family of Wooster, Ohio, owners of Morning Star Fiber, a mini-mill for fiber processing, became aware of this situation in Kyrgyzstan in 2007. They had opened their company with a strong conviction that it should be committed to and aligned with the Creator’s purposes and operated according to His values. When an opportunity presented itself to use their knowledge and connections to be a catalyst for revitalizing the Kyrgyz fiber industry in a way that would help the shepherds, they began to share their vision for making this happen. It was through mutual friends that Sy Belohlavek from Columbus, Ohio, heard about this idea and ultimately moved with his family to Kyrgyzstan in late 2010 to begin working towards actualizing the vision.
 
At the time very few Kyrgyz shepherds understood what properties influenced the dollar value of cashmere, let alone about its value in the world market. Chinese buyers had a monopoly in Kyrgyzstan, buying all the cashmere based on weight rather than by quality. For the Kyrgyz cashmere industry to thrive, shepherds needed to be educated about cashmere in general, trained how to breed their goats for better cashmere, and shown how to properly collect and sort their fiber by quality grades. The Kyrgyzstan business, managed by Belohlavek, developed education and training programs addressing these issues across the region.  
 
This business began purchasing cashmere directly from the shepherds in 2013 and has, year by year, progressively bought larger amounts of cashmere, which is then sent to Europe for processing into yarn by highly respected textile mills, then to the U.S. to be dyed and prepared for purchase as knitting yarn. June Cashmere was launched by Belohlavek in the U.S. to serve as the retail outlet for this high-quality product.
 
The development within the Kyrgyz cashmere industry has already resulted in the shepherds being paid up to a 30 percent higher price for their cashmere and June Cashmere is helping Kyrgyz cashmere develop a distinct and honored identity amidst the world’s finest fibers. 
 
Response from industry insiders to both the quality and the backstory of June Cashmere yarns has been very positive. As the company grows in sales, its ultimate aim is to be in a position to harness the high value of the cashmere and reinvest back into the communities of the Kyrgyz where it is sourced. This will be done by contributing towards village infrastructural needs and by investing into entrepreneurs of high character to generate new local businesses, which in turn can provide more employment opportunities. 
 
From the beginning the personal faith of those involved has played a central role: it has served as the foundation for perseverance in a long-term process, as the guide for navigating the constant challenges all along the way, and informs the template for how the company seeks to maximize the holistic benefits it can achieve for the community through its commercial success. 
 
To buy high-quality, luxury yarn and to partner with June Cashmere’s work with the Kyrgyz people, visit their website at 
junecashmere.com or like them on Facebookthis story was contributed to by Adriana Maxwell. 

Adriana Maxwell hails from southwest Michigan and worked as an intern at Grace Connect during her time at Grace College. She graduated this past May. 

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[Your Turn]


[Listen:]

Bob Thompson was a much-loved pastor and leader in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he served as executive director of Grace Brethren Home Missions, the national church-planting arm of the FGBC, headquartered in Winona Lake, Ind. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Betty, returned to their home in Southern California, where they had ministered for many years. In late 1991, speaking to a group of Grace Brethren pastors, he shared his life journey, including what really matters in life when you get to the end. (He died in 1993.)

The audio of Bob’s testimony is archived at 
southwestbrethren.info, the website for the Grace Churches Network (Grace Brethren Conference of Southern California–Arizona, Inc.). In the talk, he references visiting his friend, Jim Custer, in the hospital. GraceConnect contacted Jim, who was the long-time pastor of the Grace Brethren Church, Columbus, Ohio (now Grace Polaris Church) and where he now serves as teaching pastor and senior pastor emeritus. Jim recovered from that serious illness. When contacted, he said about his visits with Bob, "His son was pastoring in that city and I was recovering from my second serious blood clot in my legs. Both Bob and I have been graciously ‘delivered’ from most of the things we discussed together – very precious conversations."

Click here to listen to the audio. 

[Follow:]

Momentum Youth Conference is underway this week! Follow along as daily updates will be posted on the Grace Connect websiteFacebook, and Twitterusing the hashtag #bestweekofsummer.

Margins|2016, the national conference of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, is in the history books. Held July 22-25 in Toronto, the conference focused on ministering to those in the margins of society. Many of the workshops during the long weekend are now available online. Click here to access those recordings.


[#SummerAtGrace]

What is happening in your church this summer? Keep sharing your photos of summer events at your church on social media using the hashtags #summeratgrace or #graceconnectsus‬. We'll post the best ones on the GraceConnect Facebook page! 

Events in the FGBC

July 26-31, 2016  Momentum Youth Conference Cedarville, Ohio (CEN)
August 26-27, 2016   WLS: Principles of Effective Bible Study, Winona Lake, Ind. (WGUSA)
September 9-10, 2016   WLS: Soul Care in Leadership, Eagle River, Alaska (WGUSA)
September 26-28, 2016  ​Central Focus Retreat (FGBC)
September 30-October 2, 2016   Soul Cry: Prayer Summit, Auburn, Ind. (WGUSA)
October 7-8, 2016   WLS: Soul Care in Leadership, New Holland, Pa. (WGUSA)
October 16, 2016   Day Away: North of 55, Dublin, Ohio (WGUSA)
October 17-19, 2016  ​East Focus Retreat (FGBC)
November 11-12, 2016   WLS: Equipping Others for Ministry, Marysville, Ohio (WGUSA)
November 20, 2016   Day Away: North of 55, Duncansville, Pa. (CEN)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA
GC – Grace College

Send events for the calendar to lcgates@bmhbooks.com.
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