February 23, 2010
Some 230 years ago, renowned china maker Josiah Wedgwood took his worldview into his china-making. He designed a medallion featuring an African in chains. Surrounding him are the words, "Am I not a man and a brother?"
Fashionable British women who supported abolition wore the medallions as brooches. The jewelry started many a conversation about the morality of slavery—and helped, in a small way, to end the British slave trade.
Wedgwood's medallions, which are now priceless museum pieces, came to mind when I heard of a pair of modern-day businesswomen who, like Wedgwood, are putting their worldview to work in the jewelry-making business.
Kelly Besedick and Ginnie Wagner began a jewelry business called Wonderfully Made after learning about a modern form of slavery: the sexual trafficking of women and children worldwide. Basedick first heard about the problem while working for Sen. Sam Brownback. As she told BreakPoint writer Molly Wyer, "All those stories just stuck in my head and I couldn't quit thinking about it."
And no wonder. According to the U.S. State Department, some 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked every year—including in the United States. Corruption adds to the problem. Police and other local officials, for a price, often look the other way. In Thailand alone, 14 to 16 percent of the GDP "is made up of the child sex trade alone." Tragic—and sickening.
Basedick already ran a jewelry business; it occurred to her that the gems she was using came from countries where young girls were being trafficked. Basedick and her friend Wagner believed God was calling them into a ministry to help these traumatized young women after they had been rescued from sexual slavery.
The two women visited the red light districts of Thailand and India, looking for partners for their business. They ultimately partnered with organizations that rescue women from brothels and provide vocational training. Using pearls and garnets, rose quartz and turquoise, the women fashion high-quality bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
Like the women of Wedgwood's day, modern women who buy a piece of Wonderfully Made jewelry are wearing a potential conversation starter. If somebody compliments them on their jewelry, it provides a wonderful opportunity to tell friends about the horrors of sexual trafficking, and of the need not only to shut down this tragic business, but also to help the victims. It's a way to "suffer with those who suffer," as the Bible commands.
Wonderfully Made jewelry also helps victimized women understand that they are wonderfully made treasures of God. And it uses the economic principle of free market supply and demand to permanently help women escape sexual slavery. It's far better than simply giving them a handout.
So the next time you need to buy someone a gift—for a birthday, anniversary, or wedding—why not consider the gift of Wonderfully Made jewelry? You will be directly helping a victim of sexual slavery.
Your necklace or earrings just might start a conversation—one that, as in Wedgwood's day, might be an important step in abolishing one of the worst horrors of the modern era.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.