Have you ever wondered how WorldCrafts began? It all started out of one woman’s desire to bring hope and grace to the women of her country.
In the 1980’s, Betty Butcher, an American living in Thailand, sought out a new way to reach her sisters. She began asking the Father how to develop relationships with the women in her community. After much prayer, Betty was led to create a micro-business to help women earn enough money to care for their families.
Stepping out in obedience, Betty opened her home and began offering sewing lessons. Over time, as news spread about this opportunity to learn to sew, many different women gathered beneath Betty’s stilt house where she taught them to create beautiful Christmas ornaments. While the women busied their hands with needles and thread, Betty reached out to their hearts with the message of eternal hope. Thai Country Trim was born.
Initially, Betty sold these ornaments to visitors who came to visit her country. Later, she contacted WMU and asked if they would be willing to help sell the ornaments in their publications. WMU said, “Yes.” After a trial period of selling Thai Country Trim ornaments as a special handcraft project, in 1996 WMU transitioned this cottage industry into a full-fledged fair-trade division, now known as WorldCrafts.
Countless families and communities have been rescued and restored by one humble servant’s willingness to obediently step out in faith.
Today WorldCrafts works with over 60 artisan groups in more than 30 different countries. The eternal impact of WorldCrafts has been immeasurable for the families and communities touched by WorldCrafts orders. From victims of sex trafficking and human slavery in Asia and the United States to HIV-positive widows in East Africa, artisans around the world are being delivered out of hopelessness and poverty. Kaye Miller, a former National WMU president who grew up in Thailand and called Betty Butcher “Aunt Betty,” says of WorldCrafts, “WorldCrafts has literally changed the lives of those involved – and those of the extended family . . . I have seen WorldCrafts keep a family alive – provide food and clothing. It has saved so many from utter poverty.”
And, what about Thai Country Trim? This group now employs artisans throughout the country of Thailand. Thai Country Trim remains WorldCrafts’ oldest and largest artisan group. Through their partnership with WorldCrafts’ Support Freedom campaign, women are being rescued out of human slavery and restored to new life. In addition to their work with WorldCrafts, Thai Country Trim’s ornaments are now purchased by a vendor who supplies gifts for tourism authorities across Europe and the United States. In fact, you may have picked up one of their ornaments while visiting a national monument.
While the monetary rewards have been great, it is the gift of eternal hope that keeps Thai Country Trim growing and thriving. Countless families and communities have been rescued and restored by one humble servant’s willingness to obediently step out in faith. In the words of Cheryl Derbyshire, Thai Country Trim director, “Thai Country Trim ministry was born 40 years ago with the faith of Betty and the hand of our God. No one else in the world produces hand sewn products like ours. Still today our Nativity set is our #1 selling product. More than that, Thai Country Trim is now touching the lives of 300 women weekly with words of eternal hope.”
This morning WorldCrafts received the news that Betty Butcher has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. To honor her contribution to artisans around the world, please consider giving a gift in her memory to the Isaiah 58:10 campaign. This campaign furthers the work of WorldCrafts around the world.