Sierra Leone (MNN) — Mercy ministries helps save lives
around the world. Medical missions, food distribution, and water well drilling
are all ways Christians can make a lasting physical difference. But,
micro-enterprise lending can also save families and sometimes entire villages.
World Hope International's Richard Schroeder says they're doing
just that as part of their mercy ministry.
He says, "There is tremendous poverty around the world and this is
really a Christian response to seeking to help people pull themselves up by
their own boot straps. It's very much a way of creating income."
World Hope helps the local church establish stand alone
financial institutions. Schroeder says these financial institutions only work
with the poor who have identifiable skills that will allow them to start small
businesses. The loans consist of only $50 or $60, but it's transformative.
According to Schroeder they have these financial
institutions in seven countries, but none more successful than their work in
Sierra Leone. "This bank for the poor has become the largest lender in the
whole country. It has over 16,000 clients that it works with and that's larger
than all of the commercial banks in the country combined."
While these programs aren't intended to be evangelistic
outreaches, lives are changed spiritually as well. "The staff are all believers and they incorporate their spiritual mission to
spread the Good News of Christ in their daily lives and that's incorporated
into what they do in their work."
As World Hope works side-by-side with the World Bank and the
United Nations, Schroeder says their success, "has given the church some
real credibility in these secular circles," which is giving local
believers even more opportunities to share the Gospel.
Pray that this work will cause many who are connected to the
program to begin asking questions and that many will eventually turn to Christ.