Coffee: more than just a morning picker-upper

By May 19, 2016

Thailand (MNN) – If you think coffee changes your morning, consider how it’s transformed an entire village in Thailand.

Joe Richter of FARMS International brings us the story of a mountain-ridge village of the Mien tribe. He says, “This village was very remote and was actually a center for opium production in Thailand back in the 60’s.”

The government put a stop to their opium production. With the opium went the village’s main source of income. In the wake of this financial upset, the villagers learned that their climate in the mountains was ideal for coffee crops.

Enter: The Gospel and financial support

Image courtesy of FARMS International.

Image courtesy of FARMS International.

Around the same time that they began this successful venture, a partner of FARMS began sharing the Gospel with the village. A church was planted that now has 100 members.

Many of these members hold loans from FARMS. The high income from coffee requires a high input, and with these loans families are able to do well from the start.

The loans from FARMS are different from micro-credits given by secular institutions. They are interest-free, so the loan holders have a real chance to pay the loan back. And, they are given with the understanding that after the loan is paid back, the recipient will tithe from their profit.

“Farms has always had a biblical approach to alleviating poverty and using a loan program has been a very effective way of approaching this problem,” Richter says.

A viable solution

The loans they have given in this community have increased the opportunities for families.

Suntalee and her husband Kitti Safon with son (Photo courtesy of FARMS)

Suntalee and her husband Kitti Safon with son (Photo courtesy of FARMS)

Richter highlights a story of a young family who needed to get special help for their little boy. He is deaf, and there are few resources nearby that could help the family learn sign language.

With their loan they are expanding their coffee crop with the hopes of raising enough money to attend a school in a city a few hours away.

Other families have been able to improve their homes to something more functional than thatch-roof huts. They’ve been able to buy vehicles, and even send their children to higher education institutions, something Richter says “is almost unbelievable for the situation they come from.”

Being able to take care of their families better is a huge benefit of these loans. “It increases their self-worth and their dignity, and it also encourages them in really understanding the Lordship of Jesus Christ,” Richter says.

In addition to improving the daily lives of Christians from poverty to sustainability, these loan projects impact the Church.

“It also benefits the church in tremendously—increasing the tithing to the local church and it also increases outreach from those churches to other villages in the area.”

This is the most exciting part of FARMS loans—the way they impact the spread of the Gospel.

Prayer support

Photo courtesy of FARMS.

Photo courtesy of FARMS.

Mission groups like FARMS depend heavily on the partnership of prayer. When asked how people like you could be praying for this project, Richter says, “I would ask them to pray specifically for the Mien tribal people that they would continue to follow the Lord, continue the outreach to their neighbors. There’s tremendous need among the Mien people for the Gospel and many villages have been unreached at this point, and so there’s lots of opportunity for real evangelism.”

He also asks you to pray for all their work in Northern Thailand. While the tribal groups are more receptive to the Gospel than the general population, only a small percentage know Jesus.

Please keep in mind that Joe Richter and his wife will be traveling to a ministry location in the near future, and they would appreciate your prayers for safe travel and clear guidance from God.

If you’d like to partner with FARMS financially, click here.


  • Master says:

    Lord I pray that Joe Richter and his wife who will be travelling to the ministry location be guided by you and give them knowledge and open their hearts to spread the Gospel. amen

  • Tracy says:

    Pray the Lord continues to prosper this good work.

  • Hey Julie,

    I worked in Thailand for 16 years with the deaf. Most of my time was in the Chiang Mai area. There is a School for the Deaf there, and we helped establish Deaf Churches. If you would like more information, then just drop me a line and I can help get you in contact with the right people to help this family. I still have friends at the Deaf School and I also taught there for 3 1/2 years. Take care and God bless!

    One in Christ,
    Dewayne Liebrandt

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