International (MNN) — In 2019, nearly 690 million people were undernourished. As the world continues to feel the effects of COVID-19, some say that number could jump by 83-130 million more people in 2020. For FARMS International, strengthening the Church and helping Christians develop reliable income is crucial, now more than ever.
For years FARMS has provided microcredit loans to believers in some of the poorest communities around the world. Through this unique system, Church members create self-sustaining businesses to support their families and give back to their community and church.
However, COVID-19 has taken its toll. One contact in Cuba was unable to get his government rationed rice portion due to shortages. He and his family were forced to eat green bananas without salt and got dysentery. Thankfully they recovered, but stories like his have become more common over the past few months.
Another partner in Bangladesh is a day laborer, and due to restrictions, was unable to work for some time. Now that restrictions have been lifted, he is still facing trouble.
Scott Clifton with FARMS says, “There’s still this fear that’s pervasive throughout the communities there. So a rickshaw puller can go out and try to get work, but nobody’s hiring them. And so it’s really a difficult time. Sometimes we think that all restrictions are lifted; life is returning to normal. But for these people, that’s not necessarily the case.”
Thankfully in this instance, the local Church, some of whose members are FARMS partners, was able to step in. They provided food for the man and his family.
Clifton says, “They asked him about his circumstance. He said, ‘We not eating, are dying.’ That’s the direct translation, ‘We not eating, are dying,’ and he was able to get food from the church that sustained him. You can see the impact of the Church to not only show the words of Christ, but also the actions of Christ.”
Doing Good That Helps the Church Grow
This story illustrates the purpose of FARMS. Clifton emphasizes that they exist to strengthen the Church so that it is able to carry out the Great Commission. Their programs provide help for Christians so that they are self-reliant and focused on the Gospel not their circumstances. The goal of their microcredit isn’t just for practical or material gains for individuals, but it’s to glorify God.
“When people increase their resources, those are resources that they’re using to glorify God. Which means they’re representing Him to their neighbors, to their communities, in their churches,” Clifton states. “And so when you do that, then the churches are able to expand, sometimes quite rapidly.”
People around the world are suffering with undernourishment, but also are suffering without the truth of the Gospel. FARMS International invites you to join them as they support local Christians as they spread the Good News.
Header image courtesy of FARMS International.