International (MNN) — FARMS International is grateful for the ministry they were able to engage in this past year as they make plans for growth in 2021.
FARMS’ interest-free loans create a dependency-free way for families to establish agriculture and small businesses, breaking the cycle of poverty. The pandemic was especially hard on impoverished people and day laborers around the world, making these programs more important than ever. Through the difficulty, Scott Clifton says the churches FARMS partners with have stepped up.
“Churches have really come together. People have given their own resources to help their neighbors. Churches have coordinated with other churches to band together and help in light of natural disasters. In the Philippines, there was a big typhoon, and one person used a T-shirt print shop and sold T-shirts as a fundraiser to raise money [for] typhoon victims,” he says.
“A farmer gave milk from his cows to his neighbors so they would have some food and his church that put together relief packets for people. These are just a few examples, but we’re hoping many people would come to know the Lord through [all of] this.”
Another blessing amid the hardship of 2020 is how FARMS’ model meant the ministry could continue operating even without travel.
“The pandemic has really reinforced some of our principles. One of those principles is every program is overseen by a local committee. This local committee is comprised of volunteers who give their time to review business plans, to check in on people who have received loans for their business or for agriculture, and so on. They oversee the day to day operations of the program,” Clifton explains.
“We train that committee, and we provide funding to that committee. Although it’s very useful for us to travel, the program still goes on without us being there.”
Helping the Hurting
With these blessings in mind, Clifton hopes the pandemic will improve throughout the year, allowing farms to move forward with plans they have for growth in 2021. FARMS currently has 17 programs in nine countries, and they hope to add four more programs this year.
“These programs represent growth in that they’re another program, but they’re also programs that could potentially grow a lot within themselves. There’s a lot of excitement over partnering with the church this way because the pandemic has had such an impact and increasing poverty. There really is more opportunity to come alongside the church to help people to create a sustainable income source,” Clifton says.
As FARMS begins pursuing these programs, Clifton asks for prayer.
“We want God’s wisdom. We don’t believe that growth for the sake of growth is a good thing. We believe that’s where God is pointing us, so [please pray] God gives us wisdom and everything that we pursue.”
To learn more about FARMS and how you can support their ministry, visit their website here.
Header image courtesy of Heather Suggitt via Unsplash