Micro loans sustain church in creative access nations

By July 7, 2011

USA (MNN) — For 50 years, FARMS International has been serving the Christian community worldwide. But, what is FARMS International?

Joe Richter is FARMS executive director. "FARMS International's core mission is to provide a loan program to Christians in need — a loan program that is run by nationals. And that loan program can be used for any type of income-generating project." Those projects can include farming or a small business starts.

This ministry is unique. First, Richter says it's run by the local church, not westerners. They administer the loans. "We believe that a strong church is also an evangelizing church. A strong Christian church in a community can become the center for development in that community."

Secondly, they are no-interest loans. Each loan recipient, however, agrees to tithe to their local church. That makes the local church healthy, says Richter. "The churches that have resources normally are very keen to evangelize, to reach out and to help people in their community and those around them that haven't heard the Gospel. And this is the reason FARMS exists."

FARMS operates 22 loan projects in 11 countries, Richter says. "Some of those are communist countries, Buddhist countries, Hindu countries, and places that are considered restricted access countries."

Richter adds, "Places that are restricted are usually very difficult for missions activity. But we have found ways to operate the ministry in those places that really blesses the local churches and helps those churches grow."

According to Richter, there are at least two areas where FARMS is hoping to grow, but the specifics can't be released just yet. However, seed money is needed to help establish loan dollars. "We have had churches and individuals who have been very faithful, and we also have seen churches sometimes get behind the program that is of a special interest to them." More of those are needed.

If you'd like to help provide seed money to help begin new FARMS International programs, gifts of $100, $200 or even $1,000 can help. Click here to get involved.

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