Paying it forward in Asia: loans build community and Church

By November 25, 2019

Asia (MNN) – Eighteen years ago a FARMS International loan program seeded opportunity and the gospel message in Northern Thailand. That community loan program became the root of two, soon to be three more.

FARMS church-based loan programs create a cycle of growth and blessing that expands the church and opportunity.

“They break the cycle of poverty. But in the process, they’re also able to give more to their churches and they’re able to use the business and the relationships through the business to share the gospel, says Scott Clifton of FARMS.

The North Thailand Church

The region’s programs began in North Thailand 18 years ago. After continuous growth the program now gives out over 100 loans a year. The committee that oversees the loans reports not a single missed payment in the last three years, says Clifton.

farming, loans, business,

Image courtesy of FARMS International.

Businesses are as varied as the people behind them. From t-shirt printing to peanut butter manufacturing, as long as the plan is sound the committee is interested.

These loans have changed resident’s lives for the better. The North Thai residents told Clifton their story.

“When we moved here, we’d had bamboo structure, maybe a grass roof, a dirt floor, the clothes that we came with, maybe a couple extra clothes besides but that was really it,” he says.

A loan later they were investing in coffee growing and production. Fertilizer and supplies went in and profits followed. First they were able to buy a motorcycle, then a truck. Now they can travel around the region, reaching new people with the gospel message.

“You might be tempted to think of it just as material gain. Which is great to break out of the cycle of poverty that they’re in but these are pastors. These are people who love the Lord and they’re using whatever they have as tools for the ministry,” Clifton says.

Passing on the Blessings

Once the FARMS program in Northern Thailand was well established the committee there wanted to address other areas in the region with need. Soon the initial program had started two new ones. Each program has its own committee and is separate. Making their own decisions and giving out their own loans, these new programs are reaching and changing lives among brand new groups of people. These new programs have the support of the original.

“It’s really great too because since they’re in relationship, they’ve been doing this for 18 years. They have a lot of experience and lessons learned in that time, and they’re able to pass that on,” Clifton said.

Join the Movement

Thailand, business, church

Photo courtesy of FARMS International.

As David prepared for the building of the temple that he knew Solomon would accomplish Clifton asks that believers also help prepare the groundwork. Programs like FARMS require someone to plant the initial investment.

“It talks about him, giving it talks about other people joining in the giving, and doing so freely out of their own will and being really joyful about that. And if giving looks like that, then I want to encourage people to join and to give,” he says.

Join in Prayer

Pray that new programs will continue to flourish and grow around the world. Pray for success and wisdom among loan committees and recipients. Ask that the cycle of giving will multiply into future blessings and changed lives.

Header photo courtesy of photoAC via Pixabay.

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