Poverty strikes hard at China–a ministry brings hope.

By April 25, 2005

China (MNN)–China’s economic advances over the last decade brought some wealth. But for millions more, they have been left behind and worse off during the economic rebirth.

About 900 million are peasants, and 100 million workers have lost their jobs when state-owned enterprises closed.

In a culture where females are not valued highly, the combination of poverty and devaluation prove deadly. There is new evidence suggesting China has the highest female suicide rate in the world, at 158,000 annually.

HOPE International-China director Jim Nelson says conditions are especially hard for impoverished women in the country. But, through their six different offices throughout northern China, he hopes they’re making a difference. “In our organization, we can give people hope because we can give people the capital they need, because they can find someone who can give them encouragement. In a culture of criticism, many times, women feel hopeless and so put down that they take drastic action.”

Over the course of several loans Nelson says their staff builds relationships. That means they’re often dealing with spiritual poverty at the same time they’re addressing the physical needs. “In many cases, we’re handing out a flyer with one hand and handing out a tract with the other. We’re sharing two products–one is the Gospel, the other is the loan. Certainly, we find that our biggest impact occurs with clients that stay with us at least two years.”

The micro-enterprise program in China doesn’t stop with encouraging the women. It serves the country’s marginalized who would otherwise not receive assistance.

As is true with all of HOPE’s programs, they’re targeting China’s self-employed people living in poverty who have little or no access to formal credit.

Complementary ministries include children’s clubs and summer camps, organized through partnership with the local church.

Leave a Reply