Robust growth in a micro-credit program aids evangelism in the Philippines.

By March 2, 2005

Philippines (MNN)–Struggle is a way of life in the Philippines, although the overall economic landscape seems to be a little brighter.

Even so, that strength does not usually travel to the rural areas of the island nation. So, government financial reports have little bearing on the day-to-day existence of those scratching out an agricultural living.

But FARMS International’s Joseph Richter says their micro-credit project there not only breaks the cycle, but is growing. “The original program in northern Luzon, up in Mountain Province, was sort of a model that we established and then the program for Mindanao grew out of that. Because of these two programs and their successes, a third program was started in the province of Pangasinan, and now a fourth one on the island of Leyte.”

The missionary team works among tribals in the north as well as the tribals and Muslims in the south. In the north, FARMS helped a church pastor get a diesel driven rice mill up and running. It provides a much needed service to their village.

In the South, FARMS helped a widow, whose two step-children are believers. The widow is using a loan from FARMS to keep her business running. The team is praying for the witness of the believers around her to bring her to salvation.

Other ventures in the country include a corn project, a tomato project, a piggery project and a cattle raising project. Richter explains their program helps Christians come out of poverty through practical stewardship.

When that happens, the door opens for community ministry. “What we see is when a church becomes self supported by the tithes and offerings of project holders, that the church has a much more effective outreach to their neighbors and even beyond their immediate area with evangelism and outreach ministries.”

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