International (MNN) – Church, community, and business are tightly woven. For FARMS International, that link is driving opportunity and the gospel.
FARMS was founded in 1961 and soon began offering interest-free micro-loans to believer entrepreneurs. Recipients use loans to build small businesses in their communities. Eventually, they’ll repay the loan, which is then recycled back into the community towards a new opportunity. Locally run and approved, FARMS loan uses are as unique as the people using them to change lives. Read more here.
“It’s this really organic movement of creating churches and creating disciples where we don’t always necessarily associate micro finance with those pursuits,” says FARMS Executive Director Scott Clifton.
The key is relationships.
Business as Ministry
The positive relationships that are formed through business are fertile ground for the Gospel message.
“Businesses exist to meet some sort of need in a community or a village…When Christian entrepreneurs fill that space, they’re able to represent Christ through what they do,” Clifton says.
One pastor in the Philippines used his baking business to minister to his customers. The resulting Bible study eventually grew into a church.
Two church members in India are doing the same through their rice mills, changing their own futures and those of their neighbors.
Another believer in Thailand was able to purchase a truck with of his profits. He now uses that truck to travel to neighboring villages and share the gospel.
“It really goes beyond just the individual… It helps the individual, it helps the church that they’re part of, it also helps the community that they’re a part of,” Clifton says.
Additionally, when believers in the community have more disposable income, they can support church ministry and community outreach efforts.
Looking Back and Moving Forward
In 2019 FARMS started three new programs in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Cuba. It also marked Clifton’s first year as Executive Director of FARMS, the third in the organization’s history.
Additionally, an 18-year old program in Northern Thailand is about to start a third program of their own in Cambodia.
“They want to see something that’s blessed them be available to bless others and they’re willing to put in time and energy and effort to try to make that happen,” Clifton says.
Moving forward into 2020 with a new grant writer and programs in progress FARMS is excited to expand the kingdom by helping believers in poverty, Clifton says.
How can I Contribute?
The initial starting cost for a program can be $10,000 to $20,000, enough to support several initial loans, site visits, and build a foundation for future programs. The goal is to lay the groundwork for success and eventual expansion at the start and doing so requires funding from other believers.
“If they’re excited about helping the poverty in this way but also seeing the benefit to local churches and ministry movements. If that’s something that they’re excited about, then we’d love to have them participate,” Clifton says.
For those unable to contribute financially, Clifton asks for prayer for guidance for the ministry as they seek new partnerships. Pray for wisdom among loan recipients and their communities.
Header photo courtesy of FARMS International.