Having just finished reading, The Poor Will Be Glad by Peter Greer & Phil Smith, I have been inspired again by the stories of people who have reordered their lives to care for the poor.
I read about a community of friends who choose to live on less than one dollar for one day each month in order to save funds to give to those in need. I was fascinated by the lives of people who have chosen to ditch their expensive cars in favor of cheaper cars so they can better steward their resources to help the poor.
In Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, he spends much of his time dispelling the false teachings that had infiltrated the ranks of the church in Galatia (modern-day Turkey). In doing so, he also helped get the church focused on what mattered most. In Galatians 2:10, Paul refers to what James, Peter and John told he and Barnabas to do as they prepared themselves to take the Gospel to the Gentiles: “All they asked was that we remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along”.
One of the ways we are “remembering the poor” is through hours of research and conversations with microfinance institutions with the intention of beginning a microfinance pilot program in La Limonada to provide capital and long-term sustainability to the people in the community. As Peter Greer states, “the poor need a hand up, not a handout”.I think of a woman I met a few weeks ago in La Limonada. She lost her job working in a restaurant in Guatemala City. She now makes less than $5 a day selling rags. She buys unused, scrap cotton material, and with a bottle cap as her “tool of the trade”, she breaks down the material into bundles of the original threads in order to sell for use in the machine shops.
She and hundreds of others like her would benefit tremendously from a small loan to help her and her family escape the cycle of poverty they are caught in.
For those of you who are seeking for ways to provide long term sustainability to the poor, take some time to read The Poor Will Be Glad. Also, if you are a businessperson who is looking for opportunities for meaningful investment, microfinance may be just the thing you are looking for.
– Bill Cummings, Stateside Director of Lemonade International