We are very fortunate in the UK to be relatively well off. As Christians God blesses us with resources not just for us, but for us to share with others. It is his preferred way to bless people.
The Hebrews in the Old Testament were told many times to help the stranger, the foreigner, the orphan and the widow.
In the New Testament Jesus and the later letter writers like Paul, emphasised that good works don’t lead to our salvation but come out of it.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2 v 8-9
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5 v 16
Rich in Good Works
Doing good is something that is a key part of the Christian life, we do it because it brings glory to God and brings him pleasure, rather than making us feel good.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.- Hebrews 13 v 16
In particular the rich (and most of us in the west fall into this category – if you can afford things other than the basic essentials then you are relatively rich), are instructed to be ‘rich in good works’ by Paul.
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. – 1 Timothy 6 v 17-19
Which brings us to micro lending as one constructive way of being generous and doing good works.
The old proverb of ‘give a man a fish and he feeds himself for one day, but teach a man to fish and he feeds himself for life’ has a certain amount of truth.
Giving someone money helps them out in the short term, like a friend who is short this month for example, but will not help them in the long term, to fix their long term need.
However if you could help someone to be able to provide for themselves and their family for years to come, that is surely better. If you look back to many of the Christian entrepreneurs of the 19th Century, they wanted to create good jobs, with good housing so that their employees would be able to provide for their families.
Lend with Care
Micro lending is where a lot of people give small loans (as little as £15) to a business person in a poor country. This helps them start or grow their business in places where bank loans are not available. It could be a rice farmer who wants finance to buy new equipment, or a street seller who wants to set up another stall. These men and women will often employ other local people, so your loan will help more than just the person or group you are lending to.
The basic principal is that you as the lender make a small loan to an entrepreneur, who will pay back this loan after a predefined period. You can then take this money back or reinvest in another entrepreneur.
As there may be others in the church who would like to be involved in this, I have set up a lending team (Woodbank Community Church Lending Team) on the lendwithcare.org website. Once you are set up as a lender and have chosen someone to make a loan to, you can select a team to attribute this to. You don’t have to select a team, but it may be an encouragement to see what we can achieve together.