Friday, January 9, 2015


When things are broken, we throw them away. We've determined, from our own, personal expertise that this item is no longer worth or time or effort to keep around, and so we remove it from our lives. There is nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but when we start to apply it to human beings, we leave a wake of carnage.

In Bangladesh, the weekend happens over Friday and Saturday, and so the strike was off today and we were able to get out to the villages. As we jostled around the vans, weaving in and out of traffic we roles through giant swaths of agricultural land used to grow rice and bake bricks. This was a far cry from the crowded, urban streets of Dhaka.

No matter the wealth or development of a village, there is beauty in authenticity. We were greeted with great cries of joy, supplemented with flowers and handshakes. I hope it never ceases to amaze me that we can travel halfway across the world and feel at home because of Christ.

I had the honor of preaching about how God calls each of us into mission with Him. He doesn't need education or money, only our willingness. It is a message that is simple and needed for all of us. There are no deep intrigues to its meaning, but it requires daily practice to fulfill.

Part of Partners International's Adopt a Village program involves a socio-economic aspect. Many people are familiar with micro loans, but not everyone is aware of how they work in the long run. Bangladesh is the birth place of micro-finance, and the best place to look for its long term viability. Unfortunately, the outlook is not good.

Like many other places in the world, the rich get richer and the poor are further enslaved. Interest rates are now capped at 36%, but many homes have been repossessed by companies that started with the best of intentions but now are infected with greed.

In these villages, the community is forging a new way forward. There is power in community, where a little from each member adds up to a lot. These women have pooled their resources together into a common savings group, and they are each free to request a loan once they have explained what they want to do with that money.

Sewing machines, animals and agriculture are all investments that have been made and already repaid. In same cases they are more than tripling their investment in return. The beauty of the local model is that peers given them the reason to repay, and the whole community benefits when someone is successful. The money stays local, and helps to grow the whole village.

Underneath the business is something even more remarkable. These people who once were hopeless and stuck in a vicious cycle have been given something much more valuable than money. They have been given dignity. They now have ownership of their future. The women are active participants in their communities and often making bigger decisions than the men.

In the case of Mikshimil, the women were concerned for the children of the village with winter coming. The cold weather would bring sickness, and so they were pooling their money to purchase cloth to make clothes. When someone had a surplus, they would share with those in need.

This is what development is about. People taking ownership of their own futures. We are not here to give handouts and further damage the image of God within them. We are here to build them up and reinforce the ingenuity that God has given them.

This is giving with meaning.

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