This time of listening and learning was a Spirit-filled, holy time together. The group was especially captivated when Aweke and Joal, staff at Food for the Hungry, Gorongoza, Mozambique, spoke about God's fruit through the many savings groups forming in their region.
Food for the Hungry initiated several groups consisting of 12-25 adults and began to share with them a biblical view of money and stewardship. They described the value of saving money together. Initially, the participants rejected the idea that they could save money. 'We don't have any money to save. We're too poor,' was a common response. However, with education and a compelling vision, the participants began to pool small amounts of their money, and they began to loan it to individuals within their group who would return the money along with interest.
God is working mightily through these savings groups! No seed money was given to these groups. From the beginning, it was owned by the participants and the money saved was their own money. The groups provide motivation, encouragement, and accountability from within. Relationships are built. Businesses and innovative ideas are being pursued with the loans. A faithful God is experienced, and His principles are being learned about and lived out tangibly.
And, talk about a "fishes and loaves" story. From their initial meager offerings, these savings groups have generated over $400,000 U.S. dollars together over the past 4 years! These groups have been bearing much spiritual, relational, and economic fruit. It is a goal of Food for the Hungry that some of the savings groups would now start to join together to form associations together.
This time of sharing was a great reminder of the following:
1. Wholistic ministry integrates the spiritual and physical. Economic development within a biblical worldview. Spiritual development and Christian community are central in community transformation because they address the heart, mind, and the foundational "why"...the motivation toward being Kingdom people on a Kingdom mission toward a Kingdom vision.
2. Mutuality! Our partners felt blessed by being invited to come be a part of the Global Leadership Summit, and I was inspired and challenged by the ministries of our partners. We have so much to learn from one another. The picture in the room was one of the global Body of Christ listening and learning from one another. JeanJean and Kristie, from Haiti, asked for more information from Aweke and Joal regarding these savings groups so that they could consider savings groups for their context in Gorongosa, Haiti. I've been taking Dave Ramsey's class with our two teens, and I'm aware of the troubling statistics in our country around Americans' lack of saving money and living instead in debt. I also know many right around me who would say, 'I don't have the money to save.' Whether America, Mozambique, or Haiti, we all need to address thinking about and stewarding money God's way!