While in the States on furlough (got back a week ago) we were afforded many opportunities to talk to people at our supporting churches. While in Tyler we talked with classes and small groups each Sunday and in Tullahoma we got to speak to all the adults one Sunday. A consistent topic of conversation was our loan program. Some people didn’t know about it, or were unsure of what all it entailed. Others wanted a better explanation/understanding of why we offer no-interest loans to Peruvians. Still others asked how they could help and indeed we got to raise money for Ines’ loan while back. I think it made a big difference to be able to talk about her and her needs personally with our supporters.
It can be easy to question a program such as this if you don’t have very much direct exposure to those borrowing the money. One could wonder how this fits in with our evangelistic church planting mission. Or you could question the logic of handing out cash to almost strangers in good faith that they’ll pay us back. Sure we have a contract with each borrower that ‘protects’ us but eventually it stands to reason that someone will take advantage of us. It is just a matter of when. While these concerns are valid, for me it all comes down to hope. It’s hard to imagine that there are better days ahead or a new opportunity waiting around the corner when you barely make enough money to put food on the table each day. Yet in speaking with our borrowers, I witness the hope they have for the future. Their hopes are not altogether that high. One hopes to increase her income by only a few dollars a week. Another hopes that the new income will allow her to put in just a little more each week to the family pot. Still another hopes that with his own car he can provide a more stable income than his family has known.
These are not high hopes. Not like the woman who hoped that just by touching Jesus’ garment something miraculous might happen. Nor the teacher who hoped that Jesus might be able to heal his dying daughter. Everywhere he went Jesus encountered people who had hopes for a better existence and belief that he could help them. When Jesus saw and experienced that hope he answered it in powerful ways. Through healing, casting out demons, providing food for the hungry, showing the Kingdom on earth, he validated the hopes of the world. While our goals here are a little smaller, they are still quite similar. We see hope for a better tomorrow that we have the power to meet. With your help we have done that for five people. With your help we’ll do it for as many as we can.