On Sunday December 12th, we were honored to have as our guests at Sunday School and worship Les and Doris Loucks of Mt. Zion UCC in York. Les and Doris have been involved with Opportunity International http://www.opportunity.org/ for many years. Opportunity International makes micro loans to entrepeneurs in the third world. This is the largest U.S. based Christian microenterprise organization and it has made 14 million loans since 1971. The average loan is $172, and 84% are made to women who are supporting their families. The repayment rate is 95% and almost half of the 42 programs (in 28 countries) operating around the world are self-sustaining. Basically what happens is that “trust groups” are formed of 10 to 30 entrepeneurs who operate their own local program and guarantee each other’s loans.
Les reminded us that 3 billion people in our world live on less that $2.00 a day and everyday 25,000 die of hunger related illnesses. These small loans are a hand-up not a hand-out, and enable people to work their own way out of poverty. Next year we hope to challenge ourselves to finance the beginning of a trust group somewhere in the world, at a cost of about $2500. Begin praying now about how you would like to be involved in this ministry. Earlier this year Zion gave Opportunity International $500. This is part of our understanding of what our Lord commanded us in Matthew 25: “Lord, when did we see you?…as you did it to the least of these, you did it unto me…”