Partnering for EconomPartnering for Economic Empowerment and Renewal
||December 2009 |
July 24-31, 2010
Merry Christmas! Welcome to PEER Servants Quarterly News. We thank God for your investment in us through your prayers and financial support. We hope this provides you with a fresh, succinct update of the return on your investment!
If you would like to make a year end gift to PEER Servants, you can qualify for a 2009 tax receipt via giving securely online
by December 31 or sending a check to PEER Servants, PO Box 258, Woburn, MA 01801 and postmarking it by December 31. Thank you!
With warm regards,
The PEER Servants Communications Team
|Learning from the Best
We at PEER Servants attempt to serve our indigenous microfinance partners around the world so that they can, in turn, serve the materially poor in their communities. Consistent with our core value of reciprocity, we find ourselves as much in the learner's as we do the teacher's position in our relationships with our microfinance partners! Such was certainly the case in our November 2009 trip to The Center for Community Transformation (CCT), our microfinance partner in the Philippines.
CCT doesn't consider the individuals who use their services as their "clients" - they consider them their "community partners" in their joint effort to bring transformation into the lives of the communities in which they live. CCT serves over 100,000 community partners by providing them access to loans, savings, insurance, and business training. In addition, all of those community partners attend weekly fellowship groups wherein the Bible is
taught to guide them in their business and personal lives. CCT generates profits from the microfinance activity that provide vocational training for street dwellers (some seen to the right with PEER Servants Board Chairman, David Ryder), education for the children of the microfinance community partners, and more. Through CCT we see a bit more of the kingdom of heaven coming to earth for the materially poor of the Philippines.
The primary purpose for our November trip to the Philippines was to document in case study format how God has worked in and through CCT. This
will allow our other microfinance partners around the world to benefit from and apply that which is relevant to increasing the impact in their respective countries. Heather and Jeff Takle are PEER Servants volunteers who are leading this effort. In the picture to the right, Heather is checking out the instructions given to the community partners at one of their weekly fellowship group meetings.
Through PEER Servants' partnerships, millions of dollars have been loaned to thousands of materially poor as a means to empower them to provide for their own families, communities, and churches. We are praying for and anticipate greater impact in the years ahead. One of the primary means for our being able to achieve that is what we will learn from our microfinance partners like CCT and what we can then transfer to other microfinance partners so that the impact can be witnessed to the ends of the earth.
|Gifts Inspiring Change|
Looking for a gift to give someone that will empower the materially poor? Check out the online gift catalog of Alternative Gifts International. PEER Servants is just one of many organizations to which you can give that will honor someone you love here and empower someone in another part of the world. Thank you.
|Entrepreneur in Focus|
Chicken Breeder/Retailer, South Asia
Trying to establish a successful business in a
country hit by the tsunami, civil war, and ethnic division might be too
much to expect from anyone. Doing so with a significant physical
disability would make it seem next to impossible. Don't tell that to
Rasanayagam has one arm. He is the father
to two disabled children. Yet, he is one of the most successful chicken
breeders and retailers in his region of his war torn country. He
started with just 20 chickens - now, with access to loan capital and
basic business training from PEER Servants' microfinance partner, he
generates profits of $250 per month. He provides employment for three
other family members. How did he do it? Innovation, honesty, and
excellent customer service.
Chickens used to be
only sold whole in Rasanayagam's village. He studied the condition of
his people and knew he could significantly open up his market if he
decided to be the first to introduce selling the chicken in parts. The
product would become more affordable to the materially poor, and those
who preferred certain parts of the chicken could order what they
liked. His business boomed. Now, with one arm, he was struggling to
keep up with the demand. That's when he created an innovative means to
hook up his motorbike to the trailer used to carry his chickens to
market. It even allowed him to cater to weddings and other
celebrations in his region. Rasanayagam, a Hindu, is always very
honest with his clients and, even when he runs out of chickens, he will
purchase them from other suppliers to meet the needs of his customers.
His customers have become the best advertisers of his business.
Rasanayagam has his sights set on future
business growth. He has already added firewood as a product for his
customers to be able to cook the chickens. Soon he will add
ready-to-cook vegetables to make the meal complete. He can now meet
the medical costs of his disabled children. "When we first met
Rasanayagam, we weren't going to make him a loan because of his
disability," noted the local loan officer. Now, with Rasanayagam as
one of their most successful clients, they're certainly glad they did.
|Strengths of the Materially Poor - Gratitude
Three teenagers at a home for street dwellers may not be who you would
expect to offer up gratitude to Jesus in song. But that's what happened
this beautiful afternoon in the Philippines.
The Kaibigan Center is a place where you see the kingdom of God on earth as it
is in heaven. Here, through proceeds generated in part from the profits
of CCT's microfinance program, you see street dwellers receiving vocational
training, formal schooling for the young people, access to healthcare and good
nutrition, discipleship to mature spiritually, and a place to lay their
heads. You meet people full of joy who were on the streets just days if
not hours before. You meet staff very dedicated to living out the life of
Christ in very real and tangible ways.
But nothing prepares you for 5:30 pm each afternoon at The Kaibigan
Center. That's when the daily Thanksgiving Service starts. And
that's when you hear their testimonies. Testimonies of lives transformed
by the love of Jesus from living on the streets and being treated like dirt to
now being treated like a child of God. You hear their songs - songs of
praise to a God they now know really cares about them. You see their
dances - using their entire being to beautifully express their gratitude
And just after that day's Thanksgiving Service is when these three teenagers
wanted to sing one more song of gratitude to their God. The song of these
three young men must have brought greater joy to the face of Jesus than the song
of any three tenors could have. Their joy and their smiles would never
have given away the fact that they were on the streets just days before.
They didn't have any electronic games, a fancy bike, or a university savings
account, but they had hearts of gratitude.
A daily Thanksgiving service. Choosing gratitude. If the materially
poor can do it, perhaps those of us who may have a lot more to give God thanks
for could express a bit more gratitude as well! It's one more strength we
have come to appreciate of the materially poor.
December for me is a time to reflect and a time to look ahead. A time to reflect on what God has chosen to do through us in the year past and to anticipate what He might do in the year ahead.
2009 was quite a year for us at PEER Servants. We witnessed our Walk for Economic Empowerment expand to include three Christian organizations involved in microfinance and walks in four locations - with over $85,000 raised to empower the materially poor. We realized the start to our Strategic Training Initiative, leveraging the experience and expertise of CCT, our wonderful microfinance partner in the Philippines, to train and inspire us and our other microfinance partners in what high-impact Christian microfinance can look like. We sponsored our annual Lydia Awards recognizing the very best entrepreneurs among our microfinance partners -- they were so impressive this year that Rasanayagam, whose story is told above, was edged out by a woman from Nigeria for the top prize. And we took the first steps to transition PEER Servants to a higher impact organization by continuing to expand and strengthen our board of directors. There's lots more to the year (volunteer trips to almost all of our microfinance partners, hundreds of thousands of dollars granted to our microfinance partners, and saying goodbye to some microfinance partners as we focus our resources on those with the ability to have the greatest impact), but that's a snapshot of a very blessed year.
As we look ahead to 2010, our big event for the year is what we call Reciprocity 2010. It's the triennial gathering of our microfinance partners. Our first gathering was held in South Africa in 2004, then Peru in 2007 -- now the world is coming to New England! It will be a time of training, encouraging, celebrating, and strategic planning to prepare to return to the ends of the earth that much better equipped to extend God's Kingdom in very real and tangible ways. It will also be a time for you or those you may know to come and learn more about microfinance and get to rub shoulders with some really neat microfinance practitioners from around the world. Interested? Save July 24-31, 2010 on your calendar and keep an eye on our website in January for further information.
As I have my own daily thanksgiving services, you often come to mind. Thank you for partnering with us. I often wish I could connect you with the many individuals I get to meet who are being blessed by your generosity and prayers. My prayer is that your life is also being blessed as you appreciate the great opportunity we have to empower the materially poor and do so in a way that respects them and learns from them to enrich our own lives. Have a very Merry Christmas!