PEER ServantsQuarterly

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Transforming Lives
Investor Edition  March 2010
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In This Issue
Being There in the Toughest of Times
Quick Newsbriefs
Entrepreneur in Focus
Strengths of the Materially Poor
President's Update

Save the Date!

PEER Servants' Spring Celebration Event

"Building on Our Foundation"

Saturday, May 8, 2010
5-8 pm

More details coming!

Quick Links

PEER Servants Logo - Investor Panel

 Spring Celebration Event
"Building on Our Foundation"
May 8, 2010
2010 Boston Walk for Economic Empowerment
September 25, 2010

"He is not here; he has risen!"
Luke 24:6 (NIV)

Have a very blessed Easter!

Prayer Requests

"Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty."
Mother Teresa

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!
With warm regards,
The PEER Servants Communications Team

Being There in the Toughest of Times  
PEER Servants strongly values our microfinance partnerships - in fact, it's the only way we approach microfinance.  Through partnering with local, indigenous Christian microfinance institutions, we can be a part of meeting the needs of the materially poor when they are the greatest.  2010 has provided great examples of that.

Haiti:  It was Tuesday, January 12, just before 5 pm local time when a massive earthquake struck right near Haiti's biggest city, Port-au-Prince.  For the next 30
Devastation from the Haitian Earthquake
Haitian Earthquake
seconds, the ground didn't stand still.  Those few seconds demolished the city.   200,000 are reported to have died.

Christon Domond and his ACLAM/World Concern Haiti team have been working tirelessly since that Tuesday.  Their building withstood the quake - the three-story building right next door collapsed.  Some of their micro-entrepreneurial clients died in the quake; many others lost their businesses.  While the current focus for Christon and his team remains on relief and rehabilitation for many Haitians, they are already thinking of steps they can take to strengthen the microfinance institution to help the Haitian people rebuild their lives.  They have done a great job in being the hands and feet of Jesus in these most difficult days.

Nigeria:  On Sunday, January 17, news came from Jos, Nigeria that Muslims and Christians were in conflict.  There were at least 25 deaths, including those heading to or from church.  Two days later, things got much
Rev. Shadrach (left) with GSED Team Members
Nigeria GSED Team
worse and the violence spread to a much wider region.  Hundreds were now dead.  Markets burned.  Some of the clients of Good Seed Enterprise Development (GSED) lost virtually everything.  Reverend Caleb Shadrach and his GSED team responded immediately to their need, restructuring loans, as needed.

Within a couple weeks, a team of seven PEER Servants volunteers traveled to Nigeria to be with Reverend  Shadrach and his GSED team.  We discussed steps they could take to better market their program, presented lessons learned from larger, higher impact microfinance institutions, and provided training in areas of strategic planning to prepare for the years ahead.  Just days after we left, the latest round of violence left another 500 dead, but Reverend Shadrach and his team have not left the sides of their micro-entrepreneurs.

Flooding in Cusco, Peru
Peru Floods
  In late January, it started to rain heavily in Cusco, Peru and it kept raining heavily for days.  The rivers flooded and all of the roads out of the city were blocked.  Many houses collapsed, and dozens died.  Irina Puelles Almonacid and her Kallarisunchis team didn't miss a beat in serving their clients.  Since even Machu Picchu was closed, the tourism industry took a heavy hit.  This adversely affected a number of the businesses of their clients.  Irina and team have restructured loans to give their clients a bit more time to repay as the rains have stopped and the tourists are now returning to the Peruvian Andes.

These are just a few of the more recent stories of the ways our indigenous microfinance partners continue to serve their clients, even in the toughest of times.  Thank you for standing with us, and them, to allow the materially poor to see the hands and feet of Jesus even when it seems like they have lost everything else.
Quick Newsbriefs

Three important updates from PEER Servants...

"Building on Our Foundation" - Spring Celebration Event:  Save the evening (5-8 pm) of Saturday, May 8 for an event we hope you won't want to miss.  PEER Servants invites you to its first Spring Celebration Event - an evening of international cuisine, celebration, and inspiration.  Our theme for the gathering is "Building On Our Foundation" as we rejoice in the foundation we have in Christ and in our indigenous partnerships, while preparing to build the organizational infrastructure we feel is so critical to have greater impact in the years ahead.  We've purposefully scheduled it on Mother's Day Weekend given the role microfinance plays in empowering women and mothers around the world.  There is no charge for the event, but you will have the opportunity to give financially to the ministry of PEER Servants.  You'll be hearing more about this special event in the days ahead.  Please save the date and plan to join us!

Reciprocity 2011:  We've moved our gathering of all our microfinance partners to next year given the earthquakes, religious conflicts, and floods that some of our partners have been facing this year.  We'd love to have you join us and come get to meet representatives from all of our microfinance partners.  July 22 - August 3, 2011 in Boston and the Alton Bay (NH) Christian Conference Center.

Unrestricted Donations:  PEER Servants invites and encourages you to direct your financial contribution to the board-approved budget item of your choosing.  Effective April 1, 2010, if you don't specify a board-approved item, we will place your contribution in our unrestricted funds and use it where most needed within the organization or among our microfinance partners.

Entrepreneur in Focus
Mary Alade-Okin
Vegetable Retailer, Nigeria
Mary is part of a group of 10 women who meet daily for prayer and to repay their loan
Mary Alade-Okin

Central Nigeria is not an easy place to live these days.  Conflicts between Muslims and Christians have left hundreds dead.  In such dark days, light shines that much brighter.  Mary Alade-Okin is such a light!

Mary gathered with nine other women she knew to form a "Transformation Group" in Nigeria.  Each women received the equivalent of a $70 loan to grow their small businesses.  They meet daily at noon for prayer, loan repayment, and personal encouragement.  Once a week, the Good Seed Enterprise Development loan officer joins them for their meeting, collects their loan repayments, and provides them encouragement from God's Word in how to run their businesses in a manner that will glorify God and help their businesses grow.

Mary is a striking women.  She is President of the "Transformation Group" and wants to be able to provide not only for her family but empower other women to provide for their families.  One of the woman in her Transformation Group lost virtually everything s
Mary Alade-Okin
Nigeria Mary Alade-Okin
he owned in the religious conflict -- the encouragement and support Mary and other ladies in the Transformation Group have offered her is helping her get through these very difficult days.  There is very strong community within the Transformation Group.  Even though some of the women are competitors in the marketplace, their fellowship and friendship is their stronger tie.

And Mary is a great business woman!  While she started her business focusing on tomatoes, she has since expanded her product line to include onions, okra, peppers, and more given access to larger loans.  Her produce is neatly and attractively laid out.  Her endearing personality, commitment to product quality, and good customer service have built a strong customer base.  And she can haggle with the best of them - not so much to try to insist on the best
Okra in neat piles - one of Mary's product additions
Nigeria Okra
price, but as much to enjoy the interaction she has with her customers and keep it from becoming just a transaction.  

As Mary repays her loan, she is also making deposits into her savings account.  Access to a free, secure, convenient savings account is as valued by Mary as the loan itself given the many ups and downs she potentially faces and the need to save.  Beyond savings, she even contributes to Good Seed Enterprise Development's missions fund.  Many of the materially poor yearn for the day when they can bless others financially.  Now Mary is getting her opportunity to do so.

Transformation.  Mary Alade-Okin could be the poster child for it.  She certainly doesn't need our pity.  She commands our respect and appreciates the opportunity she now has to be an agent of transformation in the life of her family and the lives of many others.
Strengths of the Materially Poor - Worship
Brothers and sisters in Christ in Haiti, gathering for worship where their church building once stood
Haitian Worshipers
You have seen them on CNN.  Much like this picture (from PEER Servants volunteer Marculey Sanon showing his father's church in Port-au-Prince), the materially poor of Haiti have been an example to us and the world of their commitment to worship.  Their church buildings may be gone.  Their houses may be gone.  Even some of their loved ones may be gone.  But their desire to worship God hasn't waned one bit.

In the materially poor's worship of God, one witnesses total devotion, total dependence.  There is an intimacy with God, a walking closely with Him, that cannot help but encourage the materially non-poor to draw nearer to God as well.  Perhaps that explains in part why God expresses such great concern for the materially poor and such anger when we ignore or take advantage of them.  As others have said - the gift God gives to those who lose everything is Himself.  It's far too easy for those of us who have so much to lose sight of God and thereby lessen our worship of Him.  The worship of God by the materially poor reminds all of us of our great God and how worthy of our worship He is.

Worship is just one of many strengths of the materially poor.  As we replace our financial lenses with Biblical lenses, we come to see anew and appreciate just how much God has given the materially poor and why partnering with and empowering them is so strategic in extending His Kingdom.

Todd EngelsenPresident's Update 
Easter greetings to you.  I trust these will be days of worship of our risen Savior, Jesus.
As you may know, my passport gets quite a few stamps as I travel with teams of inspiring PEER Servants volunteers to encourage and be encouraged by our indigenous microfinance partners around the world.  Recently I was with a team of seven in Nigeria; by the time you are reading this, I may be with a team of four in Peru.  I actually love the travel part of my job as I get to catch a glimpse of what God is doing in our world.
As I travel, I get to meet a lot of different kind of people.  When I meet lawyers around the world, I learn about the state of justice in their countries.  When I meet teachers, I learn about the state of education.  When I meet doctors, I learn about the state of health.  I gain certain knowledge and insight from certain people because they very knowledgeable and experienced in those areas.
When I meet our brothers and sisters in Christ who are materially poor, I learn much more about God than I do from anyone else.  You see, our brothers and sisters in Christ who are materially poor have to rely on God every single day for their basic needs.  That intimacy with God breeds a familiarity with God that can't help but rub off on me as I hear their stories of how they are looking to God and finding Him faithful.  Jesus told us that we will always have the poor among us.  That was part indictment, but I believe it was also part blessing (at least for those of us who are the non-poor).  That doesn't mean that we just let the materially poor remain poor.  It does mean that as we work among and with them that we should actually come with great anticipation of what we are going to receive from them as God works through them to enrich and empower us.

As I worship Jesus this Easter season, I am indebted to my materially poor brothers and sisters in Christ who have helped me understand, appreciate, and draw closer to Jesus than I ever had before.
Serving together,