Over the following weeks, I plan to share with you some of the programs that your mission in Nicaragua carries out as together we assist Iglesia Luterana Sinodo de Nicaragua, her pastors and deaconesses carry out the work of Gospel proclamation. The particular project addressed in this article is not directly related to proclamation but it does help in relieving our pastor and deaconess families of some of the burdens of living in poverty by providing them with additional sources of income in addition to the small stipend that they receive.
The program is entitled the “Mission Microfinance Program.” It’s goal is to provide small loans of up to $500.00 U.S. to pastors and deaconesses and their families for the establishment of a small family business. The loan is extended for a six month period at a small interest rate which covers the administrative costs. Over the past two years forty-four loans have been extended to our families from every part of the church. Twenty one have been paid in full; All of the other loans are being paid back as arranged. There has never been an outstanding loan to date. A record that is much better than some North American banks.
Some of the small business funded include a (1) Phone Recharging Service, (2) Grocery Corner Stores, (3) Using Clothing Business. (4) A hair stylist shop (5) Some of the farming families have used loans to purchase seed to plant crops of beans or plantain. The families here are most creative in identifying a community need and seeking to respond to that need with a business. By God’s grace, all ventures have been successful to date.
LCC Mission is grateful to Martin Bender and other members and friends of Faith Lutheran in Kitchener Ontario. They provided the original 10,000 dollars to establish the program. The program is administered by Deaconess Milagros Martinez. Because of the interest in securing a loan (some requests have been put on hold because of insufficient available funds), our goal is to increase the available funds by another $5,000 dollars. If this program appeals to you and you would like to make a contribution, please do so through our LCC Office in Winnipeg or through Faith Lutheran in Kitchener.
And yes, there is another loan program available at the mission as well. We give it the name, “Health Loan Program.” Loans are provided through this fund to our pastor/deaconess families without interest to assist them in paying any unusual medical/dental or pharmaceutical costs that a family might encounter. Because of our own Medical/Dental Clinic, the loans from this program have been minimal. We have approximately $2,000 dollars available through this program. It too was initiated through members and friends of Faith Lutheran. As mentioned above, neither of these programs is directly related to the ministry of proclamation, but they do provide a resource for our workers which assists them in meeting their materials needs. Relieved of some of these concerns, they are able to center their attention on the work to which they have been called.