What is the perfect program for hard-working people? Eight years ago, FARMS International planted seeds of investment through loans in Cuba that are growing churches and communities now.
New Beginnings From Chance Meeting
It all began when Bill Wingenroth met former FARMS International Executive Director Joe Richter in a chance encounter at a missions conference. At the time, Wingenroth was working with a different organization and had been ministering in Cuba for several years. Outreach already included teaching, training pastors, and growing churches, but Wingenroth wanted to do more to improve the lives of believers and was encountering roadblocks.
“We felt overwhelmed with what we saw, how poor the people were and how they were totally dependent on government rations,” Wingenroth says.
Purchases were limited, government programs had failed, and many were without work, Wingenroth says. (Learn more about Cuba’s current economic challenges here.) The will was there but the inability to get bank loans stood as a major hurdle to Cubans trying to improve their lives.
“They just needed some support, to be able to make some investment to start their own business,” Wingenroth says.
By providing interest-free loans through churches, FARMS International gave potential business owners exactly the opportunity they needed. Wingenroth, now a FARMS Board Member himself, considers the encounter almost a miracle.
Loans bring growth for the Cuban People
The effect of FARMS International’s involvement is already visible and Wingenroth is thrilled with the impact. The loans provided through FARMS have helped feed and support families, businesses, and churches alike.
“We started business after business after business. It’s been a very successful program in Cuba. FARMS International has just been an answer to my prayer, for the Cuban people to be able to take pride and be able to build up their church, and also be able to provide jobs for people within the church.”
Churches have grown and congregations have multiplied thanks to funds from FARMS programs, Wingenroth says. The impact continues to spread.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Kali Katerberg