Middle School Inspired by Social Action

posted May 2, 2012, 10:15 AM by Amelia Fannin   [ updated May 2, 2012, 10:15 AM by in apropos ]
I often think of the work I do, teaching and planning worship, not as a finished piece, but as a bowl into which the Holy Spirit can fall when She wishes.  Last Sunday Jonathan Downs began a teaching unit on Micro lending, and the Holy Spirit set those teenagers on fire.
Micro lending is a wonderfully simple concept.  In 1976 Professor Mohammed Yunus launched the Grameen Bank (grameen means “rural” or “village”) in Bangladesh, with the intention of lending small sums to individuals who had an idea for earning a living, but no chance of borrowing money from a regular bank since they had little or no collateral.  Perhaps they wish to own animals and sell milk and cheese or eggs, or maybe they have a craft skill, and wanted to sell pots, embroidered clothing, or other handiwork.  They need seed money to buy supplies, work space, animal feed, etc. and when they have made money in their enterprise they return the loan. 

John introduced the middle schoolers to an organization called Kiva (google it on the web and take a look for yourself!)  Kiva advises and vets people all over the developing world, then puts their information on their website along with the sum they need.  You then give the money to Kiva, which gives it to the people, and you receive regular updates as to the success of the project you financed.  Hopefully your money comes back to you (Kiva reports that 98.93% of their loans are paid in full), and then you can choose to finance another project.  

When I arrived in coffee hour, two of the teenagers were in a fever of impatience, because they wanted to make an announcement in coffee hour, and some people had not come from church yet (you know who you are!)  They sent various adults to shepherd them along, but finally they went into the church, and announced their project, and then came back into coffee hour, speaking to individuals and groups about the project clearly and enthusiastically, asking for pledges.  In that half hour they raised pledges and donations of $260.  Yes, $260.  I thank you so much for your generosity, and  I also thank these girls for their commitment and passion in being brave enough to approach adults and plead their cause so effectively.  I’m sure it was this that made you all give so generously. 
The plan now is that the middle schoolers will hold a bake sale after church on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 13th, to raise even more funds, and will announce then who they are going to finance.  They have decided that they will choose a woman to finance in honor of Mother’s Day, but also because statistically, women in developing areas have been a much better financial risk.  We hope that you will give generously again, and take home some delicious treats for Mother’s Day.

And not only that – the middle schoolers will be participating in the Walk for Hunger this coming Sunday, along with members of St Paul’s Newton Highlands, returning to church at about midday for Communion and lunch.  Please let us know if your middle schooler wants to join the walk, and also encourage your middle schooler to bring baked treats, and come to church school on Sunday 13th, to help choose a recipient of the loan and be part of this wonderful project.

Thanks be to God!