We wanted to meet with each church to see whether or not the pastor was able to effectively communicate the message that work can be worship, that business is a holy calling, and that God delights in the creativity and work of man, made in His image. As the business people and pastors gathered in the church, we started the meetings by asking for testimonies from the business people of what they learned during the "Thirty Days in the Marketplace." It was very apparent, very quickly, which pastors "passed the test" and which pastors need a bit more time to learn more, in order to better educate their members. We are thankful that the majority of churches, thus far, passed with flying colors. The business people spoke with such passion about business being a calling...about people in the Bible who were business people...about Jesus himself being an active carpenter for more than 15 years! It brought me much joy to hear their joy and excitement over the realization that business is not "evil" but can be used to glorify God. It was also great to see the pastors smile, as they listened to their congregants bear witness to their teachings.
The next step for those churches who are ready is the training of the business people, and so a large part of our meetings in these churches involves assessing whether or not the business people would benefit more from the micro-business training or the small and medium size entrepreneur training. What types of businesses did we find? A number of the churches are in very rural areas, and so there are many farmers who are farming between 3-12 acres: corn, rice, peanuts, cashews, cocoa, peppers, tomatoes; a number also have animals in addition to their crops: goats, sheep, cows, pigs, rabbits, guinea fowl, ducks, and chickens. In the more urban areas, we find accountants, bakers, caterers, fashion designers, tailors, beauticians, make-up artists, gospel musicians, hat makers, shoe makers, artisans, metal workers, and the list goes on. Truly a mix of retailers, service providers, manufacturers, and agriculturalists.
Once we understand the types of businesses found in a church, we then need to coordinate times, dates, and trainers as we seek to train and release up to 450 Marketplace Ministers into the Northern Region of Ghana. This region is a very Muslim region and many of the churches are made up of Muslim converts. We have already heard a number of stories from those we trained last year of people giving their lives to Christ and it is exciting to think of what 450 Marketplace Ministers released into the Marketplace could do.
And this is where we need your help. It is time for us to do a major effort in the training of trainers. We have huge opportunities in Ethiopia and Ghana, and emerging opportunities in Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Kenya. We have planned a training of trainers for the key leaders of DML from October 5-13 in Kitale, Kenya. We are flying in trainers from these countries to spend ten days together at the Africa Theological Seminary, where we will certify many of them as trainers and have a chance to share best practices, lessons learned, and continue to build a team made of national leaders, who can reach pastors, church leaders, and business people in their own context and culture.
We have a donor who has offered an challenge grant in the amount of $1500 towards this effort. We need more than $3000 for this effort, but we are thankful for this opportunity! (Have you noticed how many people are liking challenge grants lately? We all want to see our investments double quickly, which is wise investing!) If you are willing to help build the church through Discipling Marketplace Leaders, please go to www.icmusa.org/donate, select "Discipling Marketplace Leaders" in the dropdown box, and in the comment section put "Training of Trainers Matching Grant."
At the same time, my support has dropped very low (for the first time this year, for which I am thankful!). If you are able to chip in something extra for that as well, it would be greatly appreciated! To do that, go to the same web address and select "Renita Reed" in the dropdown box.
Lastly, many of these businesses that we are training would benefit from loans. In Ghana, the interest rates are ridiculously high (38% in banks, 60% with MFIs, and 120% in the informal sector). Through investors, we are able to give loans at a much more affordable rate. We currently have $50,000 invested in Ghana, and would like to see that doubled or even tripled by March (when these churches will have completed their training). We accept any amount from $1000+, we pay investors 4% annually, and ask for your investment to remain with us for three years. If you are interested in putting your money into small businesses in Northern Ghana, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thank you! We appreciate your prayers as we work to coordinate this great opportunity that God has given us!
PS - We are excited to have found a home for Hopeline Institute and Discipling Marketplace Leaders in Tamale. Thanks to the on-going generosity of Rev. Johnson Asare (an incredible man of God and business man who is SO committed to Business as Mission), we have received an office at the Radach Hotel and Conference Center where Isaac and Blossom (the two on the right of the picture below) will be able to work out of and coordinate these efforts. Also in this picture is Rev. Monday, who is the Mission Outreach Coordinator for the Good News Bible Church and has been instrumental in the spreading of DML in the Northern Region, and beside him is my dear friend, Fanny Atta-Peters, the Executive Director of Hopeline Institute. What a privilege to spend these days with this team!