Fikkert, Brian

FROM DEPENDENCE TO DIGNITY

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From Dependence To Dignity: How To Alleviate Poverty Through Church-Centered Microfinance

By Brian Fikkert , Russell Mask

The church of Jesus Christ finds itself at a very unique moment in history. The average Christian living in the “economically advanced countries” enjoys a level of prosperity that has been unimaginable for most of human history. At the same time, over 2.5 billion people in the Majority World (Africa, Asia, and Latin America) live on less than $2 per day, with many of these people being Christians. Ironically, it is amongst the “least of these” in the Global South that the global church is experiencing the most rapid growth.

All of this raises profound challenges to the global church. How can churches and missionaries in the Majority World effectively address the devastating poverty both inside their congregations and just outside their doors? How can churches in the economically advanced countries effectively partner with Global South churches in this process? The very integrity of the global church’s testimony is at stake, for where God’s people reside, there should be no poverty (Deuteronomy 15:4; Acts 4:34).

For the past several decades, microfinance (MF) and microenterprise development (MED) have been the leading approaches to poverty alleviation. MF/MED is a set of interventions that allow households to better manage their finances and start small businesses. From remote churches in rural Africa to the short-term missions programs of mega-churches in the United States, churches and missionaries have taken the plunge into MF/MED, trying to emulate the apparent success of large-scale relief and development organizations. Unfortunately, most churches and missionaries find this to be far more difficult than they had imagined. Repayment rates on loans are low and churches typically end up with struggling programs that require ongoing financial subsidies. Everybody gets hurt in the process: donors, relief and development agencies, churches and missionaries, and--most importantly—the poor people themselves.

This book explains the basic principles for successfully utilizing microfinance in ministry. Drawing on best practice research and their own pioneering work with the Chalmers Center, Brian Fikkert and Russell Mask chart a path for churches and missionaries to pursue, a path that minimizes the risks of harm, relies on local resources, and enables missionaries and churches to minister in powerful ways to the spiritual and economic needs of some of the poorest people on the planet.

Brian Fikkert is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College, where he also serves as a Professor of Economics and Community Development. Dr. Fikkert earned a Ph.D. “with distinction” in economics from Yale University, specializing in Third World economic development and international economics. Dr. Fikkert has been a consultant to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development. Prior to coming to Covenant College, he was a professor at the University of Maryland and a research fellow at the Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector.

Russell Mask serves as the Senior Microenterprise Technical Advisor for the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College, where he also serves as an Associate Professor of Community Development. Dr. Mask earned a B.A. from Wheaton College, an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in Development from the Land Tenure Center at the University of Wisconsin, where his doctoral research focused on microfinance. Dr. Mask has extensive experience in village-level development practice and research in both Asia and Africa and worked with Faulu, a microfinance institution in Kenya.
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 9780310518129
Item #: 13879
Binding: Paper
Chapters: 13
Page Count: 336
Publication Date: 2015



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