Alliance Justice and Compassion resources and promotes the local and global ministries of The Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada that seek to bring wholeness and well-being to people made vulnerable by circumstances of poverty, disaster, and injustice. May the stories and thoughts inspire the reader to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pigs + Prayer = Powerful Presence

On a recent trip to a Caribbean Island to visit our international workers and the microeconomic program they oversee, I was deeply impacted by what I experienced. Our 25 churches on this island are house churches.  
The pastors of these churches sacrifice their living space in their homes in order to provide a ‘sanctuary’ for their small congregations.  A wall knocked down between a living room and a bedroom creates a space large enough to hold some pews.  Many families then share one bedroom!  As many of the pastors and members of the congregations live in poverty, our team initiated a microeconomic program for church members several years ago. 
I walked through small communities visiting members’ projects – one after another:  some were raising pigs (the most common project), some growing crops, others sewing clothes, or painting furniture... the initiatives too varied to list them all here.  

Our leaders invited other denominations to participate and currently 20 churches from 7 denominations are involved.  The goal of the program is to provide financing for the poor so they can develop small businesses to help them out of poverty.  Another objective is to empower the national church to become economically self-sustaining through the tithes of their members.   As we visited with pastors and members they told me about a 24/7 prayer movement that has been birthed within this interdenominational relationship.  Their annual prayer retreat was attended by 280 pastors and leaders last time.  
Some of the microeconomic groups have started to include prayer and fasting at their weekly meetings. One of the pastors had the vision to invite people in the neighbourhood to participate in the micro program as a way to serve the community and express the love of Christ.  During the first 6 months of their involvement with the program, 20 community participants have made decisions to follow Jesus.  
One man told me that he sensed something very different in the people.  As he engaged with the small groups he soon came to know that it was the presence of Jesus that he was sensing.  He told me, “Now my life has been transformed; I am so thankful that they opened their group up to me!” 

I, too, discerned a powerful Presence in these believers.   Their passion for Jesus is contagious.  Through pigs and prayer, God is empowering His Church to impact that island nation!

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