Wednesday, August 5, 2015

QuickBooks Helps Provide Sustainable Solutions For The Working Poor

Originally posted at Insightful Account:

In May 2015, I was privileged to visit Haiti to help Christian Aid Ministries set up QuickBooks for their SALT Microfinance Solutions program. This was an exciting opportunity, as a volunteer, to put my QuickBooks knowledge and skills into practice for others. During this trip, I visited the cities of Port-au-Prince, Titanyen, and Petit-Goave.

I spent most of my time in Petit Goave, Haiti, where the office for the SALT program is located. My focus was learning about the SALT program, grasping the accounting needs for the program, installing and setting up a specialized QuickBooks company file, educating the SALT staff on how to use QuickBooks, and then providing technical support to the SALT staff.

It was exciting to help those who are working hard to decrease the problems of chronic poverty in Haiti. I have enjoyed helping with the SALT program because I believe it is helping to break the cycle of dependency in developing countries. This program is actually helping to solve the problems of chronic poverty by enabling impoverished people to use the resources already available to them.

What is SALT Microfinance Solutions?

You may be asking, “What is SALT?” SALT is an acronym for Shared Accountability, Lending, and Teaching. This program reaches out to people in material poverty through microloans, savings groups, agricultural programs, and Christ-centered teaching. The goal of the SALT Program is to walk alongside clients, helping them use the resources God has placed in their care and teaching them the importance of following Jesus in everyday life.

As clients develop small business enterprises, they often find that their increased income enables them to afford regular meals, improve their housing, and provide a good education for their children. As their businesses expand, the effects spread beyond their families into the local economy, as they learn to be contributors in their communities and churches.

Continue reading at:
Insightful Accountant: QuickBooks Helps Provide Sustainable Solutions For The Working Poor

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The History of Halloween

Where did Halloween begin?
It began over 2000 yrs ago with the Celtics who lived in what is today England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This day was the start of the Celtic new year. It was a time to give thanks to the sun god for the harvest.

What is Halloween all about?
Halloween, All saints day, All hallows eve or All souls day is a festival of death. This festival was held to honor the Samhain the so called "lord of death". It was a Druidical belief that on the eve of this festival, Samhain who is known as the lord of death, called together the wicked spirits that had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals within the past 12 months .

Many sacrifices were offered to this lord of death Samhain, and bonfires were built to keep away the evil spirits. The powers of darkness were consulted to foretell the future.

To exorcise these spirits, that is to expel or cast a demonic/evil presence out from a person, you would have to put food outside and provide shelter for these spirits during the night. If these spirits were satisfied with your offerings and sacrifices, they would leave you in peace. If they were not satisfied with your offerings and sacrifices, they were believed to cast an evil spell on you.

In modern day Satanism and Witchcraft covens, this is the day when Satan himself comes to "fellowship" with his followers. This false fellowship totally twists the truth and example of Christ coming to the earth to die for mankind and establish "fellowship" with his followers, or known as followers of Jesus. Many changes have occurred over the centuries since Halloween was first started, but one thing has stayed the same, the practice of giving an "offering" has stayed the same. In America, we do it under the name of fun, but what is the real meaning? Is the meaning still the same as it was in the old days? I say the answer is a resounding YES.

Some of the “innocent” symbols include jack-o’-lanterns representing demonic superstition, black cats representing witches, skulls and skeletons representing death, fire rites representing sacredness, and apple bobbing representing the selection of a lover. There are many more symbols and practices of Halloween that represent darkness that could be named here.

The Christian Connection
The celebration in the Catholic church (which I believe to be the predominate heretical church of that time), was known as All Saints' Day. All Saint's Day later merged with Samhain. All Saints' Day originated in the 7th century when the Pantheon at Rome was wrested from the barbarians, made into a cathedral, and renamed the Church of the Blessed Virgin and All Martyrs. Thus, from honoring "all gods" (which is the meaning of the Greek word "pantheon") the Pantheon became the center for glorifying all saints.

All Saint's Day which honored all the "hallowed" saints was first observed on the evening of May 13, and was known as the All hallows festival. The day was officially authorized in 835 by Pope Gregory IV after it was moved to November 1 to coincide with Samhain. It began on the evening of October 31, which was called All Hallows Eve.

Thus, without forcing the pagans to drop their pagan practices and accept Christianity, the Catholic church of that time merely made room to accommodate the barbarians. This is not the right way to try to reach the world for Christ. We can't just accommodate people and make room for them to live just like they have alway lived. In its essence, the Gospel compels people to repent of their sins, which is to turn from your sins, and follow Jesus Christ, believing in him and trusting in him as we would trust in a parachute to save us.

The two celebrations made strange connections: one in respect of evil spirits, the other honoring "saints." Nevertheless, the joining of the two celebrations produced a hybrid of beliefs about what was supposed to happen in the spirit world. Souls in purgatory appeared as witches and toads to persons who had wronged them. Halloween fires and rites took on a new meaning and now were used to comfort souls in purgatory as people prayed while holding burning straw in the air.

Even the idea of trick-or-treating by evil spirits took on an acceptable church flavor: costumed children went around on All Souls Day offering to fast for the departed souls in return for money or an offering. As the Celts converted to the new religion, they did not forget their stories of the dead traveling to the afterworld on Halloween. Rather, exhibitions of this night became more evil and the observance adopted even more malicious overtones.

Unlike many other holidays such as Easter and Christmas (which may have other questionable reasons to not participate in as American Church has done for the past century), Halloween has no origins in True Christianity. Halloween is unmistakably pagan in its origin, its symbols, and the ways people celebrate it.

Is Halloween a TRICK or TREAT?
Most absolutely it is a TRICK. As you can see from the extended narrative above the meaning of Halloween has been watered down in today’s world. It is Satan's objective to get all to worship him. God's Word tells us to not have anything to do with this.
  • 1 Peter 5:8 - Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour.
  • 1 Timothy 4:1 (NASB) - But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.
How should we as Christians respond to Halloween?
The worship of false gods is condemned numerous times in both the OT and NT and is emphasized in the very first of the 10 commandments.

In Exodus 20:2-3 the Lord writes with his own hand:
  • “I am the LORD your God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods (practicing of false worship) before me.”
The passage in the bible that most directly addresses the customs mentioned above is Deuteronomy 18:9-14, where we read:
  • “When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.”
Other scriptures about participating in such activities:
  • 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
  • John 3:19-21 says, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
  • Romans 13:12 says, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light."
  • Ephesians 5:8-11 says, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
  • Galatians 5:19-21 says, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Most of you would agree that Witchcraft practices are an abomination to the Lord God Jehovah but few realize that the “innocent” practices of Halloween are just as bad in the Lord’s eyes as forms of Witchcraft because of the the darkness they represent.

The Lord says in Proverbs 3:7, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil,” and 8:13 “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” Will we seek to push the boundaries of our faith to see just how far we can go? Or will we seek to serve the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength? Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

There is still yet another aspect to think about: The example you are to those around you.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31-32 - “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:”
In light of the history of Halloween and the present Satanic worship that happens around the world and that pervades this day of Halloween, my suggestion is that professing Christians refrain from being involved with these practices that many would consider to be “innocent”. While I recognize that not everyone will agree with me, I would suggest that all seriously seek the LORD for themselves about whether it is wise to be involved with such activities. I desire that all Christians everywhere only be engaged in activities and practices that are edifying to other believers and that brings glory and honor and praise to the LORD God Jehovah.

Here are a few profitable things that I would suggest that we can do on Halloween instead of participating in the evil that encompasses this Satanic day.
  1. Do not make light of evil. As I have tried to point out in this blogpost, Halloween originated in evil practices and has remained a holiday that uses children to promote a fascination with darkness and superstitious fear. At the same time, it diminishes authority in the bible as the inspired word of God and makes light of evil. We need a holy and righteous fear of the Lord in these times. "The fear of the Lord makes men turn from evil" (Proverbs 16:6).
  2. Share the Gospel on this evil day. The bible clearly gives each and every believer a commission in his final words: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:18-20). Also, look at Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." So I would suggest that we turn the tables this Halloween from participation to active aggression against it. Let's do battle with the enemy in sharing the Gospel with those who are entrapped in this false worship.
  3. Pray, Pray, Pray. Pray for children who will shun the glorification of witchcraft, the bondage of ungodly fear, and the “cuteification” of evil that is promoted through holidays like Halloween. Pray for those entrapped in the falsehood of demonic worship. Pray against the powers of darkness and pray in agreement with the power of God (the light). 
All Glory and Praise to Jesus Christ,
Caleb L. Jenkins

Resources for further reading:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Trip to Haiti 2013

I was privileged in many ways to be able to participate in a short-term missions trip to Haiti during the first week of September 2013. During this trip to Haiti we visited the cities of Port-au-prince, Titanyen, Petit-Goave, and the mountain villages south of Petit-Goave. I hope to be able to share with you some of the insights gains, lessons learned, and stories that can be applied to our lives here in America through this blogpost.

The four red squares are where we visited while we were in Haiti

Before we left we received a phonecall from one of the ministries down there in Haiti that we were going to be spending a night with saying that they were going to be driving through one of the most impoverished areas of Haiti the day after we arrived in Haiti and asked if we could bring down some clothes for the children. The report was that most of these children had absolutely nothing to wear. So we sent out an email to our local church members and asked if they had any extra children's clothes and/or old suitcases that we could take down to Haiti. The response was overwhelming. The picture below shows about half of the clothes we received.
Half of the clothes we took down to Haiti from home
We (my Father & I) left from home at 6:00 PM on Sunday September 1, 2013. We stopped to pickup Jeff Bowman who lives 20 minutes away from our house on our way to the airport.
From left to right (myself, Jeff Bowman, Ann Bowman, Ann's Parents, Jeff & Ann's two little girls
We left San Francisco Airport at 12:15 AM on September 2, 2013. We spent most of the day Monday flying down to Haiti. From SFO, we stopped in DFW, MIA, and finally to PAP (Port-au-prince). When we got close to the ground flying into Haiti I was struck by the poverty of even those living close to the airport in Port-au-Prince.
Industrial Zone in Haiti
After we landed and made our way through customs and security we were met by Darv Siebel and "Grandpa" Harold Herr (all the natives and other missionaries in Haiti call him Grandpa Harold).

Soon after we left the airport in Port-au-Prince we we hailed with the effects of the rainy season. It poured most of our drive from Port-au-Prince to Petit-Goave. We were met by Kieth & Arlene Brubaker (Administrators of Christian Aid Ministries in Haiti) right after we had pulled out of the airport. We gave the clothes that we had taken down with us to Kieth & Arlene and they said that they would make sure that the clothes got to the correct location.
Kieth & Arlene Brubaker
When we made it to Petit-Goave (called Ti-Goave for short) our group was split up to stay at two different homes of local missionaries in Ti-Goave. The first couple was Clint & Brenda Bower and the second was Darvin & Jo Siebel.
Clint & Brenda Bower and their two girls
Darv & Jo Siebel
(their family was gone at the moment this picture was taken - they have seven children, if I remember correctly)
That first evening, Monday, we had our first "learning" presentation of the S.A.L.T. (Shared Accountability Lending and Teaching) Program given by Leonard Meador. Leonard gave an overview of the Microloan Program. He shared the problem of just giving and giving and giving without discernment. Then, Leonard shared some facts regarding Microloans.
Discussing the S.A.L.T. Program
Early the next morning on Tuesday we woke up to the humid, wet, and sticky Haiti. Actually, it was identical to the weather that we were met with from the moment that we landed in Port-au-prince but it sunk in that this was the kind of weather we would have for our whole trip. We started off with breakfast and then had a season of devotions given by Ervin Esh. After devotions we loaded up in the back of two trucks (as you can see below) which had cages around them that we could hang on to. We drove through Ti-Goave on our way up to the mountains.
Riding in the back of the caged trucks through Ti-Goave
While we were in Ti-Goave we stopped at one of the markets to meet some of the loan clients in town. We talked to them for a little while and then got back on the trucks to continue to head up to the mountains. Pastor CJ (pictured below) rode up with us and accompanied us throughout our trip. Pastor CJ is the administrator over the other pastors who teach the S.A.L.T. material to the loan clients.
Pastor Sujay (pronounced CJ) 
While we were driving up the mountainside, we encountered many villagers carrying huge loads of beans and other supplies on their heads as they went to market. I asked Pastor CJ if they have any chiropractors in the area and he said that they didn't. I couldn't imagine carrying a load like that up the mountainside and never stopping. Most of the ladies (and men) don't even try to balance the goods on top of their head with their hands. That's what I call real balance. :)
Most of the villagers carry their goods to market on their heads
When we arrived to where we were headed up in the mountains, we came upon one of the country-side markets (pictured below). There were people everywhere as you can see just browsing through all of the goods for sale. Some of the businesses represented in these markets were restaurants, clothing piles, shoe racks, food supplies, and misc. goods.
Entering one of the markets we attended
From the opposite side of the market looking back (as pictured below) we saw the big huge bean bags being loaded into the back of a big truck headed down the mountainside to the city of Port-au-prince. These bags have been filled by villagers who work all day to fill a bag to sell to purchase enough food for the day and maybe some clothes and something else to prepare for the non-growing season.
Looking through the market 
While we were at the markets we talked to many of the loan clients and bought some of their goods, food, etc. We found out about their situations in the past and how the microloans are helping them to alleviate the handout mentality and to break free from poverty. Some of the clients who have been in the program for multiple loans now have established businesses who make a profit of up to $15-20 per day. This is much better than the average $2 a day that most workers make. With the $15-20 per day they are able to set aside enough to feed their families, clothe their children, send their children to school, help their parents and family members in difficult times, and to learn the power of giving to other needs. Every person has a God-given natural instinct wanting to give something to someone else. We find this same situation here in America where for example a gang member steals something to give it to their mother. Rarely are the goods that are stolen used for their own gain but rather it is used to benefit someone else in need. While this method is not ethical or moral it does show how each person wants to contribute to a greater need than themselves.
Our group having a lively anabaptist discussion in the evening
In the picture above, after we finished visiting the clinic administered by Gospel to Haiti we had a lively Anabaptist discussion talking about the Internet, Facebook, Community or Individualism, the divide between the Older and Younger Generations, etc. This was a profitable discussion that helped us all understand each other and our different backgrounds a little bit better.
Pastor CJ giving his animated talk about the wasteful use of cellphones
On Tuesday evening we stayed at the Gospel to Haiti Mission for the night. In the picture above, Pastor CJ is giving an animated talk about how Haitians wastefully use their cellphones. He said that the Haitians answer the phone and say, Hey, Hey, multiple times. Then they will say something funny and will laugh and laugh for minutes. After demonstrating this for us, CJ said that he tells the Haitians that they are paying money that they should be saving or using to pay for their children's education to say hey and to laugh. Instead of saying hey and laughing CJ says that they should only use their cellphones for necessary short phonecalls.
Hiking up to Grandpa Harold's House
On Wednesday Morning, we hiked up to "Grandpa" Harold's house way up on the mountainside. The picture above is a picture of our group hiking up to his house.
The incredible view from Grandpa Harold's House
When the earthquake in 2010 hit Haiti, "Grandpa" Harold (79 years old) said that he was hiking up to his house. Grandpa illustrated how that when it hit he was thrown to the ground with velocity that almost hurt him. When he looked up he say the mountains all around him shaking incessantly. His first thought was that the Lord had returned to call his remnant bride home to heaven. Then he noticed that he was still here on earth. After making the rest of the hike up to his home he only found minimal damages in his house structure. Haitians, according to Grandpa Harold, were scared to hike on the trail for months following the quake in fear that they would be killed by another quake.
Grandpa Harold explaining his experience when the earthquake hit in 2010
After talking to Grandpa up at his house we made our way back to the Gospel to Haiti Mission where we packed our bags again and said goodbye to Steve & Shaina Simmons (pictured below) who are the directors of the mission.
Steve & Shaina Simmons at Gospel to Haiti Compound
After leaving the Gospel to Haiti compound we visited a church rebuilding project (pictured below) facilitated by the Gospel to Haiti. This is a church that was not built properly in the first place and was structurally damaged in the earthquake of 2010.
Church Rebuilding Project
Later on Wednesday we went back to a few markets to talk to a few more of the loan clients. Below, Clint Bower, the administrator of the Ag Plus S.A.L.T. program, is talking to one of his clients.
Clint talking with one of the clients at market
Later on Wednesday afternoon we traveled back down the mountainside to the city of Ti-Goave to the main S.A.L.T. office where we spent the evening meeting one of the local pastors (pictured below) who teach the S.A.L.T. material. We also participated in a bi-weekly loan meeting with one of the loan groups. This was fascinating to experience. Of course I couldn't understand what was said because it was all spoken in Creole but it was easy to understand what was being conveyed through body language. We also had a little bit of interpretation by Clint Bower & Darv Siebel.
A pastor at the bi-weekly loan meeting
Below is a picture of the loan group I mentioned above. Over 70% of the loan clients are women. The reason for this statistic is that the women feel responsible for the well being of their children whereas the men are more slackers and care very little about what happens in their family.
The group of six at the bi-weekly loan meeting
On Thursday we traveled back to the city of Port-au-prince and visited some of the Americanized markets. While we there we purchased some of the local Haitian coffee and some of the wooden bowls and misc other products. One of the boys there who was approximately 12 years old came up to me as I was passing out Creole tracts and started talking to me in English. That was a big surprise. After spending the past few days in the country where none of the Haitians talk English it was almost a breath of fresh air. This young boy said that his parents died when he was young and he has raised himself alone in the streets of Port-au-prince. He said that the Lord saved him a few years ago and that he has been attending church ever since. 

We then left Port-au-prince and headed to the Blue Ridge International compound. On the Blue Ridge compound there is another ministry called LIFE Literature. Grandpa Harold is the Haiti representative for LIFE Literature. Grandpa Harold gave us a tour of their office and how their ministry operates.
Simeon & Melanie Shankster (and Solomon whom they are in the process of adopting) 
After visiting the LIFE Literature office on the Blue Ridge compound we walked back to Simeon and Melanie Shankster's house. Simeon is the local pastor on the Blue Ridge Compound. 

In the picture below, is one of the Blue Ridge trucks that was not in operation when we visited. Blue Ridge has 10-20 or so staff that go out into the countrysides up in the mountain areas and drill wells for the villages. They charge a small fee to drill the wells. This fee does not cover the cost so the rest of the expense is covered by donations. The mindset behind charging for the service is that the village will take better responsibility of the well and they will have a sense of ownership in the well that they don't have when they are given a service free of charge.
Blue Ridge Truck 
Thursday evening, after visiting the Blue Ridge compound we made it to our final destination in Haiti - the Christian Aid Ministries compound. While we were there for the evening, we took our group photo as you can see below. As you can probably tell, I was by far the youngest one in the group. I was blessed beyond measure to experience this trip with all of these older & much wiser men of God. I also gained a few new relationships through this venture with other Accountants. Of those pictured below, 7 are accountants and 2 are business owners.
Our Group Photo from left to right, starting on the top row (Arlin Martin, Kevin Jacobs, Curt Wagoner, Jeff Bowman, Darv Seibel, David Flory, Ervin Esh, Leonard Meador, myself, Randy Jenkins
Getting ready to leave Haiti

What is the S.A.L.T. Program?

SALT stands for Shared Accountability Lending & Teaching. This is a program that gives out small loans to help poor people make a living on their own.

In the words of Christian Aid Ministries:

Our goal is to provide sustainable Christ-centered solutions, and to break the cycle of physical and spiritual poverty that grips communities around the world today. We believe this is best accomplished by giving opportunity for men and women to put their God-given abilities to work. These are not individuals looking for a free handout, but simply people in need of both capital and training. 
The primary purpose of SALT microfinance is to help men and women find eternal life through Jesus Christ. Secondly, we want to walk with them as they make the transition from poverty to providing for themselves. 
One of the greatest hurdles that confronts aid organizations today is the challenge of providing sustainable solutions. Poverty continues to grow, and many countries have become addicted to continual foreign aid. Our vision is to provide a path out of the seemingly endless cycle of poverty that plagues many families around the world. Our desire is to help the struggling by giving them opportunity to provide for themselves. 
To accomplish this, we offer business and spiritual teaching and provide loans to develop small enterprises. These businesses are intended to supply a steady income, enabling families to purchase good food, decent housing, and education for their families. As these businesses expand, the effects spread beyond the family into the community and local economy.
In-Text Citation (Christian Aid Ministries, 2013) *1
The Problem: Relief

To illustrate the problem with relief, I will use the story of mosquitoes. A few years ago a news article written by Wall Street Journal told about a village in Africa that had a big problem with malaria. A church group had came to this village and saw the problem and wrote back home about the problem and the need for mosquito nets. The church back in the states gathered together enough money to buy 10,000 nets to send to this village in Africa. When the report was brought back to the states when this church group came back everything was cheery and rosy. The report detailed how the problem had been solved in this village. Then a year later a news reporter from WSJ decided to visit this village and check up on the progress of these mosquito nets. What he found was appalling. The problem with malaria was worse than ever and the unemployment in this village was much worse than it was before the church group had come down to "solve the problem." What this news reporter shared was the fact that the 10,000 mosquito nets brought down from America had put out of business a local mosquito factory. This in turn created higher unemployment in the village. On top of that, when the next rainy season came around there was no local mosquito net company to purchase mosquito nets from.

The Solution: Development

To illustrate the solution of development I will use the story of rickshaws. There was a small group of villagers in Asia who worked everyday carrying goods on top of their heads for a local company and barely made enough money to live on. One day, one of these workers had an idea that he shared with the other villagers. His idea was for each worker in their group to set aside a dollar each week and combine it into a group pool of money. A few months later the group had enough money set aside to loan money to one of the workers to be able to purchase a rickshaw. This continued until each worker had purchased their own rickshaw. Once this was accomplished they had enough money to send their children to school and to give to others' needs. Then this worker had another idea. Since they were making more money than they had before they could each contribute a greater amount to the savings account and in turn purchase trucks to haul their goods. This was a successful venture that solved the problem of poverty by just setting aside a little money up front to solve the problem for future generations.

Job 29:16 says, "I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out." In this verse Job shows the need for discernment. We can apply this verse to the problem of poverty to discern the difference between chronic poverty and critical poverty. The way we do this is by focusing first on the cause rather than just the effect of poverty. A few critical basic points to microfinance lending in countries like Haiti are:
  • It is important to discern to right tool to use before trying to help.
  • It is probable that the people of Haiti don't really need everything exactly like we have.
  • It is necessary to identify the cause of poverty first and then decide what the best tool to use is.
  • Which tool is the most important? The most important tool is absolutely the one that fits and fixes the problem.
  • Different tools are necessary at different times.
  • Take the time necessary to discern which tool is the correct tool to use.
The tools that I refer to above are the tools of relief and development. The tool of relief is necessary when the problem is a direct or indirect result of a calamity (e.g. 2010 Earthquake). The tool of development is necessary when the problem has developed over time and possibly many generations.

The problem with providing the tool of relief when the tool of development should be used is that it tells the poor that they are incapable of solving the problem on their own. This also creates a shift of focus from their resources, gifts, and capabilities to our resources.

In recap, I have shared what the SALT program is, along with the problem of continual relief and the solution to poverty by using development. This trip to Haiti was an incredible time to learn through serving about the problem and solution to poverty. I hope to continue learning how that God created each individual capable of solving most of their own problems when they have the correct tools to do so.

Resources & References:
If you would like to see more photos from my trip, you can view my album on Google+ or Facebook.

I was very blessed to be on this trip to Haiti and learned much about how we can help others without destroying their own self-dignity and self-worth.