October 2009

Awesome Young Woman Changes Millions of Lives

Recently I attended a conference for church leaders and one of the seminars was given by a very impressive young woman by the name of Jessica Jackley. Jessica is one of the co-founders of a website called www.kiva.org which is the world’s first person to person micro lending website.
This is a very exciting website. Their purpose is to ‘connect people through lending to alleviate poverty’. Basically how it works is that you go online and loan a specific individual a small sum of money to help him or her start or develop a small business. These small entrepreneurs are only looking for micro-loans, amounts of around $500 – $600 (£300 -370). The big banks are not interested in loaning such small sums but it has been shown that putting this small amount of money into the hands of people committed to being self-supporting can often be all it takes to lift them out of poverty and give them and their family improved life chances and opportunities.
Each individual seeking a loan is supported and trained by a local micro finance institution which then uses the Kiva website to post up their details. So if you’d like to loan some money to a potato farmer in Uzbekistan or fisherman in Indonesia or a single mum sewing baby clothes in Columbia, you can do just that. Don’t worry you don’t have to loan the whole amount they are seeking. You can just loan a $25 amount (about £18, when you pay by credit card or paypal it will tell you the amount in Sterling). When you scroll down below the individual’s details you will be able to see the names of everyone who has loaned that individual some money to help them reach their goal. This is so moving! Real people, all complete strangers to one another dotted all around the world coming together to help another stranger lift himself or herself out of poverty.
Jessica’s own story about how she, her brother and a few friends came up with the idea around a kitchen table and then made it happen. Amongst her leadership advice she recommended having a common simple purpose and a non hierarchical structure with a ‘dream team’ to lead and inspire. (I cheered quietly as that last sentence describes brilliantly how Activate Your Life is run!). She said ‘when you truly believe in the potential of other people you give them dignity and respect’ (more cheers!). Kiva has grown very rapidly and gone from a small pilot project to a huge enterprise passing on millions of dollars in loans from individuals to individuals.
The default rate on loans is 98.5% that means virtually all loans are paid back. When you are informed that your borrower has paid back your money you can choose to either have the money back or reinvest it in another small business. When you offer a loan you are asked if you would like to donate a small extra amount to cover Kiva running costs, this is optional and even if you don’t pay it 100% of your loan will go out to the borrower.
Go take a look at the site. It took me 5 minutes to make my first loan to a lady farmer in the Congo with 5 children to support. Amazing!

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A little girl’s poem…

What’s it like to be a Christian?

It’s like being a pumpkin.

God picks you from the patch and brings you in, and washes all the dirt off you.

Then He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff.

He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc; and then He gives you a new smiling face, and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see.

So what’s it like to be a Christian to you?

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Ask Alison – October

Have you ever wondered why couples seem to go round in circles when it comes to arguing? What’s worse, old hurts and wounds seem to rear their ugly heads too. It could be something trivial that triggered the argument yet out comes a torrent of emotion and wild accusations.

So what can you do to actively bring about a resolution to future disputes? Here’s 5 action points you could try…

1.Take a deep breath. Speak only when you can manage your emotions. This doesn’t mean you can’t speak without emotion. Rather you control them as opposed to the other way around!

2.Think what you really want to say. What is the real issue? E.G. Is it that he’s left the loo seat up again or that you feel under valued?

3.Own your own feelings. Don’t blame or accuse. Remember no one makes you feel anything, you choose how you respond.

4.Try the Indian talking stick strategy. Only the person holding the stick (this can be real or imaginary) can speak. After explaining your argument, ask your partner to repeat what he understands about your complaint. If there are elements he doesn’t seem to grasp, explain again and ask him to share his understanding until you feel he has got it. Once this occurs, step five may not even be necessary!

5.Together work out a strategy to solve the problem. This may mean you need him to explain his position and then repeat your understanding to him.

All the best girls. Let me know how you get on!

Ask Alison – October Read More »

Sponsor a Bus Stop & Compose a New Carol!

ATHEISTS might have got the buses, but Christians are being urged to take over bus stops in the run-up to Christmas.

The plan has been hatched by ChurchAds.net, previously the Church Advertising Network, as part of its campaign under the slogan: “Christmas starts with Christ”.

The group is encouraging con­gregations to pay £105 to display a poster on a bus shelter of their choice. Then, on 22 December, the group suggests hosting a carol-singing session at the stop. With enough backing, it says, the occasion might be “the country’s largest-ever carol-singing event”.

Is this something your church or group could consider?

The poster is a painting by Andrew Gadd of the Holy Family in a modern-day version of the stable, a bus shelter. It was launched two years ago, and was used widely last year. Since then, British humanists have carried out a “There’s probably no God” poster campaign on the sides of buses.

The Christmas posters will be complemented by a selection of four radio commercials, which groups of churches can sponsor jointly for broadcast on local radio.

David Marshall, communications officer for the diocese of Man­chester, is promoting the campaign. He said that the goal was to get the poster on 2000 bus shelters, together with 2500 airings for the radio com­mercials.

Theos, a Christian research organisation said, “only 12 per cent of adults have knowledge of the facts of the Christmas story in detail; so hopefully this retelling of the nati­vity story will communicate the Christmas message.”

ChurchAds.net is an ecumenical network, supported by the Jeru­salem Trust, which uses profes­sionals from the advertising and communications industries.

IN addition, Eccle­s­ia­stical Insurance has linked up with ChurchAds.net to launch a national competition for the best new Christmas carol.

The competition is in response to a negative view of carol-singing, suggested by a YouGov poll com­mis­sioned by Ecclesiastical. Although 41 per cent said that they wanted the tradition of door-to-door carolling to continue, 22 per cent said they wanted it to stop.

Only two per cent said that they planned to go from door to door this Christmas, although a further 17 per cent said that they would take part in some form of carol-singing at a ser­vice or concert.

For the new competition, the carol should be in any musical style, but not last longer than four minutes. The winner will receive a £1000 prize and have the carol performed on his or her doorstep.

More information at www.ChurchAds.net

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