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I’d like to choose what I eat.

June 20th 2007 (4) comments so far  

Here in Maputo South Africa, we spent Tuesday with the local Opportunity International (OI) staff. According its website, OI’s mission is “to provide opportunities for people in chronic poverty to transform their lives.” Their core “business” is providing small loans to those who want to grow a business. After an orientation session in the main office we visited several groups of loan recipients. While each of the groups had its own character, they all had one thing in common–an unusual commitment to each person’s success. Most of the loan recipients have a stall in a market area where they sell fruit and vegetables. Most are the sole providers for their children and grandchildren.

The first group that we met has chosen the name, “hope.” They’ve only had their loans a short time. When asked what they hoped to see happen in their lives as a result of the loans, one of the women replied, “I’d like to choose what I eat.” Simple. Honest. Humbling. The truly poor fly under the world’s radar most of the time. Most exemplify that tired phrase, “quiet desperation.” They live without the privilege of thinking about tomorrow, because today’s challenges are always overwhelming. OI’s work gives these folks something that society refuses to give them–dignity, and hope.

In Chattisgarh, India, we are exploring a partnership with OI. My visit with them here in Maputo solidified my commitment to keep pursuing that possibility.

We leave Maputo tomorrow for Johannesburg, South Africa. There we’ll be visiting a former student, Charlotte Moore, who works with orphans. I’ve loved being in Maputo. The experience has stretched me in ways that I didn’t expect. Good ways. Ways that I needed to be stretched.

Finally, one really fun thing. I got to fulfill a long-time desire today when I stood in the surf of the Indian Ocean. Don’t know why that mattered to me, but it did. Ciao!



    Liz Short June 21st at 10:34 am  

    Amazing! I have never once in my life had the thought, “I’d like to choose what I eat.” I get to choose every meal what I want to eat without even thinking. Eugene and I are praying that the rest of your trip will be “all that God has intended for it to be.” Thanks for going…….and come back safely!


    Sonja Milam July 9th at 4:02 pm  

    I appreciate your insights, Mark. I feel in some sence included on your missionary journies with you. Thank you!!!!!!

    The idea of providing small loans to people in poverty is fantastic! What a way to provide long-term positive cascading effects! Having a missionary brother in Africa has been an education for me of the conditioning effects that occur with arbitrary handouts on a ongoing vast scale. Have you read African Friends and Money Matters? This is a must read if we are to venture into this continent in ministry. Let me kmow and I will get you a copy.


    Mark Young - staff July 12th at 9:19 am  

    Thanks, Sonja, for your thoughts. Yes, micro-lending is being used extensively throughout the developing world. There are unfortunately some rogues in the game, but generally speaking, it’s a tool that we’ve needed for generations.

    I have read African Friends and Money Matters. What a helpful book with insights that I would have never come to on my own. I use it in class and refer to it frequently.


    Nancy Fuller July 26th at 10:51 am  

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us through the blog. I also want to say thank you for the loaning library of books on missions available on the second floor. Sonja’s book recommendation might be one to add to the Stonebriar collection if we don’t have it yet.

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