Thursday, June 30, 2011

Meet the 2011 Lydia Award Semifinalists

Leslie/Todd: One of our personally favorite PEER Servants events of the year is the Annual Lydia Awards Celebration. It focuses on the stories of transformation of the entrepreneurs served by our microfinance partners. We are always challenged and enriched by the Lydia Award nominees and the passion they have for pursuing what God has called them to. Yet again, God is using them as an example to us. If they can pursue the passion they sense God has given them and do so from a much more financially precarious position than you or we may be in, then how much more we should be willing to do the same. If we're not, perhaps we're letting our riches or something else hold us back from experiencing all that God wants for us.

We just announced the three 2011 Lydia Awards semifinalists. You can read their full stories on our website and vote for your pick for the 2011 Lydia Award winner. This is our more personal take on their passion.

Sara, from South Africa, has a passion for children. She started a creche back in 2006 in a "building" from some loose materials she could find. It wasn't pretty, but it allowed her to open her doors to 15 children. In stepped our South African microfinance partner, Aloga, and a few loans later, Sara has a 6-room brick building employing five others and taking care of almost 100 children. Is she in it for just the money? Consider this - she actually doesn't take fees from parents who lose their jobs, and she'll take their kids to church (when her creche is otherwise closed) if the parents have to work on their day of worship. That's passion!

Florence, from Uganda, has a passion for helping those with overwhelming obstacles. She knows something about that herself -- widowed with five children in northern Uganda and a physical disability. But Florence is a woman of prayer, and she knows that with God living through her, she is more than a conqueror. She's established a very successful secondhand clothing retail/wholesale business that offers her customers affordable clothing, has enabled her to employ two others, and gives her profits that she uses to bless orphans with HIV/AIDS. She even plays the drum in worship -- Florence definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer!

Juana, from Peru, has a passion for family. She's done everything she could to keep hers together after her husband abandoned her with three children. With the help of Kallarisunchis, our Peruvian microfinance partner, she started a hardware business. Now, a few loans later, she has three small businesses. Juana very intentionally established three businesses so that each child could inherit a business. She is teaching them how to do business well while using the proceeds from the business to support her local church. Juana loves business, but even that falls short of her passion for family!

We have the great privilege of being able to pursue the passion God has placed on our hearts to establish an organization, PEER Servants, with a vision to enable tens of thousands of the materially poor and non-poor to experience economic, social, and spiritual transformation. We've given up some things to do it, but received so much more in return.

What's your God-given passion? What steps are you taking to pursue it?