World Challenge partners in South Asia are using financial classes to help introduce people to the gospel.
“Money is a big deal in the Bible,” points out Chris Cagle, financial coach and writer for The Gospel Coalition. “We’re given more instruction in the Bible about money (more than 2,000 verses) than almost anything else.
“Jesus told many parables about it, and the apostles had a lot to say about it. We’re told to avoid the love of money (1 Tim. 6:6–10) and to choose God over money (Luke 16:13), so we can be generous and ready to give (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16) and put our trust in God, not riches (1 Tim. 6:17–19). We’re also encouraged to plan and save (Prov. 21:20) and look after the needs of our families and others (1 Tim. 5:8; Heb. 13:16).”
For many of us who live in the Western world, those initial commands — Be generous; choose God over money; avoid loving money — are where we focus because most of us make more money in a week than the vast majority of the world’s workers are likely to see in a year.
For those in less fortunate circumstances, figuring out how to achieve the practical side of Proverbs 21:20 and 1 Timothy 5:8 is their struggle.
Opening Opportunities for the Gospel
World Challenge’s partners in Bangladesh offer local community members financial classes to help them learn how to wisely steward their money.
These classes usually culminate in small savings groups where people pool their money; these are important since banks won’t allow low-income people to open accounts and won’t offer loans to them either. These pooled savings allow locals and church members to safely save and attempt small business ventures without having to go to loan sharks.
These classes and groups are also an open door for the gospel in communities that would otherwise be closed. Issues with money are almost always linked to unbiblical cultural practices or personal struggles, and discussion can easily turn to how God addresses the root of money problems.
The classes also give the church an opportunity to love struggling people in the community.
Sahana* has been a member in a local savings group started by a World Challenge-trained ministry in her hometown. Even though she was a Muslim, she was open to learning more about Jesus from our local trainers.
Growing in Christ and in Faith
After hearing the gospel several times, Sahana decided to put her faith in Jesus and began coming to church. As she learned more about Christ and the God of the Bible, she began sharing the news about Jesus with her family.
To everyone’s delight, her husband and four children all decided to believe in Jesus also. They currently have begun learning how to facilitate a Bible study so that they can continue to grow in their faith and share the good news about salvation with their neighbors.
Of course, some of these plans had to temporarily go on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, but Sahana and her husband were still planning to open up their home when the time came and were making preparations accordingly.
In the middle of the lockdowns, however, Sahana became ill. She couldn’t go to a hospital or clinic and receive proper treatment from doctors due to the COVID-19 situation. Frightened, the family reached out to their church. One of our trainers visited her and constantly prayed for her for two weeks. Miraculously, she was healed.
Through a simple finance class, Sahana met the Savior who healed her and gave her new life.
*Not real name. For our ministry partners’ security, we don’t release names or locations in highly sensitive areas.