HYPOTHESIS AND THESIS STATEMENT
Ministry’s empowerment financially is paramount to enhancing ministry’s activities in the areas of needs and among others; therefore, Praise Ministries International’s goal is to alleviate financial burdens by going into the area of agriculture (subsistence/commercial) in order to empower the ministry to stand financially to meet needs.
The philosophical ideology behind ministry’s empowerment is tied to the idea of money availability in the context of evangelism and church planting endeavor; therefore, the issue of money becomes paramount in mission execution. Though money is the paramount issue people look at; however, the strategic approaches put into place in bringing monetary availability for mission execution matter the most. In this light, Praise Ministries International strategic approaches to ministry’s empowerment will focus on provision of implements/tools or personnel availability, agricultural project actualization, local church involvement, motivation of leaders, leadership consolidation, and the funding of the mission project. In discussing these paramount issues to ministry’s empowerment, it is expedient that the biblical and the philosophical models of money be highlighted in this mission strategy paper. In the mission research paper, money is briefly discussed to necessitate its importance to mission project categorizing it as the physical need. Money is defined in the context of the bible and its necessity to life. In the book of Ecclesiastes, it reads, “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry; but money answereth all things (Eccl 10:19 KJV). Money answers all things because it is the medium of exchange on the national and global panorama. Money is needed to purchase food items, to build ministry’s infrastructures, to pay salaries to staff members, to solve educational and humanitarian’s crisis, and many more as the needs will arise occasionally based on the prevailing situations. Money buys goods and goods buy money; unfortunately, goods do not buy goods except in the case of barter system based on bargain or negotiation between individuals. In economics, money is defined as an asset (a store of value) which functions as a generally accepted medium of exchange. It can in principle be used directly to buy any good. The biblical writer’s position on the nature of money and what money can do is 100 % right. Mishkin and Serletis write,
The Reagan administration in the United States was strongly criticized for creating huge budget deficits by cutting taxes in the early 1980s. In the Keynesian framework, we usually think of tax cuts as stimulating aggregate demand and increasing aggregate output. Could the expectation of large budget deficits have helped create a more severe recession in 1981–1982 after the Federal Reserve implemented an anti-inflation monetary policy?
If government depends on the taxes paid by taxpayers to fund the annual budget in meeting expenditure goal, the cutting of taxes disproportionally based on government spending can lead to budget deficits. On the other hand, if government can create more jobs to increase employment opportunities and then raise taxes minimally, citizens who are employed can spend on goods and services as the result of money availability in their hands. This can encourage suppliers to supply goods and services to the consumers as the result of demand resulting to money availability in the consumers ‘hands. The question is asked, “Could the expectation of large budget deficits have helped create a more severe recession in 1981–1982 after the Federal Reserve implemented an anti-inflation monetary policy?” If government fails to supply jobs or employment opportunities, the fall in Gross Domestic Products can lead to recession and poses inflation to the country’s economic systems. The key to good economic health is not actually cutting or raising taxes, but it the government proactive approach to the creation of jobs opportunities for the people. These analogies or comparative explanations may not satisfy fully the ministry’s empowerment with respect to goods, services, and financial issues because U.S is a nation and Praise Ministries International is an organization; however, these analogies will become useful when emphasis is placed on the agricultural project that leads from subsistence to commercial agricultural system. As Praise Ministries International embarks on agricultural project, goods or services and the creation of employments opportunities for church workers and community members will have been actualized to financially empower the church and create jobs opportunities. In the Keynesian framework, we usually think of tax cuts as stimulating aggregate demand and increasing aggregate output. It describes the economics theories of John Maynard Keynes. Keynes said that capitalism is a good economic system which underlines that people earn money from their work and spend their money on things they want. If Praise Ministries International creates jobs or employment opportunities for church members and the masses as employer, it will eventually become a partner with companies on the national scene and therefore adds to the maximization of the gross domestic product counteracting recession on the national economy. The creation of jobs opportunities for people leads to maximization of gross domestic products. When people have money to buy goods or services, they will pay tithes, offerings, and live better lives. Seeing poverty as the epidemic that retards the speed of ministry’s growth, it is a necessity that Praise Ministries International embarks on the agricultural project as stepping stone to empower financial security and stability in the ministries. The resurgence of agricultural paradigm is necessary to sustainable ministry’s operation with respect to missions.
Power Saw (STHL)
One of the things highlighted in the mission research paper is the need for implements or tools. Since one of the Praise Ministries International strategic approaches to ministry’s empowerment initially is to get involved in the burning of charcoals; in this light, the need to obtain a power chain saw is imminent. After the identification of the sites for charcoal production, the power chain saw will be used to fell and cross-cut trees for charcoal production. As the project progresses based on sustainable goal achievement, the tools or implements will be added to extend or increase the production. Not only will the tools be added, but gasoline and lubricants and others necessary tools or materials will also be added for the maintenance of the implements or tools.
Vehicles will be used for the transportation of tools or implements and personnel and the distribution of agricultural products to the market.
The success of any organization depends on the development of good human resources responsible for the running of the organization or entity. The human resources for this ministry’s empowerment with respect to the agricultural project are responsible for the processing of raw materials to finished products and the distribution of finished products to the market systems. In this light, the human resources are categorically divided into processing and finishing products departmentally.
Director of Agriculture: This department shall identify agricultural sites, selects crops to be planted, and determines what kind of activity should be carried out on the particular sites for financial gains.
Operation Managers: This department shall supervise employees on the fields and report to the Director of Agriculture.
Human Resources Supervisor: This department shall supervise and conduct administrative office procedures with respect to human resource management and employment.
Accountant: This department shall be responsible for budgeting, money management, and paying of salaries to employees.
Director of Distribution: This department shall distribute goods or services to the market. This department shall build warehouses to store agricultural products to be distributed to the market to the retailers and whole sale sellers. This department shall collaborate with the Human Resources department to employ drivers for the delivery of goods and services to the market.
Charcoal is widely used in Liberia as the result of its economic importance to serve the Liberian populations. It is used for cooking food especially in urban areas where many people do not have access to electricity, electric stove, or gas stove. In many parts of the interior of Liberia, charcoal is used to cook food in restaurant, in homes, and many places. It is convenient to use charcoal because it does not smoke as the ordinary fire wood would do; therefore, many people prefer using charcoal rather than fire wood. Based on its economic importance to the Liberian population, Praise Ministries International will embark on the charcoal project to fund the needs of church workers or pastors as specified in the table on the subsequent pages of this paper. According to the information gathered with respect to the price of one bag of charcoal, a bag of charcoal is $400.00 LD ($4.00 US). If a bag of charcoal is sold at $400.00 LD giving the equivalent to $4.00 US; then, 1000 bags of charcoal gives $400,000.00 LD which is $4000.00 US. The implementation of the Charcoal Project will help alleviate the financial burden faced by the ministry in Liberia to meet the needs of church workers and among other things. To carry out this project as identified by Pastor Ezekiel V. Mardeh and me, the need for equipment or tools such as power chain saws to fell the trees and have them cross-cut for the charcoal production is immediate. The need for charcoal production for financial gain is strategically earmarked as the project that helps funds the needs specified in the below table.
|Category||Quantity||Unit Price LD$||Amount LD$||Equivalent US$||Frequency|
|Bag of rice||6||6,000 00||36,000.00||360.00||Monthly|
Based on the above statistics, the projected budget to satisfy the above categories monthly are $270,000.000 LD and $1080.000 US respectively. The needs for food, medical, and housing in the African setting are necessary to sustain church workers; although, many people do not go to the health centers except the illness becomes critical that is life threatening. Many people live medically on drugs sold on the sidewalks or market places. Pharmacies are hardly found in the interior except in the urban places like Monrovia. Medications bought to deal with malaria parasites, headaches, diarrhea, pneumonia, yellow fever, yellow jaundice, and among others are purchased on the counter or the sidewalks. Some of these medications are expired drugs imported from India, Guinea, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast. The sales of drugs in Liberia is not being regulated by government; therefore, anyone can open a drug store, table market, or walk in the street to sell counter drugs or sometimes drugs that require medical doctor’s approval. Health system is broken; therefore, many people die from minor illnesses that would not have caused death or people die because they took a prescription medication without being diagnosed with such problem or there was overdose of drugs taken due to lack of knowledge. The lack of medical necessities such as good health care centers in the nation, medical equipment, medications, and necessary services rendered by medical practitioners post challenges to missionaries’ health or church workers. The need for money superimposes on medical, housing, transportation, and food because money sustains all. The tendency for the church to provide the projected budget as mentioned above empowers church workers to do the work of ministry.
Bag of Rice
Liberia is situated on west coast of Africa and seven degrees north of the equator. Liberia has a tropical climate with six months of sunshine commonly called the dry season and six months of rainfall commonly called the rainy season. Liberia with these climatic characteristics is likely to grow tropical crops like rice, cassava, yarns, eddoes, bananas, and peppers. With rice being the stable food for the Liberian population, it is eaten more than any other foods. Comparing the price of rice in Liberia as compared to the United States, bag of rice is expensive in Liberia than the United States. One can buy a bag of rice in the United States for $50.00. There is a difference of $10.00. Looking at the employment opportunity in the United States to that of Liberia, there is no comparison because 98% of the Liberian populations are unemployed. Many people live on subsistence agriculture in providing for themselves. Formerly, the government of Liberia has not seen agriculture to be the back bone of any strong economy; therefore, money should have been allocated to encourage local farmers to invest in agricultural activity taking them from subsistence level to intensive or commercial agricultural method has been stolen as the result of corruption in the government. The government inability to invest in agriculture coupled with the sixteen years civil conflict has led the country to have shortages of rice. Most of the rice eaten in Liberia has been imported. Many people who live in the city areas live on bag of rice from oversea. The monthly budget for six bags of rice to feed six pastors is $360.00 US. Someone could say, the amount could be funded through tithes and offerings. If so, how many people are able to give during Sunday service when people are living under extreme poverty? I am not against giving neither do I discouraging people to give. The reality is that the Liberian economy is zero and people are suffering. The ministry’s agricultural program will help alleviate hunger and create jobs opportunities for church workers and community members.
The Liberian health care system is very poor now prior to the civil uprising. The decline in the health care system is the result of the government inability to provide services to its citizenry due to corrupt practices seen in government. The inability for government to provide medical equipment to hospitals, drugs, build additional health institutions, pay its healthcare providers, and to provide education or training on personal hygiene has led to mortalities in the country during previous years. Many people died from the Ebola’s outbreaks in Liberia due to the failure of government to provide medical services and education to the populations. Living under this health extreme condition where government is not providing medical services to its people becomes critical for church workers who get sick. Many people in Liberia hardly visit government hospitals due to these factors. Many go to the nurses or doctors who work in these hospitals and are not well paid or paid as scheduled. The nurses or doctors who work in these hospitals steal the drugs and take them to their private clinics to treat people who pay for their services; as the result, government hospitals do not have drugs. This poses vulnerability to health issues for the majority populations in Liberia. People, who cannot afford the fees when they are sick, may likely die. It takes $120.00 US to take care of six pastors’ medical health monthly. This amount is projected for six pastors because many people hardly go to the hospital or visit a doctor unless under extreme cases.
Many people who do ministry in the city areas will eventually rent from a landlord especially those who are not members of the community. One gets a house to rent in the city areas for $10.00 or $20.00 on average depending on the kind of houses and their location. To live in a decent house on average, at least one should be able to pay $100.000 or $150.00 on the monthly basis. Based on the present condition as a ministry, we have projected $50.00 as the projected amount to take care of a pastor’s rent monthly. This amount will change gradually based on time and the condition of the ministry with respect to financial prosperity and stability.
One of the main problems of Liberia’s transportation is lack of good road network in the country. Unpaved roads in the country have hindered movement of people especially when the rainy season is in progress because roads become damaged due to erosion, porosity due to heavy rainfall, and ditches or potholes are created as motor vehicles move over them. Many people cannot afford to buy vehicles; therefore, pedestrians are 99% of the populations who pay travel fair or transportation fee for services rendered by people who own motor vehicles. Due to the lack of motor vehicles in some parts of the country and insufficient finance to pay for services, many people walk long distances to get to their destinations which is tiring and time consuming. The affordability of motor vehicles could ease these problems and therefore makes church workers mobile. When I spoke with Pastor Ezekiel V. Mardeh, he did not mention concerning the necessity of getting a vehicle for the ministry. Probably it is less cost-effective of paying for travel to vehicle owners who render services than owning a vehicle. There are disadvantages of owing a vehicle such as the cost of the vehicle, maintenance, bad road conditions, and among other things; nevertheless, it is convenient and most effective for doing ministry. The church can do much in term of evangelism and church planting if she has access to vehicles. It takes $20.00 monthly to transport a church worker or pastor. This transportation fee varies by places in the country. This fee is the average fee which correlates to the interior of Liberia and other places that are near the city areas. For major cities like Monrovia, the fee is higher than what is mentioned in the table for transportation. Indeed, transportation is a great need for ministry’s workers because church endeavors to plant new churches all over the country in the next five years.
The projected budget to educate our pastors through bible schools or colleges is $180.00 US monthly for six pastors on average. It takes $30.00 monthly to sponsor a pastor to a bible school or college. Knowing that knowledge is power, it pays investing in our pastors through education or training. This education program of church workers is one of the projects highlighted in our previous discussion concerning opening mini-bible teaching centers in Liberia where there will be seminars held for six months to teach biblical courses to church workers in order to equip them for ministry’s works. This pedagogical need is the great need in the ministry to prepare church workers biblically and intellectually to minister to their congregations with sound biblical doctrine free from errors or heresies. In the overall, the implementation of the agricultural initiatives helps solve some the above needs discussed.
TURNING SITES INTO FARMS
The next project identified is the Agricultural Project geared to turning sites into farms. The sites used to fell trees during the charcoal project will be turned into farms to plant cash crops such as peppers, groundnuts, rice, bitter balls etc. These products will be sold and the money obtained from the sale will be used for new church plants endeavors. This project will serve as the back bone for ministry’s empowerment with respect to financial prosperity and stability.
Praise Ministries International encourages its members and community members to render services voluntarily when the project starts off during its juvenile stage. The need for recruitment of workers to help start the project is crucial. In this light, volunteers will be given initial training with respect to the use of tools and machines coupled with stewardship. Tools seminars and biblical teaching on stewardship will be carried out to prepare volunteers and employees for the project. This is done to develop human resources empowerment to enhance efficiency in production of goods and services.
Since during the past years, church workers had failed as the result of lack integrity, stewardship, and vision, special biblical teaching will be periodically conducted on the monthly basis to teach on ministerial integrity, stewardship, and vision. These teachings are paramount to the spiritual health of church workers and therefore remind them of their moral, physical, and the spiritual responsibilities they have before man and God. The Vision and the By-Law and Constitution of the Praise Ministries International shall be taught so that Seminarians can subscribe to the vision and be aware of the consequences that follow when these spiritual laws are violated in church settings.
The consolidation of PMI’s leaderships is crucial to the project initiation and execution. All differences experienced during the past years between and among the leaderships should be forgone and Christ should sit on the throne. Pastoral conferences held monthly to teach on ministerial responsibility, stewardship, and integrity will serve as spiritual tool for the consolidation of PMI’s leaderships.
Funding the Project
Praise Ministries International shall conduct fund raising rally among the memberships to raise funds to meet the purchasing of tools and machines for the start off of the project while also seeking donors. In seeking donors concerning this project, a project proposal will be drafted to explain to donors the goal of the project and asking them to help in the areas of their strengths; however, the membership should take physical and financial responsibility concerning the project. The project should be funded by the membership before potential donors are asked to help.
The purchasing of machines or tools, the burning of charcoals, the turning of sites into agricultural farms to plant cash crops and among others, the training and motivation of personnel, the consolidation of PMI’s leaderships, and the funding of the project path the way of meeting the five years plans or goals to increase financial security, stability, and ministry’s expansion both nationally and internationally depending on the quantity of agricultural sites and the production levels.
Mishkin, Frederic S. & Serletis, Apostolos, The Economics of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets. Toronto: Pearson Canada Inc, 2008.
Frederic S. Mishkin and Apostolos Serletis, The Economics of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets (Toronto: Pearson Canada inc), 740, 2008.