Your Village Can Prosper Too

The following is another example of God’s financial blessing on a community, but this time it is a village in Africa prospering. Yes…God’s word is so practical it works in developing nations as well.

Hesbone Odindo now leads the DOVE churches in the Kisumu region of Western Kenya. They first started a small group in 2005 in Hesbone’s home village of Kadawa, approximately 400 km from Nairobi. This group grew into a church called Restoration Community Church which was officially launched in January 2006 with thirty members. Today, the church has multiplied into five churches with over 1000 people attending. But Hesbone and his wife Violet did not stop with just spiritual transformation of church members.They had a vision for physical transformation as well.

They worked and obtained financing to oversee the transition of village swampland to banana tree groves. Because of the growth of the church and the addition of the banana trees, more than ten new jobs were created. New bore holes were drilled for clean water for the villagers to drink; eliminating the disease of Cholera which had previously claimed 5-10 lives each year. Because of the high number of people whose immune systems were weakened by HIV, historically four people a week died from malaria. The Kadawa church introduced mosquito nets which cut the malaria death rate to one per month. As Hesbone followed the call of God to his native village, his village began to prosper.

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We Lost 10,000 Jobs When the Plant Closed

But is this possible? Can a whole city prosper? Can a whole city be lifted out of poverty? There are those who are trying. Listen to Steve Fricke’s story from Wilmington, Ohio. Steve is both a pastor and a businessman. A couple of years previous to this, a major employer in their community closed which eliminated 10,000 jobs from the area. Steve writes,

With our community experiencing double digit unemployment the local businesses have suffered.  For over two years the local community pastors have been meeting weekly to pray for spiritual and economic revival. We specifically are asking for the abandoned store fronts and factories to be refilled with prosperous Kingdom minded business leaders.  And we are asking for Gods creativity to be released among area believers to start new business and fill the old ones.

As a business person myself, I recognize the need to encourage the business owners to dig the ditches in preparation for God’s provision to be released.  We can sit around complaining and worry about what is going to happen to us or we can dig some ditches.  For some this means hitting the pavement again to make sales calls or expand their market territory.  For others it means dreaming again about what their business’ can become and the importance it carries in the community and in the Kingdom. By that I mean keeping people employed and continuing to contribute to the overall economy. Some may need to go back to what they did in the beginning to make their business a success.  But the need is encouragement for their business talents to be released in expectation of God’s provision.   

Specifically, we have commissioned two retired business men to visit each establishment owned by a Christian.  One of these men is a retired banker and the other a retired customer service representative. They are praying with the business owners and their employees.  They are asking God for prophetic words for that specific business.  They are offering their experience and expertise in giving ideas and consumer perspectives so the owners can make adjustments if necessary. And they are helping the owners connect with others who have ideas or have overcome obstacles and who might offer additional encouragement.  I personally have been able to assist one establishment in a cost savings plan which yielded the owner more than $9000.00 in savings this year.

Secondly, the community pastors have yearly held a ‘Be the Church Day’ where our congregations come together, as one force with no church labels, to do service projects around our city.  This year we are concentrating on blessing our downtown business district.  We will clean, paint, wash windows, do repairs, sweep sidewalks, refresh planters and mulch, clean restrooms and do anything else which will let the owners know in a practical way that we care and we are praying for them.   

When you are in the desert and all you see around you is dry sand, you need a word of encouragement to dig the ditches for God’s provision.  He is good and faithful always and I am confident the ditches will run with fresh provisional water in Wilmington again.

Steve’s reference to digging ditches is taken from 2 Kings 3:16 where Elisha told the Kings who were in need of water to dig ditches. They followed his direction and the next day the ditches were filled with the water they needed. It was both Biblical and practical.

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God Wants Our City to Prosper

Psalm 128 is a song that was literally sung by the children of Israel as they traveled up the hills to the old city of Jerusalem for their annual feasts and celebrations. It was a song of joy celebrating God’s blessing on vocation, home and family. One of the things they sang about was the prosperity of the city they loved…Jerusalem. Let’s read it.

“How joyful are those who fear the Lord—all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be. Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table. That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear him. May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!”

Though Jerusalem holds a special place in the hearts of many Christians, most of us don’t live in Jerusalem. God wants to prosper us in the city where we physically live. Practically speaking…we need jobs. Our neighbors need jobs. Our children will need jobs. It is Biblical too. When Jeremiah was speaking of God’s desires for the Children of Israel in exile, he commissioned them to seek the prosperity of the city in which they were living.

Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7

Many Christians are fond of stating that heaven is their home and they are just visitors here on earth. Though this is true in the light of eternity, God’s desire is for us to see the cities, villages and towns in which we live prosper.

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Your City Can Prosper Too

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, a young man named Roger Bannister from Oxford University began to have a dream – to run the 1600 Meter race in under 4 minutes. It had been attempted by many runners but it was a barrier that no one was able to break. Roger became convinced that it was possible. No matter what others told him, he simply would not believe their words for he came to believe this barrier could be broken.

On May 5, 1954, Banister broke the barrier running the 1600 Meter race in under 4 minutes. Amazingly enough, before the year was over a number of other athletes ran the same race in under four minutes.  In one race, five men broke the record at one time. What had happened? The barrier to accomplishing this great athletic feat did not exist in their physical bodies, it was in their minds. It was in their thinking. One person broke through into a new possibility and others quickly followed.

What barriers do we have in our minds that keep us from accomplishing all that God has for us? From the scriptures we have already learned that we will prosper as our thinking prospers. But let’s take that a practical step further. What if there is a Biblical model where our prosperous thinking can be combined with others to impact our city or the region in which we live?

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Wind and Hail

So we have been looking at examples of how God’s spirit can direct us to Biblical prosperity. Here is another example. A friend of mine and his partner are in the construction business. They do remodeling of homes in need of repair or upgrade. Business was a little slow a couple years ago so my friend felt like the Lord was prompting him to put a sign advertising their business out on a street corner in a neighborhood near where he lived. It seemed like a totally random act of advertising to the point of him questioning why he should do it. But he followed through because he felt a prompting of the Lord.

Within a few weeks of him putting out the sign a violent storm came through the area with large amounts of hail accompanying it. The hail damage was extensive, in many cases it shredded the soft vinyl that was used by many builders for house siding in our area. So the damage from the storm required repair and many of the people in need of repair called my friends business because the sign was right there. They were swamped with hail damage repair business and saw a huge increase in their finances.

Did God cause the storm? I don’t think so but he was motivated to prophetically stir my friend to put out a sign before the storms damage. This sounds like God’s supernatural direction to me. It does not bet much more practical than this.

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The Fox Story

We know real estate is something practical and Biblical that the Lord might use to help us enjoy His prosperity. But it is not all common sense and natural wisdom. With all the due diligence, common sense and practical wisdom that I have been emphasizing in approaching wealth generation, we also need to rely on the direction of God’s spirit. Jesus did come along and tell the disciples, who were experienced fishermen, to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. They followed his direction and pulled in a miraculous catch. Let me give an example.

I have a building with two rental units in it and experienced a genuine crisis because neither one of the tenants was paying and neither one of the tenants wanted to get out of their apartment. Realizing that we were not helping the individuals by letting them stay there, we started the painfully slow legal process to evict them.

As I was praying one day about these units, God showed me a picture of a red fox curled up and sleeping under one of the apartments. I could not tell which apartment it was but I was able to discern that it was not a good fox; but that it represented an evil presence that was resident in one of the units. I immediately responded by commanding the fox to get out of my apartments and to get out of my town in Jesus name…I did not want this same spirit to just move into another location in our town. So I just made the verbal declaration I felt the Lord was directing me to make and moved on to other things I had to do that day.

The next day I had to drop something off at the building and to my surprise the renters on the one side approached me and said they were moving out. They came and proudly told me that they were moving to another city in our area. Well… I did not have to wonder which side “the fox” was sleeping under…clearly this spirit of darkness was leaving town as I commanded it too the day before. So in business, we must stay tuned in to the voice of the Holy Spirit. He wants to help us. John 14:16 calls the Holy Spirit our helper and he will help us with our business as well.

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The Wild, Wild West

Hernando De Soto calls underutilized capital Dead Capital. How does a society go from no legal property rights to proper legal structures that transform dead capital into working capital? Picture the Wild West in the United States 150 years ago. It was a developing country to say the least. They were trying to grapple with the law and disorder of migrants, squatters, gold diggers, armed gangs, illegal entrepreneurs and the rest of the characters that made the West wild.

Americans had already been settling and improving the land for centuries. Politicians gradually adopted what was there and made it officially legal and set up systems to resolve conflict over land. This allowed the assets of these settlers to become primed to be used as capital. There were many bumps along the way, but it can be done. Property systems open to all citizens are a recent development. It has just happened in the last 200 years. All was accomplished for the purpose of putting land in the hands of private citizens (DeSoto).

This is one of the main differences between the Biblical Worldview and the Socialistic Worldview. In socialism the land and property is held in common and private ownership is discouraged or outlawed. A lot of property law is based on the simple concepts that come from the ten commandments. Thou shalt not steal(what is your neighbors or on their land) and thou shalt not covet(desire what is your neighbors). Private ownership of land is a practical path forward for most Christians to experience Biblical Prosperity.

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Real Estate is “real”

In contrast to confusion over who owns a property, are Western nations that have developed the structures that allow property to be leveraged for economic development. Here is more from Fernando De Soto in The Mystery of Capital.

The recognition and integration of legal property rights was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world… The six effects of an integrated property process mean that Westerners houses no longer merely keep the rain and cold out. Endowed with representational existence, these houses can now lead a parallel life, doing economic things that could not have been done before.

Citizens of advanced nations are thus able to split their assets into shares, each of which can be owned by different persons, with different rights to carry out different functions. Thanks to formal property, a single factory can be held by countless investors, who can divest themselves of their property without affecting the integrity of the physical asset.

Perhaps rather than sending billions of dollars of aid to developing nations we should provide finances for their young people to get legal training in property law to put these legal structures in place so the people can prosper. Such laws also protect ownership as many people(s) have suffered the taking of their land unjustly as well. This is stealing and God cannot bless land that is taken from others unjustly. Though some cultures celebrate common ownership of land, in most cases this does not allow for economic prosperity. The idea of private property rights is embedded right in the Ten Commandments. “You shall not steal” and “You Shall Not Covet” underline this principle. God’s plan is individual ownership and stewardship.

Land is on God’s heart. It is a key to how he prospers his people. Our experience has been one where the most significant increases in our personal net worth have come as the result of real estate transactions. If you don’t own land it is very likely that God wants to help you get some. If you own land possibly God wants to give you more. Rick Joyner states that the great thing about Real Estate is that it is “real”. It not a piece of paper related to a stock option purchase in a market somewhere. It is real. You can go there and walk on it. You can grow corn on it if you want.

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Whose Land is This Anyway?

Before we get in to the scriptures on home ownership let’s look some more at the importance of land. In light of the previously described link between economic development and land ownership in first world nations, it is important to look at the developing and former communist nations of the world that are hamstrung from economic growth because of weak or nonexistent property rights. For prosperity to come to these nations, one of the first needs is to improve the laws governing property ownership so people can own property free and clear.

Sadly, in many nations of the world, a piece of real estate might have as many as 5-10 different people claiming ownership of it and there is no functioning system to determine who owns the deed to this land. Whose land is this anyway? One person claims his uncle gave him the land, another says he bought it for an amount of money from the neighbor; another says it is theirs because they have been squatting on it for the last few years. As long as it cannot be determined who the actual owner of the land is and that it is free of claims against it, no bank will accept this land as collateral for a loan that might be used to start a business. Established and legal property rights systems can create capital and economic lift for everyone.

Fernando De Soto in his book, The Mystery of Capital, describes this predicament.

Imagine a country where nobody can identify who owns what, addresses cannot be easily verified, people cannot be made to pay their debts, resources cannot conveniently be turned into money, ownership cannot be divided into shares, descriptions of assets are not standardized and cannot be easily compared, and the rules that govern property vary from neighborhood to neighborhood or even street to street. You have just put yourself into the life of a developing country or former communist nation; more precisely, you have imagined life for 80% of its population……80% of the world is undercapitalized; people cannot draw economic life from their buildings (or any other asset) to generate capital. In Haiti…according to our surveys, 68 percent of city dwellers and 97 percent of people in the countryside live in housing to which nobody has a clear legal title. Legal property  creates financial empowerment for individuals in any culture.

Really…80% ? Is it possible to break out of this cycle ?    Yes.. practial details to come.

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God Gave Ruth Land

The Biblical story of Ruth is, of course a great love story. But it is also the story of God giving a woman physical land. God took her from gleaning leftovers along the edge of the field to become the owner of the field. When she married Boaz, who owned the field, she became an owner of the very field she formerly gleaned in as a pauper. What a great story of financial prosperity and God’s redemption. Take the time to read it.

In the United States, the number one way that people finance new business ventures is by borrowing money against their house, which is of course located on land. So the best preparation for starting a business is to purchase a house and start paying it off over time. This will eventually build equity, which will allow you to finance a business start up. Small business startups create 70% of new jobs. Most of these businesses are family businesses and as with Abraham and his sons, land is often central to birthing these new businesses.

There is a practical link between economic land ownership and economic development. Land ownership is the proving grounds for business. God gave me 20+ scriptures about home ownership that I will be sharing in the next couple of blogs.

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