“Kairos” is an ancient Greek word meaning the opportune time when all the right things are aligned for something magical to occur.  Although it is a moment of favor and divine grace, it is also a moment of great challenge and crisis that is able to turn into an opportunity if seized.  It is a God moment.  It is a time when Heaven’s possibilities intercepts with earth’s challenges and create an opportunity for transformation.

This was the case in 2009 when MadagascarCarol Hafer, the newly hired Mission Director of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando (one of the Nehemiah church partners) traveled to Madagascar to assess one of their mission projects and to determine what they needed to do to enhance their work there.  While she was in Madagascar, the democratically-elected president, Marc Ravalomanana, was ousted by an oppositional leader who was determined to take power away from him.  This led to an economic crisis for the country.  The political instability lasted four years and continues today to a certain degree despite the fact they have a newly elected president.  While it seemed like the worst time to consider doing anything viable in Madagascar, it was a Kairos moment.   It was a moment of great uncertainty, hopelessness and despair, but it was also at that moment that God chose to act.  It is often in the dark that the light shines the brightest.

Upon her return to America, Carol was determined to come to the aid of the people of Madagascar with an innovative approach to missions that would nurture the potential of the Malagasy Christians in order to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and to create jobs while advancing the Gospel in the country.   With the help of Dr. Case Thorp, the missions pastor, John Watts, the church administrator and the leadership of the senior pastor, Dr. David Swanson, the church caught the vision.  When others, including the American government, seemed to be running out of Madagascar, First Presbyterian Church of Orlando was preparing to go in.

In 2010 with the help of Debbie Farah and Glenn Repple, two Biblical Entrepreneurship Certified teachers, Carol connected with Nehemiah Project and the Biblical Entrepreneurship (BE) program and developed a partnership to launch BE in Madagascar as a part of their mission project. They joined forced with the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), a six million member church who serves as their local mission partner.  Their goal was to nurture the potential of the Malagasy people through entrepreneurship, instill a spirit of righteousness in the culture while creating sustainable opportunities for job creation, funding local mission projects and fueling evangelism.

Today, Biblical Entrepreneurship Madagascar has trained over 600 Biblical Entrepreneurs with a number of them operating small to medium size kingdom enterprises in several industries including; printing, manufacturing, agriculture, retail stores, finance, education and import and export.    In 2012 they produced a winning business plan that placed second in the International Biblical Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition that was held in Portland, Oregon. The second place competition winner was Malanto Rabary – whose business plan was to launch the first Christian credit union in Madagascar. Malanto is planning to launch phase I of her business plan by the end of the year by establishing a microfinance organization, which will provide low interest loans and coaching support to local Biblical Entrepreneurs.  To date, Madagascar has trained 28 BE Certified Teachers.

Among the many success stories in Madagascar is one of a pastor who completed his business plan on a ministry enterprise operated by his local church called Rice For Jesus.  In operation for only two years, Pastor Rafarahimanana Jaen’s organization collects 331 pounds of rice from his 3,000 member church each week using a strategy that recommends each member to commit two teaspoons of rice before cooking each meal in the name of Christ to a central collection.  The collection is then resold to the poor below market price, and the money is used to buy and plant cassava seeds and to provide scholarships to needy kids.  They also sell the cassava once harvested and they use the revenue to build houses for the needy.  They have created a total of 15 jobs, generated over $60,000 a year in revenue, and through their profits they take care of 24 families representing 160 people.  As a result of their success eight other churches have joined in the program.

In a country that often feels isolated and forgotten by the world because of its location and history, God is at work in the marketplace and its people are determined to build transformational enterprises that create jobs and bring change to their country.  Our recent visit to Madagascar was a reminder of what God can do when we choose to believe in the power of His word and invest in people in spite of their circumstances.

Thank you to First Presbyterian Church of Orlando and all the members who invested and are continuing to invest their finances and time to this project.  Thank you for your courage and determination to transform a mission program into a sustainable effort. Special thanks to the Nehemiah Charitable Investors and members of the Founders Club.  It is because of your financial support that a movement has begun in a nation that could serve as a catalyst for marketplace revival and economic development to sustain the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

For more information about the work in Madagascar contact Carol Hafer at chafer@fpco.org or to support Nehemiah Sustainable Mission initiatives, through financial support or to join us for our next trip, please contact Katie Kavehrad at katie@nehemiahproject.org.  Our next Sustainable Mission Trip is July 14th to 21st where we will be launching  Biblical Entrepreneurship in the country of Haiti sponsored by Elevation Financial Group.