The impact of microfinance activities in reducing poverty has received mixed reviews. Some studies show positive impact while others show increasing criticism towards practices considered deleterious to poor people’s welfare. There are similar opinions amongst Pentecostal churches in Zambia. These churches acknowledge the usefulness of microfinance, but because of negative experiences, they are concerned about its efficacy. The general observation of these churches is that spiritual maturity helps those living in poverty identify the root causes, and are therefore able to plan tangible ways out of poverty. They assert that when people grow spiritually and biblical principles like those in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 are employed, they become more responsible and can use microfinance loans with higher success rates. On the contrary, they observe that poor people who are not grounded spiritually tend to abuse microfinance services by either borrowing more than they need, using loan funds for unintended purposes or generally failing to pay back as agreed. This article presents those views within the context of microfinance provision that responds poor people’s needs.1

Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living (2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 NLT).

1 This study draws on my PhD thesis entitled, “Responding to Poor People’s Voices through Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Action Research Study in Zimbabwe and Zambia” (a PhD dissertation, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and Middlesex University, 2016).

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