Providing a "Hand-Up"

Name: Kurt Berger

Current Status: Alumni

Graduation Year: 1990

In a 19-year span, Kurt Berger (BA ‘90) served as youth minister, evangelism pastor, senior pastor, and even church planter. Then, upon reading the book "Operation World," Kurt became painfully aware of the great need for effective evangelism around the world. Thus began his transition to becoming a missionary.

 "Although I had always known that there were areas of the world that did not have access to the gospel, the reality began to weigh heavily on my heart," he reflects.

Kurt’s first step into missions work serving as the Outreach Pastor for Hazel Dell Christian Church where he led trips to more than 20 different countries and observed various outreach methods in action, including microfinance.

Kurt now serves as the co-founder of Sotiria International, a faith-based non-profit organization which seeks to alleviate physical and spiritual poverty through the funding of microenterprise opportunities in the developing world.

"Spending considerable time in Africa, I have learned much about their orphanage system. Although many of the children in orphanages are there because they truly are orphans, a great number of the children are there because their parents are unable to care for them," Kurt says of the culture in impoverished areas. "They do not have the resources to provide for their children, and they know that if they relinquish their child to an orphanage, he/she will be provided for through outside sponsorship." 

"The driving purpose behind microfinance is to create ways for the parents to provide for their children without having to give them to an orphanage. By offering vocational skills development, small business training, and micro loans in order to help an impoverished parent to start a business, it enables them earn a living and provide for their own family."

Since Sotiria International’s official launch in February 2012, the organization has developed partnerships in Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, and Myanmar – providing loans to over 200 entrepreneurs to date –and continues to build relationships with potential partners.

"It brings me unspeakable joy to go back and visit a family after a couple of years and see the impact. Sometimes it is as 'simple' as the fact that the family is still together. Other times it is seeing children at school who were not able to attend school before," Kurt shares of the moments that keep him and his team motivated.

"Seeing families back together and watching those who joined us for the sole purpose of starting their business come to faith in Jesus…I definitely know that this is what God has called me to do."