Millions take their credit unions for granted until they need a low interest loan. But how many know that the credit union idea was born in the mind of a devoted Christian who established the first union as part of his discipleship.
Friedrich W. Raffeisen was the almost-blind mayor of a small German town. His father had died the year after he was born and he was tutored by a minister. As a child and later in public life he kept as his motto: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
He saw the hardship of poor people during a time of famine when peasants existed on a diet of sauerkraut and chicory brew. Most of what they grew was pledged as payment on loans to local money lenders.
“But this is not the only reason for misery,” he wrote. “They have to change their ways. Look how they spend their money on cards and drinking each Saturday night.”
His first credit union, a cooperative of poor people, was so successful that he was asked to start others. Before he died, he had personally organized 423 credit unions and the fame of his plan had spread throughout Europe.
“And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore. – Revelation 18:11