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by Willard Freedom Kaula

Every time people ask me what I do in life, I hesitate to respond. Not because I lack an answer—I have answered this question many times—but rather, I’m figuring out which response would best describe what I do. You see, I’m a field scientist by profession, an activist by passion, an artist by hobby, a Gospel worker by calling, and, most recently, a HOPE Malawi fellow by day. Of all the things I do with my time, it never occurred to me, not even once, that I would work with savings and credit associations (SCAs).

When I enrolled at the University of Malawi, I thought I would end up building a career in field sciences as an environmental expert. While in college, I served as chairperson for the Environmental Club and delighted in doing a good job there. However, it wasn’t until I joined the HOPE Malawi family as an SCA programs fellow that I began to realize the full potential I have in my God-given talents.

At first, I had a mixture of fear for the tasks ahead and also excitement for a new career opportunity. My fear was that my skills—accumulated in the domain of science—would not blend in with the work that HOPE and its partners do. But through prayer and mentorship, I’ve learned in my role that I can use all my talents to achieve the mission of investing in the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities!

Through my involvement with HOPE, I have come to know that there are four relationships that must be maintained—with God, with myself, with others, and with God’s creation. Learning from Romans 1:20, we see the invisible qualities of God—His divine nature and eternal power—through things created by Him. I’m grateful that my studies in environmental sciences have improved my knowledge of God in this way. However, I would not appreciate the full ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21) entrusted to me if God did not give me a chance to serve others around me. I was made for stewardship of valuable things, to care for nature, people, and the spiritual needs of myself and others around me.

 

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It’s hard to believe that summer is practically over–at least for students. For the last three months, HOPE International has had 16 summer interns at our office in Lancaster, PA, and around the U.S. Working in departments like marketing, development, the president’s office, and operations, our interns and fellows have been busy! Before their time at HOPE finished, we asked them a few questions.

What is your favorite part about being at HOPE?

IMG_7090-webJulie Heisey: The responsibility is real. None of us make copies or get coffee all day, though HOPE does a great job of emphasizing that acts of service are important too. We work on real projects and are encouraged to manage our time, ask questions, and create goals that enable us to stay on track.

 

IMG_7094-webKristiana Plumb: The way HOPE integrates Christ into every facet of work life is incredible. Being in a workplace where people encourage and pray for one another is so beautiful and unique. This culture challenges me in ways I didn’t know I could be challenged.

 

IMG_7194-webJennie Hayes: Getting to meet and spend time with HOPE’s staff. They are incredible, God-fearing, and encouraging people who also know how to make you laugh.

 

 

IMG_7088-webElena Cret: I like that the HOPE network is diverse, yet unified by love for Jesus.

 

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It wasn’t easy for Juvita Cerron to set foot in a church for her first savings group meeting in Comas, Peru. As an unmarried mother expecting her second child, she feared the group would be a place of judgment—but her drive to meet her children’s needs eclipsed her concern for what others might think. As the group welcomed her warmly, their response surprised Juvita: “Through joining a savings group, I found a community that loved me for who I was and reminded me that God loved me too.”

Juvita was still new to the group when her daughter was born three months prematurely. Her savings group embraced her fully, providing support and prayers for her family. After months of constant medical attention, her daughter, Julieta, was near death. Amid crisis, Juvita found new life in Jesus Christ, putting her trust in His faithfulness rather than the relationships or alcohol on which she once relied. Despite doctors’ warnings that her daughter might never fully recover, Juvita rejoices that the Lord miraculously healed her, and now, two years later, Julieta is strong and healthy.

Investing in dreams

Before becoming a mother, Juvita spent two years studying administration at the university level. When she withdrew from college to care for her first child, she had no income and relied entirely on support from her family and her son’s father. She didn’t know how to break the cycle of dependency and provide for her own children—though she longed to do so. Continue Reading…

Agriculture client in Ukraine

How can we design products based on feedback we’re hearing from clients? This was the question the HOPE Ukraine team sought to answer at a three-day retreat in July, using a process based on IDEO’s human-centered design approach. After collecting client feedback, HOPE Ukraine wanted to step back and brainstorm ideas based on their potential impact on clients. According to Dan Williams, HOPE’s director of spiritual integration:

It can be really easy to go into an operational mindset, to start problem solving, and to think about ideas from the perspective of, “Will it work?” without letting ourselves live in that space of, “What are our clients saying is important to them, and can we find a way to make it work even if our immediate response is that it would be tough?”

The process

First, the team dived into client feedback and came up with a number of observations, which they grouped into themes.

1.1 Grouping observations

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by Luke Harbaugh, Church and Community Liaison

In just a few weeks, American schools will prepare to return from summer vacation. As a former public school teacher, I remember the anticipation of preparing to return to school.

In my two years of teaching in American public schools, I had many frustrations. There were the regular fights with the copier, the occasional disciplinary measures that needed to be handed out, the fear I experienced before my first parent-teacher conferences, and, of course, the hobgoblin of all new teachers: keeping law and order in a classroom full of middle schoolers. But even as I fought through the trials that all new teachers endure, one thought never crossed my mind: “What if I don’t get paid this week?”

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by Jess Bauer, California Development Intern

Last summer, I spent three months in Haiti learning about poverty in a hands-on and often heart-wrenching way. I listened to the stories of new friends and experienced the heartbreaking reality of material poverty.

One afternoon, I met an elderly man in Leveque, a village where families resettled after their homes were destroyed by the 2010 earthquake. A relief agency had distributed blue tarps to Leveque after the earthquake to be used as a temporary shelter. The tarps were designed for only a few months of inhabitance—any longer and the extreme heat could cause eye damage. After living in his tarp home for five years, this man was completely blind.

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