We set out for Brazzaville to visit the HOPE Congo microfinance program and for Kigali to work with the Rwanda Savings and Credit Association (SCA) program. Every trip presents a diverse set of important activities and opportunities, some planned and some unexpected. But for this visit, we set out with four clear goals:
- Observe and support the 5W’s implementation. Both HOPE Congo and the Rwanda SCA program are implementing the 5W’s structure for group meetings. This structure was pioneered by HOPE’s partner in the Philippines, the Center for Community Transformation. Its purpose was to deliver a clear, consistent group meeting where biblical truth is shared every time a group gathers and where the financial aspects of the meeting are handled as efficiently as possible. For those of you who haven’t seen this before, the 5W’s consist of:
- Welcome – greet group members warmly in Jesus’ name
- Worship – open the meeting in prayer and sing worship songs
- Word – study the Scripture and provide time for group discussion
- Work – conduct biblically based business training and financial transactions
- Wrap-up – summarize key takeaways
- Deepen our partnerships with the local church. We scheduled meetings with key church leaders in each program. HOPE affirms the importance of the local church in God’s plan and wants to support and collaborate with the church wherever we work. Beyond this general affirmation, we must have clearly defined relationships in order to help seeking clients grow in Christ as disciples. This level of clarity is what we were pursuing with church leaders in each program. I will share more about our specific meetings in a separate post.
- Train field staff. In Brazzaville, our training was centered on identifying and finding solutions for the practical, operational challenges that loan officers face every day. These challenges include scheduling, tardy members, checklists, and reporting. You might wonder, “Why is the SI team getting involved in things like logistics?” Because it is often the practical, daily challenges that present the most persistent obstacles to a consistent witness for Christ. In Kigali, we helped lead a two-day staff retreat. The theme for SI was deepening our understanding and commitment to living as disciples and helping others become fully committed followers of Jesus.
- Strengthen relationships with the staff. These visits provide an important opportunity to build new relationships and deepen existing ones with our international and expatriate staff members. HOPE values relationships deeply, and nothing beats face-to-face time for really connecting at a heart level.