Inside a simply finished home overlooking Burundi’s capital city, Bujumbura, I listened. With my voice recorder between us, I listened to Uvita and Zenon recount their previous struggle to meet their family’s needs. Blessing, the youngest of their six children, played nearby, stopping every few minutes to beam a smile in our direction, clearly aware of his charm. Captivated by this family, an earnest prayer welled up inside me:
Father, would you continue to bless this family. Provide for them above and beyond their wildest dreams. As they flourish, may they be like a river, bringing refreshment to all they meet!
To be honest, this sudden, emotional prayer caught me off guard. Where did THAT come from? Having never faced scarcity, I couldn’t relate to Zenon’s feelings of helplessness as he worked so his family could get by—but the loneliness he described sounded familiar. I remembered a past season when my work and life felt meaningless. And with little hope for change, I had felt trapped and alone. I was getting by, but I wasn’t thriving. So as I reflected further, my prayer began to make sense.
Created for good work
At our core, we all share a common yearning—the inherent desire to not just get by, but to fully exercise our God-given skills and talents as we were created to. And as Christians, we want this flourishing—this state of thriving—not just for ourselves and our families, but for all people.
In Ephesians 2:10, we’re reminded, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Covered in His fingerprints, we most reflect our Creator when we heed His invitation to work alongside Him. But we’re constantly held back by brokenness—poverty, pride, idolatry, greed—that keeps us from fully participating in the good work God has for us. But we’re never alone as the Holy Spirit guides us, encouraging us to reflect our Creator and seek the peace and prosperity of our communities (Jeremiah 29:7).
Becoming a blessing to others
“We were known as poor people,” Zenon told me. But as I listened to their future plans, I saw a family no longer defining themselves by their loneliness or poverty. Through the support and opportunity in their savings group—organized by their church in partnership with HOPE International—both Uvita and Zenon are putting their gifts and talents to good work. Zenon used a loan from his savings group to expand his tailoring business with additional sewing machines, renting them out for more stable income. And Uvita used a loan and savings to invest in their farm, cultivating enough to feed their family and profit from the surplus! The house we sat in was built from their savings. Able to welcome guests and bring an offering to church, Zenon said, “Now I serve God well.”
Seeing Uvita and Zenon grow into the people God has called them to be is what I—and my co-workers at HOPE—get excited about. Because when families experience the dignity of putting their God-given skills and creativity to work, they not only provide for their needs—they thrive. Believing work is an integral part of God’s design for us, we invest in families in underserved communities through discipleship, training, savings, and small loans that restore dignity and help families flourish.
As we work for the Kingdom, I hope we listen as the Holy Spirit prompts our prayers toward the flourishing of others, just as He instructed the priests to pray for the nation of Israel:
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”