By Adrienne D’Orsie, Office Manager
Eight years ago, I was in my 20s and living as a missionary overseas. I served in many different ministries, from leading summer youth camps and encouraging churches (through tambourine dances, no less!) to building houses and discipling young women.
There was a purpose in each thing I did: to show the amazing love of God. But after a year or two in each new ministry, I’d begin to grow weary. I kept asking myself, “What lasting change is happening here?”
On a short stint back in the United States eight years ago, I came across the work of HOPE International. As I read and learned more, I began to feel something click. That “aha moment” suddenly rose up when I encountered one phrase in HOPE’s lingo: hand-up.
I realized most of the ministry I was doing had a “handout” feeling about it. Yes, showing God’s love through moments of joy or gifts of goodness do make an impact on the hearts of His children, but I wanted to know that the good work that had begun would be nurtured. What I wanted, but didn’t have a word for at the time, was sustainability.
After my first visit to HOPE’s U.S. office (which I left with sore muscles in my face from smiling so much!), I traveled to my next assignment in the Dominican Republic. As the months passed, I understood why I didn’t sense contentment in the work. I asked myself and even the ministry leadership, “How can we do this in a way that gives more of a hand-up than a handout?”
During our last month there, I had my first taste of what it’s like to make a sustainable impact. Sanctuario, a local church in San Pedro, had created a system to provide clean, affordable drinking water to the surrounding neighborhood, and our team was partnering with them to extend the system to a nearby community of Haitian immigrants. I was impressed and encouraged as we met with Pastor Ruben Taylor; his wife, Maria; and others from the church. They were confident, full of ideas, and most of all, eager to pitch in.
Walking us through the water distribution center, they explained how their service was already more affordable than that offered by other businesses. Our friend Raúl (pictured right) was employed as the lead water technician, complete with his clean, white lab coat.
Water access to the immigrant community began the following month, and shortly thereafter, as our official partnership concluded, the business became a ministry led solely by Pastor Ruben and Sanctuario Church. Finally, I had seen a sustainable, hand-up ministry in action.
One year later, this whole story amazingly came full circle, as I joined the team at HOPE as the office manager. During a staff meeting, our vice president of marketing debuted HOPE’s 2012 gift catalog, which highlighted the stories of four HOPE clients. As he flipped to the last pages in the booklet, my mouth dropped open. There were pictures of Pastor Ruben Taylor, Maria, and the lead water technician, Raúl.
No wonder this congregation blew me away with their confidence and capability. They were clients of Esperanza, HOPE’s partner in the DR. They had received a hand-up through loans from Esperanza and were using them to give a hand-up to their community—all while showing the amazing love of God.