By Roger Morgan, Africa Regional Director
It was in September 2017 that I, along with HOPE’s senior management team, recommended to the board of directors that we close operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
As one of the world’s most difficult places to do business, HOPE DRC’s history had been fraught with challenges. Since launching in 2004, we had faced numerous environmental, political, and operational hurdles. With HOPE’s desire to serve underserved places, we remained committed to working in DRC, even when so many organizations could not. But after more than a decade of combating challenge after challenge, we recognized that the program had stagnated, unable to grow in the increasing tumultuous environment and creating ongoing risk for other HOPE-network programs.
We could not provide a plan for improvement; we made the difficult decision to close.
Knowing the impact this would have on staff and clients in DRC, it was the toughest decision of my career. I tried to remind myself that organizations must make difficult decisions from time to time, but closure remained heart-wrenching for all those involved. Having visited the program every three months for 11 years, I was close to many of the team there, and I was painfully aware of how difficult it would be for them to find new jobs after working for HOPE.
I can only begin to understand how this fits with God’s will for us and our mission. I’m left with so many questions without answers. Was this failure? Could we have done better, somehow? Why would God want to remove our Christ-centered presence from this country with a rising hostility to faith? What would happen to the remaining clients who depended on HOPE DRC services to keep their businesses afloat? Over its 13-year history, so many people had prayed for HOPE DRC—faithful church partners in the U.S., HOPE staff around the world, even my church home group. Why had God chosen to say “no”?
In the midst of these questions, I continue to hold to the words of Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I remain confident that this is God’s will, somehow. And though we do not see the full picture now, I can see glimpses of how God worked through HOPE’s time working in DRC:
- Over HOPE DRC’s 13-year history, approximately 125,000 different clients received loans. And even though HOPE could not continue to serve them, we believe that HOPE’s services provided a launching point for them to start businesses that we pray continue to flourish.
- Thousands of clients heard the Gospel, either for the first time or in a deeper way. We’ve seen clients give their lives to Christ, and we pray that the seeds planted by HOPE will continue to grow even while we’re gone.
- God used these experiences to touch so many HOPE staff throughout the years through their work with DRC, and we’re so grateful for everyone who traveled this journey with us.
- And above all else, we believe that the Congolese church partners that faithfully supported HOPE DRC will continue to serve their communities.
It has been a hard year. But I continue to hold on to hope that God is and always has been at work in DRC, and that His name and His Church will continue to live on long after the name “HOPE International” is forgotten.
Roger joined HOPE in September 2005 and serves as HOPE’s regional director for microfinance programs in Africa. Roger holds a degree in medical microbiology from Westminster Medical School in London, where he also completed his post-graduate studies. After switching to development, Roger completed the Microenterprise Development Institute at Southern New Hampshire University and IMA International’s Institute for Development Studies. Roger gained a diploma in company direction with the U.K. Institute of Directors and puts this to use frequently with HOPE’s country boards. Roger is a member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Brussels, Belgium, where he lives with his wife, Karen. His three sons live in London, England.