Archives For chorst

Three months ago I started a journey, in monthly installments, to two fictional cities—Assetsville and Needsville—both cities representative of poor communities in Africa. While the issues, such as education, health care and sanitation, in these cities are identical, the responses to these issues could not be more different—both in philosophy and methodology.

“Is HOPE the solution for global poverty?” It is a question I am asked often, and the question which inspired the past few months’ musings. My answer to this question is a resounding no. I do not believe HOPE is the solution to global poverty. Christ-centered microfinance is wonderfully effective, but it is not a miracle cure. What I do believe is that the principles undergirding HOPE, and the work of the fantastic organizations I highlighted over the past few weeks, are the solution. Continue Reading…

My friend, Brian, recently returned from a missions trip to Kenya. He led a group of youth as they supported their Kenyan partner church ministry for two weeks. The Kenyan ministry’s focus was HIV positive mothers in its very poor slum community. They provided food, money, prayer and helped their children—demonstrating the love of Christ in word and deed. Brian and the youth group dove in. They spread the news of the church’s ministry into the neighboring communities.

A week into the trip, Brian had a stirring, even haunting, realization. This Kenyan ministry had become “the cocaine of its community.” He shared candidly with me that these mothers were completely dependent upon the charity, and indirectly on Brian’s church which funded it. Instead of working, these capable women would sit every day at the door of the charity, waiting for the free distributions. As a result, their children saw their moms time-and-again not as providers, but as placid receivers. Continue Reading…

I love online banking and e-commerce. I love the convenience of checking account balances, making transfers, and purchasing products in sweatpants from my living room. I’ve quickly become accustomed to the ease of doing business from home, although this luxury is unique to the past decade. It’s easy to forget that just ten years ago online banking was nothing but a dream.

Last month I visited HOPE’s work in the Dominican Republic. There, I had the privilege of meeting our clients, seeing their businesses and soaking in the culture of a country I have come to love. One of the questions I asked to a few of the community banks (groups of 15-30 clients) was “Why HOPE? Why did you choose to become a HOPE client?” Time and time again, in different communities throughout the country, our clients responded, “Because HOPE came to us.” Continue Reading…

It’s no longer good enough to kill two birds with one stone. We now require each stone to kill six birds. Case in point: While I’m not cool enough to own an iPhone, I have friends who are, and I am continually amazed at its diverse functionality. Mobile communication technology is an absolute marvel in itself, but it’s no longer enough for our phones to make and receive calls from anywhere in the world. Now we require them to provide email, directions, games, web browsing, news, stock trading, and blogging. Daily, the list expands. Are you pregnant and need to track your contractions? Now you can with the Birth Buddy app on your iPhone. You name it – “there’s an app for that.”

Microfinance isn’t just about making loans anymore. Traditional microfinance in and of itself is transformative, but the opportunities for innovation on the microfinance framework are boundless. Clean water is a serious issue around the world; globally, one in six people lack access. HOPE’s program in the Philippines pioneered an innovative, employment-based strategy to address this serious issue. In partnership with PepsiCo, they built a top-notch water purification system right in the branch office. Twenty of their clients took out loans to purchase the water in bulk. These water vendors then load up their bicycles with jugs of water and sell the water in some of the most-underserved communities in the city. Through this model, they collectively sell over 300,000 gallons of clean water annually. Sure, it’s wonderful that our clients in the Philippines can access financial services, but what about the dirty water they drink every day? Microfinance has an app for that. Continue Reading…

HELPING WITHOUT HURTING

I would like to share three caveats before coming back to these stories.
First, there are times when the only option is to give things away. In cases of war and famine, in refugee camps, for children who are on the brink of death—what these individuals need is food and medical assistance—and they need it fast, or they will die. I recognize that sometimes the best solution is to help by freely distributing stuff. What I’d like to encourage us all to do is to examine what the correct response could be and should be in situations where there are opportunities for long-term involvement and partnership.

Second, we need to examine our own hearts in how we view the poor. We need to abandon our tendencies to view ourselves as the great healers of the world and the poor as the sick who need us to heal them. We need to replicate what we saw in Christ, who came to earth as God incarnate to live among us, His creation. Not only did He choose to come to earth, but while here he purposefully chose to live around, party with, and minister to those in need. There is so much we can learn about ministering to the poor in his incarnation alone. Pastor, civil rights leader, and community developer John Perkins says it this way:

Without living among the [poor], without actually becoming one of the people, it is impossible to accurately identify the needs…an outsider can seldom know the needs of the community well enough to know how to best respond to them. Churches that respond most compassionately to the needy are those that have sent out from their own congregations people to live and walk and eat and breathe among the poor. Continue Reading…

GOOD INTENTIONS ARE NO LONGER ENOUGH

A friend and colleague of mine lived three years in Rwanda. There he became friends with a young man named Jano. Jano was vibrant and innovative and recognized there was an opportunity for him to start a business selling eggs in his community. So he bought chickens and began selling eggs. His business was successful and began growing rapidly. Jano also was growing in prominence and sought positive change in his community.

At the same time, a church in Georgia was in the midst of exploring helping the poor globally. They recognized they had a tremendous abundance of resources and wanted to help those in need. They knew of the hardships the country of Rwanda had endured in the late ‘90s, so they sent a church team to visit an orphanage there. While there, the church members got an up-close look at some devastating poverty. Their hearts broke for the children who were dying in the orphanage. They recognized there was a huge protein shortage in the orphanage, so they brought the stories of the children back to the church and asked the church to support a plan to help the country of Rwanda. Continue Reading…