Archives For jheisey

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

It’s been eight months since I’ve returned home from Rwanda, and one impression from the trip keeps coming back to me: Satan has never felt more real to me than he did in Rwanda. It wasn’t because the people I met seemed evil. On the contrary, it was because they were welcoming and wonderful, and without the influence of Satan, I can’t imagine how 18 years ago, these incredible people could have spent 100 days engaged in a gruesome slaughter of their neighbors, friends, and families. Continue Reading…

Block by block, Aleyda Torres Constanzo built her Christian school “Light of the Future” in the community of La Romana, Dominican Republic. Progress was slow and measured, but destruction was unhesitating when Hurricane George tore it down in 1998, just two years into the school’s operations. Aleyda’s students finished the school year in a classroom covered by a tarp. “Parents didn’t let that deter them from sending their children here,” she explains. On the contrary, “What they saw was the quality of education and the determination that we had.”

Government schools in the Dominican Republic are notoriously underfunded and inadequate, and even in the poorest communities, many parents will sacrifice a significant portion of their limited income to ensure a good education for their children. In La Romana, Aleyda’s school has grown rapidly, from just 40 students in 1996 to over 230 this time last year. To ease overcrowded classrooms and meet the demand for continued growth, Aleyda sought a loan from HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic, Esperanza International, to build additional classroom space. With funding through a partnership with Edify—a nonprofit dedicated to providing small-business loans to low-cost, sustainable Christian schools—Esperanza was able to fulfill her loan request for $2,600, well above their average community bank loan of $315. Continue Reading…

I think I was 11 the first time my family went on a mission trip. We went deep into the hills of Appalachia: to parts of this country that it’s hard to believe exist. I tagged along with a group that included professional contractors and talented electricians and plumbers, helping out where I could to work alongside a family in making significant repairs to their home. They lived in a pop-up camper with several additions made with great necessity but limited skill. Sewage flowed directly underneath their home, and the family’s living conditions were shocking to a kid who thought most people lived a lot like she did.

One of my clearest memories from this trip is of our group facilitator telling us matter-of -factly before we arrived that this family had a swimming pool. To brace us for the dissonance, he explained that the family lived on extremely limited income and hadn’t been able to give their children much, but this pool was something they had saved to afford. We might have seen it as an odd or even irresponsible use of limited funds, but psychologically, this pool—and being able to afford it—meant a lot to the family. The facilitator didn’t phrase it this way, but I think his underlying message was, “Try not to judge what you can’t understand.” Continue Reading…

During the Rwandan genocide, some estimate that more people were killed in churches than anywhere else. Seventeen years later, HOPE’s savings groups are helping families who lost faith in the Church rediscover faith in God.

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I’ve worked with HOPE over five years now, and one of my favorite parts of my job has always been writing clients’ stories. Hearing of school fees paid, families fed, and hearts transformed by Jesus’ love never gets old for me. In reading and writing these stories, I feel connected to HOPE’s clients … but this past week I had the immense privilege of traveling to Rwanda for the first time to connect with our clients face to face.

On my second day of client meetings, I sat in a simple brick church with one of HOPE’s saving circles, marveling at God’s goodness as one woman after another rose to recount her testimony. As each shared, the others clapped or interjected “Praise the Lord!” or “Amen!” As an afternoon storm blew in, I feared our time would be cut short, but the women raised their voices to be heard over the deafening rain. They refused to be drowned out, as they praised God for setting them free from adultery, alcoholism, and unforgiveness. Continue Reading…