Archives For Spiritual Integration

^8CD2942A227C7B4E8B4CC1281345D29CDEEFF607A1EED01D5F^pimgpsh_fullsize_distr

by Luke Harbaugh, HOPE Church Representative

In March, the Church has the opportunity to celebrate the season of Lent—a solemn and wonderful time of preparation for Easter. In the early church, Lent was a season when new converts were instructed in the basics of the Christian faith in preparation for baptism on Easter Sunday. Even today, it is a time set aside for self-examination and repentance as we ponder what it means to live as both a crucified and resurrected people.

I grew up in a church tradition that didn’t observe Lent. In fact, I attended my first Ash Wednesday service during my first year of seminary. I still remember the first time one of our chaplains imparted the ashes on my forehead and said to me those traditional Ash Wednesday words: “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” Since then, Ash Wednesday has served as a yearly summons for me to take serious inventory of my life in light of my own mortality.

In a pastoral care class in seminary, we had to write our own eulogies. And the content—especially our causes of death—were diverse. Some chose to die as martyrs, others from natural causes, while one student met his end by way of a flock of angry ducks! This exercise challenged us with a weighty question: What will be said of your life once it’s over?

In 40/40 Vision, HOPE President Peter Greer comments on a similar exercise, saying,

Perhaps unsurprisingly, my eulogy had nothing to do with the things on my resume, nothing about my jobs or titles. It had everything to do with people, with issues of faith and love, and with gratitude to God and others. … That exercise allowed me to see the stark contrast between eulogy virtues and resume virtues.

The apostle Paul was getting at a similar shift in thinking when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

At HOPE, we talk a lot about how work is part of God’s design for mankind to flourish, but at the same time, that work is not what defines us. May we always remember that living “by faith in the Son of God” doesn’t necessarily make for an impressive LinkedIn profile. Acts of love, service, and self-sacrifice in response to the Gospel rarely make headlines or add more plaques to the wall.

That’s why Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:24-25)

So this Lenten season, I encourage you to ask yourselves a similar question: “In light of my own mortality, and in anticipation of eternity, what will my eulogy say?” Will it be full of “resume virtues”—my occupation, my degrees, my achievements, and my net worth—or will the words that summarize my life be full of Gospel virtues: where I denied myself, took up my cross to follow Jesus, and found flourishing in Him?

Because despite what we may lose for the sake of finding Christ, we find true life in Him.

Are you looking for more devotional content for this year’s Lenten season and beyond? Check out our prayer videos for Rwanda and Ukraine, or download 100 Days of Hope, a devotional written by HOPE staff, partners, and supporters.

Harbaugh-LukeLuke Harbaugh has served with HOPE since 2015. Luke is a former pastor and a graduate of Millersville University and Duke University Divinity School. He currently lives in Mountville, PA, and has a passion for preaching, missions, Duke basketball, and playing golf.

 

HOPE is blessed to work closely with U.S.-based churches like Life.Church to help families flourish around the world. Since 2012, Life.Church has partnered with HOPE through prayer, financial giving, and sharing HOPE’s 100 Days of Hope devotional with thousands through their YouVersion app. HOPE and Life.Church also work together to share the Gospel and reduce vulnerability to human trafficking in Central India. In 2016, representatives from five Life.Church campuses witnessed firsthand how Indian savings group members are together building financial stability and overcoming isolation and lack of awareness.

Jeff Galley, Life.Church’s central group leader for LifeGroups and missions, shares more about the evolution of their missions strategy and what he learned in India about desperation, dignity, and the growth of the Church.

Read more about the incredible Indian families Jeff met in his blog post here

Group

by Chris McCurdy, Former Field Communications Fellow in Zambia

Throughout the course of my time in Zambia, the word that best describes this ministry is “enthusiastic.” Everyone involved with the new Zambia savings and credit association (SCA) ministry is doing their part to advance the Kingdom. This excitement extends from the head office in the capital city of Lusaka all the way to each SCA member within the rural communities we serve. I would like to share just a few short stories of the different types of transformation we’ve seen over the last few months.

Spiritually: Mwilu Sharon

Mwilu

Since joining her savings group, Mwilu shared with me that she has felt a powerful conviction to give back to God, because before it had been difficult to tithe the little she had. She told me:

God is the giver and the help. He is my refuge and is always there for me.

Mwilu said that the spiritual discipline of tithing has been challenging but also rewarding. When she first joined the group, she was only able to save two shares. However, after a few Sundays of tithing, she noticed her cosmetic business was seeing growth and contributed more to her savings group. In just three months’ time, Mwilu went from two shares to five. She gives God the full glory for each increase and shared that her group has been a huge blessing. “When we come, we sing and share devotions. I have a bigger community now.” Continue Reading…

IMG_8093

“I train lots of people, freely, without asking any money,” Moise said, proudly smiling. “What I have, I give.”

Sitting on white plastic chairs at Moise’s home in the Republic of Congo, I looked out at the fields of newly sprouted cabbages as I mulled over Moise’s words. The grey sky overhead mirrored the heaviness of the conversation as Moise described his considerable challenges—his wife’s deteriorating health, the immense cost of her treatment, losing his loan repayment when a fellow group member left it behind in a taxi. And after this string of hardships, he was still willing to give of his time to train farmers in his community?

Continue Reading…

Life.church 2

Jeff Galley serves as central group leader for LifeGroups and missions at Life.Church in Oklahoma City, OK. He and a team from Life.Church recently traveled to India to visit HOPE’s local partner, who is helping to equip churches and underserved communities through savings groups, and to visit Tearfund. In this blog excerpt, he shares about the people he met and what he learned from them about human trafficking. Read the full post on his blog.

Observers estimate there are more than 20 million slaves in India and that one new person is trafficked into slavery every 10 minutes. Some slaves are forced to do manual labor as a house servant or doing hard, backbreaking labor. Some are forced into prostitution. Trafficking isn’t just a problem in India. It’s a global issue, even in my own city.

Continue Reading…

haiti 4-edit

by Jess Bauer, California Development Intern

Last summer, I spent three months in Haiti learning about poverty in a hands-on and often heart-wrenching way. I listened to the stories of new friends and experienced the heartbreaking reality of material poverty.

One afternoon, I met an elderly man in Leveque, a village where families resettled after their homes were destroyed by the 2010 earthquake. A relief agency had distributed blue tarps to Leveque after the earthquake to be used as a temporary shelter. The tarps were designed for only a few months of inhabitance—any longer and the extreme heat could cause eye damage. After living in his tarp home for five years, this man was completely blind.

Continue Reading…