Archives For Spiritual Integration

A savings group in Malawi

At HOPE International, we’re passionate about training. Because many clients have had limited access to formal education, HOPE’s network offers biblically based training, mentoring, and coaching to help clients grow spiritually and professionally.

In collaboration with Chalmers Center, HOPE recently developed RESTORE: Savings, a curriculum to guide church facilitators as they train and support savings groups. The curriculum includes 33 lessons on everything from how to organize group meetings to the importance of prayer.

Below, we’ve included Lesson 17 from the curriculum. Join HOPE network clients in learning about God’s heart for restoring relationships!


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Two years ago, I sat in a small classroom in western India, women crowding around me on mats on the floor. While I couldn’t understand a word of the songs they were singing, their joy in worshipping together was evident. After worship, their leader, Nirmitee*, taught the group from a passage in the Bible.

Because I was there to gather stories, the women shared changes they’ve seen in their lives since they began saving money together: family members released from alcoholism, women freed from the trap of moneylenders, community strengthened through meeting regularly with one another. As the women shared, Nirmitee encouraged and affirmed them, adding details and clearly caring for each member.

Nirmitee’s interaction with her group was evidence of the emphasis HOPE’s local partner places on discipleship at every level—with staff, volunteers, and clients.

Her example also reminds me of some of my favorite verses in the Bible, where Jesus “had compassion on” those around Him. I love that the God of the universe felt compassion—and that this compassion led to action. Immediately following these words, we see Jesus feeding the hungry, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, and teaching the shepherdless.

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Reposted from www.peterkgreer.com

This week is the 75th birthday of Muhammad Yunus, the inspiring leader who asked a question which struck at the root of a paternalistic approach to poverty alleviation: Why do for people what they’re capable of doing for themselves?

This question served as the basis of Yunus’ groundbreaking work in the 1970s as he founded the Grameen Bank; pioneered the modern microfinance movement; and garnered some impressive recognition, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Nobel Peace Prize.

Hundreds of thousands (myself included) have been inspired by the model of microfinance and signed up to help unleash women’s and men’s creativity around the world.

But recently there have been articles and thoughtful research projects critiquing this tool. Does this recent criticism undermine the microfinance movement? Does it unravel all that Yunus envisioned and that many of us have worked to implement?

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Francia

by Annie Rose Ansley, HOPE Trips Liaison

It’s Thursday morning, and Francia walks down the dirt road to the building that serves as a church and elementary school in her community. The one-room building in Los Mella, Dominican Republic, is also the site of the repayment meetings for Francia’s community bank. This group of 15 women meets biweekly to worship God, learn business and life skills, and repay the small loans they receive through Esperanza International, HOPE’s partner in the D.R.

Francia didn’t know Jesus before joining her community bank several years ago. Now, she is responsible for leading her group in prayer, worship, and sharing the Word, and her strong faith clearly shines through. Despite being the most petite woman in her group, Francia stands tall and speaks with strength. She shares a personal testimony about answered prayer in her life—a time when she was robbed and, after fervent prayer, ultimately got back what had been stolen from her. Francia urges the women to trust God, and at one point she holds up her Bible and proclaims, “THIS is what’s real.”

Later on in the meeting, during the loan collection process, one bank member doesn’t have the money to repay her portion of the loan. Following the group solidarity model, the women have cross-guaranteed each other’s loans, meaning they are responsible to cover for the missing money. This is a vital element of community banks, building solidarity and providing clients access to loans even though they don’t have traditional collateral. But it can sometimes bring challenges. Today, for example, no one seems to have the extra money to pay the other woman’s amount.

Five minutes of hesitation pass, and a couple group members get frustrated. 10 minutes pass, and heated discussions break out. 15 minutes pass, and still no one volunteers. Suddenly, Francia stands up.

“Ladies, we need to pray.”

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Prayer at HOPE

by Claire Stewart, Executive Assistant

One year ago

I watched the clock as the seconds ticked by … 9:36 a.m. … 9:42 a.m. … 9:55 a.m. … Emerging from my cramped intern cubicle, I entered the conference room next door. Outside, the bustle of the city matched the nervous energy pulsing through my body.

Two sheets of paper lay on the table, covered in highlighting, arrows, and scribbles: “project management example,” “story of failure,” “phone skills,” “why I’m a good fit.” I spread the pages in front of me and situated myself facing away from the hallway. Straightened my blazer. Cleared my throat. Waited.

Finally, my phone rang. “This is it,” I thought. “BE PROFESSIONAL.”

“Hello, this is Claire.”

“Hi, Claire! This is Anna. How are you today?”

“I’m doing well. How are you?”

“I’m well! Hey—before we dive into my questions, may I pray for us?”

Oh yeah. Prayer. Asking God to enter into the decision process. Had I done that yet this morning? Of course I was approaching this opportunity prayerfully—but had I actually prayed? As Anna—who was about to interview me for a position at HOPE International—lifted up our conversation to the Lord, my tense shoulders relaxed and the anxious knot in my stomach loosened.

Little did I know this simple act was an informal initiation into a posture of prayer that is the core of HOPE’s workplace culture.

Today

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What is the most significant change members experience while participating in their savings group? HOPE’s partner in Zimbabwe, Central Baptist Church, recently asked 120 members this question. Through drawings and testimonies, members shared stories of strengthened community, deepened faith, and greater provision. We’ve included just a few of their responses below.

Merina found living water

I have been blessed through the savings group. I have found living water. I have learned the reality of Psalm 1:1-6 in my life, and even in trials I will persevere knowing I have recourse and resource in Him.

Merina

Makina learned to value relationships

I have learned the value of being in relationships with others and valuing them in the relationships.

Makina

Gogo Mutandiko now views herself as a steward

Gogo (grandma) Mutandiko says her group taught her not only the value of saving money but also that everything we have comes from the Lord. She saw that the land around her house was lying idle, so she used the space to plant vegetables.

I have planted a garden at my place. I now relate with creation as a steward, and it has helped me a great deal because I save money I used to spend on veggies. And I sometimes earn from the sales of the produce.

Gogo Mutandiko

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