Archives For Spiritual Integration

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.

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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.

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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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