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In 2017, through our blog, we’ve shared a few of the stories of the men and women we serve worldwide, along with insights into our work and the communities where we serve. We hope that you’ve been encouraged, challenged, and inspired in your own life to grow in faith and service to the Kingdom. In case you missed any of these popular blog posts, here are the most-read posts from 2017. Continue Reading…

When I think about some of the most meaningful moments from Christmases past, it occurs to me that most of them involve music. Whether it be putting up garlands to the rich tones of the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers, whispering the melody of “Silent Night” at the end of a Christmas Eve candlelight service, or cajoling my sister into playing duets from our old Christmas piano recitals, there’s something about music that can make even the simplest moment sacred, that can tell a story more powerfully than speech, that can bring splendor and wonder and awe and joy.

So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that when the Lord wanted people to know about the birth of His son, He sent a choir.

This year, as Christmas nears, I’m expanding my holiday playlist. Friends from across the HOPE network took a moment to share the songs—both reverent and lighthearted—that they most enjoy, and their recommendations helped create this special HOPE Christmas playlist.

Please join me—and HOPE’s partners, clients, and staff around the world—in celebrating the coming of the Newborn King!

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When I was young, my parents taught me to manage my money with three envelopes: 50 percent went into the “save” envelope, 40 percent into “spend,” and 10 percent for “tithe.” I remember receiving a $1 allowance, which meant 10 cents went to church every week. But instead of breaking my dollar bill, I would often collect loose change for my tithe. Ever the money-conscious child, I felt proud when I could find 10 pennies for the offering plate. Yikes.

While this memory makes me laugh, I am convicted that at times, I still give out of practicality or convenience rather than generosity. When it comes to giving, it’s much easier for me to be dutiful (for instance, calculating and tithing exactly 10 percent of my income) than openhanded and surrendered (knowing that God could ask me for anything, since all of my resources are His to begin with).

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An unlikely blend of skills and passions

“Wow, those two majors really don’t make sense together!”

That’s the response Mikhal Szabo came to expect whenever she told new acquaintances she was double majoring in accounting and French. Her interest in languages, culture, anthropology, and international studies didn’t seem to mesh with the risk-averse accountant stereotype, but she followed her passions anyway.

As she went on to earn her MBA in international economic development after a few years in private accounting, Mikhal learned about microfinance and, ultimately, about HOPE International. She was impressed both by HOPE’s holistic approach to poverty alleviation and their openness to learning. As part of her graduate work, she served as a finance intern with HOPE in the French-speaking Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Suddenly, Mikhal’s seemingly unlikely double majors made sense. A lot of sense. In fact, her rare blend of language, finance, and intercultural skills was exactly what HOPE needed. Continue Reading…

By Blake Mankin, Houston Regional Representative

Since becoming a fundraiser for HOPE International nearly a year ago, I’ve learned that a core component of our fundraising philosophy is prioritizing relationships over transactions. The essence of this value is investing in people out of genuine love for them, not based on what they can do for us. And you don’t have to be a fundraiser or HOPE donor to have this Christ-like, missional ethic in your life.

Simply defined, a missional relationship is a partnership of equals—individuals teaming up to make an impact in the world as they spur each other on to be more like Christ. With this shared goal, our posture is one of invitation to those around us, offering each person the opportunity to dive deeper into who God is calling them to be.

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by Christine Baingana, CEO of Urwego Bank

As the CEO of Urwego Bank, the largest microfinance institution in the HOPE network—and in the country of Rwanda—Christine Baingana shares what she’s learning about leadership while leading a team of over 300 staff.

I first learned of HOPE International after reconnecting with Peter Greer, HOPE’s president and CEO, while I was in graduate school. I had met Peter in the early 2000s while I was working for a large commercial bank in my home country of Rwanda and he was serving as the managing director of Urwego Bank. As we reconnected, Peter shared about the work he was doing through HOPE International—and asked if I wanted to join him.

In 2010, I joined the HOPE International team as the savings and credit association (SCA) specialist, later going on to serve as the Africa SCA regional director. When HOPE became a majority stakeholder in Urwego Bank in 2016, I was asked to step into the role of CEO. Having been on the board for several years, I knew that this would be a challenging time to lead the organization. I felt unqualified to lead such a large team through such a major transition.

But as I sought counsel from others, they reminded me to think of those Urwego could serve, men and women who have not had many of the privileges and advantages that I have. As I took my eyes off of myself and focused on them, I chose to say yes to this opportunity. It’s exciting to know we are changing lives for the Kingdom, that men and women who come to Urwego for a small loan, or to find a safe place to save, will have the opportunity to overcome poverty and experience a closer relationship with the Lord and their community members.

Here are five of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned on this leadership journey:

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