Archives For Staff / Travels

By Dan Williams, Director of Spiritual Integration

A seven-week series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

The flight attendant came on the intercom announcing our final descent into Rwanda. Giving up on my attempt to nap, I began gathering my things in preparation for landing, ensuring that my seatback was in the upright position, my tray table stowed, and my carry-on under the seat in front of me. Fully prepared for landing, I noticed my row companion taking out his earbuds, so I began conversing with him for the first time. An eager short-term mission trip participant, this was his first visit to Rwanda.

“What brings you to Rwanda?” he asked.

“I work for a microenterprise development network called HOPE International,” I told him. “We have two programs here in Rwanda.”

Somewhat familiar with microfinance, he was intrigued, recalling prior reading about how access to small loans and a safe place to save can be transformational for families living in poverty. He’d even heard of HOPE. “What do you do for HOPE International?” he asked.

Despite knowing the reaction I often get when I describe my role, I risked honesty. “I’m the director of spiritual integration,” I told him.

Continue Reading…

Unity Savings Group, Malawi

By Kevin Tordoff, Vice President of Marketing

I recently found myself in Malawi, known colloquially as the Warm Heart of Africa. Driving into a southern community, we stopped by the side of the road by Nixon, a volunteer church facilitator for savings groups. Nixon has been serving in this role for the past four years—almost since HOPE Malawi’s inception. Riding his trusty bicycle, Nixon weaved his way through the dusty dirt roads, guiding us to the home where the savings group meeting was held.

Like many savings groups around the HOPE International network, the Mgwirizano (“unity”) savings group is comprised of 14 multi-generational members. As the meeting began, they enthusiastically shared how the loans from their pooled savings had allowed them to build and repair their homes, how goats had been purchased for breeding and other productive purposes. Their hard work farming small plots of land and selling the produce at market enabled the members to have the funds needed to pay back any loans disbursed from the group’s savings.

Leading HOPE’s marketing department for over a decade, these stories had begun to feel standard—I’d read and heard countless stories like the one the group shared, and I’d even had the opportunity to visit savings groups in the past that looked very similar to this one.

But then, a young man, Samson, from the group arose and directed an unexpected question at me: “Where have you been, HOPE?”

Continue Reading…

By Adrienne D’Orsie, Office Manager

Eight years ago, I was in my 20s and living as a missionary overseas. I served in many different ministries, from leading summer youth camps and encouraging churches (through tambourine dances, no less!) to building houses and discipling young women.

There was a purpose in each thing I did: to show the amazing love of God. But after a year or two in each new ministry, I’d begin to grow weary. I kept asking myself, “What lasting change is happening here?” Continue Reading…

Susan Jones was skilled, capable, and motivated—yet, month after month, she struggled to find a job following her college graduation.

“I was born blind,” she explains. “It’s not easy; … [when I graduated in the 70s,] not that many people [were] willing to give a blind person a job.” Continue Reading…

Since 2009, HOPE has partnered with local churches and ministries in Haiti to develop a savings group program. In this video update, you’ll hear about three ways HOPE Haiti continues to expand today, equipping men and women with the tools they need to fight poverty:

As we rejoice in the ways that God is at work, we also invite you to join Manoucheka, a HOPE savings group member in Haiti, as she leads in praying the Lord’s Prayer.

by Luke Harbaugh, HOPE Church Representative

It’s tempting to idealize a life of isolation. The fiction of total independence, full autonomy, and little to no social accountability can sound appealing. However, Genesis 2:18 reminds us “it is not good for a man to be alone,” and we also learn from Genesis that God created us to function as social creatures, living in relationship with Him and in community with others. When we embrace a life of isolation, we are denying a key piece of our design as humans, but when we embrace community, we come alive more fully.

I got to personally witness the healing power of community when I visited Ishaan and his sister Darsha in South Asia last year.* Ishaan used to live a pretty normal life—he was funny, kind, and well-liked by those who knew him. But one day he started to get sick—and this sickness went beyond physical symptoms. His personality seemed to change.

He stopped eating, and he would barely drink. There were also violent outbursts and anger. Where he once used kind words, there was now profanity and insults. He would cry out randomly, and he would snarl and flail wildly. Completely out of character, Ishaan also stopped working. Continue Reading…