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by Annie Rose Ansley, HOPE Trips Liaison

This blog post was originally posted on Esperanza International’s blog.

I like to be independent. I like to accomplish and improve things without relying on or waiting for anyone else. Anyone with me?

0P7A8134Yet here in the Dominican Republic, microfinance groups with HOPE’s partner, Esperanza International, are opening my eyes to the beauty and paradoxical freedom of dependence. Forming a group is the first requirement to taking out a small loan with Esperanza. If an individual cannot repay their loan for any reason, the responsibility lands with the group. This system may sound scary, but it works. Social collateral—neighbors and friends—can be a very powerful guarantee. Members of solidarity groups live in small, close-knit communities, which positively influence each member to repay.

But, of course, there are times when someone is unable to pay back. I have been at many meetings where one client readily covers the meeting’s loan payment for another. Likewise, I have seen these advances repaid time and again. These examples of community dependence are a slice of humble pie for my spirit of skepticism and self-reliance. Continue Reading…

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by Grace Engard, Graphic Designer

“None of this was here a few years ago.”

This phrase and variations of it would be repeated again and again during the six days I was in Ukraine. This particular time, my group stood in the center of a small mountain town called Khust in western Ukraine. Down the middle of the cobblestone street, a perfect line of trees dotted a strip of lush green grass. Wooden benches lined either side of the strip, and ornate lampposts towered above. As the afternoon sun filtered in, I imagined the otherwise drab, gray street without the grass and decorations—the way it would have looked only a few years ago.

Ukraine has had a turbulent history, being divided and conquered by various countries for centuries. As a post-Soviet nation, Ukraine’s economy has struggled under the weight of corruption and conflict since the early 1990’s. Even after much economic improvement starting in 2000, the country’s GDP plummeted once again in 2014 following the civil unrest and later conflict in eastern Ukraine. Still today, jobs are scarce, uncertainty runs high, and the average Ukrainian lives on only about $240 per month.

And yet … Continue Reading…

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

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by Lauren Sheard, HOPE Burundi Program Manager

Two years ago, soon after I first moved to Burundi, I was chatting with another expatriate I’d just met. Explaining what I do, I described the basic premise of HOPE International’s savings group ministry, how rather than giving out money or goods directly like a traditional charity we’re teaching people how to save their own money to make a difference in their families and communities. I was pleased with my elevator speech but was caught off guard when the expatriate and his Burundian friend laughed! “This is Burundi,” they said. “That sort of thing can’t possibly make a difference. People don’t have anything, and you’re trying to teach them to save? Maybe in a few decades when the country is better off.” And at that, the conversation ended with another laugh and a sarcastic “good luck!”

I am not one to be offended easily, but in that moment I felt rather indignant. Not only is it rude to laugh at what I just said I do and believe in, but to so easily brush off even the thought that Burundians could have skills and abilities to help themselves was discouraging to me. Continue Reading…

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In 2016, HOPE International had the great privilege of walking alongside more than 950,000 families around the world! Through our blog, we’ve shared a few their stories, 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 top five most read posts from 2016.

What makes Anita smile?

What the saddest people in the world look like

March 14, 2016 – Is Burundi the saddest country in the world? Lauren Sheard, HOPE Burundi’s program manager, wrote about a different, more hopeful Burundi, quoting HOPE savings members who share why they smile despite living in challenging circumstances. Learn why

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“I have a calling”

May 18, 2016 – Each year, we celebrate clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing Thurman Award winners. 2016’s winner, Beatrice Bamurange, shares her story of calling and service to Rwandan families living in poverty. Watch her story

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How to help in Haiti right now

October 7, 2016 – On October 4, Hurricane Matthew slammed into the southwestern region of Haiti. We invited you then to consider how you could help bring assistance to Haitian families, and we ask you to join us in lifting up the people of Haiti through these prayer requests that are still relevant today. Pray for Haiti

File_004I took my teaching job—and paycheck—for granted

August 10, 2016 – After Luke Harbaugh, HOPE’s church and community liaison, met Rosemarie, a HOPE Haiti savings member, he had to consider the question, “What if I don’t get paid this week?” Read his reflection

IMG_4691Five ways to rethink your short-term missions trip

July 28, 2016 – HOPE Trips are distinct from what many might think of the typical missions trip to be. Annie Rose Ansley, our HOPE Trips liaison, shared five ways to set up short-term missions trips that are positive and powerful experiences. Learn more

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by Haley Smith, Regional Representative

When I was young giving didn’t necessarily come naturally—but finding ways to make money did.

At the age of six, my first business was the classic lemonade stand. I made the lemonade, painted a traffic-stopping sign, and set up a table. As the minutes ticked by without a single cup sold, I started to get impatient. Unready to surrender my losses, I determinedly went door to door, and, to my surprise, I sold every last cup.

For me, this was a turning point. I had earned something on my own, and now it was up to me to decide what to do with it. Recognizing this new passion, my parents began to talk with me about managing my own money.

They wanted to know how I would use my newfound income. Did I want to save any of it? Did I want to give any of it away? I wanted to give—but I also really wanted the new Boyz II Men cassette tape. It was going to be a tough call.

Over time, my desire to keep what was mine slowly shifted as I watched how freely my parents shared what they had. They gave out of a love for God and gratitude for what He had given them. We had many conversations about why they chose to tithe to our church but to also invest in the needs of others. These conversations helped form my understanding of stewardship and my responsibility to give.

Honest and transparent conversations are necessary if we want our kids to grow up with healthy, wise, and generous perspectives on what we have each been given.

So where do you start? Here are some simple steps parents can take to instill a passion for generosity in your children:

  • Show children and teenagers how you give. Too often, giving is a family secret. But by showing your kids how you give, children can catch the vision for generosity and the causes you are passionate about.
  • Read Watching Seeds Grow by Peter Greer and Keith Greer. On a trip to Rwanda, 8-year-old Keith had his eyes opened to the stories of entrepreneurs, starting a family journey to learn financial literacy at a young age.
  • Match your kids’ giving. When parents match their children’s giving, parents begin to understand what touches their children’s hearts, and children discover that parents also value those causes.
  • Give from HOPE’s gift catalog this Christmas. Transform gift-giving into a teachable moment by purchasing items that represent tools used by families living in poverty in honor of your loved ones.

Smith-Haley Born and raised in East Texas, Haley Smith is a graduate of Baylor University and Fuller Theological Seminary with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in theology and ministry. Now fully converted to the beauty of the West Coast, Haley serves as the regional representative for HOPE International in Los Angeles, Arizona, and Nevada. Her role is to gather people around the mission of HOPE who desire to see entire communities flourish through the blessing of good work.