Archives For Christianity

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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.

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“I train lots of people, freely, without asking any money,” Moise said, proudly smiling. “What I have, I give.”

Sitting on white plastic chairs at Moise’s home in the Republic of Congo, I looked out at the fields of newly sprouted cabbages as I mulled over Moise’s words. The grey sky overhead mirrored the heaviness of the conversation as Moise described his considerable challenges—his wife’s deteriorating health, the immense cost of her treatment, losing his loan repayment when a fellow group member left it behind in a taxi. And after this string of hardships, he was still willing to give of his time to train farmers in his community?

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by Luke Harbaugh, Church and Community Liaison

In just a few weeks, American schools will prepare to return from summer vacation. As a former public school teacher, I remember the anticipation of preparing to return to school.

In my two years of teaching in American public schools, I had many frustrations. There were the regular fights with the copier, the occasional disciplinary measures that needed to be handed out, the fear I experienced before my first parent-teacher conferences, and, of course, the hobgoblin of all new teachers: keeping law and order in a classroom full of middle schoolers. But even as I fought through the trials that all new teachers endure, one thought never crossed my mind: “What if I don’t get paid this week?”

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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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Fanny is taking a leap forward

Suddenly raising seven children

When Fanny’s sister passed away, leaving four children behind, the choice was clear—she had to adopt them. Already a single mother, Fanny suddenly found herself the sole provider for seven school-age children.

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As one of Malawi’s 2 million small-scale farmers, Fanny set her mind to working hard, knowing that her efforts meant nourishment for her children. She managed to meet her family’s basic needs but struggled to find money for school fees or even soap. “Some months, I wouldn’t have money at all,” she says.

When Fanny heard about savings groups forming at her church, she recalls, “I was the first to sign up.” Saving small amounts of money with her group, Fanny no longer needed to sell her own family’s food for extra cash. It was the boost she needed to leap forward.

Refusing to give up

When severe flooding in early 2015 rendered 230,000 Malawians homeless, Fanny’s crops and home were washed away. Despite the devastating loss, Fanny quickly moved in with her sister next door and used her savings to launch a side business selling used clothing. Even though she lost everything, she determinedly began to rebuild her home.

Less than a year after the floods, Fanny did something few in her community have been able to afford: she paid to install a water tap next to her home to help with irrigation and household chores.

“I can say this is my testimony,” Fanny says. “Before the savings group, I had no business of my own, and my children were suffering from hunger. But now, I am rebuilding my own house, and my goal is to see my children educated.”

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A place to belong

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Joining the savings group has not only provided financial stability for Fanny; it has brought her closer to God and to friends in her community.  An active member of her church, Fanny leads worship and visits those who are ill or grieving. Eager to give back, Fanny’s savings enable her to bring offerings to church—something she wasn’t able to do before.

Fanny’s savings group has given her a sense of belonging. “My challenges have grown less because I am supported,” she says. “My fellow group members encourage me and pray for me. … Since I joined the group, I’m a more joyful person.”

HOPE GIFT CATALOG

Help entrepreneurs leap forward!

Like Fanny, millions of men and women are bursting with skills and talents but lack access to the financial tools needed to leap forward along the path out of poverty. Choose items from HOPE’s gift catalog to play a role in helping families flourish!

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Free bracelet!

With your donation of $25 or more, you’ll receive a leather bracelet, hand-crafted by Rwandan entrepreneurs!*

*Bracelets are available while supplies last.