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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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For 51 weeks of the year, the front lobby of Willowdale Chapel’s Kennett Square campus is an airy space with cozy chairs and a café. But one Sunday each December, the room transforms into the HOPE Market—a vibrant, bustling marketplace operated by the church’s youngest entrepreneurs.

The wooden tables where people usually chat over coffee instead display greeting cards and candles, wooden clocks and mini-marshmallow shooters, all handcrafted by the children at Willowdale. With each sale, the kids work toward paying back the small loan they received from the church to make their item. Once that’s done, they give their profits to HOPE International. Last year, all their work totaled up to being a significant gift of $5,000.

“Part of our church’s vision is to love the world that Jesus is working to restore, and we wanted our youth to really learn what that means and to be a part of it,” says Jodi Byrne, who serves as a children’s ministry pastor at Willowdale Chapel, a church network in southeastern Pennsylvania that partners with HOPE.

The kids are invited to explore the role they play in that restoration during the three months leading up to the HOPE Market.

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This April marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, which claimed the lives of approximately 800,000 Rwandan men, women, and children. We join our brothers and sisters in mourning the traumatic events of those weeks, and as we witness reconciliation through our partner programs there, we thank God that brokenness is not the end of the story.

Please join us in praying for Rwanda in these six specific ways.

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Join us in praying that God heals their wounds, guards them from bitterness, and causes them to flourish even in the midst of deep pain. Pray that, instead of reliving the terror of those violent months, they would remember God’s deliverance and “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Pray that those who lost loved ones would be comforted in fresh ways this year.

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As they are once again reminded of the atrocities they committed, ask God to restore each one and soften their hearts. Pray that they would choose to embrace God’s forgiveness and move forward in obedience to God with full assurance of His love and acceptance.

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Lift up the women and children who lost husbands and parents in the violence. Pray also for women who contracted HIV/AIDS through sexual violence in that period and for children who have been orphaned by the disease. Pray that they will experience God’s provision and the healing power of Christ’s love.

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Pray that in each of Rwanda’s communities, the Church would be known as an instrument of peace, a champion of truth, and a protector of the defenseless. Pastor Joseph, one of HOPE’s partners in Gasharu, shares, “Even though we went through that traumatic experience, our people strongly believe that there is hope. There is hope that God is healing people’s hearts. And I’ve seen that our people have a sense of unity among themselves.”

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Praise God for the ministry of savings groups in Rwanda, and ask Him to continue using them to bring about profound change. As savings facilitator Christine Vuguziga explains, many people joined savings groups to improve their difficult financial situations, “but they also deeply needed community, forgiveness, and reconciliation. The Church believed that God would work through these small savings groups. And He has.” Watch “A Hope That Saves” to hear testimonies of this change.


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Thank God for rebuilding the nation in so many ways, and pray that the country’s leaders would promote equality, harmony, and justice for all people. Pray that the next generation of Rwandans would no longer see themselves in terms of ethnic differences, and ask God to renew each community in powerful ways.

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If you’d like to join with us in prayer more regularly, sign up for our monthly prayer update at www.hopeinternational.org/pray.

HOPE’s newest savings and credit association (SCA) groups in central Burundi are only a few months into their first cycle, and already group members are pooling their savings to start businesses and buy land together. Ryan Severns, HOPE’s microenterprise technical advisor in Burundi, gives us a video update from Karuzi Province, where our partnership with a local denomination is seeing fruit.

Songs of praise to God fill the air as I walk to church in Kigali, Rwanda, on Sunday morning. God has really blessed Africans with beautiful voices.

Going to church is always one of my favorite experiences during my visits to Rwanda. The joy of being in God’s presence as the community of God’s people, regardless of nationality, is evident in the singing and dancing around me. This joy is contagious. I can’t help but notice that I swing along with the rhythm of the congregation.

The day before, someone invited a friend and me to visit an orphanage that same Sunday, but I declined. Even though I’ve worked in development for many years, seeing children suffer is still just too overwhelming for me. As I connect with my friend after his visit, I can tell it was a moving experience for him. Honestly, I’m glad I did not go. Continue Reading…