Archives For Congo

We set out for Brazzaville to visit the HOPE Congo microfinance program and for Kigali to work with the Rwanda Savings and Credit Association (SCA) program. Every trip presents a diverse set of important activities and opportunities, some planned and some unexpected. But for this visit, we set out with four clear goals:

  1. Observe and support the 5W’s implementation. Both HOPE Congo and the Rwanda SCA program are implementing the 5W’s structure for group meetings. This structure was pioneered by HOPE’s partner in the Philippines, the Center for Community Transformation. Its purpose was to deliver a clear, consistent group meeting where biblical truth is shared every time a group gathers and where the financial aspects of the meeting are handled as efficiently as possible. For those of you who haven’t seen this before, the 5W’s consist of:
    • Welcome – greet group members warmly in Jesus’ name
    • Worship – open the meeting in prayer and sing worship songs
    • Word – study the Scripture and provide time for group discussion
    • Work – conduct biblically based business training and financial transactions
    • Wrap-up – summarize key takeaways
  2. Deepen our partnerships with the local church. We scheduled meetings with key church leaders in each program. HOPE affirms the importance of the local church in God’s plan and wants to support and collaborate with the church wherever we work. Beyond this general affirmation, we must have clearly defined relationships in order to help seeking clients grow in Christ as disciples. This level of clarity is what we were pursuing with church leaders in each program. I will share more about our specific meetings in a separate post.
  3. Train field staff. In Brazzaville, our training was centered on identifying and finding solutions for the practical, operational challenges that loan officers face every day. These challenges include scheduling, tardy members, checklists, and reporting. You might wonder, “Why is the SI team getting involved in things like logistics?” Because it is often the practical, daily challenges that present the most persistent obstacles to a consistent witness for Christ. In Kigali, we helped lead a two-day staff retreat. The theme for SI was deepening our understanding and commitment to living as disciples and helping others become fully committed followers of Jesus.
  4. Strengthen relationships with the staff. These visits provide an important opportunity to build new relationships and deepen existing ones with our international and expatriate staff members. HOPE values relationships deeply, and nothing beats face-to-face time for really connecting at a heart level.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing some thoughts and reflections from my recent visit to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo and Kigali, Rwanda.  The trip was incredible for a variety of reasons.  God is transforming lives in amazing ways, and the teams in each program are doing a great job of steadily improving our spiritual integration (SI) efforts.  So please tune in over the coming days, as I share the most meaningful thoughts and impressions from the trip. 

Just as many were preparing for church Sunday morning, ammunition stockpiles exploded in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, collapsing buildings and killing or injuring thousands. Though official reports are much lower, our staff in-country report an estimated death toll of 600-700 or more, while thousands have been injured. Relief workers have been unable to thoroughly search for survivors amid the rubble because the blast scattered many unexploded devices that could remain volatile. HOPE operates in Brazzaville and six miles away in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where shockwaves from the blast remained strong enough to shatter windows. This morning we received an update from one of our staff members in Brazzaville, asking for continued prayer. Please join us in praying for our brothers and sisters in Congo.

We are very fortunate that all of our staff our safe after the explosions. With that said we are still trying to assess the impact on our clients. Please be in prayer for them as we can only assume that some have been injured or even killed. Homes and business have been destroyed. I would ask that you particularly pray for two of our staff members, our loan supervisor and our senior cashier. Our senior cashier’s home was completely destroyed on Sunday, and she is now living with her uncle. Our loan supervisor’s home also received extensive damage, and she is now living in a safer area for the time being. They both came to work yesterday just to see everyone. It was heartbreaking to see the look on their faces. You can just see the sorrow and sadness that is inside them. Their hearts are very heavy. This has no doubt impacted them emotionally. Please keep them in your prayers.

January 16, 2012, 3:34 EST – Brazzaville, Republic of Congo

Another great day in Brazzaville! We started the day at 8 a.m. at the HOPE Congo offices with morning devotions. I led the staff through morning devotions, studying Romans 5: 1-8.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I’ve repeatedly come back to this passage during my time at HOPE. It is so encouraging and poetic, and it puts our daily trials into a larger perspective. Later in the day, when our loan officer was leading his clients through devotions during a repayment meeting, I heard him allude to the Romans passage that we reviewed during staff devotions. Daily staff devotions are core to our mission at HOPE International: we must be spiritually fed as staff members if we are going to minister to our clients. Continue Reading…

Dave Wasik preaches at Rehoboth Church in CongoDave Wasik, HOPE’s vice president of operations, recently had the privilege of preaching at Rehoboth Church in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The following passage was excerpted from his sermon.

John 15:1-8
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

What are the parts of our lives that distract us from God? What are the idols in our lives that prevent us from giving our Savior our full attention? Do we have relationships in our lives that pull us away from God, rather than bringing us closer? I know I have some – my television, money, possessions like clothes and computers. This is a sinful tendency in my own life – I am so surrounded by “things” that I sometimes miss God’s voice in my life. Continue Reading…

Micademe

Micademe dreams of one day teaching economics, but in the meantime, she is getting practical, firsthand economic experience as an entrepreneur. A student at the Universite Marien Ngouambi de Brazzaville, she wakes early each morning to prepare traditional Congolese dishes to sell to her hungry classmates. Her HOPE Congo loan enabled her to purchase a bag of beans, tomatoes, salt, a box of fish, and a case of oil. She has appreciated HOPE’s trainings on managing cash flow and basic accounting. Her income pays her own university fees and also supports her younger sister.