Archives For reconciliation

haiti 4-edit

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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Evaristi and his wife are raising three children together, sharing faith in Christ and mutual respect for each other. But it wasn’t always this way. “I used to have conflicts with my wife,” remembers Evaristi. “Then with the help of the [savings] group, I became humble and reconciled with my wife. Now we live in peace as a happy family.”

To provide for their family, Evaristi has always performed many small jobs around his home in rural Rwanda, digging for other people and lifting heavy loads. But often, with this unpredictable income, Evaristi would ask neighbors to help his family make ends meet. This led him to often feel helpless, and he gained a reputation in the community as an angry man with a bent toward violence. Continue Reading…

Each year, we celebrate clients who demonstrate HOPE’s values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing Thurman Award winners. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO and his wife, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. We’re excited to share the story of this year’s honorable mention from Latin America: Eduviges Cruz.

Before Eduviges Cruz opened her business, there were no convenience stores in her neighborhood. Seeing the opportunity to develop a business that would meet her community’s everyday needs, Eduviges used loans from HOPE’s partner in the Dominican Republic, Esperanza International, to start her convenience store, which has grown to include a wide variety of groceries and household items.

With the store’s profits, she and her husband bought a piece of land and built their own home. She relishes that she now has the means to buy shoes and school supplies for her children. “Everything changes … when you start to work,” Eduviges says. This is a statement she firmly believes, and she’s encouraging others to join Esperanza and start their own businesses.

And it’s not just the access to capital and training that Eduviges appreciates. Through Esperanza’s group repayment meetings, she also heard the Gospel, accepting Christ’s love for the first time. Later, through her witness, her husband also came to know the Lord, beginning a new season of healing and reconciliation in their marriage. Eduviges testifies that God “has turned my wailing into dancing. He’s clothed me with joy. I know what I’m talking about, because I went through some pretty difficult situations. And that’s why I say that God’s turned my wailing into dancing.”

Celestin, his wife, Gaudance, and their eight children (three pictured above) live in the hills surrounding Gasharu, Rwanda. They beam with joy as they welcome guests to their home, proudly presenting produce from their farm and the squealing piglets and livestock they raise. A few years ago, such a welcome would have been impossible.

“We were poor on the outside, but also on the inside, because poverty starts in the heart,” says Celestin. For many years he struggled with alcoholism, using the little money his family had in bars and brothels. Feeling abandoned and angry because of her husband’s unfaithfulness, Gaudance also turned to alcohol. She remembers, “My heart was full of sorrow. I couldn’t help my children. … Sometimes I would go into the bars to fight with those prostitutes. But all those things brought only more conflict and poverty.” Continue Reading…

During business training in Malawi, Country Director Douglas Kulaisi was teaching a session on reconciliation.

Douglas Kulaisi

His question to group leaders: “Do Christian couples experience conflict?”

Malawian women

Women: No.
Men: Yes.
Women: It’s men that bring conflict.
Men: No, it’s not. We forgive first.
Women: Men never say “I’m sorry.”

Malawian men group leaders laughing

Some things never change. Whether in the U.S. or rural Malawi, relationships are messy.

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“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

It’s been eight months since I’ve returned home from Rwanda, and one impression from the trip keeps coming back to me: Satan has never felt more real to me than he did in Rwanda. It wasn’t because the people I met seemed evil. On the contrary, it was because they were welcoming and wonderful, and without the influence of Satan, I can’t imagine how 18 years ago, these incredible people could have spent 100 days engaged in a gruesome slaughter of their neighbors, friends, and families. Continue Reading…