Archives For spiritual integration

Keeping Christ central

A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

It happens all the time. I have the privilege of meeting someone new, and some version of the following conversation occurs.

Me: “Hi, my name is Matthew.”
New Friend: “Hi, Matthew, my name is _______________.” Various types of small talk take place, inevitably leading to: “What do you do for a living?”
Me: “I serve as director of spiritual integration at HOPE International.”
New Friend: Brow furrows, eyes begin to squint, and head tilts a few degrees to the left (I’m not sure why it’s usually left). “Um, so what does that actually mean?”

With few exceptions, introducing the concept of spiritual integration (S.I.) at HOPE to someone new to the organization elicits both confusion and curiosity. This is understandable, since “spiritual integration” is not a department or function in most organizations. Additionally, our western culture naturally divides life into sacred vs. secular activities or physical vs. spiritual realities. This makes the idea of spiritual integration somewhat foreign and potentially counter-intuitive.

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Each month, HOPE’s human resources team puts together learning updates for staff members’ professional development. Wendy-anne Durika, benefits and policies specialist, introduced this month’s update: “This edition of the learning resources update has a back-to-basics focus. Giving, thank-you notes, the essentials of strategic planning, and getting to the root of issues through the Five Whys are just some of the topics in this learning update.” We hope you find these resources useful too!

Leadership

Spiritual Integration

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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. 

Hello everyone.  My name is Matthew Rohrs, and I serve as HOPE International’s Director of Spiritual Integration.  In case you are newer to HOPE, for us spiritual integration refers to our intentional effort to put Christ at the center of everything we do.  This includes client and community outreach, staff discipleship, partnership with the local church, and a deep desire to honor Christ in the way that we offer financial services to the poor.

Over the next few days, I am going to share some thoughts and reflections from the 2012 Spiritual Integration Summit for our individual lending programs.  This is my first ever blogging experience, and as a rookie blogger, I hope to share some worthwhile thoughts with our friends in cyberspace. Continue Reading…

Cindy

Rejected by family and friends after escaping a drug addiction, Cindy – with her husband Arnaldo and daughter Jenny – lived isolated in a small shack. Desperate to earn an income, they borrowed money from moneylenders whose unreasonable rates plunged them further into debt. Then Cindy sought a loan from CCT, HOPE’s partner in the Philippines, and, touched by what her loan officer shared, accepted Jesus into her heart.  A physical and spiritual transformation began, resulting in a profitable business and reconciliation with her estranged family. “[God] saw me, came to me, and upheld me. He really loves me,” Cindy testifies.