I had the opportunity to interview Pasteur Julien from Centre Chrétienne Néhémie (Nehemiah Christian Center Church) while a reimbursement meeting was taking place in his church.
• Thus far, what has been your interaction with HOPE Congo?
“HOPE Congo invited me to speak at the first disbursal meeting on behalf of all the churches in Brazzaville. I came here to pray with the clients and to help HOPE Congo launch their affairs. … I told clients, ‘You can be motivated, earn more money, and make great plans, but without God being a part of your plans, without following His will, it will all be useless in the end.’”
• How does HOPE Congo further the work of local churches?
“HOPE Congo is a form of outreach. … HOPE Congo helps clients to become familiar with local churches by holding meetings in churches and encouraging clients to start going to the church. [HOPE Congo community bank meetings are usually held in churches located in the neighborhoods where clients live and work.] … By including people in business and teaching them the Word of God, you can show them that our God is full of wisdom. HOPE Congo is reaching a lot of people through business and will help bring them into the Kingdom of God.”
• Why is holistic ministry important?
“You can come to people with just the Bible and say to them ‘give your life to Jesus Christ,’ but at any moment, we all have other needs too. The person may have a need in his spiritual life, or in his family life. He may be going through a lot of pain. Maybe he lost someone in his family, or has a serious physical need. So we must go to them and work in all parts of their lives.”
• Why do you think Christ-centered microfinance works in Congo?
“In Congo, the country is rich, but the people are very poor. The wealth is in the hands of a small number of people. Most of the people go hungry. Everyone is attracted by the idea of opportunity to make enough money. There are no people who do not want it. People will participate if someone can give them money to work, progressively, with teaching and assistance. Slowly, they will grow. In the process, you can teach people the principles of God. Together, we can take them from darkness to light.”
• What is your vision for HOPE Congo?
“We want to see HOPE Congo spread and increase their involvement with local churches. We will help spread the vision to other pastors and other Christian ministries. All of us have the same goal – let’s get to know each other and unite to be stronger. HOPE Congo can work with all Christian organizations, all kinds of denominations, and will grow quickly.”