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.
Then we piled into the car and visited client repayment meetings throughout the morning. We are creating greater consistency and excellence in our group repayment meetings, with a methodology called the 5W’s. This meeting structure is lovingly borrowed from our brothers and sisters at CCT, our partner in the Philippines.
The 5W’s are:
- Welcome the clients, make any opening announcements.
- Worship, where the group leader and loan officer lead the group in singing and prayer.
- Word, a combination of devotions, client testimonies, and biblically based business training.
- Work, where client payments are (almost always) repaid and client records are updated.
- Wrap-up, a chance for the loan officer to encourage the clients and make any last announcements.
With the 5W’s methodology, a group repayment meeting should take approximately one hour. The first meeting we visited was with a loan officer named Bigael, who has been trained in the 5W’s methodology. I was very encouraged. The meeting lasted about 70 minutes, and he led the meeting very confidently. We will fully roll this out in March in HOPE Congo and HOPE DRC.
Our second meeting was with a loan officer named Chancey, and this meeting did not use the 5W’s methodology. (Chancey will be trained in March.) Chancey has a tremendous heart for the Lord and did an excellent job leading the group in devotions. The biggest difference between the two methodologies is the efficiency with which the Work section is completed. This second meeting took 20 minutes longer than the first, entirely driven by the Work section. Suffice to say that I’m eagerly awaiting the 5W’s rollout in March!
Peter and I visited the meetings with Xavier Byarufu, the operations manager for HOPE Congo. Xavier previously lived in Uganda, working for a large microfinance organization, but came to HOPE Congo for the Christian mission. He joined in November and has already had a tremendous impact operationally.