by Luke Harbaugh, Church Representative
At HOPE International, we’re fervent believers that the local church is God’s design for serving those living in great need. As HOPE’s church representative, I get to help pastors equip their churches to live into this calling while faithfully and prayerfully partnering with HOPE’s clients and partner churches around the world.
However, it can be hard for many churches to feel connected to HOPE’s work from so far away. Church leaders often ask for tangible ways to connect their congregations with HOPE’s. Here are some practical ways your church can engage more deeply with HOPE’s work:
- Host a poverty simulation: Pastors are often searching for ways to educate their congregations on global issues without the cost and commitment of a short-term trip. The poverty simulation provides a meaningful, hands-on experience that is not only a helpful educational tool but also serves as a way to train people involved in local and global missions to help them be more effective. This includes staff members, short-term trip leaders and participants, and lay-people who actively support missions. Through this experience, they are better prepared to step into challenging contexts because they have already seen and experienced things that can often only be experienced on a trip.
- Hold a HOPE Market: The HOPE Market is designed to teach children and their families about financial stewardship, entrepreneurship, global poverty, and how HOPE makes a difference. During the experience, kids are encouraged to save money (or are given a loan), invest in a small business of their own, and then sell products as small business owners—just like HOPE’s clients do. The experience allows kids to step into the role of a HOPE client to teach them the power and dignity of creativity and entrepreneurship.
- Study Created to Flourish: Co-authored by HOPE’s president and CEO, this book is a great resource for a group to engage deeply and prayerfully in how God might be calling them to serve those living in poverty. I’ve seen many Sunday schools and small groups use this free e-book and its accompanying study guide as a book study.
- Visit HOPE’s programs: On an Experience HOPE Trip (pictured above), teams travel to a HOPE program, meet men and women HOPE is serving, tour their businesses, and experience HOPE’s holistic training firsthand. Churches also have the option of joining HOPE’s in-country staff for a “spiritual retreat,” where participants have an opportunity to pray, fellowship, and build relationships with our international staff.
To learn more about how to connect your church with HOPE, check out our church engagement page or reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Luke Harbaugh has been on staff with HOPE International since 2015. Luke is a pastor and a graduate of Millersville University and Duke University Divinity School. He currently lives in Lancaster, PA, and has a passion for preaching, missions, Duke basketball, and playing golf.