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Frontiers: how HOPE serves overlooked communities

Serving those at the very margins of society has always been one of our core motivations. We believe no one should have to make the impossible decisions that come with poverty—or live without the hope of Christ’s love. 

Roughly 41% of people worldwide have not heard the Gospel. At the same time, almost 700 million people—nearly 1 in 10 globally—live on less than $2.15 a day. Even more people—1.7 billion worldwide—lack access to financial services.  

At HOPE International, we believe God is calling us to move faster toward families on the margins. But over 27 years of operation, we’ve learned that reaching marginalized groups requires an intentional focus on those who have been socially, systemically, or spiritually overlooked.  

That’s why we set a goal to reach 20 new frontier communities with Christ-centered financial services by the end of 2025. (And we’re ahead of schedule!) 

What is a frontier community?

“Who are the groups of people in this context that feel excluded, marginalized, or on the fringe? Which groups feel systematically excluded from access to financial services? Or maybe these groups experience stigma from the broader society.”

Jesse Casler, chief operations officer 

We define a frontier as a group of people experiencing one or more of these three broad criteria: 

Socially excluded due to stigma, ethnic tensions, marginalization, or social isolation, including the Doma population in Zimbabwe who have faced discrimination for years. 

Systemically disenfranchised due to historical policy or legal restrictions, military conflicts, or geographic isolation, including refugees in Burundi, Malawi, and Uganda. 

Spiritually neglected through limited exposure to the Gospel, including unreached people groups and Christian minority contexts. 

How do we identify and reach frontiers?

Serving new frontiers is our most difficult and risky objective. Rather than business as usual, each frontier needs customized services that are sensitive to the needs of that people group.  

To discern how to establish relationships with frontiers and adapt HOPE’s services to their needs, we rely heavily on indigenous leadership and partners who understand the realities on the ground. The process can be broken down into four stages: 

Identify a frontier community and the challenges it faces. 

Explore the challenges, learn about the community, and propose best ways to serve. 

Design and test a plan (“pilot”) to serve the frontier community in a customized way. Listen to pilot participants through focus groups, field staff visits, and surveys and incorporate their feedback.  

Implement effective programs in the broader community. 

“When it is clear that the Lord is opening doors to creatively invest in and serve these communities, we get to work on better understanding their context. We listen to pastors, church leaders, community leaders, and other organizations operating in the area—seeing how we might be able to creatively respond to unique opportunities in those communities.”

Josh Meyer, senior director of savings group programs 

Frontiers served across the HOPE network 

We praise God that this process has allowed us to serve many new frontiers over the last few years! Below are some of the frontiers we currently serve: 

The Doma in Zimbabwe 

An agriculture training with Doma community members

“With the Doma community in Zimbabwe, we worked with Foundations for Farming to provide regenerative agricultural training to provide expertise in how to increase food production to provide adequate nutrition for their families,” shares Josh Meyer, senior director of savings group programs.   

In March 2023, we gathered with our local partners (Foundations for Farming, Royal Impact Church, Tomorrow Clubs, and MATTER) to firm up plans for how we would begin serving the Doma community. After several years of prayer and building relationships with the community, we are starting with agriculture services and Bible clubs for kids. Already, 300 children attend Bible studies with Tomorrow Clubs. We are also training 19 people as “commissioned farmers” who are in turn training an additional 221 people as “disciple farmers.” 

Individuals living with disabilities in Haiti 

Lisette (left) trains to become a church facilitator

“For deaf and hard of hearing communities in Haiti, we found community members with the gift of sign language to participate in the savings group ministry to more effectively communicate,” says Josh. 

Now, through three savings groups, we are serving over 70 people who are Deaf, blind, and/or living with disabilities. HOPE Haiti is working with the Evangelical Baptist Mission of Haiti (MEBSH) to train other church denominations to serve more men and women living with disabilities. 

Elderly men and women in Rwanda 

A family stands with HOPE staff and church leaders in front of their new home

In 2022, HOPE staff and savings group members identified many older community members living in isolation and in desperate need of shelter. They discovered that many of their homes were very old and in damaged condition. Church leaders, program volunteers, and savings group members came up with the idea to provide home renovations! 

“From July through October 2023, … HOPE International together with the church partners … collectively served more than 1,000 elderly people and [educated] over 15,000 people about the saving culture and caring for the elderly. Among the activities done, new houses were constructed, others renovated, food was provided to the elderly, kitchen gardens constructed around elderly homes, radios provided to the elderly, groups for the elderly were formed, and existing ones were celebrated.”
Diane Uwamahoro, HOPE Rwanda country director 

Families who haven’t heard of Christ in South Asia* 

“Happiness” savings group in South Asia*

One of our partners in South Asia hosts vacation Bible schools (VBS) which have been attended by over 75,000 children! In partnership with HOPE, they now offer savings groups to engage the whole family. As children and families connect initially through VBS, savings groups provide an opportunity for long-term engagement with the local church. Today, this partner serves over 600 active savings groups, serving over 6,500 men, women, and children.

*Location and partner name withheld for security 

We thank God for the doors He has opened for HOPE to serve underserved groups worldwide, and we pray for their continued transformation. Yet, countless more men and women still live without the hope of Christ or access to financial services.  

Through our Dreaming Beyond initiative, we’re accelerating our efforts to reach more underserved groups with Christ-centered financial services. Sign up for our monthly prayer updates to receive the latest news from across the HOPE network and pray for those we serve.



As Christ’s followers responding to His great love, HOPE International seeks physical, social, spiritual, and personal restoration in places of brokenness. Through Christ-centered economic development, we empower men and women to strengthen their families, build their businesses, and unleash their dreams.

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