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Joassaint and daughter

At HOPE International, we thank God for the privilege of walking alongside mothers around the world. Mentors and teachers, leaders and entrepreneurs, the mothers and mother figures we serve across the network teach us what it means to love those God has placed in front of us.

This Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating the many ways God moves when we invest in mothers.

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For years, a group of young people has built a reputation for contributing to violent attacks in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo’s capital. “These young people sow terror in the city,” says Ghislaine Matondo, who lives in the city with her husband, mother, and sister. Yet little has been done to address the danger, she explains: “Juvenile delinquency in our neighborhoods is a sensitive matter [to which] even politicians do not dare give concrete answers.”

In 2020, Ghislaine took out her fifth loan from HOPE Congo to start a new venture: Merci pour la Bénédiction (“grateful for the blessing”), a business manufacturing sofas. But she says that the Lord gave her more than a new business idea; He also gave her a vision to address the challenge of gang violence in her community. Continue Reading…

K-shaped recovery

The United States is currently experiencing what economists are calling a K-shaped recovery. This occurs when, following a widespread and significant economic dip, certain portions of the economy begin to move toward economic recovery, while others stagnate or fall even further. A K-shaped graph helps explain why recovery following the pandemic seems to be occurring unevenly—while some industries (and people) are returning to normal or even improving, others are experiencing the very opposite.

This phenomenon seems to be occurring globally, as well.

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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. 

Just as many were preparing for church Sunday morning, ammunition stockpiles exploded in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, collapsing buildings and killing or injuring thousands. Though official reports are much lower, our staff in-country report an estimated death toll of 600-700 or more, while thousands have been injured. Relief workers have been unable to thoroughly search for survivors amid the rubble because the blast scattered many unexploded devices that could remain volatile. HOPE operates in Brazzaville and six miles away in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where shockwaves from the blast remained strong enough to shatter windows. This morning we received an update from one of our staff members in Brazzaville, asking for continued prayer. Please join us in praying for our brothers and sisters in Congo.

We are very fortunate that all of our staff our safe after the explosions. With that said we are still trying to assess the impact on our clients. Please be in prayer for them as we can only assume that some have been injured or even killed. Homes and business have been destroyed. I would ask that you particularly pray for two of our staff members, our loan supervisor and our senior cashier. Our senior cashier’s home was completely destroyed on Sunday, and she is now living with her uncle. Our loan supervisor’s home also received extensive damage, and she is now living in a safer area for the time being. They both came to work yesterday just to see everyone. It was heartbreaking to see the look on their faces. You can just see the sorrow and sadness that is inside them. Their hearts are very heavy. This has no doubt impacted them emotionally. Please keep them in your prayers.