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You can never be poor, as long as you give.

Congolese proverb

This #GivingTuesday, across the U.S. and around the world, people are celebrating generosity. Often, when we think of giving, we might think of financial giving, which is much needed as we seek to equip families to break the cycle of poverty. But if we look to the Greatest Commandment—to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves—generosity takes on a deeper, much more relational meaning.

At HOPE, it is our greatest joy to walk alongside hard-working families as they put what they have in their hands—their skills, talents, and passions—to work, providing for their families and giving generously to their churches and communities.

Recently, after a community bank meeting in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, we asked a few HOPE clients to share what generosity means to them. Their words capture the loving heart of generosity we pray that each HOPE-network client lives out in their families and communities. Continue Reading…

Keeping Christ central

A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

I was a bit nervous. Not the “please, Lord, don’t let my voice crack” kind of nervousness I battled in high school speech class (thank you, Miss Kowatch, for not laughing). This nervousness came because I knew the discussion at hand would be challenging. Maybe contentious.

I was meeting with the leaders of another organization to discuss spiritual impact. Their mission statement explicitly identified the goal of achieving spiritual transformation in the lives of those they served, but in both strategy and day-to-day execution, there was little agreement about what this actually meant. I was invited in for a day to ask questions and share ideas.

Later, it hit me at a new level how easy it is for us to desire to reach others spiritually without having a clear, unified definition of success from the Lord. Whether because of differing definitions of transformation or the challenge of measuring spiritual impact, organizations can default to the unspoken idea that if we do a lot of “spiritual stuff,” spiritual change will undoubtedly follow.

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Worship in Congo

Keeping Christ central

A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

Let’s face it: Christ-centered poverty alleviation attracts a can-do, action-oriented crowd. If you are reading this blog, chances are you’re the kind of person who believes that following Christ comes with responsibilities for the “here and now.” You believe in a world that can be more just, and you take seriously the call to be ambassadors for Christ. At HOPE, these convictions are a driving force behind our mission of “investing in the dreams of the poor as we proclaim and live the Gospel in the world’s underserved communities.”

Coming from the right foundation, these intentions to act as agents of reconciliation are good and God-honoring. But as our president and CEO, Peter Greer, explained in The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, a misplaced desire to accomplish things for God can lead to soul-damaging consequences, both for those we serve and for us.

A few years ago, Gordon MacDonald wrote a helpful article titled “The Dangers of Missionalism.” In it, he defines missionalism as “the belief that the worth of one’s life is determined by the achievement of a grand objective.” The key idea here is “worth.” Now most of us know better than to say that we should base our worth on what we do for God, but that doesn’t always make it easy to avoid this subtle trap.

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