Features

Bearing fruit

"Bearing fruit" Continued...

Issue: "Bright or rotten idea?," Oct. 5, 2013

HOPE also partners with ministries in other countries to tap into well-established networks of local churches. (In Haiti, HOPE works with the Dominican Republic–based Esperanza.)

Still, Greer says it’s sometimes challenging to help U.S. churches understand the group’s work, especially when it doesn’t involve popular forms of outside involvement like short-term mission trips. “This model has the local church and the local community in the center stage,” says Greer. “We’re the stagehands helping them to do it.”

He says focusing on local leadership and local churches allows the group to maintain a focus on both physical and spiritual needs: “If you’re not having the opportunity to change worldviews and hearts, you’re never going to see lasting change.” 

As the sun sets back in Belladere, a few homes and buildings use generators for electricity, but most grow dark. Osene Exumat—another local pastor—leans forward in a plastic chair on a dirt patch in the darkening twilight outside his home. 

As chickens peck nearby and baby goats wander into the house, Exumat ignores the darkness and talks about how he hopes savings groups will help his church serve the whole town. 

The pastor of 30 years says he’s glad the groups’ good results draw outside interest, and he hopes the material gains will point to spiritual realities: “All those different people have souls that need to be reconciled and to know that Jesus exists and that He has a plan for their lives.”

Exumat also hopes his church eventually can help meet material needs for others in town. He knows their modest savings will only address “a small part of the problems,” but he adds: “It’s still a part.”

MONEY TALK: The Belladere savings group.
Photo by Jamie Dean
MONEY TALK: The Belladere savings group.
SUCCESS STORY: Widmy Mervilus (orange shirt) stands next to peanut farmer Simon Joseph, whose business has grown thanks to loans from a savings club, enabling him to support not only his family but also his parents and the family of his brother who died. Kneeling in front are HOPE’s Belladere facilitators Sadrack (left) and Marineau.
Photo by Jamie Dean
SUCCESS STORY: Widmy Mervilus (orange shirt) stands next to peanut farmer Simon Joseph, whose business has grown thanks to loans from a savings club, enabling him to support not only his family but also his parents and the family of his brother who died. Kneeling in front are HOPE’s Belladere facilitators Sadrack (left) and Marineau.
Delmond Rondo
Photo by Jamie Dean
Delmond Rondo

Previous   Next

Listen to Jamie Dean's report on HOPE International from The World and Everything in It:

Follow this year’s Hope Award for Effective Compassion competition and vote for the ministry you believe deserves the 2013 award .

Money Box

• 2012 support and revenue: $13,752,432

• 2012 expenses and program investments: $12,009,072

• Net assets at the end of 2012: $14,363,938

• Executive director’s salary: $139,050

• Staff: 75 in the United States, nearly 250 worldwide

• Website: hopeinternational.org

Savings and loans

Microfinance and savings groups offer important differences

Belladere savings group
Photo by Jamie Dean
Belladere savings group

Microfinance projects designed to help the poor aren’t new: Bangladeshi economics professor Muhammad Yunus launched the microfinance movement in 1976 to help poor populations in India. Since then, the professor’s Grameen Bank has lent more than $7 billion to millions of borrowers in poverty-stricken regions worldwide.

But microfinance differs from savings groups: In microfinance institutions, an outside bank, organization, or charity loans money to poor borrowers to invest in their work as merchants, farmers, or other labor.

In a savings group, local residents accumulate their own savings and lend money to each other. The group members decide how much to save, how much to lend, and the terms for repayment. (And group members may use the funds for purposes other than business—like school fees, medical expenses, and emergencies.)

Both models are popular, but savings groups often work best among the poorest populations unable to repay larger sums. (In some groups, members save money and simply rotate turns taking home the lump sum.) The groups tend to be easier to replicate in other places because they require less outside oversight than microfinance projects.

Aid workers at other Christian organizations, such as World Relief and World Vision, include savings groups in their work among the poor. The Chalmers Center at Covenant College has developed a new savings project in West Africa that includes Bible-based teaching. Individual churches and mission groups also sometimes adapt the idea on a local level.

The indigenous groups offer indigenous opportunities: Christian workers say savings groups in churches provide local congregations a platform for evangelism and spiritual ministry to those outside the church.

Haitian Pastor Widmy Mervilus (see the above story on HOPE International) calls the savings groups “a visible testimony” to the gospel message. And he says some local residents outside the church have begun to “come close” to Christian teaching since the groups began. “Many of these people have given their lives to Christ,” he says. “It’s glorious.” —J.D.

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    Bug control

    White House stops funding for research that makes viruses…

     

    Darwin made me do it

    Despite obvious facts and contradictions, evolutionary psychologists say nearly every…

    Advertisement