I’ve not always been a huge fan of our name.
After joining HOPE International, I would often receive calls intended for other organizations with similar names.
“Hello, this is HOPE International… No, I’m sorry, but we do not offer scholarships. I think you must be trying to reach Hope International University…”
“Hello, this is HOPE International… No, I’m sorry, but we do not work with adoptions. You must be trying to reach Hope International Adoption Agency…”
Literally, I had a list of phone numbers for these other organizations on my wall.
But recently, I’ve had a renewed appreciation for our name, because—far more important than our savings services, entrepreneurship training, and access to capital—we are promoters of hope. It’s not just part of our name—it’s a significant part of our mission.
HOPE serves in places of extreme poverty, in nations rocked by corrupt governments and soaring inflation rates. Over 75 percent of the people we serve through savings groups are in significant poverty, as measured by the Multidimensional Poverty Index. This means that, for most, it’s a struggle to find adequate food, housing, and employment. It’s in these environments where we see hope as an instigator of good. The hope that life can and will improve. The hope that God is close to the brokenhearted. The hope that progress is possible.
There is truth in the statement that we can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.
And it’s not just abroad where we see the need for hope. In this year’s social, political, and economic turmoil, the need for hope hits much closer to home. Thankfully, there are purveyors of hope all around us.
Father Greg Boyle is an American Jesuit priest who has worked with former gang members in Los Angeles for over thirty years. He has witnessed numerous shootings and has buried over two hundred young people killed by gang violence. Yet, when asked about his work, he notes, “It’s not about the flying of bullets. It’s about a lethal absence of hope.”
A lethal absence of hope.
To combat despair and stimulate a sense of hope in his community, Father Greg founded Homeboy Industries to create jobs for former gang members and those transitioning out of prison. Providing on-the-job training and a variety of social services, Homeboy Industries is known as the “largest gang intervention and re-entry program in the United States today.” Father Greg is not just creating jobs; he is creating hope.
Those responding to the opioid epidemic also understand the necessity of hope. Ripping apart communities and decreasing life expectancy, this drug crisis is not just about access to opioids; it’s about a deeper sense of hopelessness. Thirty thousand people will die this year from opioid overdoses alone. In response, the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships designed an Opioid Epidemic Practical Toolkit to equip faith and community leaders to bring “hope and healing to communities” hit hard by the opioid crisis. Through family coaching and 12-step programs, the toolkit offers practical ways to spread hope to many caught in addiction. They understand the lifesaving impact of hope.
As followers of Christ, we should be on the front lines of spreading hope. This Christmas, at this moment in history, let’s be people of a wonderful and reckless hope. Let’s celebrate the everlasting, all-consuming hope of our Savior. The hope that causes the weary world to rejoice. The hope that we serve a God who sees us in our brokenness and invites us into the economic, social, and racial injustices all around us. There is no situation too desperate, no circumstance too overwhelming to be beyond hope.
In not just this season, but in all our lives—let’s be people who hold tenaciously onto hope. And let’s give the gift of hope to all we interact with during this next year.
“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”