Welcome to the seventh blog in our series, “The 12 Areas of Community Transformation.” Over the course of this year we are answering the question, “How is HopeChest unique from other leading child sponsorship organizations?” Today’s blog is about the seventh of these 12 areas of primary community transformation.
Participation in government and decisions of how to govern is an integral part of life and civil activity. God wants his people to be a part of shaping our society and restoring it on solid foundations. For this reason, in the countries we serve, we aim to gain the respect and trust of local governments.
By submitting ourselves to God’s law and, just as importantly, by exercising ‘self-governance’ in which we learn to exercise godly control over our emotions, our thoughts and our actions, we model God’s law and promote it in our communities. The more self-governance that we exercise, the fewer laws our societies will need in order to maintain peace. Contrarily, the less self-governance in a society, the more laws will be required to try to maintain the peace.
Unfortunately, governments cannot legislate enough laws to ensure peace. If the people are unwilling to live under God’s laws in their hearts, they will not live under external laws, either. When that happens, societies become increasingly chaotic and anarchistic. This is verified when James 4:1 says, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” We cannot legislate out of the hearts of human beings the wars that are in there until we submit to Christ and have His law in our hearts.
Each community has its own governance that is in accordance with the country’s constitution, as well as, the national, state and local laws. Christians need to be involved in all of these levels of government. They are the gatekeepers of societies and we want to go through the front gate, rather than like the thief who goes through the back. We want to work with the gatekeepers.
Where does HopeChest fit in?
In many countries, once local government sees the fruit produced from CarePoints and Ministry Centers, local leaders are more apt to lend their resources and voice to further our ministry.
In Russia, our Country Director, Katya, is often called upon by the Russian government for her expertise in foster care systems. She is at the top of her field and has certainly been recognized for it. Through the respect that she has earned and the knowledge that she shares, her voice is a part of shaping important aspects of foster care systems in Russia.
In Guatemala, the Puerto Abajo CarePoint leaders have built a relationship with the mayor of Puerto Abajo. Once he saw how the CarePoint leaders, Ismael and Mayra, were fighting to advocate for and serve the vulnerable children and their families in their communities, they gained his trust and respect. A group of women whose children attend the CarePoint call themselves “Entrepreneur Women” and make jam to sell in the community in order to better support their families. The mayor has granted them free usage of some facilities to cut down on their overhead costs.
In Swaziland, CarePoint staff paid a visit to the Chief of the Ekudzeni community. These visits serve to strengthen our partnerships with them and collaborate on some of their developmental goals for their communities and also to see how HopeChest can come alongside them in improving the wellbeing of the people.
Working with local governments has opened doors to many opportunities in the countries we work in.
How does this create sustainability?
HopeChest often works in communities where the citizens have lived in less-than-just societies. We want to help children in these communities learn to understand and obey God’s laws and learn to self-govern their lives. It is our hope that they will also learn to participate in, and with, their governments to bring a standard of righteousness and peace for their communities. This creates sustainability through – in some cases – having the support of government, and – in other cases – building up the next generation of leaders to continue the work.
The Swaziland Leadership Academy (SLA) is a three-year program designed to equip and empower Swazi youth to exercise their leadership abilities in practical ways. HopeChest launched the SLA to raise up new Christian leaders who are trained and prepared to lead Swaziland as a nation. Swaziland needs leaders like Thuli (in video below)– Christ-following leaders who desire to change the future of the nation.
In response to the lack of leadership in vulnerable communities that are suffering from poverty, corruption, and illiteracy, HopeChest has developed The Uganda Leadership Development Program (UGLDP). The UGLDP is similar to SLA in that it recognizes youth who have the potential to be great leaders and equips them with the skills necessary to serve others and give back to their community to create change.
Programs like these empower youth to recognize their own leadership ability and create sustainability in the communities they live in through becoming leaders and decision makers in their nations.
It says in Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” As we build into the lives of these vulnerable children, we are helping them discover their God-given identity and find their places in society. As they learn to self-govern their lives, it is our hope that many will take their places of responsibility in their local and national governments.
This blog is part of our new, educational series that answers the question, “How are you unique from other leading child sponsorship organizations?” Over the course of the year we are going in depth about how your support impacts entire communities in 12 unique areas of transformation.