The Power of Relationships: An Interview with Justin Bowers on His Recent Vision Trip

Are you curious about the experiences one can have on a HopeChest Vision Trip? Look no further! In this blog, we sit down with Justin Bowers, Pastor of New Community Church and longtime HopeChest Partnership Leader to Abenezer CarePoint, to hear about the life-changing moments he encountered during his Vision Trip in Ethiopia in Fall 2022.

During a HopeChest Vision Trip, participants visit several CarePoints to evaluate the potential for partnership with specific communities. At each location, participants visit with local leadership, learn about community assets, and the future vision of long-term change. Additionally, participants engage and interact with the children in the community, visit their homes, and immerse in the community culture to better understand the opportunities and challenges at hand. These trips allow those who are considering a commitment to Children’s HopeChest the opportunity to see firsthand the difference our unique Community-to-Community model can make toward long-term development!

In September 2022, Justin Bowers joined HopeChest CEO and President Ken Sparks in a leadership vision trip to Ethiopia. Despite his long-standing involvement with the organization, Justin was still taken aback by the many inspiring sights and experiences on the trip. The team was able to witness firsthand the effectiveness of HopeChest’s community projects, including local savings groups that empower individuals facing poverty to achieve financial stability, mental health and wellness initiatives, agricultural and animal husbandry programs that assist families in breaking the cycle of poverty, and small business development. Above all, the trip provided a unique opportunity to fully immerse in the HopeChest model and see its holistic impact on the community through visits to each CarePoint. Join us as we delve into Justin’s vision trip journey and hear his thoughts on the experience.

What was one of the biggest takeaways from your trip?

One of the most significant lessons I learned from my trip was the paramount importance of relationships. Sponsoring a child and engaging with a community is not just a mere act of financial generosity, but rather a chance to form genuine bonds. These relationships open the door to a world of possibilities for transformative change. By connecting with a community, we have the potential to create a ripple effect of positive impact that extends far beyond our initial act of kindness. The power of relationships in bringing about lasting change cannot be overstated.

My trip was a powerful reminder of the value of in-person visits to our partner communities and the significance of travel as a whole.  Physical presence and face-to-face interactions with the communities and individuals we support are invaluable. While financial empowerment from afar can be appreciated, the true essence of any relationship lies in personal interaction and the creation of shared experiences. Just like the way spending quality time with my grandmother, laughing, making memories and sharing stories with her, holds immeasurable worth and meaning beyond any material gifts she could provide. That’s where the real magic of relationships lies.

What was your favorite part of the Vision Trip?

One of my most cherished moments from the Vision Trip was observing the progress and impact of other CarePoint communities aside from the one I am partnered with. I was struck by the comprehensive nature of Children’s HopeChest and the level of care and attention they bring to each CarePoint. Despite being in the same country, each CarePoint is distinct, possessing its own unique character, culture, and spirit. It was a privilege to witness the transformation and progress of these communities and to see how much they have accomplished, all while maintaining their individuality and spirit. The diversity and individuality of each CarePoint truly made the experience unforgettable!

Dr. Justin Bowers is a leader and thinker committed to helping others willingly engage the tensions surrounding leadership. He defines his full-time job(s) as a: Creative Idealist Specializing in Community Redevelopment and Spiritual Discovery. Practically speaking, that means he is found most Sunday mornings serving as the Lead Pastor and Teacher of New Community Church. However, he also works as the Director of Career Services and Experiential Learning at West Virginia Wesleyan College. As much as he can, he sneaks away from work to run the mountains or enjoy life with his wife Carrie and three daughters.