Our culture tells us it’s a waste of time if we don’t build something on a mission trip. But, what if we went to build people up instead? We have the ability to empower impoverished communities to sustain themselves. Empowerment leads to something different than poverty relief; it leads to community transformation.
Gardening, chicken-raising, and microfinancing do more than simply provide – they show members of a community they have something to offer.
Transformation brings hope to communities who desperately need it. That’s just what the village of Adacar, Uganda, the CarePoint where I partner, prayed for. Hungry, thirsty, and living in government camps, the widows and children asked God for hope. Desperate and broken after years of war, they needed to know God still cared for them. Their prayers were answered through their partnership with Children’s HopeChest. We’ve seen this first hand when the community of Adacar told us we were their answer to prayer.
I don’t think it’s by chance the name “Children’s HopeChest” contains the word hope. When people are facing unimaginable and devastating circumstances, this is their greatest need. Genuine hope is born in difficult times. Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It’s a sentiment of trust. As followers of Jesus, hope is an expectation and desire for God to restore. We trust because we know one day the pain and suffering of this world will be no more – God has already won. The need for hope is not unique to impoverished regions. It spans across countries and cultures.
Recently, tragedy struck the University of Georgia where I’m a student. After learning of the loss of four students and the one left in critical condition, we clung to hope. As a result, every night since the accident, hundreds of students have gathered to worship our Lord. We pray and hope for our friend to wake up. We pray and hope for triumph and revival to come from tragedy. I watched as my friends sang through their pain, “I lean not on my own understanding, my life is in the hands of the maker of heaven. I give it all to you God, trusting that you’ll make something beautiful out of me.”
No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.
We have reason to praise because we trust morning will come. Hope is why hundreds of college students in Athens, Georgia, are worshiping in the midst of tragedy. Our hearts are glad and we shout His praises in the roughest of times when our bodies rest in hope. Hope explains the joy of the community of Adacar, Uganda. They praise God because He sent an answer to prayer through Children’s HopeChest.
Hope is why we, as God’s people, serve. It’s why we, at Children’s HopeChest, go. Not to meet physical needs and leave, never to return again. We go to build relationship. Talking, crying, and praying are messy. But, through them, people see Jesus and know he cares for them. We serve to be an answer to desperate prayers. We go to offer partnership. This hope is manifested little by little, moment by moment – sitting with a sponsor child at her mother’s wake, giving a room of local entrepreneurs the floor to share their ideas, calling sponsored children into leadership. Hope is offered through taking the time to see an individual as God sees them.
We hold on to hope, trusting He will heal. We hold on to hope, knowing He will restore. Hope goes beyond circumstances. It has the power to offer so much more than shoes or safety. It leads people closer to Jesus. It led the people of Adacar to believe there is a God who knows them by name. It’s leading hundreds of college students to gather and pray in the face of tragedy. We have hope because we know God hears our cries. He will restore. It reminds us when nothing else is good, He is.
This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.