To try and sum up my trip to South Africa feels like an impossible task. There are just some experiences you go through in life that no words could ever fully capture. However, I will do my best to at least share some of my thoughts. There is something about traveling and serving others that connects you to the heart of Jesus in no other way I have ever experienced before. I have grown more deeply in love with the heart of Jesus because of this Singles Corps to South Africa.
Throughout our week, Lin and Mark Ottenweller spoke specifically about the compassionate heart of Jesus. Jesus saw the invisible, the broken, the vulnerable and the rejected and He took the time to really see them; to make them visible and worthy of love. Having recently journeyed through two of my hardest years as a disciple, I have felt the sting of loneliness, pain, and heartbreak. There have been losses I have grieved and moments of feeling dauntingly unnoticed.
During part of our trip, our small group attended a parent support group that HOPE worldwide has set up in some of the poorest areas of Johannesburg. These are ten month programs designed to help mothers learn skills and practical applications of parenting, as well as receive emotional support. During our session, the mothers shared their stories of who they were before the program and how HOPE worldwide has made a difference. Women shared the abuse they grew up with and how they would pass that on to their children. One mother vulnerably confessed that because she couldn’t afford food every day, when her child would go to her to ask for food, she would hit him. She would do this simply because of the rage she felt with not being able to provide for her children. Another mother shared that she just did not care about her children, would leave them for hours and hours at a time, and even numbed herself to a point of wanting to end her own life. When asked who had a good relationship with their mother growing up, not one mother raised her hand.
These women have come from some of the most broken places; being raped, abused, kicked out of school and unable to finish their high school education. The feeling of being invisible and unseen is all too familiar for each of them. After sharing these stories, they continued to share how they have changed. They shared their stories of how they were taught to love. I sat there, holding back tears, as I expressed to them the incredible impact they are making on their families. These women have the amazing courage to be cycle breakers. I love seeing how people can become empowered and compelled through love, to break chains that have been passed down through generations.
These women’s children and future families will forever be changed simply because they were taught how to love. “We love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19. This reflects the heart of HOPE and the motivation behind programs like this parent support group. I have the privilege of working in an Early Childhood Program here in the States, and the biggest impact that will be an indicator of true growth for any child we work with, is if the parent is involved and willing to reinforce the strategies we teach.
Through this program, HOPE worldwide is generating lasting change from the inside out. When people are given the opportunity to share their story, to be seen, it empowers them and in turn causes them to gain a belief that they can change and be different. I believe through this program, HOPE is continuing to empower these mothers in the community to change. Upon graduating the program, many have become advocates and teachers to other women in their community. Some mothers have even started working with HOPE worldwide to lead these programs. The impact and transformation of this community has come down to giving each individual woman the opportunity to be really seen.
There are still many things I want to see happen in South Africa, and I have a firm belief I will be back again next year. However, to see the way HOPE worldwide is a shining light of the compassionate heart of Jesus, has ignited a deeper fire in my own heart. I am reminded of how Jesus has noticed me and I am inspired to look for ways I can take the time to really see and listen to the stories of those around me; because love is truly one of the most powerful things we can offer others.
Churches in South Florida are continuing to bring hope to Bolivia through the 5th annual “Celebration of Caring Golf Classic.” The fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, November 17 on Key Biscayne off of the Miami mainland.
The Golf Classic benefits HOPE worldwide Bolivia, providing funding for programs that serve Bolivia’s children and most vulnerable populations. Since HOPEww was established in 2011 in the capital city of La Paz, the country’s health care and social services systems have been positively impacted. The tournament has raised $157,000 since its inception!
There are six levels of sponsorships ($1,500 - $5,000), and individuals can golf for $225. All information is included on the website ( www.CelebrationofCaring.com ), including a registration portal and links to videos, stories and blogs about the work in La Paz. Individuals can also donate through the website.
The Crandon Park golf course is considered one of the most picturesque in Florida. Golfers are surrounded by tropical foliage, mangroves and breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay as they encounter seven saltwater lakes and challenging sand traps during their round.
Former Florida residents Dr. Kevin & Noelle Broyles lead HOPE worldwide Bolivia. The Duke-educated Dr. Broyles was behind the building of Centro Médico Internacional Hope Clinic in Bolivia, a cutting-edge sustainable social enterprise that will generate revenue to meet increasing medical needs in the La Paz community. CMIHope is the result of a joint effort between Foundation Arco Iris and HOPE worldwide that integrates high quality health services to the population of Zona Sur of La Paz with financial support to the charitable work of HOPEww and Hospital Arco Iris, who partner to serve Bolivia’s large indigent population.
“Celebration of Caring” welcomes all golfers to join in this “fun”draiser.
We have 27 trips all over the world throughout the year.
Registration opens on December 1, 2017.
Apply early to ensure you get your top
choice. Some of our more popular trips fill up within the first month of
registration. The Houston Singles Disaster Corps will open registration sooner,
as the program will take place early in the year (February).
Our 2018 theme will be “In His Steps”, and our curriculum will be based on the book of Mark.
So start planning, and start saving! There will be scholarships available for teens and campus students who need financial assistance.
A powerful earthquake jolted central Mexico today (Tuesday, September 19, 2017). The earthquake buckled buildings, cracked foundations and brought rubble down on all sides of Mexico City. The U.S. Geological Survey has said the quake had magnitude 7.1 and was centered near Puebla. At this time dozens of people are reported dead and many are hurt and missing. We have local chapter partners and church leaders that we have been able to make contact with, but your prayers are needed more than ever.
Please check back for updates.
Visit our Global Disaster Response page to donate and empower a quick response and recovery!
My name is Michelle Charon. My husband and I have a full house with four teenage daughters.
Our older three girls are disciples of Christ, and the youngest one is on her way to making the
same decision to have her own relationship with God, and become a disciple herself. We are a
busy household, and love serving in the Kingdom of God. My husband is a deacon and
together, we lead our local Chapter which helps serve with Hope worldwide in our local
community, as well as helping to lead our Youth and Family Ministry. We have strived to raise
our girls to love serving, and pray that they are drawn to those in need. We also pray they
continue to use their lives to serve those less fortunate than themselves, to show Jesus’ love
where hearts are hurting and in need of the truth, to show people that God loves them, is
paying attention, and will give them comfort through disciples who are willing to show His love.
We have been so fortunate to have made the decision to send our girls to HOPE Youth Corps
every year. Our older three have been on a total of seven trips between them, and our
youngest cannot wait until it is her turn to go and serve when she is old enough.
In sending our girls on these trips to Denver, Philadelphia (twice), Mexico, Vancouver, Dallas,
and Bolivia so far, we have seen changes in them that only God can provide. Once their eyes
were opened to serving in such a deep and powerful way, and how much good it does for their
hearts and characters, they were hooked on serving with HOPE worldwide!
They have seen things that we could not possibly have shown them while we live in the suburbs
of Massachusetts in our comfortable home with our easy lives. They so look forward to
traveling each summer to a place where they learn something new and challenging about the
people they serve, as well as the spiritual lessons they find, as they give their hearts to the
people and each other, rely on God, work harder than they thought possible, give more of
themselves than they knew they had, and gain so much more as they exhaust themselves to
meet all of the needs.
My girls have come back from HOPE Youth Corps completely different from these experiences.
They love how spiritual the whole crew can be, the new friends they make that love God as
much as they do, the discipleship groups they attend where they can be real, learn to be more
giving, open up about how much it hurts to know they can’t do it all, or make everything better
in one trip.
The bond they form with the people they serve alongside is a very powerful thing. They make
friends that become best friends, closer than they could ever imagine, by having gone through
the same serving experiences. They meet future college roommates, learn to love people they
never would have thought would be a good friend, laugh until it hurts about the memories they
make, skype with their new 20 best friends after the trip is long over, cry because they miss the
bond they made in that new place, fly across the country to visit those new best friends, and
thank God every day for these experiences.
We will forever be grateful for the experiences that HOPE Youth Corps brings and the blessings
that come from serving and bonding, as well as hard work. We have seen our girls cry about
the people they meet that are so in need. They have kept in touch with the children they
mentored, sent packages to the orphanages they’ve left behind, prayed for the families and the
lives they’ve touched, and smiled from so many good memories of times that only they can
If there is one major thing that we think has been the most powerful in helping shape our
daughters into the strong, faithful women they are today, outside of our family, hands down it
would be the spiritual growth they gain from serving and the amazing job that HOPE Youth
Corps has done in making these trips possible.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of the volunteers and leaders who work with
HOPE Youth Corps. Your work is not in vain, and your sacrifice is changing the lives of the other
volunteers like my girls, as well as changing lives all over the world of those who benefit from
these service trips.
We cannot wait to see our lives change once again as we look forward to joining in as a family
on one of the many opportunities to serve on one of the Volunteer Corps open to families.
September 6, 2017
HOPE worldwide has been on the ground in Houston, Texas meeting needs and actively organizing volunteer efforts. The Dallas and San Antonio Chapters have sent groups of volunteers and supplies to help Houstonians recover. HOPE worldwide and the Greater Houston Church are currently working with countless displaced families and individuals who have lost their homes, their cars and their livelihood for the time being.
Austin Wright, a student at the University of Texas San Antonio, started his internship with HOPE ww by organizing 51 volunteers from San Antonio to help with the Harvey relief efforts! The volunteer group was a diverse mixture of college students, young professionals, singles and married couples. They helped six different families in northern and western Houston clear out the debris from their homes.
Teams of volunteers gutted houses and took ruined furniture to the curb as you can see in some of the photos. They ripped up flooring, removed base moldings and cut out damaged sheet rock.. Some houses had to have two to three feet of sheet rock cut out as that reflected how high the flood waters invaded their houses. In all the neighborhoods, people were working on Labor Day to gut their houses and begin the slow process of rebuilding their houses and their lives.
August 30, 2017
The devastation from Hurricane Harvey continues to be felt throughout Texas and Louisiana, as heavy rains and catastrophic flooding are expecting to continue for days. Although the full extent of the damage and death toll will not be clear for some time, we know that this storm is unprecedented. HOPE worldwide was able to deploy our HotNews team to Houston and they are gathering footage from the devastation as we speak.
HOPE worldwide is on the scene in Texas and Louisiana and already responding. In the few days since this storm made landfall, the HOPE worldwide disaster response team made an early needs assessment and started helping to supply food, water, and tools for many affected by the storm. HOPE worldwide is now actively preparing to mobilize our network of amazing volunteers to continue to deliver aid and implement more extensive clean-up and recovery efforts. These efforts are made possible by compassionate donors from around the world and in conjunction with our network of nonprofit partners.
Many of our HOPE worldwide community members in Houston have been affected and we are getting reports of total material loss from many families. There are an untold number of homes and people affected, and the additional flooding and rainfall is set to make the situation even worse. It is already apparent that recovering from this disaster will take years, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
HOPE worldwide has boots on the ground in Houston and we will be able to mobilize our volunteers to meet specific needs.
We will keep you posted!
The HOPE worldwide Team
August 29, 2017
"This disaster is going to be a landmark event." That's how the head of FEMA described the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. "This is a storm that the United States has not seen yet," he added.
I’ve lived in Houston for a total of nine years, and have witnessed many incredible storms, hurricanes, and even tornadoes, but nothing close to Hurricane Harvey. The destruction will be as nothing seen before in the U.S.
This morning, a local official called the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey "an 800-year event." The National Weather Service described the damage as "unprecedented" and "beyond anything experienced." According to the Insurance Information Institute, flood damage may equal that of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in United States history.
We ask and thank you all for your fervent prayers on our behalf! We could see as much as 50 inches of rain, and many of our members will have their homes flooded. The cleanup will be a massive undertaking, perhaps taking years. Your love and support means so much to us here in Houston.
We are grateful that as far as we know all of the disciples in our churches are safe and many are helping their neighbors. We mourn with the families who have lost loved ones.
We know that we serve an amazing omnipotent God who cares and who can! I have every confidence that the Greater Houston Church will come through this trial with faith and love as we live out Phillipians 2:14-16: " Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain ."
We look forward to glorifying our God as we serve our community in the coming weeks, and know many of you will be joining us in doing so. Please keep us in your prayers and God bless.
Lead Evangelist, Greater Houston Church
Allison Reynolds from Manchester, England shares her HYC experience:
I had a lot of fear going to the Philippines Christmas 2016 HYC. For someone who has barely flown at all, four eight hour flights were scary enough. And then, what about all the diseases and dangerous animals? Would I be of any benefit? How safe were the slums to take a typically English twelve year old boy? What if he got lost? And what about the finances – just think what else we could have done with all that money!
Having now been on the HYC I can honestly say that it was the best money I have ever spent and I would go again and again if it were possible for us. It’s hard to describe how amazing the time was. My husband described it as a taste of heaven. Yes, we get to help the poor and have an impact, but for me that was just a drop in the ocean. Spending two weeks with a group of young fresh excited disciples was so inspiring. Hearing all their stories of how they became Christians was faith-building. The depth of the friendships that were built in that short space of time is a true miracle from God.
Before going, I was hopeful that the young disciples would spend some time with my boys and reach out to them. They did far more than that. I hardly saw them. Every time I walked into a room someone was chatting with Jon (15) and someone was playing cards with Ben (12) or tickling him. They had spiritual chats with them, shared bible studies and prayed with them. Ben sobbed when we left. “But I have made such good friends here mum, and I’m not talking about the children – I mean the grown ups!”
Half way through HYC, one sentence said by Jonathan made all the cost, planning, effort and overcoming my fears worthwhile. He said “Wow mum, this is so much more meaningful than what we could have been doing this Christmas”. My eyes prick with tears every time I write or share that sentence.
About three weeks after we came back, I had the best spiritual conversation that I’d ever had with Jon. I was so excited. His best friend in the church had decided to get baptised and I could see God working in lots of ways to open up his heart. He started to take his bible studies more seriously. I’d seen him take steps forward in his faith after the last two teen camps that he had attended and this was another big step forward but he still wasn’t quite ready. I had it on my heart for some time to write this article, but I kept putting it off because I wanted to be able to end it by saying that Jon had become a Christian.
And now, eight months after our return from the Philippines, I can write this article with the ending that I wanted. Jon was baptised at the London teen camp and it’s like a different person has come back! If you are considering going on one of the HYCs that are open to families, I can’t urge you strongly enough to go. It might just be the catalyst that is needed to stir your children’s hearts towards God.