HOPE worldwide is a phenomenal organization that has dreams of serving the poor and needy while going and doing likewise. This year, I went on a trip to Zambia for three weeks with a team of approximately 40 participants, ranging from teens, campus, singles, and families. This HOPE worldwide Volunteer Corps (a version of HYC open to all) was a great experience. There was a variety of ages to connect with and learn from. This trip specifically hit me in a special way.
The Zambia HVC was simply a blessing. I have been so fortunate to have gone on three HOPE Youth Corps in the past, but none of them have reached me in the way this one did...
It is in my sinful nature to be negative, critical, and skeptical, however, I had an extremely difficult time doing so on this trip. The weather in Zambia was absolutely perfect, 60s in the morning/night and 70s during the day (their winter season)... delicious food... a group of mature people who wanted to be there to serve... cultural diversity... the interactions with the community... no language barrier... varied service work... lessons... the amount of free time... the times to connect with the Zambian church... worship... children... and countless other blessings.
So many amazing things occurred over the three weeks, and I learned way more than I could have ever imagined. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the idea of contentment and joy. I was surrounded by such a beautiful, strong, and joyful community. The way people persevered joyfully despite their challenging situations was incredibly inspirational. I often will find myself very inconsistent and all over the place with my emotions. After living in Africa and seeing the way most of the community lives with high spirits, moved me so deeply to do the same. I desire and understand so much more the importance of being rooted in God and showing gratitude even in the challenging times... "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4
My year leading up to the summer was quite challenging. I had no hope. I was in a very, very dark spot spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Spiritually, I was holding on to one final strand before deciding to leave the church; mentally, I had no foundation which led me to react very strongly to various situations; emotionally, I was unstable and allowed myself to think very negative and damaging thoughts... By the grace of God, I had some amazing people in my life during that time to love me deeply and fight for me when I wasn't able to for myself. During the hardest time in my life as a disciple, Romika Gunn, one of my friends who came to Zambia with me, was there for me, helping me every step of the way.
Romika is one of the most influential, inspiring, and incredible people I have ever come across. She imitated the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22), when in communication with me. Through her, for the first time in my five years of being a disciple, did I genuinely feel and know there was and is a God. She helped me tremendously in getting back on track to being a faithful disciple.
My challenges didn't stop there though. I continued to struggle with being in consistent communication with God, I continued doubting and being controlled by my fears, and I continued to lose sight of God’s plan for my life. I would often fall back into my pessimistic mindset and lose hope, which ultimately would hurt not only myself but many of those around me. And of course, God was hurt the most.
Fast forward to the Zambian Hww Volunteer Corps... This trip has only strengthened and solidified my love for God and life as a disciple.
I was deeply moved and changed by one of the little girls at the Mtendere Preschool we helped with. She gave me hope. The little girl is seven years old, and taught me more than I ever would have expected. It wasn't necessarily the conversations we had that changed me, it was simply the way she lived her life. She is so caring, gentle, sweet and sassy, strong, happy, beautiful and bold... and if I had more time with her, there is no doubt that I would learn and admire so much more from her.
I met a woman who was 75 years old. She had 12 children but 11 of them had already passed. She also had 10 grandchildren in which she was raising 4 of them on her own. She lived in a small rectangular house that barely fit six people. I remember seeing a refrigerator, a big chair, and some kitchen utensils. When hugging her, she was so skinny, that her back bones stuck out way more than her actual back. I remember looking into her eyes and being so inspired by the joy she seemed to carry. She was so grateful to have us visit her in her home, and so happy we met her and took the time to know a little bit about her. Through her, I witnessed the bravery, strength, gentleness, and peace she had within her. With both the little girl and the older woman, they had similar and challenging living situations, yet both endured with joy and strength.
All this to say, I was able to connect the dots, and understand a little bit more of God’s vision for my life and those around me. I would not have been able to without the experience in Zambia.
Love is the vision. Joy is the vision. Hope is the vision. Service is the vision.
I desire to understand deeper, and love even when others can't love me back. I am filled with joy, and find it easier to be unswayed by circumstance. I have more hope for the changes I can make in myself and in this world than ever before. I desire to serve others because I desire to serve the good and faithful Father.
Before coming on this three week journey, I prayed to God that I would be changed forever. I was hoping for my life to be changed in a very unique way that was very different from the other programs I went on. My prayer was answered. I am so in love with God than ever before. I see him so much clearer and have so much desire to know him for myself.
However, being back in the States, it is very easy for me to get comfortable. My fear in being home, is that all I experienced and learned will have lost its impact as time goes on. My prayer is to seek to help the needs around me, and being content and joyful while doing so. To fight to understand and love deeper. Prayer is powerful (which I never believed until these past six months) and I would love for your prayers.
Thank you to everybody who helped me get to the place I am in right now. Thank you for helping me get to Zambia. Thank you for showing me love and joy and hope. Thank you for the support. Thank you for the patience. Thank you for everything.
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.
September 6, 2017
August 30, 2017
We will keep you posted!
The HOPE worldwide Team
August 29, 2017
Lead Evangelist, Greater Houston Church