Monday, May 27, 2013

HOPE Leadership Summit May 2013...

HOPE International is one of Christian organizations that focus on helping develop micro enterprises by providing Christ-focused micro finance. HOPE has HOPE-led MFIs and partner MFIs in 16 countries. UOB is one of HOPE's partner MFIs.

HOPE has been holding the leadership summit by inviting the MDs or CEOs of all MFIs that are part of HOPE network and I have been attending this summit for the past four years, including this year. The summit takes place at the Welcoming Center of Mennonite Central Committee in Lancaster PA. Mennonites are exemplary people of God who exhibit their incarnational principles in their ministries and walks of faith. One aspect that I admire a lot is the way they share the gospel. They prefer to focusing on building relationship first than sharing the gospel in words. Their logo portrays it well.

Peter Greer, CEO
One of the most beneficial sessions to me is the sessions about spiritual integration that is coming from strong commitment to achieving holistic transformation among MFIs and their clients in the name of spiritual integration. This year, HOPE has introduced HOPE Quotient that is the first endeavor to measuring the impact of Christ-centered micro finance on clients. Once it is measured regularly over a few years, this could provide some indications of changes that take place in the lives of clients. It was appealing to me because it does not suggest to be one for all solution. Rather it admits the limitations and attempts to supplement it with focus groups, tangible metrics and MPI (multiple poverty index). This would in effect triangulate to a conclusion about an impact assessment which will likely lower the probability of mistakes on the impact assessment. UOB volunteered to be on the pilot program.

One of Panel Sessions
HOPE also held a fund-raising gala dinner, namely Celebrating HOPE, with current and prospective supporters of HOPE. This year's event drew approximately 500 people, the largest ever in HOPE's history. In this event, Thurman Award is given to a client that has exhibited the most inspirational transformation story. This year, the award went to a Philippino client through a partner MFI, CCT. HOPE also gives out a Honorable Mention award to one client for each continent where HOPE network MFIs are operating. This year, UOB's client, Antoinette received this Honorable Mention award. On her behalf, I had the privilege of receiving the award.

Celebrating HOPE
One of group sessions
Antoinette borrowed $50 in 2002. Now she is able to manage a $15,000 loan from UOB. Over the past one decade, Antoinette developed her tomato re-sale business to three different businesses, including wedding rental, grocery and wholesale business, and now hires eight employees. Also, she has adopted one child in addition to her own three children. In addition, she is taking care of her widowed sister and her own two children. She actively supports her community's public work such as road, bridge construction projects. Over the past decade, she bought her own home and a car as well. But this would represent only an economic improvement without spiritual transformation. She has met Jesus in person  through UOB's service for her and she has actively helped out other entrepreneurs with business management as well as sharing the gospel to them. Winning souls to Jesus is priceless and this would represent an infinite return on investments.
In the past, two UOB clients received this honorable Thurman Award back to back for two years.

Throughout the Leadership Summit, all people from all over the world gathered together to worship together,  witness how God is working in their individual, family and ministry lives, and learn the best practices from each other. It was a great encouragement to see people of God working tirelessly all over the world with strong commitment to serving the Lord.

Mennonites Logo
Noah the Musical
One of the highlights of HOPE's leadership summit is watching a musical at the Millennium Theater. It is a Christian theater where only bible characters are portrayed through a full-scale musical, which is even bigger than the Broadway shows in New York. This year, the musical was about Noah. At one point, the entire theater including the hall turns into the inside of the ark. It was a fascinating and panoramic scene. Wow... The past musicals that I have watched were "Psalms of David" "Joseph" and "Jonah" all of which were wonderful. The last scenes of each musical portrays Jesus who died on the cross to save whosoever believes in Him.and rose to be the first fruit of all resurrections to come. What a wonderful message it is! I was blessed and inspired. - Jeffrey

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