December 2020

Encouragement, training, and bibles

On December 28th the Real Hope Program members gathered together in Pignon to share a meal, encourage one another, and receive business and spiritual lessons. Claude and Pastor Salnave provided instruction for several hours to the attentive and engaged group. Also, due to the generosity of a donor each participant received a Haitian bible as a gift.

Though we were again not able to attend due to Covid related restrictions, we sent words of encouragement and professional advice from the Real Hope Program team. The following thoughts were part of what was shared with the micro-loan participants:

It is with great excitement and honor that we write to you. We are blessed to partner with you to help the Pignon community and be a light for God.

Hope = Confident Expectation.

When you started your business you had HOPE that it would be successful and it would provide for you and your family. You thought about what type of business to have, how you would operate the business, and how you would work hard for it to be successful. You had confident expectations for your business. As a business owner and leader you have a passion for making that vision and plan become a reality. You work long hard days. You do not quit. You have that HOPE deep inside you, and it is part of everything that you do.

Like planting a seed, starting a business requires faith and hope. When we put a seed into the ground we have faith and hope that it will grow. In a few days that seed starts to grow roots and pushes a sprout up out of the ground. That moment is amazing! We get to see the results of our faith and hope. However, the process is just beginning. At first, that small plant and your new business are growing, but they are fragile. They need continued support and attention. They need watered, fed, and regular attention. We need to be intentional in attending to our businesses.

We need to work hard "In" our business, doing the day to day work of our business and serving our customers. However, we need to also be intentional in working "On" our business. We need to regularly set aside time to study our business. What is working? What is not working? What can we do differently or better? I would encourage you to at least once a month set aside time to study your business. Study it through your eyes. Also, study it from the viewpoints of your customers, your suppliers, the non-customers in your community, and God. How does your business help each of those individuals? Can all of them see you? Do they know what you do? Are you helping them? Do they know you and desire what you have? God made all of us different. He is very selective in how he gives each of us personal, professional, and spiritual gifts. As we assess our businesses, it is a great practice to ask a few other people to join us in looking at our business. How do they see your business? Do they see different ideas or opportunities that you might not see? In doing this, you need to ask people that you know will be open, honest and encouraging, and will keep your ideas, challenges, and successes confidential. They also need to know your true vision and purpose for your business. They need to know your original HOPE for your business so they can help keep you focused on that purpose, while also giving you ideas of small changes. Just like as a tree grows from the seed that was planted, a gardener can help you trim a bad branch or give water at the right time. However, if the gardener doesn't know how tall you want the tree to grow, they may trim too many branches, or none at all.

Is the Holy Spirit one of your business advisors? Have you ever sat down in a quiet place and had a conversation with the Holy Spirit about your business? Do you look at the Holy spirit as a business partner? Have you ever asked the Holy Spirit how to handle difficult decisions like you would with a business partner? When I am facing a difficult decision with our business I always ask my wife for her advice. I respect her and the advice that she provides. I also have a group of 6 business owners that I meet with once a month. I humble myself and ask them for their advice when I am making difficult decisions. As I have matured as a business owner, I have also learned to have those conversations with the Holy Spirit. I will have a conversation with Him as if he is sitting beside me. As you do this, you likely will not hear a voice speak back to you. However, when you invite the God and the Holy Spirit into an active role and relationship in your life, they will draw near. Just like people, they desire relationships and want to be connected with people who want to be connected with them. Like water that comes in different forms like water, ice, and steam. The Holy Spirit will often answer your conversations in different ways. Sometimes you will immediately feel confidence in your decision. Other times he will have you truly wrestle with a decision. Often he will put a thought, idea, or person on your heart that was not there before. He will even prompt another individual to reach out to you for encouragement. God always loves us, but the more we draw near to him and make him an active part of everything in our lives (including our business) the more we will experience His presence.

These same ideas work in sharing God's word with others. It can be challenging, difficult, and even scary. However, if we surround ourselves with good friends and regularly draw near to the Holy Spirit, it becomes more clear on how we can do it. Remember Hope = Confident Expectations. If we have Hope that the Holy Spirit is going to work through us and our businesses, and we actively involve Him, how can we not be confident? It becomes His business, giving glory to His Kingdom, and we know God never fails!

We love each and every one of you, and pray that your business and relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit grow daily. We pray that a day will come soon when we are able to travel to Pignon again, and meet each of you in person. We know that God has a plan for each of you, and we look forward to learning about your businesses and seeing how God is using your gifts and talents.

April 2020

Covid-19 Challenges

Covid-19 and the related travel restrictions have presented some new challenges. Travel in and to Haiti is significantly restricted. Our planned trip to Pignon in May has been indefinitely postponed. Due to that change we are exploring new ways to encourage and share lessons with loan participants. The following letter is our first written encouragement to the group:

Hello Brothers and Sisters,
We greet you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. May His grace and peace be with you. We are thankful to have you as part of the Real Hope Program family.
I wanted to write you to encourage you in your business and in your walk with God. I had hoped to come to Haiti in May to meet you, spend time with you and learn more about your business. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 virus we are unable to travel. We pray that will change soon and we will be able to visit you within the next year.
These are very challenging times. I have heard reports of how difficult things are in Haiti right now. My heart breaks for the challenges you face. At the same time, the Covid-19 virus is causing challenges, sickness, and many deaths all around the world. We need to pray and remind ourselves that God is in control, and will use all things for the good of His kingdom. The bible never promised that life on earth would be easy. Romans 5:2-5 tells us: “Let us boast in the HOPE of the glory of God. Not only so, but let us also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance perseverance, character and character, HOPE. And HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
In these challenging times we can often experience that hope and God’s love through those that God puts around us. We are called to help encourage each other spiritually and professionally. Hebrews 10:23-25 is a very important scripture to Real Hope Program. It tells us: “Let us hold unswervingly to the HOPE we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day coming.” I urge you brothers and sisters to make this a part of your life every day encourage one another. Be God’s light. Pray for each other during these difficult times. Lift each other up with words of encouragement. Help one another grow your businesses. Share ideas. As I write this letter to you in the United States, most businesses are closed because of the virus. As business leaders we need to find new ways to do business and provide for our families. I know you will face similar, but different, challenges. If we help each other and encourage one another, we will have better success.
I respect all of you for being business owners. Owning a business is not easy. Statistics show that 80 out of 100 new businesses will fail within the first 18 months. Out of the 20 businesses that succeed, only 20% will last 3 years. That means that only 4 out of 100 new businesses will succeed. You have a special determination and commitment that not all individuals have. The scriptures tell us to have the same commitment to those around us. We are to encourage and love our family, neighbors, and others. That encouragement will help your businesses grow during these difficult times. Successful businesses are able to see a need of their community, and provide a solution to that need. The bible actually teaches us this principle. Philippians 2:3 teaches us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vane conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” I encourage you to pray and ask God how he would like you to serve your community. Listen for him to guide you to the needs that he sees. Find a way to incorporate it into your business to help others and glorify God, then let God bless your obedience. Joshua 1:7 tells us “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” We always need to keep our eyes on what God has set out for us. While we might be running a business, we will personally prosper only when we keep our eyes on God. Our hope should always be in the Lord. He is our daily hope, and renews our strength daily. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” Lamentations 3:25
Real Hope Program wants to work with you and encourage you as you create and cultivate your business. That means using God-given time, talents, and resources to bring your business into existence, develop products, and manage details for the benefit of others and for the glory of God. Jesus gave us an example of how to do this. He is our Savior, but also acts like an older brother whose steps we can follow. Jesus set the example of being a life giving presence in all areas of His life, including His work. Wherever Jesus went things got better, and others flourished. Whatever He was doing, people experienced Him as a life giving presence. The scriptures tell us in Acts 20:35 that “It is more blessed to give than receive”
• Three powerful ways we can be a life-giving presence in our work and business are: o Provision – provide for others o Attitude – have an attitude of humility as a servant leader o Excellence – run our business and work with excellence
Similarly, we all need encouragement spiritually during difficult times. Satan can attack and make a life difficult. A prayer or word of encouragement can make a big difference in someone’s day. Jesus surrounded Himself with His disciples. He taught them, and they helped Him. Many times they prayed together and for each other. We should follow their example by being close with other followers of God, encourage one another, and pray together for each other.

Through all of these challenges remember to be thankful and give praise. Philippians 4:4 instructs us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.” When we pray and sing songs of praise during difficult times we come close to God. That allows him to come close to us. We can feel his presence and peace, and hear him speaking to us. I encourage you to start your day in prayer and song. When you are thinking about your business, pause and say a prayer or sing a song of praise. Invite him to be part of your business, and to use it for his glory. Thank him for providing your business. I know as a father, I love when my kids talk to me, or when I hear them singing. I enjoy being part of their lives. The same way, God loves to hear from you and wants to be part of your life and business. Invite him to not just bless your business, but to be a part of your business. Invite God to be co-owner of your business, and look to him for wisdom and guidance.

God started Real Hope Program to help shine His light in Pignon. He specifically chose you to have His light shine on you. He chose you to participate in the micro-loan program. We pray for you, your family, and your business regularly. It is our prayer that this gives you hope and encouragement Hope that can only be found in Him. We also pray that you in turn will help, encourage, and pray for those around you. Be God’s light to those around you who may need to experience His love and grace.

We ask you to pray that God will continue to provide for Real Hope Program and that together we can encourage more families in need. At the same time, if there are specific needs that our board of directors and prayer partners can pray about for you, your family, or your friends please let us know.

In Christ,

February 2020

New Loans / Loan Renewals

February was a busy month for the Real Hope Program team in Pignon. Twenty of the original twenty two loan recipients paid their loans in full and had their loan renewed at an increased amount. Additionally, two businesses paid their loans back ahead of the scheduled date. The two families who were unable to pay their entire loan amount on time are still making payments and plan to complete their loan repayment soon. Not only were existing loans renewed in February, but due to the generosity of RHP donors 18 new Haitian families were able to receive loans.

January 2020

Real Hope Program - Board Meeting

At the board meeting in January the leadership team of Real Hope Program determined that the top priority for the fist quarter of 2020 is to pray and focus on developing long term prayer partners that will come along side of RHP and support the team via prayer. If you or your church would be willing to be prayer partner, please contact one of our board members. Additionally, the board worked on the 2020 budget, authorized the use of funds to finance a new group of loans, and allocated funds to purchase a portable generator that will provide power to the RHP office in Pignon.

December 2019

Business Seminar / Christmas Celebration

On December 23rd the Real Hope Program in Haiti gathered all of the micro-loan recipients together to discuss business principles and celebrate Christ's birth. Attendees received several hour of training that focused on sound business ideas and biblical principles that can be applied daily business operations. After the training everyone celebrated the birth of our savior by participating in a meal and praising God.