Founder’s intent

I’ve often said that when I founded HOPE International in 1997, there was no blueprint for building and sustaining this organization. Yet despite shifts in methodology, HOPE’s God-given mission and calling have remained consistent since its founding. Through this statement, I seek to leave both a foundation and a blueprint for generations to come as they strive to remain true to HOPE’s founding mission and purpose.

  1. HOPE seeks physical and spiritual impact. Many organizations, from banks to secular microfinance institutions, meet financial needs—but HOPE is called to more. Poverty is a multidimensional problem demanding a multifaceted response. As we provide financial services, we have an incredible platform from which to reach and change lives for Christ. Guided by the scriptural precept outlined in Mark 8:36 (“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”), we intentionally prioritize spiritual impact for the men and women we serve. Jesus Christ is the reason we have hope (1 Peter 3:15). We will not build a house on sand when we know where to find the Rock.
  2. HOPE empowers men and women to use their own God-given skills and resources. In founding HOPE, I benefited from the honesty of a local pastor in Ukraine who told me that my indiscriminate charity was depressing local initiative and encouraging dependency. His own intuition was decades ahead of development experts, and his wisdom shaped HOPE’s approach. Men and women are created in the image of God, who is a maker, creator, and
    dreamer. When we leverage their skills and ideas, we affirm the imago Dei in those we serve rather than inadvertently robbing them of their God-given dignity.
  3. HOPE builds long-term relationships. I have seen many well-intended short-term mission efforts—with varied results—but I have come to believe that lasting presence and local leadership are key to lasting impact. We do not come into a community as outsiders seeking to impose solutions. Rather, we work with local churches and individuals who are already experts in their own language and culture. We listen, learn, and collaborate. We do not minister through short-term bursts of energy and investment but rather through the steady stream of ever-deepening relationships. The impact we seek is not fleeting but generational.
  4. HOPE engages new frontiers. Though it can be more costly and complicated, we are called to serve underserved populations on the fragile fringe of society. We believe God’s heart is for overlooked and marginalized people. Within more established areas of service, we continue to pursue underserved populations and communities. We also enter areas where traditional nonprofits have had limited opportunity or impact.
  5. HOPE pursues Christ-centered, quality growth. While we are eager to grow and serve more families, we do not pursue growth at any cost. More important is that we stay true to our mission and serve with excellence. We must never pursue partnerships or funding that would limit HOPE’s ability to bring the light of Christ to underserved communities or cause HOPE to compromise any of our other foundational principles or beliefs.

Though the precise mechanisms of our work may change over time, it is my intent that HOPE International remain committed to physical and spiritual transformation among underserved populations while avoiding the perils of creating dependency, imposing external solutions, or drifting from our full mission.

Jeff Rutt, founder of HOPE International, written in January 2021