Evelyn’s Story

Dec 23, 2020

Merry Christmas from Homes for HOPE! As we approach the end of 2020, we’ve been reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned during a year unlike anyone could have predicted. It has been extremely instructive for us to witness and be challenged by the resiliency of those we serve around the world.  Creativity, ingenuity, camaraderie, and hard work are necessary survival tools for those who experience catastrophic loss and economic instability. These characteristics coupled with HOPE’s biblically based training, savings services and loans, worked together to highlight how well-prepared families in the HOPE network were to weather the COVID19 storm we’re all facing together. Early in the pandemic, our staff in Burundi, the second poorest nation on earth, sent a note saying, “God prompted us to pray for the U.S. … Our hearts are with yours!” We’re so encouraged to walk through this season with our brothers and sisters around the world, learning from their selflessness and resilience. 

A perfect example of this is the story of Evelyn & Jerome Niyonzima – active church members and entrepreneurs from Burundi. Prior to the pandemic they supported their 9 children through growing and selling onions to people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who would cross the border to shop at their local market. When the borders closed due to COVID restrictions, their main source of income disappeared. Undeterred, Evelyn recognized the need to diversify her business. Motivated by a desire to provide for her family, avoid disappointing her friends at HOPE, and repay her husband’s loan, Evelyn made her own fertilizer to grow a wider variety of crops and began selling it to others in her community. She also used the loan to start a piggery and purchase cows, chickens, and ducks. Furthermore, she provided jobs for 5 other people in her community who take care of the animals and run the fertilizer business. In the face of severe obstacles, the Niyonzimas changed strategy midway through their repayment schedule and their wise decisions are paying off.   

While stories like this challenge inspire us, may we remember where our ultimate hope lies as we step into 2021. If there’s anything 2020 taught us, it exposed the frailty of so many things we look to for meaning and purpose in life. Jobs, finances, relationships… these things all change. Yet we can be confident that a hope placed in Jesus will prove secure.     

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5 

Matthew Baehr

Matthew Baehr

Executive Director of Development Homes for HOPE

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