Why Give? Remembering Marie’s Story this Christmas

Dec 21, 2021

If you’re at all like me, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the abundance of needs that are put before you during this time of year. My wife and I were talking two days ago about how many good organizations there are doing such wonderful things, and they’re sending us letters making us aware of their work and the impact we can have by getting involved… It gets to the point where we just don’t know what to do with our limited resources – how do we prioritize where to give? And there’s this temptation to retreat. To just not get involved. It’s easier to not have to decide. This is an awkward but hopefully honest way to start off one of those very letters.

But then I was thinking about the motivation behind the timing of these asks. The realist and fundraiser in me acknowledges that there are some year-end tax implications and budgets to meet, but it’s more than that. This time of year is when the traditional Christmas story is on our minds – how God emptied himself of his glory, left heaven to become a man, and sacrificed everything, even his own life, to redeem us. It’s why we give gifts right? Because Jesus gave his life and defeated the power of sin and death for our good and God’s glory. This reconciliation between God and humankind, for me anyway, is the motivation behind this season’s sharing of powerful stories, and invitation to give toward our work through a letter like this. I want to take this opportunity to remind you of Marie’s story that we shared a few months ago on our blog.

“There is no desperate situation that God cannot take you from,” testifies Marie Ndereyimana. “I learned that God is a God of widows and orphans.” Marie has been both in her lifetime, and now God is working through her to assist both orphans and widows in her community of Muyinga, Burundi.

Several years ago, Marie’s in-laws chased her from her home when her husband died, leaving her and her five daughters extremely vulnerable. Her own family already deceased, Marie fled, with three orphaned girls the couple had adopted, to their church. The church sheltered them and soon became home to Marie’s two older daughters, as well, when they were forced to leave boarding school because Marie could no longer afford their fees. While Marie was living in the church, savings groups began, and a friend encouraged her to join. Though at the time she earned just 50 cents a day working others’ fields, Marie understood the value of saving and committed to contributing 25 cents a week.

With a $5 loan from her group, she started a business selling avocados and bananas. From there, Marie’s life has changed dramatically. She now owns a small shop in addition to a rental property and has purchased land and livestock. She employs up to 15 workers a day to farm her plot and has launched a savings group in her community specifically for widows, encouraging them with her testimony of transformation.

In a powerful display of forgiveness, Marie has even reconciled with her husband’s family and financially assists some of them. Some of her in-laws have followed her to join HOPE Burundi savings groups, and others have come to know Christ through her example of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Yes, we can make a huge impact on global poverty through our giving (she did all that starting out by saving 25 cents a week?!) but true, holistic flourishing – as we see in Marie’s story of betrayal, restoration, forgiveness, and reconciliation – is why we’re motivated to get involved. It reminds us of our story and the way God sacrificed everything to restore, forgive, and redeem us from our bondage to sin. We are hoping to raise $200,000 here at year-end, and since it only costs HOPE $25 to serve one person for a year, that will enable us to initially come alongside 8,000 people! Will you join us?

with Gratitude,
Matthew Baehr, executive director

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