Hope – To Keep from Drifting!
By Bill MacLeod, Executive Director
Peter Greer, President and CEO of Hope International, is no stranger to Mission ConneXion Northwest! While he comes as our Plenary Speaker this January, he has often led workshops in the Business as Mission track over the years. Hope has determined that 2 billion people around the world do not have access to financial services and that only 2.7% of microfinance institution clients are served by Christian organizations. So this is the ‘niche’ that Hope International seeks to fill in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
Peter has also written one of the most important books of our generation on the topic of Mission Drift – how organizations get off base when it comes to keeping the gospel central – and he’ll be speaking at Leadership ConneXion on Friday, January 19th from 9:00am to 4:00pm.
We recently caught up with Peter to ask him a few questions about himself, his calling, and why he’s coming in January:
Peter, you were brought up in a Christian home, but what were the circumstances that ushered the hope of Jesus into your life? My father pastored a church in
Boston, and each Sunday, we were in the front row. My dad would open Scripture and share passionately – but even more significant was the way that my father lived out his faith, not just on Sundays, but on every day of the week. My parents were—and still are, to this day—one of the clearest, most authentic expressions of Jesus Christ that I have witnessed. My faith became my own in high school, and I was shaped by international missions experiences, as well as Camp Brookwoods, a Christian camp on Lake Winnipesauke. Our camp counselors were college students, and I admired watching these college students going all-in for Christ. To see these students, who were just a little older than me, sold-out for God in the ways they spoke and lived their lives—it left a lasting impression on me, encouraging me to not just commit my life to Jesus, but to make it central to all I do.
How has that hope transformed your life and led you to express it in cross-cultural settings both here in North America, and overseas? At the airport as I was about to depart for my first international job in Cambodia, I can remember my mom praying for me. It’s a prayer that I have never forgotten. She prayed that I would love all people with the love Christ has shown to us – and specifically, that I would love all people with equal urgency, whether that person was living in poverty, or an individual with abundant wealth. Since that time, I have met with many people living on less than $1 per day and I have met with many people of extraordinary wealth. My goal is simply to love God and love people, recognizing that we all have great need and we all have great wealth. And we are all invited to run towards the hurting, and ultimately love our neighbors with the same unconditional love that Christ has shown us.
What can we expect, and how would you like to see people respond to the unique emphasis you will bring to Mission ConneXion Northwest this January 2018 with regards to our “There is Hope” theme? In my role with HOPE International, I have been absolutely wrecked by the brokenness in the world. I’ve experienced challenges with governments and seen the reality of poverty—and quite frankly, it can feel overwhelming. In the face of enormous physical and spiritual need, we all can wrestle with, “What can I do?” But pain becomes the backdrop for the love of Christ to shine brightly. I hope that at Mission ConneXion Northwest, we will be able to see and celebrate glimpses of the Kingdom breaking through around the world. In my role, I am inspired by people like Anasita Zita, a blind Rwandan widow. From the surface—and certainly from a material standpoint—she had very little. Not only does she live in one of the poorest countries in the world, but she is also doubly-marginalized as a woman with a disability. Yet, she thrives. She has started multiple businesses, beautifully lives out her faith, actively serves her community, and loves other people incredibly well. She models courageous generosity and a heart of service. Stories like this give me hope, a hope that pierces through desperation and desolation. When tested, we will emerge either proven or broken, either buoyed by hope or sunk by despair. With the Spirit’s empowerment, I believe that we can love and serve well, unleashing hope to a world that desperately needs it.
I don’t know about you, but I need the Hope that only Jesus can give, and I do not want to drift off God’s calling for my life…so I can’t wait to hear what Peter has to say to us this January!