Leadership

Hope 4 Africa was started by Paul Armitage and a group of friends who had a heart to reach
and care for the poor in Jesus' name.


Paul serves as Pastor of Outreach at North-Mar Church in Warren, Ohio. He also gives oversight to the
Junior High Ministry. Paul loves to watch Jesus mobilize His Church to reach the world with the liberating
message of Jesus Christ. In addition to his role as a full-time husband, father, and pastor ...
he gives oversight and leadership to the ministry of Hope 4 Africa.  

Hope 4 Africa's Board of Directors governs the direction and mission of its overseas operations.

         Paul, Mandy, and Logan, Landon, and Levi.

 

Mission: My Dream for Micro-Lending

It all started in West Africa in 2006 when I visited Burkina Faso. It was there that God broke my heart for the poor and needy. It was there God brought me to tears for the malnourished and disadvantaged. Upon returning to
my comfortable America, I was introduced to the book, Banker to the Poor. This was my first exposure to the world of micro-lending. As I read, I became intrigued with micro-lending and how it empowers the poor, lifts people out of poverty, and gives them dignity.

I continued to research micro-lending when God said to me: "You do it." I felt God calling me to do more than read about helping the poor. He was telling me to actually engage in lifting the poor out of the grip of poverty -- empowering them and giving them hope and dignity. But there was a problem. I'm a youth pastor and I have no money to lend to the poor (or so I thought). I argued and bartered with God ... but He simply said, "Do it."

After I read more and consulted with people who serve the poor in Africa, I decided to lend. However, there was no one in place in Burkina Faso to help distribute loans. I prayed for God to lead me to someone. Through a mutual friend, I met a young man, Jean, in Burkina. Before I contacted Jean, God gave him a dream that he would one day help the poor. In this same dream Jean was contacted by an American who said he was going to help him care for the poor. Jean was so shocked by this dream that he never shared it with anyone but instead committed it to the Lord in prayer.

Two weeks following the dream, I emailed Jean and we started to pray together about micro-lending. After eight months of dialoguing with Jean, we decided to put our faith into action. I took what little my wife and I had and lent money to the poor.

Jean meets with prospective clients to verify legitimacy. Once the money is loaned to the client, Jean meets with the borrowers who form a solidarity group. In this group, accountability exists and borrowers encourage each other to repay the loans so all members of the group can qualify for a second loan. Jean is not only the point person dealing with money, but he also provides business training for the women.

Caring for the poor is laced throughout Scripture. It is mandated for every follower of Christ to care for the
poor. Proverbs 19:17 says, "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what
he has done."

Part of the burden I have is to see the poor be empowered and given hope. Although the poor are desperate for immediate relief, this is not what they really need. True hope is not found in money, but only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Micro-lending is a means to an end. Every borrower hears the Gospel and it is our hope that every loan given points to Christ and His great love for them.

This is the heart of Hope 4 Africa. Join me and together we can give hope to those who need it most!

   
 

 


 










History

The now-worldwide microfinance movement began in Bangladesh following a devastating famine in 1974.

As an economics professor, Dr. Muhammad Yunus grew disenchanted with teaching eloquent theories that were not making a practical difference for those struggling right outside his door. In 1976, Yunus (who is widely credited as the father of microfinance and who was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts) loaned $27 from
his own pocket to a group of forty-two businesswomen with the mandate to repay their debts to moneylenders (whose exorbitant interest rates were keeping the women shackled to their poverty) and focus on building their businesses. The women were incredibly grateful -- but more than that -- they were eager to repay the loans and did so with interest.

In 1983, Yunus founded the Grameen Bank to provide financial services to impoverished entrepreneurs on a wider scale. Grameen Bank focused largely on women. Microfinance organizations founded since that time have largely done the same.

Women traditionally have a more difficult time accessing bank loans in many countries, in part due to discriminatory property laws that do not allow for female property ownership. For a bank, lack of property translates to lack
of collateral, disqualifying many potential borrowers; however, studies show that loaning to women is a
good investment.


The Gospel and Microfinance
Hope 4 Africa wants to share Jesus Christ with people.
We do this through giving small loans which ultimately gives people a sense of hope and dignity. Through the loan process, our loan officer has the ability to share true hope and love that can only be found in Jesus Christ. In addition to these personal interactions, we periodically show the JESUS film in villages where we have lent.
This has been a proven and effective tool as hundreds of people come to watch the life of Christ on the big screen. Following the film, we give an invitation for people to put their faith in Jesus Christ!