Ten years ago, an ICM partner in Eastern Europe approached us with a unique idea: Hope Centers. In a region where many had fallen on hard economic times, our partner needed special church facilities to help vulnerable women and children. Hope Centers would provide meals, emergency shelter, daycare, and spiritual nurture to those who needed it most. It sounded good to us.
So, in 2010, we built three. The next year, we built seven.
Then our partners in Latin America needed a place to help children, too. And when the Rwandan government decided a few years ago to close their orphanages, Hope Centers became a vital tool to help local churches bridge the gap in social services.
Today, ICM has nearly 400 Hope Centers in 34 countries. Some of them serve hundreds of people per month through feeding programs, day camps, and educational assistance. Because of these Hope Centers, the next generation is discovering a new life in Christ and whole communities are being transformed.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Egypt. Children in Egypt live at risk of being exploited through sex trafficking, child marriage and child labor. In poor neighborhoods, children sort garbage for food and income; others are put to work in cotton fields and limestone quarries. And in several areas of the country, girls still endure female genital mutilation. Hope Centers are helping to rescue many of these abused and exploited children.
Egypt is a particularly difficult place to build. Land is scarce, building materials are priced at a premium, and Christians face deadly persecution from Muslim extremists. Building projects there can take double or even triple the time (and cost) of projects in other areas of Africa. But when we hear of poor children receiving an education for the first time, or of peace coming to a divided neighborhood, we know that every prayer and dollar was worth it.
Thank you for supporting Hope Centers in Egypt and around the world. It does make a difference.