A bike shop owner in Ukraine, a seamstress in Congo, a pear tree farmer in China: These are three of the almost 1 million clients served by the HOPE International network of programs and partnerships. I've had the pleasure of working for HOPE for six years as the vice president of operations, after working for Capital One, a large U.S. bank, for 17 years. For much of my career I never, ever imagined that I'd be doing this work in these places. But God had a different plan, one that He revealed in His way, in His timing and it's been an incredible journey.
I began my professional career in 1993 as a business analyst for Capital One after graduating from Duke University. I worked my way up to senior vice president before shifting gears in 2010. In 2011 I began working with HOPE International. HOPE is a Christ-centered, microenterprise development organization providing discipleship, biblically-based business training, small loans and safe places to save to families living in poverty in the developing world. Working for HOPE has been an amazing work experience and life experience, and I've learned so much along the way.
Soak Up Every Experience
At Capital One, I got to immerse myself into a lot of different roles and functions of a growing company. From marketing to product analysis, operations and small business portfolios, I gained applicable skills and knowledge from every role. My favorite role was managing Capital One's national small business portfolio, providing over 1 million small business owners with credit cards, loans and savings accounts. Little did I know, this would ignite a passion in me for small business ownership and set me up for my transition to HOPE.
I've found that the entrepreneurial spirit and basic needs of small business owners absolutely translate globally—from communities overseas to right here at home. Many of the frameworks and disciplines that we used at Capital One apply in my work at HOPE, just in a different context.
Nonprofit organizations operate differently due to their smaller size. I find in my work at HOPE that I get stretched vertically, taking on work that ranges from board presentations to detailed product reviews, then get stretched horizontally across different functions. The nimbleness required in the corporate world set me up to be agile in the nonprofit one.
By Grace, Through Faith
My corporate to nonprofit sector turning point came when a friend at church recommended the book Halftime by Bob Buford. The concept is about how a lot of Christians go through the first half of their careers achieving, accumulating and developing, then become restless with the corporate world and wondering what else is out there in the second half. I had been intrigued by more intentionally living out my faith through my work, and this book made tangible the intangible restlessness that I was feeling. So I finished the book, clicked the "Learn More" button on the Halftime website, then hours later was speaking with Greg Murtha, who at the time was part of the leadership team at Halftime and has helped dozens of business leaders through the journey from the corporate sector into ministry. After a few hours of prayer, counseling and encouragement, he connected me to HOPE's president and CEO, Peter Greer.
HOPE's deep sense of Christ-centeredness, mutual respect, company culture and commitment to doing work with excellence were a great fit. After spending 17 years in financial services serving U.S. consumers and small business owners, I now had the opportunity to work for a global organization investing in the dreams of entrepreneurs and businesses. Being able to help men and women who have the skills and desire to succeed but lack access to financial resources affirms for me that God led me to Capital One—the right place at the right time—equipping me for a plan that wasn't even clear to me yet.
View Work as a Calling
As I've experienced both the corporate world and ministry sector; I believe that there are no higher or lower callings. I think God leads His children to all walks of life and in all different types of work. He calls people, not just to work in Christian ministry, but to be business leaders, government employees and entrepreneurs. I've gotten to know HOPE board members and major donors who live out their faith in incredible and inspiring ways from within the for-profit sector.
What matters is faithfulness and living out the gifts and talents God has given us, listening to God's call as it relates to work and viewing work as a way to honor Him. Worship and work don't have to be two separate things. As Christian professionals, getting in touch with our God-given skills and sensing where He has put us allows us to live out our faith personally and professionally in an integrated whole. Making the transition from the corporate world to the nonprofit realm has caused me to be stretched into many different directions and situations. It's my greatest pleasure to be able to utilize my corporate experience for the greater good, living out HOPE's mission with our clients, partners and staff. There's no better mission than God's mission, and I'm grateful for the chance to be a small part of it.
Dave Wasik is vice president of Operations for HOPE International.
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