Who We Are

A Compassionate Response to Crisis and Disaster

Hope Force International (HFI) is a Christian response to disaster events that surround us at home and abroad, reaching out to those who experience suffering and loss.  Throughout history, the failure to cope with natural disasters has produced devastating consequences, from countless lives lost to ruined homes, businesses and economies. Tragically, it is often the poorest of the poor who are the most vulnerable. Around the world over 60 million people a year are affected by disasters and crisis and disasters are on the rise, especially over the past 30-40 years. 

As never before, trained disaster responders are needed to walk sensitively and appropriately alongside those affected by crisis. People are seldom adequately prepared to meaningfully come alongside others who are suffering. HFI provides a pathway of service for caring individuals, allowing them to become willing, capable responders.  

The motivating purpose of Hope Force is to equip willing responders and mobilize them onto pathways of service. HFI trains volunteers in advance so they are prepared and allowed to respond, often in restricted areas, when disaster strikes. Not all will be doctors, nurses, or even first responders such as firemen and paramedics, but everyone is needed. HFI emphasizes “the ministry of presence”—walking sensitively and appropriately alongside those affected by crisis or disaster. Hope Force International is committed to:

  • Preparing for disasters through training and equipping
  • Immediate response and relief
  • Recovery and development
  • Reaching areas of chronic, pre-existing need

HFI's leadership is comprised of individuals who are committed to utilizing their expertise to inspire, equip and mobilize thousands of trained volunteers into areas of crisis around the world.

 

Our Mission

To alleviate suffering caused by disasters and chronic human need through mobilizing the global Christian community into compassionate action.

Our Vision

To become a leading volunteer training and response force, bringing hope to those affected by crisis or disaster.

Our Core Values

Hope Force International has eight core values that are more than just buzzwords.
They’re at the center of our culture and drive our work.

 

God Directs:

"Reverence and reference God in all we do"

Quick Response:

"Respond to worldwide disasters and crises quickly and effectively"

Empowered Volunteers:

"Empower volunteers for rapid deployment"

Maximize Effectiveness:

"Partner with others to maximize effectiveness"

Demonstrate God’s Work:

"Demonstrate the transforming work of God in the lives of responders and those we serve"

Maintain Professionalism:

"Maintain high standards of professionalism in decisions and actions"

One Person At A Time:

"Love people one individual at a time"

Serve Well:

"Serve with bravery, compassion and integrity"

Our Team

Our leadership team consists of staff and volunteers who have a heart for Jesus and serving others. They work extremely hard to make sure our teams are well equipped going into disaster relief.   Our staff raise their own support to be able to serve. Get to know these wonderful people, and even consider coming along side them and supporting them and their work.

 

Jack and Cherie Minton
Co - Founders

Joey Stoltzfus
Disaster Services Director

Aaron Stetson
Disaster Response Coordinator

Brian Wagner
Director of Hope Force Appalachia

Connie Hasty
Deployment Coordinator

Carol Jones
International Training Coordinator

Glenda Alexander
Senior Chaplain

 

Zalathiel Rodriguez
Hope Force Mexico

Rene and Marianne Lako
Hope Force Haiti

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JACK AND CHERIE MINTON

Co - Founders

Jack and Cherie Minton co-founded Hope Force International (HFI) in 2003 because they felt the calling to create a Christian response to the many disasters they were seeing happen all around the globe. Their many years of previous experience with international aid and development made it possible.  Jack serves as the CEO and President, and Cherie as Executive Vice-President and Training Director.    The Mintons’ commitment to international aid has taken them to over 50 nations, working with officials at all levels of government, and with numerous partner agencies, churches, companies, and organizations. This created a vision to provide a clear pathway to mobilize Christians into rapid disaster response around the world.  Based in Brentwood, Tennessee,  HFI provides a compassionate response to the needs that surround us at home and abroad.  The vision of HFI is to be a catalyst for Christians to become leading responders to the plight of global suffering.

Prior to founding Hope Force International, Jack served for six years as Senior Vice-President of International Operations for Mercy Ships – an international medical organization.  Serving on the Mercy Ships International Board of Directors, Jack was responsible for the oversight of the directors of each of the organization’s medical ships, as well as 16 international offices and program development.  From 1984-1997, he served in various capacities, including oversight of operations at the international headquarters of Mercy Ships in Texas,  Training Director, and Director of two of Mercy Ships’ medical vessels – the m/v ANASTASIS and m/v GOOD SAMARITAN.

Cherie has been active in leadership roles, involving relief work, since 1982.  Reared as a minister’s daughter, she has been committed to outreach and ministry for her entire adult life.  During Cherie’s 19-year tenure with Mercy Ships, she served in various roles: Co-Director of Training for the m/v ANASTASIS, Co-Director of the m/v GOOD SAMARITAN, and as Training Director for the organization’s international headquarters in Texas.

The Mintons owned a successful business in Orange, County, CA prior to launching their full-time careers in international aid in 1984.   They both attended Hope International University, Fullerton, CA – completing their Business Management studies.  Their education has been augmented through coursework at the University of the Nations  where they completed a five-month course on World Missions in 1983, and a three-month accelerated course in leadership training in 1987 in Amsterdam, Holland.  Jack currently serves as Chairman of the Board for YWAM Ships, based out of Kona, Hawaii – an organization that operates medical ships in remote locations around the world.

The Mintons presently reside in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee.  They have two adult children, Tiffany and Philip, and five grandchildren – Connor, Hailey, Jack, Marcus and Amahya.  They also have an adored Kerry Blue Terrier named Fergus that they plan to train as a Hope Force service dog.

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JOEY STOLTZFUS

Disaster Services Director

Joey Stoltzfus is the Disaster Services Director for Hope Force International (HFI) and oversees all natural disaster responses stateside. Before coming to HFI in the fall of 2012, Joey and his wife previously served with Youth With A Mission in Kiev, Ukraine. 

Joey’s eyes opened to the world of disaster relief In 2010 on a church mission trip to New Orleans to assist Hurricane Katrina survivors. On the jobsite in the 9th Ward in New Orleans Joey saw the value of stepping into the fray with his construction skills and his missional background to help those impacted by disaster. In 2011, Joey returned to college to pursue an associates degree in Disaster Management at Hesston College.

Joey’s wife, Laura, holds the fort down while he is away but at the same time longs to jump into the fray with him. Laura has her own incredible stories of working in the former Soviet Union in the early 90’s, interrogated by the KGB, chasing crooked money changers, standing in food lines and sharing the Gospel with 1,000’s...

Joey and Laura have 5 wonderful children. They currently call South Carolina home after moving many times (10 times to be exact) since getting married in 2001.

Stoltzfus shares why he serves, “The deep deposits made by my family and friends into my life through the years have inspired me to serve it forward.  In today’s environment, where division between people groups is too easy, natural disasters provide the perfect medium for breaking down barriers. It’s in these windows of opportunity we, as followers of Jesus, can step into the fray to reflect God’s love to his creation in difficult times.”

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AARON STETSON

Disaster Response Coordinator

Aaron Stetson serves Hope Force as the Disaster Response Coordinator.  He helps prepare the organization to deploy at a moment's notice.  Aaron is a utility player, someone who is tech support, maintenance, crew leader, cook, material gatherer, collector of airline points, zoom host, staff electrician, bass fisherman, and a little bit of communications.

It takes much preparation to be ready to go at a moment's notice and deploy into the worst of disasters and Aaron’s role is crucial in making the process as seamless as possible. What Aaron loves the most about Hope Force is how we simultaneously provide practical, physical help alongside emotional and spiritual care.  A holistic approach to survivors who are looking for a way forward after suffering great loss is of utmost importance.  

Aaron has worked in the youth ministry world for the last 20 years as paid full-time and/or part-time staff and as a volunteer at various churches and organizations, most recently as Youth Director at Windham Presbyterian Church in Windham, NH for the last 10 years.   Aaron began deploying with Hope Force in 2011 through Windham Presbyterian Church and fell in love with disaster and chronic need ministry.  With each passing disaster his heart stirred, and it became harder and harder to stay home.  So he stopped fighting it, and joined Hope Force staff.  

Aaron is a Master Electrician, holding licenses in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Tennessee. He has received his OSHA 10 certification, and Lead Safe Renovator certification. 

Aaron holds a Bachelor of Arts double major in Youth Ministry and Biblical and Theological Studies from Gordon College.  He is in the process of completing  the coursework towards a Master of Arts in Theology, attending several different seminaries to date.   He and his wife Elizabeth and daughter Emily joined Hope Force Staff in 2020 and moved to middle Tennessee during the pandemic, after serving with Hope Force as a volunteer and Reservist for ten years.  

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BRIAN WAGNER

Director of Hope Force Appalachia

As Director of Hope Force Appalachia and Central U.S. Coordinator, Brian brings over 20 years of ministry leadership and pastoral experience.  Holding a BA in Student Ministries and Bible, as well as an MA in Education Ministries and Spiritual Formation, he believes his greatest training has come from the numerous years of simply following the call to love God and love others in the everyday moments in which God affords us to enter.  Brian has been connected with Hope Force since 2006, leading teams to Biloxi, MS for Hurricane  Katrina relief.  Since 2009, he has also led numerous teams to McDowell County, WV.  It was in McDowell County where Brian’s heart was captured, and in 2015 he helped develop a jobs initiative program in the county, training young men in the trades.  In the summer of 2019 Brian came on staff part time to manage  the logistics and operations for Hope Force Appalachia; and in January 2020 he stepped into the role full time.

He shares, “When God creates in you a holy agitation that stirs you to respond in the most appropriate way, saying yes to Him, it is then that you have found your niche.  My hope is to simply create a pathway for individuals and groups to fall in love with the people and place of southern West Virginia.  There’s something about this place that captures your heart, and won’t let go.  I simply want to get as close to God as He works in the community and by default of my nearness to Him, be used as He sees fit.”

Brian lives for most of the year in central Oklahoma, responding to disasters around the country and overseeing the regional division of Hope Force Central U.S.  He desires to see this part of the country increase in readiness by having  more reservists trained to respond to disasters in their own backyard, “Tornado Alley”.  He partners  with various churches, organizations, and individuals to increase Hope Force’s capacity to respond even more effectively than they already do. 

During the summer months he lives in Caretta, WV where he hosts teams to join the work God is doing there.    He is married to his beautiful wife, Kim, whom he met in college.  They have two teenage boys and an overly rambunctious golden retriever.

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CONNIE HASTY

Deployment Coordinator

A Hope Force Reservist since 2007, Connie Hasty is the Hope Force Deployment Coordinator and bookkeeper. As Deployment Coordinator, she communicates with volunteers, develops the Reservists’ schedule, and coordinates the required paperwork for each disaster response. 

This Nashville native spent four years traveling  back-and-forth to Mississippi helping to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.  She began looking for a Christian disaster response organization to join that could cut through the red-tape and provide manpower to finish rebuilding homes. In 2007, she realized that she had found the organization she had been searching for when she was handed a Hope Force training flyer in the parking lot of her church.  

Connie and her husband Phil, also a Hope Force Reservist,  began deploying whenever they could, making great use of Phil’s plumbing/construction skills and Connie’s administrative talents. “We see the sweet people on the news, trying to pick up the destroyed pieces of their lives and we just wanted to help them all! Hope Force  gives us a tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus, but we did not realize how addictive it would be—it feeds your soul.” 

In 2015, Connie began volunteering on the Haiti Desk, coordinating the paperwork and communications of groups joining the work of Hope Force Haiti Directors Rene and Marianne Lako. Connie and Phil made numerous trips to Haiti to help build homes and deliver Christmas gifts for the child sponsorship program. 

 She moved from the Haiti Desk in 2017 when a need for an in-house bookkeeper arose and then in 2018, Connie added the Deployment Coordinator position to her duties.. She considers volunteering/working with Hope Force an honor to support everyone on the Hope Force staff and feels it’s extremely fulfilling to carry out the purposes for which  God created us. When asked what her favorite thing about Hope Force work is, it would be a tie between bringing hope to weary homeowners and looking forward to meeting and working with her fellow Reservists. “Anyone who goes on deployment – leaving comfort and family behind in the name of Jesus – is really a special person and I love getting to know other Reservists!”

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CAROL JONES

International Training Coordinator

As Hope Force International’s Training Coordinator, Carol is responsible for the administrative side of the Disaster Response Intensive training, and is the initial contact for those wishing to become Reservists.  Carol completed her Hope Force training in 2013, and in 2019 she was asked to join the leadership as Training Coordinator.

Carol has extensive experience in foreign missions.  In January 1988 she quit her job to move to Lindale, Texas to follow the call of God into full-time missions.  After completing a Discipleship Training School and a School of Evangelism with the mission organization Youth With a Mission (YWAM), her first outreach took her to Haiti and then Grenada, South America (during Tropical Storm Joan).   It was the first time she had witnessed extreme poverty and destruction firsthand and she knew from then on that she wanted to commit her time and energy to lending a “hand up” to those who are suffering.  Carol joined Mercy Ships in 1990 as the Admin Assistant to the President, and worked closely with Hope Force founders Jack and Cherie Minton, beginning a lifelong friendship and ministry partnership! 

In 1992, Carol moved onboard Mercy Ships' hospital ship, the m/v ANASTASIS, docked in Senegal, West Africa.   Carol worked as the Admin Assistant to the CEO and was also on staff with the Discipleship Training School as a trainer to those interested in working in developing nations.  She led groups of young people on outreaches to Senegal, the Canary Islands and Madagascar.  She was also part of an admin advance team sent to Cape Town to arrange for the ship’s maiden voyage to South Africa.

Carol has also worked in Switzerland and England, training missionaries for developing world missions. She was awarded the HRH Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her world missions work as a respresentative of Canada.

Returning home to Canada in late 1999, Carol joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Homicide Unit as Office Manager until her retirement in 2017 and subsequent move back to her hometown of Sarnia, Ontario.  

Carol works remotely from her home where she regularly volunteers in her community at the Inn of the Good Shepherd soup kitchen.  As a teenager, she had a wonderful example of service as she, her parents and two younger brothers would serve meals to the homeless at this very same soup kitchen many years ago.  She is a member of the Golden ‘K’ Kiwanis Club, a service club that focuses on local children in need.  Carol is also a trained hospice worker.  

In her words:  “It’s wonderful to be part of an organization that provides care, compassion and dignity to those who have suffered a devastating loss.  I believe we, as Reservists and volunteers, end up receiving more than we give.  Hope Force is a place where you know you are making a difference.”

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Glenda Alexander
Senior Chaplain

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Zalathiel Rodriguez

Hope Force Mexico

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Rene and Marianne Lako
Hope Force Haiti

René and Marianne Lako, originally from the Netherlands and permanent residents of the USA, have been in full-time missions and relief work since 1980. Marianne was trained and served as a nurse and Rene as a teacher in The Netherlands.  Their years in missions took them to various areas of the world. Notably, they served a number of years in West Africa onboard Mercy Ships' hospital/relief ship, the m/v ANASTASIS, as well as at a land-based project in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

The couple reared their three children during their time on the ship, and are proud of whom they have become as adults. Rene and Marianne are Opa and Oma to six amazing grandchildren. Between all of the family members, they are in four different countries: Haiti, the Netherlands, Sierra Leone and the USA. 

Prior to the January 2010 Earthquake, they had been sensing from God to be involved with Haiti in some capacity.  A few weeks after the 2010 earthquake, they traveled to Haiti to help during the devastation and cholera outbreak, and felt they were to remain in Hope Force's "adopted" village of Sous Souvanne, in the Gressier/Leogane area.  Since August 2011, they have been full-time Hope Force staff living in Haiti.

There are lots of challenges working in a nation like Haiti and some of the challenges they have faced are learning yet another language, adapting to a new culture and people group, and being away from their adult children and grandkids. Plus there are always challenges like insecurity and lack of infrastructure to overcome.

“Our love for God and His love for vulnerable people is what keeps us going. We believe that every person,  every child matters to God and to us. It’s not just about “doing” things but “being” there and being available for the individual, as challenging as it might be at times. One day, one person, one child, one challenging situation at a time...”

When they aren't organizing food distribution venues, gathering supplies and workers to build latrines or houses, packing backpacks so the sponsored children have the supplies they need to start school, Rene and Marianne love running.   It's a challenge as the roads are rough and not runner friendly; also the rainy season makes the roads muddy. Taking their dog Rakker for walks is a great alternative to running. He is a very good companiont

One of their favorite scriptures is Hebrews 12:1 - “Running the race together …”    As Rene and Marianne say, "We can’t do this without God, without each other, without our co-workers and without you!"

Our Partners

HFI also seeks partnership with like-minded companies, agencies and organizations.  Collaborative relationships with organizations and businesses provide a platform for maximum effectiveness. HFI partners with numerous churches across the country such as Crossroads Church (Cincinnati, OH), Traders Point Church (Indianapolis, IN), Three Bridges Reformed Church (Flemington, NJ), Grace Chapel (Franklin, TN), Christ’s Church (Jacksonville, FL), Westgate Church (Douglasville, GA), Kingsland Baptist Church (Katy, TX), The Rock of KC, (Kansas City, MO), and many others. We also partner with California Community Foundation, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and National Christian Foundation.

Additionally, HFI has been a national partner with The Salvation Army since 2005 and is also a member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).

Where we are Engaged

See our current operations across the globe and learn more about the ongoing support our teams are providing for those in need.

See Deployment Map

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