Pastor Kenny and I took a quick trip to Haiti this past week, praying that God would open our eyes and ears to what He is doing there. Proverbs 19:21 says that there are many plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the Lord is what will stand. My fellow Pastor and I had many thoughts in mind, but we were united in that we would not predetermine our plan for July until we saw and heard first-hand what God is doing among the Hatian people. We don’t want to go in and do what we think is right. We want to join God in His work. In this post, you will find two short diary entries, one from each night in Haiti this past week. God has indeed revealed His direction, and has opened our eyes and ears to clearly see how He is working and what we can do to help. I thought it beneficial to keep these two short diary entries easily accessible to our church members and partners as we continue to follow God’s leadership in this endeavor.
Grace and Peace,
Today we (myself, Pastor Kenny, and four other Haitian brothers and sisters) travelled to the outer Western parts of Haiti. I am blessed and honored to be working with such a Godly, passionate, and visionary group as we seek God’s future direction for our work here. In three churches and schools we listened to, sang with, and prayed with the pastors (who are also the schoolmasters) and some of the children and other town leaders. In almost every case, facilities are less than subpar, and money is just about nonexistent. 35-50% of the school aged children in each area do not go to school because parents cannot afford the $50 (USD) per year to send them.
The highlight of my day today was singing “How Great Thou Art” (in English while they all sang in French) – declaring God’s greatness and goodness while standing in front of an orphanage building (which houses 50 children) that in the states we would be ashamed to call our trash bin. The pastor of that church/orphanage/school never asked for a dime. Only that we pray for him and his ministry.
Tomorrow we go to some schools and churches in the city. Still praying for God’s discernment and direction, as there is much to be done here. Much more to come, including some pics and videos. The Lord is really working among and through this group of people. I can already feel it.
We traveled today around some of the “larger” cities and towns. Pastor Kenny and Monsieur Veniel took me to meet and talk with Representative Gustave Andre Louis of the Kenscoff District, and also with Mayor Jean Pierre of Kenscoff. We had to work our way through hundreds of people just to get in the Rep’s office – they were lined up and gathered to meet with him (one on one) to discuss their individual needs (Can you imagine if our Congressmen would do that?) He actually gave them money and rations as they came. Representative Gustave is also Pastor of a Baptist Church in Kenscoff and started the school in that city 15 years ago. He loves Jesus and his people with a passion. Next week, Pastor Gustave (as he introduced himself) travels to the US Congress to discuss the possibility of Haiti exporting some of its many natural resources. There are scores of different fruit and nut trees that grow indigenously, but none are really exported to their full potential.
Mayor Jean Pierre is also a great man of God and, as Pastor Gustave did, welcomed me with a warm embrace and a sincere smile. It felt like I had known them for years. Kenny and Veniel are good friends with these two men and consider them family. The Mayor’s wife cooked a delicious Hatian meal for us at lunchtime in her home, and was a fine hostess. Pastor Kenny has a vision to begin a Bible Institute in Kenscoff in the near future – a project I am hoping to be involved with.
One gentleman I have had the pleasure of working with the past two days – and hope to invest in and maintain a close relationship with in the future – is Pastor Edome Orvilus who has recently finished 4 years of theological training and is scheduled to be ordained in 2014. This man has left a great impact on my ministry as he desires to see his people come into a thriving relationship with God and live that out every day in their families and communities. There are very few “full-time” pastors in Haiti. Most work long hours outside the church to support their family and their ministry. Pastor Edome currently works at his father’s church and also preaches occasionally (on a rotation) at pastorless churches outside the city.
Then there’s Ruth. Ruth has given every second of her life to loving God by loving children in Haiti. She dreamed up, planned, and brought to life a brilliant school with painted murals, a playground, and well-trained teachers in the inner city of Petionville. She and her cousin Guillaume work together in a self-supported foundation (yes… NO outside support) for improving schools and training teachers all across Haiti. Ruth’s heart beats for Jesus. She desires to work in the schools inside and outside the city limits (many of which we had to travel to by foot) training teachers and providing them with necessary resources. This is a cause worthy of our continual support (she actually said money is NOT the answer. Tangible resources and your occasional expertise-presence is what they need). Ruth hosts a TV show every Saturday morning which trains teachers in Haiti. But many homes do not have the luxury of electricity. Furthermore, children who live outside the city simply cannot attend government schools (if you traveled here for more than 30 seconds you would see why… Donkeys, foot-traffic, mountains, and hundreds of miles of undeveloped roadways) so Churches and Pastors start the schools themselves and charge the students about $2-6 USD per month [when I first wrote this entry and posted to Facebook it read “per day” but that was a mistake] to attend for the professor’s fees (yes, about 35-50% of students in these areas cannot afford it, so they just don’t go to school at all). Ruth wants children to grow up loving Jesus most of all. She is skilled as an educator and pours her life into Haiti’s schools and children. I hope to partner with her, Pastor Kenny, and the others in the future to reach these outer lying schools with the love of Jesus and the importance of education. These children must learn that they are important to God and that if they will “seek first His kingdom,” the rest will fall into place according to God’s plan and His great mercy.
The living conditions are what you would expect from a “third-world country” recently devastated by an earthquake.
- We passed a location in the side of a mountain today named Titayen – it is a mass grave of over 1 million people who died in the earthquake.
- I saw individuals urinating on the side of the street and less than a mile down the road, others bathing in the same water flow.
- I witnessed emaciated dogs, blindfolded chickens, and brutally beaten cows to the extent of imprisonment for animal abuse in the States.
- Ruth told me of a certain community where approximately 40% of the 12-15 yr olds have children and will just give them away to whomever will take them. My heart breaks at the thought.
- People call “home” what I would have previously been ashamed to call my trash bin.
And these words cannot even come close to explaining the living conditions here. All the while, people met me on the streets with handshakes, hugs, smiles, and warm words. Everyone from children to older adults wold embrace me and say a kind word (and no, they didn’t ask for money). They are so beautiful, and so very significant in the sight of God. I cannot imagine anyone ever coming here and not falling in love with these people…
… Maybe that’s why we stay away. Maybe we are afraid of the love that God will place in our hearts which will necessarily call us into action.