This past week I had the joy of serving the people of Haiti with other team members from our church. To say the experience was eye-opening and life-changing would be an understatement. God allowed us to plant 50 fruit trees, assemble and present 10 water filtration systems, and give 3 pairs of goats to families in need. He gave us the opportunity to pray with people, encourage them, and share the Gospel.
Our team stayed at the main campus of our Xpansion Partner, Mission of Hope, which is essentially a compound of buildings located in a small village known Titanyen. The accommodations were Spartan, the days and nights were hot, and the landscape was dusty. Having been there once before, I made the veteran move of bringing along my hammock so that I could hang up on a roof top pavilion and catch any breeze that would blow off the ocean. I spent the evenings after dinner laying in that hammock, reading, reflecting and praying to God about what I would/should say when people asked about this trip. Forgive me for these meanderings, but here are some of those thoughts:
1. God’s Plan is always better than my plan (Proverbs 19:21) – When we arrived in country, the original plan (according to man) was for our team to serve the villages of Leveque and Bercy, which were located about 20 minutes north of the MOH main campus. Through a series of circumstances, in God’s sovereignty, that no longer was an option when we began our service projects. Those projects moved to Source Matelas. God arranged a divine appointment at the first house in Source Matelas where we met Diego. Diego was educated by a local mission and was able to speak English. He was also struggling with the Lordship of Jesus. After a half hour of working together (we were planting a tree in his cousin’s yard) and talking with him, the Lord called Diego to re-dedicate his life to Christ. Diego served alongside of us for the remainder of the day planting trees and talking to people. That very afternoon, God used Diego to translate His message to bring another sister into the Kingdom.
2. Serving the Lord by serving others is a blessing (Isaiah 58:10-12) – The people of Haiti are joy-filled, welcoming, and sweet people. They’ve never met a stranger. After being welcomed in and planting a tree or painting a home, I could linger in front of their home for hours sharing my experiences, my life, and my God. I was consistently encouraged by the interactions with locals who place value on relationships above all else. Those Haitians who were Christian had a deeper faith and love than I typically experience here at home. While the majority of the Haitians might be seen as impoverished from a worldly perspective, God used many Haitian believers to show me the riches of faith and love and revealed to me my own spiritual poverty. I would leave those interactions even more grateful for the grace given to me and blessed by their example. I remember visiting with a Christian woman who was grieving the recent loss of her adult daughter. That loss required her to sell her home and take in her daughter’s children. This woman continued to proclaim Christ and showed us her nearly perfect church attendance card. She asked us to join her to kneel and pray in front of her modest home (leaky roof and all). God revealed to me in that moment that this woman truly knew what it was like to rely daily on the Lord. It was such an encouragement to see her faith.
3. God calls those He has chosen into His Kingdom (Romans 9) – Sometimes people hear the truth and do not choose to submit to it because they are not called. I still vividly remember an interaction with a gentleman on our last day of service in Source Matelas. We planted our last tree at his home and began a long discussion about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He asked insightful questions. He in many aspects was a mirror of my former self. While this man wasn’t called to a profession of faith, I asked if we could pray that God would reveal Himself to this man and draw this man to a relationship. He responded with a greater request. He asked me to pray that prayer for his country. I felt an overwhelming burden for him and Haiti in that moment. We circled around him for at least five minutes, the Lord giving me the words to say in prayer calling out for God to reveal Himself and be glorified. I felt God’s presence so deeply and so did the other team members in that circle. Surely this man did as well. When I opened my eyes, I realized that he had only heard the words and didn’t seem to have felt this encounter. As I left, I wept, knowing that he had to be hard-hearted at that moment not to have recognized the Spirit that was moving and working all around us. While he certainly may be called later, that circumstance was a reminder that God does the work, we just carry the message.
4. We go on mission trips, but He is at work on mission everywhere (Acts 1:8) – Some of the most impactful people at MOH were the local men which MOH describes as village champions. The village champions of Source Matelas were two humble men of God named Herlo and Kino. These men have taken on the responsibility to represent the Gospel and be the hands and feet to every man, woman and child in their village. God used their example as a reminder for me to seek out and serve those in my community for God’s glory. In the few days since I have returned from Haiti, God has: used me to encourage a friend who is struggling in his marriage, used my testimony to encourage someone in a life-changing circumstance, provided encouragement through a friend who raised nearly $400.00 for Haiti disaster relief, and prompted me to use the mission trip as a platform to talk about Him with a non-believer. He continues to remind me that He doesn’t want me to only share His message when I am out of the country, but whenever he prompts.
In short, our trip to Haiti was far from average. God’s power, sovereignty, and love were constantly on display and He was glorified. I was humbled upon my return to hear how God moved within our church to give so generously (over $85,000) to the ongoing relief efforts. Thank you for the encouragement of your generosity. I cannot adequately express what the Lord can do with those resources for a time such as this.
Your Brother in Christ,