A couple weeks ago I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop in Nashville just getting some work done when I got a text that said “call me ASAP, want to go to Haiti next week, all expenses paid?” Now, I can’t say I get messages like these everyday… or actually ever before in my life for that matter. But after I got some things settled at home I went for it.
It was quite different because it was the first time I had gotten to go on a trip just to support my friend as he did some pastor training. I didn’t have to lead a group of 45 people or organize logistics, I just had to go be present and love (and still try to get in 20 hours of work to please my gracious boss!)
Within about 2 days of the that message I was on a flight down south heading into a pretty unknown trip. Honestly it felt like I was walking into some strange combination of Timothy accompanying Paul to visit a far off Church and a CIA agent accepting his orders. I guess both could be considered mission work.
One of the hardest things about following my passions around the world is that I’ve had to sacrifice time and relationships with people I love. I got to travel and support Gordon Baines, a good friend and old college pastor who has over the years inspired in me a love for travel and a love for the Body of Christ…and a tolerance for type A personalities. He had been sharing with me how God had been affirming a calling in his life and while I had not specifically asked God for an opportunity to spend time with him, God seemed to know and fulfill a desire in my heart. If it wasn’t for His faithfulness like this my job would be a lot more difficult.
As soon as we touched down in Port au Prince we got a ride to another airport and hopped into a little 5 seater airplane to fly further down the island. The view was incredible! I had heard the statistics about Haiti being the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and I really did think much of it because I had been to some pretty impoverished places. But once we got a chance to drive around the capitol city it was more evident. It lacked the infrastructure compared to other similar countries and rubble still lined some of the streets as a reminder of the earthquake damage that occurred over 4 years ago.
We landed for the second time on a dirt runway in the southern city of Jeremie where we were going to help train some pastors. We pulled in to a university/seminary campus that our contact pastor had been building and I was really impressed. It was such a privilege to be a part of educating my generation and empowering them to change their country.
After all if they weren’t going to do it then who was?
Haiti has one of the most corrupt governments in the world and I was continually reminded of this. I would talk to a local who mentioned how they were repairing their port in hopes that it would bring more import/export business south but it was difficult because the government wants all the money to come through the capitol first. I talked to a US foreign aid worker who now calls Haiti his home with his 2 children and expecting Haitian wife. He had been applying to start a corporation to create jobs for his town but after 3 years the application hadn’t moved. Universities turn down thousands of intelligent applicants because they can’t hold them and student visas to other countries are almost impossible to get.
It’s not the easiest place to find hope but I saw it.
I heard about a pastor in a nearby city that disagreed with a government decision and got 100,000 signatures on a petition…needless to say he has quite a bit of influence now. Everyday we drove by the agriculture department and I saw the students hard at work tending to their project. Everyday I stood in front of about 40 students that were driven to take what they were being taught to the homes and streets of their community. Some other students even came in on their breaks just to participate. I heard about how when there was a pastors conference people would drive 8-12 hours just to sit in. Afterwards, we met up with another team from Missouri that was constructing beds for an orphanage and on the way back the plane was filled with medical volunteers from Tennessee who shared with me testimony after testimony of bringing health and healing to the villages.
I’m not going to lie, on the surface and to the masses Haiti seems like it’s caught in a pretty hopeless cycle of government corruption, lack of opportunity, and with every passing UN truck a constant reminder that it can’t govern itself.
But when has God ever told us to look at the masses for a sign of his work. And how many times has God ever initiated a revolution or culture change from the top down and not just used a few faithful believers?
So great, Allan!! I got invited to go to Haiti as well either later this year or early 2015 to speak at a women’s conference, I hope the Lord clears the way! Your words encouraged me a ton, thank you for writing!!
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