Posted tagged ‘Haiti’

Reflections on Haiti Mission (June 2011)

June 29, 2011

This past week, I had the privilege of taking a team from Bowling Green, KY to Haiti to partner with a church in Saint-Marc, Haiti (here’s a satellite image of the mountain village where the church gathers).  This was my third trip to Haiti in the past 9 months since we started our mission work under the direction of Pastor Joseph.  This trip was particularly significant because (1) it was the first trip where all the efforts were directly invested in one local church and (2) it was the first trip involving another church from the United States partnering with us (Grace Baptist Church).

God continues to bless and open doors for us in Haiti.  A year ago, I would not believed you had you told me I would be in Haiti three times.  Nine months ago, I did not know Christ Fellowship Bowling Green and only had brief correspondence with one of their pastors (Lance Parrott).  Since then, they have not only joined us in Haiti, but I feel like we have become genuine partners and co-laborers in gospel ministry in ways that only God could make possible.  I believe this is just the beginning of the kind of things God is doing to take the gospel in word and deed to this needy country.

Outside the pastors, everyone who went on the trip last week had their first cross-cultural missions experience, and they all did a wonderful job representing Christ in a rather challenging context and climate.  The church in Saint-Marc has amazing leadership, and their hospitality demonstrated towards us was truly humbling.  Every time I’m among the believers in these churches I feel like they have so much to teach me (and they always do!).


Haiti Bound

June 20, 2011

This morning, I’m leaving for my third trip to Haiti.  In case you’re wondering about how my relationship with Haiti got started, these posts will give you a good idea.  I’m particularly excited about this trip for two reasons:

1.  This is the first trip where I will be leading a team from another church to partner with the indigenous network of church plants in Haiti under the direction of Pastor Odanis Joseph.  The team is from Christ Fellowship Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and they are led by Pastors Lance Parrott and Jody Sledge.  Part of the vision with The Haiti Collective is to develop meaningful partnerships with American churches and Haitian churches, and CFBG is the first to take up the opportunity of joining us in Haiti.  Our field personnel is all Haitian pastors and church planters, and the work is raw, robust, and richly rewarding. 🙂

2.  We tailor the work we are doing based on the requests of leaders on the field, in particular pastors of the local church plant we will be ministering.  We will be working with a church plant in Saint-Marc, and the leaders’ request were (1) to assist them in advancing the gospel through community evangelism, (2) provide theological education of their leaders, and (3) join them in caring for their 100+ orphans in their orphan school. So that is exactly what we’re going to do.  In the morning block, we will be working with the orphans in the school; in the afternoon block, our team will partner with church members and translators to canvas the community with the gospel; also in the afternoon, Lance, Jody and I will be holding a six-session training for  pastors and church leaders on biblical ecclesiology (nature, purpose, marks, ordinances, leadership, discipline, etc.); and in the evening, we will be hosting evangelistic rallies each night where we will be preaching the gospel to any and everyone who will hear (like all good Calvinists do).

So together, we will be loving on orphans, training pastors on biblical church health, evangelizing the community, and preaching the gospel every evening.  YES.

Pray for us. Five of the seven going from CFBG are on their first mission trip overseas.  Haiti will ruin them (in a good way).  Pray for kingdom partnerships and gospel advance, safety from cholera and other diseases, and strength to endure under the summer heat and rainy season.  I look forward to coming back and reporting on what God will do this week.  I will likely be providing update via Facebook and Twitter (but not the blog).

And if you would like to learn more about working to encourage, strengthen, and serve gospel-centered Haitian church plants, holla.

Off to Haiti

January 3, 2011

For the next ten days, I will be with 8 other men from Grace working in Haiti to train 50 Haitian pastors in a gospel conference and rebuild a church building destroyed in the earthquake.  For those of you not aware of the back story, read these blogposts (here, here, and here).  Pastor Joseph, our Haitian leader, was raised in the church in Desarmes whose building was destroyed, and more tragically, in which his father (the church’s pastor) died.  We will also build the first part of a multi-level orphanage.  In all, there are 130 orphans in this church alone.

I have created a website dedicated to our work in Haiti.  There you can find updates about our work, including photos feed from Flickr RSS, and new developments in our growing partnership in Haiti.  We are excited about God’s providence over the past year and the opportunities that lie before us.  For those interested, here are some blogposts related to this particular trip:

» 13 Ways to Pray for Our Haitian Team
» Chérir Christ Bible Conférence (schedule)
» What We Will Be Doing in Haiti
» Packing Up for Haiti
» Bibles for Haitian Orphans

Please pray for us as we hope bring the hope of the gospel in word and deed to Haitians who have suffered so much.  Our desire is to encourage, renew, equip, and revive the hearts of our Haitian brothers and sisters to advance the kingdom and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

NB: For those in Partnering to Remember, I have scheduled blogposts for the time I will be away to encourage you in your memory moleskine.  Keep treasuring God’s Word!

Tim Keller on Helping the Poor

November 21, 2010

I have not read Tim Keller’s new book Generous Justice yet, so I’m guessing that he addresses the question of helping the poor in greater detail than in his article, “The Gospel and the Poor.”  In any case, I have found his article to be really helpful, and I want to highlight what he calls “levels of wholistic ministry” (to the poor). This is a little follow up on last week’s post on how NOT to help the poor.  The three levels:


This is direct aid to meet physical/material/social needs. Common relief ministries are temporary shelter for the homeless, food and clothing services for people in dire need, medical services, crisis counseling, and so on. A more active form of relief is “advocacy,” in which people in need are given active assistance to get legal aid, help them find housing, and find other kinds of aid. Relief programs alone can create patterns of dependency.


This is what is needed is to bring a person or community to self-sufficiency. In the OT, when a slave’s debt was erased and he was released, God directed that his former master send him out with grain, tools, and resources for a new, self-sufficient economic life (Deut 15:13–14). “Development” for an individual includes education, job creation, and training. But development for a neighborhood or community means reinvesting social and financial capital into a social system–housing development and home ownership, other capital investments, and so on.


Social reform moves beyond relief of immediate needs and dependency and seeks to change social conditions and structures that aggravate or cause that dependency. Job tells us that he not only clothed the naked, but he “broke the fangs of the wicked and made them drop their victims” (Job 29:17). The prophets denounced unfair wages (Jer 22:13), corrupt business practices (Amos 8:2, 6), legal systems weighted in favor of the rich and influential (Lev 19:15; Deut 24:17), and a system of lending capital that gouges the person of modest means (Exod 22:25–27; Lev 19:35–37; 25:37). Daniel calls a pagan government to account for its lack of mercy to the poor (Dan 4:27). This means that Christians should also work for a particular community to get better police protection, more just and fair banking practices, zoning practices, and better laws.

Keller goes on to make a very important distinction in the areas where the church should and should not be responsible.  He argues that the church should be involved in relief but not seeing development and social reform as part of the mission of the church.  Instead, organizations or associations of Christians should carry out this work.  I think this careful distinction is important to consider, especially in areas where development and reform is so badly needed, such as in Haiti.  But simply because they are not the mission of the church does not mean that Christians should not be involved in development and social reform(!).  They should help the poor in this manner, understanding however that this mission is carried out on an individual level primarily and in a corporate level through entities other than the local church.

How NOT to Help the Poor

November 18, 2010

One of the biggest dilemmas right now in places like Haiti is the unintended consequences of crisis relief without long-term vision for indigenous empowerment and cultural revitalization.  For example, see Exhibit A from this past week.  A book that I have been reading that is incredibly helpful (and a manual for our work in Haiti) is When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.  I highly encouraged those doing cross-cultural mission work, especially in third-world countries, to read this book.

Also this week, I came across this video below which discusses again examples of how not to help the poor.  In our country alone, millions have been spent on “the war on poverty”–a war Americans are losing because of bad strategy and wrong presuppositions.  Check it out.

This Picture Tells It All

September 28, 2010

I did not realize that I had captured this shot until I got back to the states.  Since then, I have been unable to get it off my mind (click on the image to see a larger version).  The expressions are gripping.  Prayerful faith. Confident trust. Transcendent joy. Further back there is expressions of uncertainty, doubt, and despair.  Their gaze is piercing. Their struggle palatable. Their hope profound.

Can Anything Good Come Out of Haiti? Part 3

September 27, 2010

–> Part 1.
–> Part 2.

While in Haiti, I learned some things that made a big impression on me, some of them I want to share with you.  But before I do that, I want to mention that I am giving a 2-part report to my church on my experience in Haiti.  The report has three parts: (1) summary/overview, (2) evaluation/assessment, and (3) recommendations.  The first part was simply a city-by-city walk through of our trip.  The second part was our assessment of (a) the man (Joseph), (b) the message, (c) the mission, and (d) the methods for accomplishing that mission.  Based on the evaluation and assessment, I along with my travel partner, are making several recommendations.  Included in this report was numerous photos and videos taken from my iPhone & camera, some of them you can see in this photo set I’ve created on Flickr.

Part of the recommendations I will be making includes a philosophy of mission for third-world countries like Haiti where poverty is so rampant.  There are so many ways how, as one excellent book puts it, our helping can actually be hurting Haiti.  For instance, one of the unintended consequences of so much outside money coming into Haiti has caused the cost of building materials and produce to increase, making life even harder for Haitians.  So I believe it is vitally important that we think creatively and critically in not only what we do in places like Haiti, but also how we do it.


Can Anything Good Come Out of Haiti? Part 2

September 23, 2010

–> Part 1.

You know about those emails from pastors or church leaders in another country asking for help?  I get them all the time.  Call me skeptical, but I’m pretty sure that most of them are not legit.  So when I got an email from a pastor in Haiti in town looking for a church, I couldn’t help but feel the skepticism in my heart.  He came in town after the earthquake and was looking for a church to attend with requests for a ride.  We responded to his request, and in a matter of 48 hours, I would meet this Haitian man who quietly and faithfully attended our services for the following three months.

Joseph didn’t say much.  His English was rather broken, his heart even more for his people.  Like most Haitians, he was well-dressed, and every time I approached him, he responded with a quiet hello and bowed head.  I just thought he was here to visit some family (which he was), but soon I came to realize it was so much more.  In the earthquake this past January, Joseph lost nearly everything.  His father, hero, and mentor was killed while in the church building where he invested his life pastoring God’s people.  Joseph’s house was completely destroyed, his wife trapped inside and now medically impaired.  The three-story building in Port-au-Prince where the church and orphanage was located collapsed, killing nine orphan children.  In this building was stored all the Bibles, musical instruments, sound equipment, and teaching materials for all nine churches he had started over the past 15 years.  On top of this, one of the members in the church in Port-au-Prince, a high-ranking government official who funded a large amount of the food supplies for the orphans, was killed in the earthquake, leaving Joseph will a state of desperate need one can only imagine bearing alone.

So a homeless 33 year-old man who just buried his father and sent his wife to a hospital in the Dominican Republic ended up in my city because, as he later told me, the children in his churches “no longer had food to eat”.  He didn’t come to get a handout from our church.  He came looking for a job so that he can bring some money back to feed these children who looked to him as their grandfather. What he did not know was there are no jobs here in our city (that’s another story), and so he was left to attending church at Grace while trusting God for a miracle.


Can Anything Good Come Out of Haiti? Part 1

September 22, 2010

I’ve been back from Haiti for four days now. It hasn’t been easy to get back into the swing of things, and I’m not sure that it is supposed to after the sights and sounds of being in a third world country.  I have been to numerous countries on short-term mission trips, but going to Haiti was unlike anything I had ever seen.

Restavecs (child slaves) carrying buckets of water on their heads before dawn at 4:30am, some of them looked to be under the age of six.

Tent cities that held twice as many people in a square block than my city does in a square mile. Not just one tent city, but literally everywhere from the mountainous foothills to directly next to the presidential palace.

Fifteen foot mounds of dirt stacked side by side for miles outside Port-au-Prince where 80,000 Haitian bodies were buried after the earthquake.

Families bathing in filth-infested creeks as the only means of hygiene and washing whatever garments they had (most children ran around completely naked).

Building after building pancaked and covered in the ash heap of crumbled concrete in what seems to be a new, permanent reality not only in Port-au-Prince but surrounding cities as well.

Very few smiles shared, even after a hearty wave and warm smile.  Children simply stared back with a hollow look, as though they did not know how to respond to something they rarely ever see.

A country (largely) with no running water, no electricity, no air conditioning, no bathrooms, no computers or internet, no television, and no fat people.

The streets are governed by a single rule of self-preservation (no cops, no speed limit, no lanes, etc.), whether you are a flock of goats running wild or a wild man behind the wheel of a four-wheel-drive truck.

You don’t find white flags of surrender hoisted up in Haiti, but you do regularly find tall poles with red, green, and blue flags–the place of satanic worship and voodoo sacrifices.

It is enough to witnesses these things in one city or village in Haiti to make you sleepless, stunned, and overwhelmed by the enormity of their situation. I happened to witnesses all this (and more) in ten cities in five days.

It has been incredibly hard for me to concentrate or have the desire to do much since I have been back.  It is almost as if my body is having random cathartic revolts whether it is an emotional breakdown or fits of fatigue.  In general, there is a melancholic disposition uncharacteristic of my personality that leaves me wondering what the heck just happened to me.

In any case, the question I know people have had about this trip to Haiti is the same question posed about Jesus hometown.  Can anything good come of out Haiti? With all that I mentioned above, with the imago dei being so diminished by a corrupt government and culture of poverty and despair, is there hope for Haiti?

In my next post, I will share with you why I believe the churches I witnessed in Haiti resemble more of NT Christianity than anything I think I have seen in my lifetime, and the reason I am full of hope.

We Have Not Forgotten

September 14, 2010

By the time you read this, I will be en route to Haiti for the rest of the week.  How all this came about is rather remarkable.  Like many of you, we felt an urgent need to minister in Haiti after the earthquake, especially since is located in our backyard (globally).  We had already planned a mission trip to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to work with a church planter who was starting Haitian churches.  However, after the earthquake that mission trip had to be canceled since his work was need more in Haiti than where he was currently serving.

Flights in and out of Haiti were severely limited, and so we were wondering what in the world we could do (other than support the disaster relief efforts through the IMB and Churches Helping Churches).  Within a matter of a couple of weeks, we received an email from a Haitian pastor who recently arrived in our city looking for a church to attend.  We welcomed him to come and join us at Grace, and he spent the next three months with our church family.  We call him “Pastor Joseph.”

Pastor Joseph is a church planter in Haiti who has helped start eight churches and four orphanages with little to no money or outside help.  He did not come to our church asking for money or help the entire time he was with him.  However, the majority of the structures were destroyed, and the primary givers supporting the ministry were killed in the quake.  When he left at the end of May, we were able to take up an offering allowing him to provide temporary housing for orphans as well as food supplies for the needy children they have taken in.  Since then, his own two children have come back with him to the states on with a medical visa due to poor health and malnutrition and is now being cared for by one our families here at Grace.  It has been a wonderful display of the gospel.

So I along with one of our deacons are on our way to meet Pastor Joseph and visit the churches and orphanages he oversees.  It is a quick and demanding vision trip, and we are excited to see what is happening there in Haiti.  Nearly eight months after the quake, it is good to let the Haitians know that they are not forgotten.

Another wonderful providence has been our new acquaintance with Mission of Hope.  They are a mission organization that has been in Haiti for twelve years and have a massive operation (they have served 6 million meals since the quake).  They are currently relocating to Ft. Myers and just this past Friday had the privilege of meeting with their president, Brad Johnson.  Two of their leading executive staff have been attending Grace in recent weeks and are considering what God might have us do together.  Later today we hope to have the opportunity of visiting their headquarters in Haiti and connect with their team as well.

If you read this sometime this week, please pray for us.  We earnestly desire to be an encouragement to our Haitian brothers and sisters and also seeking God’s guidance in how we can have long-term investments among these people living and ministering in a desperate situation.  Thank you!