Follow the Journey Team to Haiti
Reports by the Team:
As I reflect on the trip to Haiti, I have come to realize that God has been speaking to me about trust even before this trip began. There were things He spoke to me about my job that I need to trust Him for, trusting Him to provide the means to make the trip to Haiti, trusting Him with safe travel to and from Haiti, trusting that the teaching we would impart would be relevant and meaningful.
I had a concern about the language barrier which I also had to surrender to the Lord. I watched Him faithfully come though each and every time. He showed me that the love of Christ overcomes many obstacles. My life has been tremendously transformed by this journey. To see the conditions in which the people of Haiti live was difficult, but God allowed me to look at the hearts of those I encountered. They were not bitter or angry people but instead filled with joy and purpose. They know what they need to do to make it from day to day. Their circumstances do not keep them from worshipping the Lord and placing their faith in Him.
The people of Pignon Haiti truly appreciated our presence there. Whether it was at the orphanage, the church or the many people that came to Pastor Jephthe’s home, we were always received with great affection. I was able to experience God’s love through the many smiles and hugs that I was privileged to get.
Finally, I’ve learned that I have to trust God not only with the plan and purpose for my life but also for the people of Haiti. While I may not understand why the people we met in Pignon have to endure such deplorable living conditions, they like me bear the image of God and He in His sovereignty opens the hearts of people like my team members and me to be used as vessels in accomplishing His will.
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26
A reoccurring phrase that describes the trip would be “Trust God.” Before stepping onto the soil of Haiti, I had to trust that God would provide the money for the trip and He did. Many teammates expressed similar obstacles but they trusted God and He allowed them to overcome any barriers they faced. Although the first day was probably exhausting for us, it was obvious that God’s arm was protecting us because there were no flat tires, there were no accidents, there was little rain, and no delay. We arrived at our destination safe. Pastor Jephthah and his wife were a blessing and their hospitality was honorable.
For many of us it was our first time in Haiti. My first couple of days was filled with insecurity and doubt. I kept praying that God would find something good in me to give to the people for the conference. My biggest challenge was my inability to speak Creole or French. My biggest heartbreak was the sight of the kids living in poor conditions and not being able to do more to help them. I am ashamed to admit that there were many times I felt hopeless. I now understand Philippians 4:12 when Paul wrote: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” My biggest inspiration was witnessing the hope of the people. They have very little but they taught me to TRUST GOD no matter what the situation.
In the eyes of every child I came in contact with and most of the adults, there was a glimmer of hope and life. They worshiped Jesus in the midst of everything that was wrong. After traveling to and from Cap-Haitien and experiencing the difficulties of riding on the muddy and unpaved roads, I could not imagine the hardship it took for the pastors to get to the conference. There were stories of pastors walking for hours to attend the conference. I learned so much from them. Their dedication and the display of hunger to hear God’s Word are qualities I wish I possessed more of. Though there were many obstacles, like the difficult translator, faulty microphones, unstable electricity in the church, the increasing heat, the random spider surprises, and other discomforts; I would do it all again for an opportunity to be used by God and to see Him plant seeds of knowledge into His people.
The days went by swiftly and I finished the presentations. At first, I felt uneasy but at some point the uneasiness was replaced by peace. My biggest desire is for the pastors to use the materials discussed in a way that would continue to be a blessing for generations. To think, God had graced little old me with an opportunity to serve His people, and to plant a seed on his behalf. He is the only one that can provide an increase. I TRUST that there will be fruit from His Word.
As the team leader, the most rewarding aspect of the trip was watching each team member grow through the learning experiences encountered during the trip. I was especially pleased with the team chemistry. God put together a team comprised of people with diverse gifts and backgrounds that bonded and worked exceptionally well together. The sense of team unity manifested itself in warm and affectionate fellowship, shared burdens, a strong spiritual commitment to the team mission goals, and a willingness to serve one another. Each team member possessed a servant’s heart, which is the key ingredient necessary for team success. There were no hot shots on this team, only team players who came to minister to the people of Haiti. The team experienced conditions of intense heat, a limited diet, incredibly rough road conditions, bothersome insects, and an exhausting schedule. Throughout all of these adversities the team exhibited a pioneer spirit to tough things out.
Each team member learned how to work and live within the context of Haitian culture, having to be flexible in terms of time and schedule. Everyone soon came to understand what was meant by “Haitian time.” Everyone was impacted by the extreme poverty that was prevalent everywhere. The team prayed that they would not become de-sensitized to the suffering surrounding them, and that their hearts would be always moved with compassion and concern. One of the team members was so moved by the plight of the 30 orphans taken care of by the Jerusalem Baptist Church that he decided to buy shoes and clothes for each and every one of them. Another team member took the greatest delight in playing games with the children and helping them to have some fun. All of the team members went out of their way to mix well with the people they met, whether they were children or adults, believers or unbelievers. This was a team of ambassadors for Christ. I will always treasure the memory of this team, and their heartfelt love for Christ, for one another, for the unfortunate, and for the lost.
“When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and that he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” ~ Acts 14:27 (NASB)
A student is currently sitting in the classroom squinting and struggling to see the board and everything/everyone around him. His vision is blurry. Headaches increase for the student due to the constant straining of the eyes. As a result, the student decided to purchase some glasses for himself. Immediately, everything was different for him. Consequently, he stated that it seemed that everything was new and different for him because of the glasses. Similarly, God has forever changed and impacted my life through my recent mission trip to Haiti. Specifically, I am here to report all the amazing things that the amazing God did in me, through me, and to the people of Haiti.
I. What did God do in me?
Through my first mission trip to Haiti, God has really developed and cultivated trust in him. He did this process by getting me to trust him during raising financial/prayer support for my trip. I was taught the valuable importance of relying on God to move through faithful hearts to financial contribute to my trip to Haiti. Furthermore, I had to rely on the sovereign and faithful God to help me as to everything he did through me. For example, he taught me to rely on him through preaching/teaching Sunday afternoon service on Psalm 37:4, teaching/preaching on Jesus power over certain areas in Matthew chapters 8-9, and the safety of traveling on a plane back and forth from U.S to Haiti. In addition, God developed patience in me during this trip. For example, patience with the various cultural differences of time in Haiti. God developed appreciation for all the basic things I have here in America. In contrast, in Haiti they lacked some necessities (clean water, better roads, shoes, and clothing). Last, through this trip, God developed a sense of brokenness and compassion to the people of Haiti. Specifically, the kids I saw walking around with no shoes, clothing in intense heat alongside roads.
II. What did God do though me?
Through this mission trip to Haiti, God amazingly, and graciously used me to further bring understanding to local church leaders of Haiti concerning Jesus’ transcendent power over sicknesses/diseases, sin, nature and death in Matthew 8-9. I had the privilege and joy of teaching over this topic in our Seminar at the church of Jerusalem Baptist church in Pigneo, Haiti. In fact, I was so encouraged that after one of our Seminar sessions, one church leader testified to how God had been blessing him through our Seminars this week. My response is To God alone be the glory for the great things that he had done!
III. What did God do to the people of Haiti?
Through this recent mission trip to Haiti, God used me, and the rest of the team to bring the Gospel to the people of Haiti. As a result, people were strengthened in their love, appreciation, and understanding of Jesus Christ. Second, God used us as his vessel to demonstrate the love and care of Christ to the people of Haiti. As a result, we pray and hope that lives were saved, changed, encouraged, and challenged in Haiti.
Over the last ten days, I had the special opportunity to serve in Haiti with Capital Bible Seminary. I will be forever impacted by these experiences, and my reflections on this trip are discussed in the paragraphs that follow.
I. What did I learn about the church in Haiti?
Though hundreds of miles from home, it was a delight to witness Christ’s work in the church in Haiti. The approximately ninety pastors who make up Jerusalem Baptist Church are passionate about winning their communities for Christ. These pastors are familiar with every family in their community and are continually praying for and visiting each person so that all might come to know Him. Not surprisingly, the church of God is growing by leaps and bounds despite the sadness and sin that runs ramped.
II. What did I learn about God?
It is difficult to summarize all that God has taught me about Himself on this trip. However, the attributes of God that are most poignant in my thoughts are as follows: He is able (or powerful), He is sovereign and He is faithful.
God is able to work in and through believers despite our inadequateness for the “job.” He enabled our team to teach pastors and ministry leaders about Jesus’ power, counseling techniques and Christian disciplines. Furthermore, he enabled us to love others and see others in a most special way. (It was a special blessing to learn that one of the church services was broadcast throughout Haiti. What a mighty God we serve!)
God is sovereign. He handpicked each person to create a most unified team that encouraged one another on a daily basis. He also blessed our team with complete health and safety. What an amazing God we serve!
God is faithful. God had directed each of us to Haiti, and He was faithful in seeing us through. Our team encountered many challenges/obstacles along the way, but our Father never left our side. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to and end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).
III. What is my response?
My response is one of a greater love for my Lord. He is able, sovereign and faithful. I eagerly await the day in which all of us will be gathered before the throne worshipping the One who never ceases to amaze. We also long for the day in which “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore…” (Rev 21:4). Glory to His Name.
The Discipleship and Training Seminar in Pignon went from Monday through Thursday, and was considered a success by the team. Pastor Jephthe was especially pleased with the impact that the seminar had upon the ministry leaders that attended from all over the region of northern Haiti.
There usually was over a 100 people in attendance in the church sanctuary, with a high point of 120 reached one day. About 30 attendees were unbelievers who sat through the entire seminar. The heat and humidity made the working conditions a challenge for the team, but didn't seem to phase the seminar attendees who paid rapt attention to the sessions for the most part. They were hungry to learn about the deeper things of God.
Richard Essiaw and Danielle Iman focused upon the subject of Jesus having power over disease, nature, demons, and sin and death. This topic is especially relevant in Haiti, where voodoo is prevalent. Many of the Haitians go to church, but also visit the local voodoo spiritualist for help in dealing with financial, health, and relational issues that they face. Kyle Bowman and Ebony Griffin led sessions teaching the attendees basic counseling principles. These discussions generated great interest and participation. One scenario presented to the Haitians revealed a cultural tendency to hold women accountable for making the marriage work, while overlooking bad behavior on the part of men. Kyle and Ebony had to point out that Christian counselors are not to take sides, and sin on the part of either party is to be addressed. The team expressed a desire to return to Pignon to lead a seminar voted completely to marriage counseling issues. Andre Adams spoke on the importance of practicing the spiritual disciplines, focusing upon worship, prayer, and fasting. Mark Heazlit spoke on the importance of possessing humility
and a servant spirit, the spiritual secrets behind the ministry of George Mueller, and the identity and role of the Holy Spirit. The latter subject is important in Haiti where many people hold charismatic views concerning spiritual gifts and prophecy. The team was impressed by the great needs faced by the church leaders in Haiti, ranging from addressing the physical needs of the community such as extreme poverty and hunger, as well as the spiritual needs of the church which suffers from a lack of sound doctrine and also the presence of legalism.
After the seminar ended on Thursday afternoon, the team visited an orphanage run by Pastor Jephthe's church. There are around 30-40 orphans that the church looks after, many of whom were brought to Pignon after the great earthquake that devastated the country three years ago.
The children took great delight in using the coloring books and eating the candy the team brought. They also enjoyed playing games led by Danielle, who has a natural gifting with connecting with children. Richard and Danielle played basketball with a group of local kids when we returned to the church.
The team will be engaged in local evangelism this morning, then return to the orphanage this afternoon. Tomorrow we will leave to return to the States, with every team member carrying a special love for the Haitian people in their heart.
Greetings from Haiti!
The team made it safely to Haiti without any complications. After landing in Port Au Prince we were met by a driver from Jerusalem Baptist Church who took us by van to the town of Pignon, eighty miles to the northeast. The team survived traveling over the last stretch of road which is unpaved, and very rough going over. We made it to Pignon just before nightfall,where there was a hearty and delicious meal waiting for us. After dinner we attended a youth service in the mother church. The singing was filled with wonderful harmonies and passion. We all slept well that evening despite the lack of any air conditioning. Please pray for the team with regard to handling the intense heat and humidity, as well as with regard to everyone's health because of the change in diet.
On Saturday the team spent the day immersing itself in the culture. We traveled two hours through the mountains to the city of Cap Haitian on the northern coast. We visited a national historic site called the Citadel. It is a fortress built on a mountaintop by the first king of Haiti during the first two decades of the 19th century. Over 20,000 ex-slaves died in the construction of the fortress, built out of fear that Napoleon might send an invading force to retake the land and re-enslave the Haitian people. However, the Haitian people have suffered from political, economic, and spiritual oppression throughout its history. Many of the team members were very touched by the level of poverty that they witnessed. Please pray for the team that our hearts will not become insensitive to the suffering that surrounds us.
On Sunday the team visited two churches near Cap Haitian. The first was one of the 85 satellite churches of the Jerusalem Baptist Church located throughout Haiti. Please pray for the team that they will be able to communicate well through the Creole interpreters. Richard Essiaw spoke at the first church, and I spoke at the second church which is a large and influential church. I was surprised to learn afterwards that the message I gave was replayed later in the day on a Christian radio station broadcast throughout Haiti. May God bless His Word as it goes forth! In the afternoon the team returned to Pignon. We spent the evening having a debriefing session and preparing for the training and discipleship seminar that will last from Monday through Thursday.
Please pray that the team will be able to help the Haitian ministry leaders learn counseling and ministry principles that will enable them to better be able to minister to their congregations.
We thank everyone who has made it possible for the team to be here in Haiti. Please stay tuned for our next update!
In Christ, Mark
6.7.13 - 6.15.13
Leader: Mark Hazelit
Team Members: Kyle Bowman, Richard Essiaw, Ebony Griffin, Danielle Iman