Sunday, August 28, 2011

Frederickson Has no Future… or Does He?

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a family right here in the Cayes area who were tragically/deeply affected by the earthquake.  The husband/father was killed, leaving behind mom and kids.  The family has moved here to Cayes.  They are currently living in a rented home (in the background of this pic), but are being evicted with no place to go.  Frederickson’s (sitting on my lap) mom can’t find any work.  Therefore, there is limited food, no school for the kids, painting a very hazy picture for their future.  What are their dreams? What hope to the have?

I’m glad we are here in Haiti.

Thanks to David Uttley for taking these pictures during the visit…


Here is a picture of me handing out “Life of Christ” picture books to the children.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Home #50 is Complete. Much More to be Done.

RMI vigorously launched our campaign to provide housing to earthquake displaced families after the EQ of Jan 2010.  Just the other day, we completed our 50th home!  Praise the Lord!  On the Haiti side, RMI Missionary Gary McLaughlin has done a great job in facilitating this program, and Wilfred Fanfan, RMI Construction Boss, has done a great job leading our Haitian build team to make it all happen. 

I have had the privilege of handing over the keys to just a couple of these families.  They had tears in their eyes and joy in their hearts.  It’s been a pleasure for me to see it all happen.

Sadly, I constantly meet families, living even here in Cayes, who are still in a desperate situation due to a lack of stable housing.  The tent cities in PAP remain.

Last week, right here in Cayes, I visited the home of a family of 7 who are living in a rented 64 sqft room, with only half a roof made of metal, the remainder a tarp.  No beds.  They all sleep together on a blanket on the ground.  They lost their home in PAP in the EQ. No relief in sight.  Typical story.

I met another family of 4 who lost their husband and father in the earthquake.  They are living in a rented home.  They have no income, and the Mom clearly can’t afford to send their 3 beautiful children to school.  I was told the Homeowner is evicting them soon and they don’t know where they will go.

Story after story.  They are hard to hear.  May God listen to the cries of the masses here in Haiti.  I am glad I get the honor of being on the front line of God’s response.

50 Homes for 50 families.  Praise the Lord.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another 270,864 Fortified Meals Unloaded!

Boy with FoodWe just unloaded another container of 19 tons of food!  Some of this food will be used for our Hope for Kidz Hot Lunch Program, and some used for general relief purposes.  We are ready in case a Hurricane comes through this season to help those in deepest need!

It is exciting to get out to our churches and see some of the 1500+ students who are getting their daily Hot Lunch through Hope for Kidz.  For many of these children, it is likely their only meal for the day.

19 tons of food.  1254 boxes of food x 36 bags in a box x 6 meals per bag = 270,864 fortified meals for the hungry.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Grinch meets Santa Claus…

To be generous, or stingy? 

Recently a bunch of children were calling me a name I had never heard.  “Chiche!” they kept saying.  I had to go ask one of the RMI staff members what it meant.  It is a French word meaning “stingy”.  Wow, that hurt. It struck me deeply.  If I had known what they were saying, I would have tried to turn the conversation on them and share the free gift of the Gospel.

People come to our house constantly asking for help.  They are deep in “need”.  Need must be defined as well, but that is for another post.  They are indeed in need.  Some have honest stories of hardship. No food.  No ability to send their kids to school.  Can’t afford medicine.  Can’t afford to see the doctor. No work. No roof over their head.  Some will make you cry. Some lie, manipulate, or exaggerate in order to try and squeeze something out of us.  Yet, they are in need too.  Many times we give. Sometimes we don’t.  I hate that we can’t help everyone.  These are the hardest moments.  To be generous, or stingy (to be fair to us, stingy isn’t simply not giving.  Stingy would be not giving when we should).  Only the internal promptings of the Spirit guides us on each of these decisions.

Meanings of each of these concepts (generosity, stingy, need) are much harder to define here in a 3rd world context. But one thing is certain… handouts often confuse our message.  Am I bringing stuff, or the Gospel?  Am I coming to give stuff, or love people.  If handouts are my mode of operations, even based in a true desire to be generous with all that God has blessed me with, than the recipients of the message get confused.  My audience may often become opportunistic because as Scripture tells us, “the Love of money is the root of all evil”.  They are wired, just like me with my sin nature, to want stuff.  This giving and wanting/needing clouds the Gospel message.  In fact, it blocks the message.  At times I have been disgusted by the opportunism here in Haiti.  At times I have been disgusted at the constant hand out asking for something.  I can only give so much. Every person, if presented with opportunity, will tell me a sad story and ask for something.  They aren’t asking for the truth of the Gospel.  They are asking for a handout. 

For years here in Haiti, and all over the world for that matter, American missionaries have acted more like the contemporary gift giving Santa Claus than like Jesus.  Jesus brought the free gift of eternal life.  American’s have brought the chains and slavery of the pursuit of money/comfort/prosperity, or simply put, the love of stuff.  American’s have been generous, but also ignorant in their gift giving.

There is a delicate balance between meeting social needs, and presenting the work of the cross.  Missionaries for all time have debated this balance.  The Luasanne Conference popularized the debate years ago.  Stearn’s highlighted it in his recent poplular must read, “The Hole in our Gospel”.  The recent book by Corbett and Fikkert out of the Chalmer center “When Helping Hurts” hit the nail on the head.  Some denominational missions want to emphasize the story of the cross, salvation itself.  Some want to emphasize how social action is at the core of the Gospel message.  We will continue to debate this.  I am first hand experiencing the heart of this debate.

I pray I am not chiche.

RMI’s Sister Church Partnerships are Changing Lives…

Much of our focus is on ministering to the Haitian people.  Yet, it may be most exciting to me when I sense God is up to something big in the lives, hearts and minds of the American team members that visit Haiti.  Something special and unique happens when 2 cultures come together in relationship.  Dan Shoemaker, RMI President, labeled it correctly: the “Ministry of Presence”.  What happens during the “ministry of presence” is extraordinary.  Something dynamic, almost magical, happens when a Haitian brother and/or sister and an American brother and/or sister are simply present with one another.  Worshipping together, working together, serving together, eating together, praying together…

Viola Irons, Principal within the Miami-Dade Public School System, member of Florida Bible Church, in Miramar, FL, and member of the recent team who visited their Sister Church in Maniche, Haiti, said, “I have grown more in this week than I ever have in my entire life”.  [She gave me permission to share this]. This isn’t the first time I have heard this.  I am sure it won’t be the last.  I love what we do both for the Haitian Church, and also for the American Church.


Pa Gen Lè…

JanelTime.  It is a value I hold dear, yet a value that is fairly non-existent in other parts of the world.  Haiti is much more event/people/relationship oriented, rather than time oriented.  In conversation here in Haiti, we typical add “ish” to our time frames.  For example, a US Team Member asks, “What time will the church service start?”  My answer…  6:30ish.  The reality is it will start when people show up.  Critical mass is required.

This morning, Janel. a young man maybe 18 years old, was coming to our house to work.  We are helping him.  He has nothing, no support structure, no family, no means… and so for a few days this week we are offering him some small jobs around our house for a little money.  He doesn’t come asking for handouts like so many others do.  He comes asking for work.  I appreciate his desire to work. 

He asked yesterday what time he should come today.  I told him 9:30.  He showed up at 8:35.  Upon his arrival, I stated in a somewhat annoyed tone, you are too early!  He responded, “Pa gen le”.  He doesn’t have a watch.  He doesn’t have a clock.  The reality is, he has no concept of what time it was.  I wonder why he asked me yesterday what time to come?

There is a part of me that respects this time devaluation.  Yet, there is a part of my that can’t stand it.  When it comes to production and development, time as well as so many other “order values” are required (priority, lists, time, organization, efficiency, systems, etc).  The American value system is built upon production values.  It’s the bedrock of our society that has allowed us to excel economically (at least historically!)  The Haitian value system is built upon people and relationships.  Which is better?  What are we trying to accomplish?  Economic development and production, or relationships?  What does Scripture have to say about this?  Clearly as followers of Christ, our endgame is bringing all people into right relationship with God.  But I believe the love of money/comfort/prosperity has derailed us.  It has derailed me.  I am a chief sinner.  There must be a better balance between the values of production and people, that neither America nor Haiti has yet found.

Seriously, do you spend more time chasing after money/comfort/prosperity, or more time chasing after souls?  I for one am convicted…


We’re back… long overdue MBC update

Wow, it has been WAY too long since we’ve blogged.  The truth is, we’ve been so busy, there has been no time to blog!  June was full with 2 teams, Drew’s Kindergarten graduation and preparing to leave for 3 weeks to go to the States.  The first 3 weeks of July we were in the States.  Then, when we returned to Haiti, we hit the ground running.  You know when you get behind on something, it’s hard to catch up?  Well, that’s how I feel about blogging right now.  So much has happened these last 2 months.  I want to share it, but I don’t know where to begin!

I think I’ll start with the team we had the last week of June from our home church in Florida, McGregor Baptist Church.  We were so excited to have this student team and excited for the opportunity to minister together as a family with them.  They were based here in the Cayes area for the first few days then we went out to the Retreat Center and did ministry locally there.  Our week was full of evangelistic services, both in the church and outdoors, food distribution, and yard-to-yard evangelism.  The neatest part for us, was that whatever the team did, our whole family did with them.  It was so much fun and so exhausting!

The team arrived on Friday.  On Saturday, we jumped right in!  We went to 2 different churches, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  The churches were asked to have their 50 most neediest families in the community at the church for a service and then distributed a box of food to each family.  We asked that they not be all church people… we wanted this to be a way for the church to reach out to the community with the gospel.  Afterward, we split into 3 groups, each with one translator and one person from the church, either the pastor or a deacon, and did yard-to-yard evangelism.  That was the coolest experience, walking around these different communities, sharing Christ.  We did this model with 3 to 4 more churches throughout the week.  Decisions for Christ were made each time we shared. We also enjoyed church services and held an open air evangelistic service, in which 40+ kids made decisions.

Food distribution:  It was fun to see people arrive with a small plastic shopping bag and go home with a big box of food.


Food Distribution








Yard-to-yard Evangelism:



A new "Family" member! 12 people today accepted Christ!





Open-air evangelism service:





Overall, 100 people made a life-changing decision to follow Christ during the week!  The best part, is that Haitian church leaders were there, right beside us, following up on these salvations, making sure people understood their decisions and ensuring that discipleship will happen!  It’s what I love most about ministry with RMI—it’s about enabling the body of Christ to come together and minister to one another and with one another.


The MBC team took one day to do a service project for RMI as well, by painting our guesthouse.  It’s looking much prettier these days!

And you know we had fun as well!  We had a few nights where we played group games, and we got a chance to enjoy the beach and the retreat center.






The kids were exhausted when the week was done, but they sure had fun being a part of it all.  The day the team flew back to FL, we were on their same flight with a final destination of NJ.  Trying to pack for an extended trip amid all the fun with the team upped my stress level a little.  I’ll not plan that way again!  But I started packing and getting ready before they arrived so it worked out.

MBC student team, you were an awesome team to have!  Thanks for letting our family minister with you!  It was such a joy.  We miss you!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Just Posted Pictures…

I have had a little fun recently taking pictures.  I love capturing the spirit of the people of Haiti.  Haiti is it’s people.  I love them.

For the rest of the pictures, visit here.