During our most recent mission to Haiti, I had the chance to interview one of our church partners in Haiti. The team was sent by my home fellowship, Crossline Community Church of Laguna Hills, CA, where as part of my ministry, I volunteer as their missions leader. They are developing a sister church relationship, and I want you to see this video interview to understand more about the needs of the Body of Christ abroad.
For our current and future church partners, we hope you will view this with a vision for how we can help expand your body’s mission outreach. It’s a quick overview that will give vision to your church for how they can impact the Church internationally.
Talking with a friend today, I found myself using a surfing analogy – which is somewhat amusing since I don’t surf. At all. In fact, apart from helping baptize a friend at the beach this past Sunday, I haven’t been in the ocean this year. Doesn’t change the accuracy of the illustration. You see, before entering the water, you’ve selected your equipment: you can pull on a wetsuit, grab your board, wax it. Everything about you is in your control. And you can check the weather and the surf report, but nothing about the ocean is in your power. Once you slip in and paddle out, it’s another thing entirely. Absolutely, there is skill involved in catching and riding a wave. But there is no swell, no wave, no tide, nothing to ride without the power of the ocean.
When we serve God and minister to those in our communities, we bring our experience, our expertise, our spiritual giftedness and everything about ourselves. But we are completely powerless to actually bring transformation without the Holy Spirit. We are foolish to not recognize Him as the essential originator of all spiritual endeavors. And we are equally ignorant if we think that He will empower our ministry that is not focused on the Gospel. As Jesus said to His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8.) All our work, teaching and theology are in vain if we are not dependent upon the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and led by the Spirit.
In fact, all the actual work of my ministry is accomplished by the Holy Spirit. Yes, God has blessed me with spiritual gifts, and given me discernment and wisdom, and years of experience to draw upon. But I am just an earthen vessel that His power might shine through (see 2 Corinthians 4.) When this Scripture is fleshed out, one can see how God brings Himself glory by indwelling His people with the same power He manifested in the act of creation. And the more broken the clay, the more His light shines through.
I’ll try to remember that truth next time I’m asking God to give me strength. I am broken, and that’s the way it should be. It is His all-surpassing power that matters, not mine.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body (2 Cor 4:6-11.)[divider_top]Click for top[/divider_top]
Like the mighty mango trees we saw this week in Haiti, we have trusted God and received from Him an immense vision that will bear much fruit for the Kingdom. And like all trees, no matter the size at maturity, everything must start with a seed.[pullquote_right]I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (Jesus speaking in John 12:24)[/pullquote_right]
Going to the mission field requires many things, and one of those is putting to death certain parts of life, so that other life can spring forth. Without pruning what is unhealthy from our lives, we cannot expect to continue to grow in health. And ultimately, it is healthy things that grow.
The beautiful thing about the farmer is that he plants more than one seed. He plows a field and plants seed everywhere, and continues to irrigate, fertilize and cultivate. And different parts of the acreage receive different seed. How exciting that the Lord has given us a stewardship in Haiti to plant and to harvest.
Some of the fields that were sown and even harvested on this mission:
- Gospel proclamation
- Vocational opportunities
- Micro enterprise identified
- Compassion ministries meeting physical needs
If we will open our eyes to the fields, we will see that many are already ripe for harvest. Wherever you are in your journey and commitment to Christ, we invite you to join us in sowing and reaping for His Kingdom.
Five bags of rice, five boxes of chickens, one large sack of beans, salt, limes, 2 large sacks of charcoal, hot sauces, spices, garlic, potatoes, carrots, peppers, sugar, tomatoes, coconuts, matches, sugar, five hundred “to-go-box” plates, spoons and juice punch for all…
Some pastors and youth leaders, Haitians and Americans cooking together, 330 Haitian children and youth, one Total Vacation Bible Sensation curriculum on the Romans Road translated into Creole by Crux33.
The Word of God, specifically Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 and 10:9-10.
Personal story of life change from Emili.
Gospel presentation and invitation from Dave.
Bake over the course of the day, adding praise and worship.
Yield: 1 bucket tears, 3 gallons sweat, 2 wheelbarrows of laughter, 500 hungry Haitians fed, more than 40 first time decisions to follow Christ, brothers and sisters in Jesus locking arms in partnership, and one team of disciples transformed for life.
I guess that’s the theme I’ve been thinking about lately on this mission trip. Am I willing to do whatever it takes to get the Gospel out there? It might be something that’s mostly fun, like getting our whole team of 18 somewhere in a single “tap tap” by stuffing in so tightly that a few might suffer temporary loss of circulation. Or it might be trudging through the sludge, grime and sweltering stench of refuse, excrement and dead fish of the local market stalls for a 2nd and 3rd hour long after the romance of discovery has worn off.
What I choose to remember is that (as Madeline spoke of so eloquently in our team devotional tonight) this is part of being called to take up your cross daily and follow Him. When we get to play sports with kids, it’s not so bad – well, not until you start getting dehydrated. (Doesn’t it seem like our emotions are linked to our physiology more closely than we’d like to believe?) But as Ally shared in her story of commitment to Christ tonight, there isn’t a comfortable way to carry a cross.
Today we walked with God through the ups and downs, all because we had confidence in His calling. So we sang and memorized Scripture with over 200 kids, helped them understand what it meant to surrender to Christ and offered them a clear opportunity to come into a relationship with Him. Several did. Tomorrow we will continue the program and invite more of them into an eternal relationship with their heavenly Father.
We spent hours on the soccer field, and talking on the sidelines, and helping advance a project at the water station, and three hours in the open air market (amazing what 18 + friends can do!) buying supplies to feed a traditional Haitian meal of chicken, beans and rice to at least 500 hungry kids and their families. That will take place tomorrow after the conclusion of our “Romans Road” kids bible school. (With many thanks to Dean-o and the Dynamos who wrote the curriculum and offered it at Crossline Church, and invited the kids to “give TVBS” to Haitian kids, who then raised over $10,000 in one week. Kids: you are the ones who raised the money to feed the families, and sponsor this outreach and much, much more this year.)
I can’t wait to get all the media uploaded that will go along with this post!
For now, we learn to be content, be thankful for what we have, and recognize that we must do whatever it takes to pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus.
More to come…
“We see with our eyes so that our hearts can feel.” That was one of concepts we processed as we drove through downtown Port au Prince.
I never take a group there because I enjoy it. I take groups there because it helps inform our prayers and enlarge our hearts and infuse both with compassion.
Personally, it reminds me of the Holocaust and how I tap into my own heritage and how it moves me to teach about it despite its evils. I don’t enjoy watching Schindler’s List or going to a Holocaust museum. But I must.
We spent a lot of time with Haitian orphans today because we understand that they will be the stewards of Haiti’s future.
Now our team also understands a bit better the tragic events of their past, and has expanded their compassion. Teams always come expecting God to work through them. He does. And He always does even more in them.
Today we were His arms to embrace them and share His love. We saw His mercy and grace through others as well. We saw life change as our translator committed his life to Christ. And we are changed too – before we saw with our eyes, and now we also see with our hearts.
I often hear people praying that God will go with us, and while I understand their intentions, the truth is that God has been going before us and has never left us. The reality of that is never more real to us as His followers though as when we are most aware of our need. Leaving home and culture for a new world on a mission trip is a strong impetus for asking God to be “with us.” It’s more a reminder to ourselves as we recognize our inability to be the “everything” we are so used to being. (We’ll discuss idolatry another day.)
Our team of eighteen left from California and Arizona two days ago, and after a day and a night of travel we touched down yesterday and were greeted outside the terminal by many of our friends. We took a pair of Haitian “tap taps”, loaded to the tops with our bags from the airport to our hotel – the base camp for the week. After a nice brunch prepared by our hosts, we left for the afternoon in the community.
A visit to the water project to understand how providing clean water to thousands daily can help bring the Gospel and transformation led to a visit with friends who were leading a children’s bible study, which led to games and a great time playing with the kids, while others took a look at some of the construction projects for the week. After a visit to the church to invite more children to participate in this week’s Romans Road vacation bible school, we headed back to base for showers, dinner and a full night’s rest.
This morning we are fueled up from a great breakfast of home squeezed cherry juice, fresh Haitian coffee, toast, eggs, croissant and more. Now we are getting our gear together for a day with the children of an orphanage, some work projects there, another group of children who are being rescued off the streets of Port au Prince, and opportunities to teach them about the Lord.
Thank you for your prayers on this journey. We are all more aware than ever of God’s presence with us here.
It is our continued prayer for the people of Haiti to rise up and follow Christ. They need Him to restore them spiritually, and we strive alongside Haitian believers to help them take healthy steps forward amidst the continuing struggle of life. More significant than any humanitarian aid, social development or physical need, they (like us) need Jesus. We pray, and we act, to see God lift people up from spiritual death and from the turmoil all around them.
This three minute clip is from one mission to come alongside the local church in Haiti, and to give thanks for God’s light shining in the darkness. For those who enjoy “extras” on DVDs, I’ve added a few end notes below the video to give more of the back story behind the presentation.
The media soundtrack “Never Be The Same” from the album Innocence and Instinct is performed by Red and is available on iTunes, Amazon, and through www.redmusiconline.com.
The Clean Water / Living Water project refers to the Gospel proclamation that comes through partnership with Water Missions International. The water station pictured was a complete purification system that needed additional work on the housing to allow thousands of people per day to receive clean water in Croix des Bouquets. To allow for maximum distribution and eliminate mud and contaminants from the surroundings, a ditch was improved and a bridge built across it, along with stairs, concrete and gravel to provide greater access, particularly during the rainy seasons in Haiti. WMI forecasts 70% growth in the first year that churches provide clean water to their communities in conjunction with evangelism and discipleship. Clean water enables physical health, living water provides spiritual life! Read “Water” for more…
Additional images capture an outreach in which we provided food to the hungry who live on the streets and tents in Delmas, Port au Prince. This is part of an ongoing outreach of evangelism and care in the name of Jesus through the efforts of Grangou. Alongside these partners, we share pieces of our testimonies and our lives…
What would our lives have been like in this world if God hadn’t intervened?
It’s a real question. Stop and think about your life.
I know that I would be buried in a grave marked with 1986 on it. That was the year that I finally quit on life, completely lost heart in trying to live in my own power, and went home one night to end my life. But God…
How and why is a story for another day. I do want to pause to celebrate that Jesus saved my life and gave me a hope for eternity exactly 25 years ago plus one week. The part that’s on point for this post are those final two words: “But God.”
And I’m reminded that if someone doesn’t do something, nothing will change. If God hadn’t intervened through the young shepherd David, the Israelites would have been enslaved by the Philistines. If God hadn’t intervened through Esther, the Jewish people of Persia and beyond would have been annihilated. If God hadn’t intervened through my friend Kim, I would be dead. If God had not intervened through Jesus, our sin would eternally separate us from Him.
But God. He did, He did, He did…
So now, we must. We must be the heroes that He calls upon to intervene in the world. To care for the hurt, to rescue the abused, to heal the sick, to feed the hungry, to rescue the sinner. We must preach the Gospel and live it out.
Jesus has sent the invitation – all you have to do is love people in His power. Come be a hero.