Monday, January 31, 2011
The lurking fear is that we'll bore everyone to death?! Really, there are a million ways we could mess it up.
So, what to share and how much? It is hard to distill Haiti because it all seems gloriously fascinating to us BUT we realize not everybody wants to spend a whole day on Haiti. I searched out my sister-in-law's thoughts on this matter (she's quite insightful). The Bible says, "in the multitude of counselors there is safety". I want to know your thoughts...what do you want to know about Haiti - Schmick's To Haiti? What are you curious about?
Looking ahead: We have our very first open house this Friday night at a dear friend's. She is graciously pulling together a group for us to practice on, which gives us a deadline. We work best with a deadline! This is the beginning of our next 6 months - building a sender support base. Optimally, we'd like to share, "Schmicks To Haiti", once a week-ish. If you'd be interested in such whimsical fun then let us know. We're fond of the "no-pressure" approach in an open house (relaxed) setting.
Our budget for Haiti has been submitted and we're waiting anxiously to solidify those numbers so that we can communicate clearly. God totally provided some new missionary friends in Haiti (from Broken Bow) for the purpose of framing a budget and renting a house. This is a timely and incredibly helpful connection!
That's it. This is our Blueprint. We could definitely use your prayers as we navigate the next 6 months. We want our trust - our hope - our joy to be in Him, alone and we definitely want to love the people around us as He knits together this base to launch from. Oh and pray that we stay attentive to Him - full of the Holy Spirit!
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
With passionate disapproval Pastor Jean Claude spoke about a recent "Christian" event in Port au Prince. Visibly angered by what he heard and saw, he spoke about the teaching. It caused him a good deal of guilt and even brought into question his relationship with God. Upon hearing the American-imported instruction he doubted the legitimacy of his Christian walk. It was as if his entire life as a Christian might be phony! I’m not sure of what all was said and taught at this event, but I do know what I heard from Jean Claude. I heard a testimony of a man who questioned his faith in God. A man who was sure his relationship with God was real and alive but upon hearing this new “gospel” wasn’t so sure anymore!
Jean Claude reasoned from the material presented at the event that if he were a good Christian who had enough faith then his economic condition should improve. This newly discovered “Christian” information equated godliness with wealth. Here’s where the difficulty for Jean Claude comes in: He’s been serving God faithfully for a long time but he’s never been wealthy. If fact, he’s very un-wealthy.
Do you see the problem that this presents?
Pastor Jean Claude said he spent much time reading and studying what he heard. He thought about it and prayed about it. In the end, through the continual help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, he overcame his doubts and guilt. Soundly rejecting what was being taught he confidently proclaimed, “I know Who I have believed in! My confidence is in Him!”. The other pastors, who had also come into contact with this teaching, heartily agreed with his conclusions. This was one of the ways that Jean Claude added to the conference.
In an effort to be continually training and maturing new leaders and pastors, Pastor Rigaud, delegated out to Jean Claude the responsibility of facilitating the week-long conference. It went well, due in large part to his leadership. He kept the conference attendees on time and he also added to the conference through his commentary after many of the presentations.
He teaches and leads at the church in Port Au Prince. At the risk of being too presumptuous, it seems that Jean Claude is coming into his own. He’s relatively new to ministry and there is undiscovered depth in him that hasn’t surfaced...yet. Through my translator I was able to hear many of his thoughts about whatever topic was on hand. He has a good mind and is a skilled orator. Christ-like humility and a kindness overflow from him.
Jean Claude married his bride Altanie in December of 2010. Someone had a DVD recording of his wedding at the church and I was able to witness part of the event. Slightly embarrassed, he was self-conscious while a group of us watched but also pleased with what he was seeing on the laptop screen. The newlyweds currently don’t have children but he is praying that if the Lord wills they will one day.
Please pray for Jean Claude as he continues to grow in his leadership role in the church. Pray for his new marriage. Satan loves to attack marriage in Haiti just as much as he does in the United States. Pray that God will provide for their needs in a country that has many. Pray that his partnership with Pastor Rigaud will continue to be effective for spreading the gospel in Haiti.
“The love of God is not God’s making much of us,
but God’s saving us from self-centeredness
so that we can enjoy making much of him forever.
And our love to others is not our making much of them,
but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God.”
Sunday, January 23, 2011
At the conference for pastors in Haiti, Pastor Rigaud presented a film from the Billy Graham Association. An American pastor, who works in the Graham's ministry was teaching. The original message was in English of course, but Pastor Rigaud employed a Haitian man to translate the video into Creole! This guy has the equipment to take out the original audio and put in new (Haitian) audio. After he translates the material he does a Creole voice-over in place of the English words. As an added "bonus", fake laughter is inserted at the appropriate places in the presentation. It actually worked well! The Haitian voice is pretty well synchronized with the lip movements of the American pastor and it looks as authentic as one could expect. The pastors and leaders ate it up! They seemed to be tracking well with the teaching and they really laughed at the humor.
Later in the week, Rigaud talked to me about the video and the translation. As we were talking about it he said a good project that he and I could work on together is identifying good teaching that is on DVD and have it translated like he did with this video. He spoke with excitement about how we could burn DVD's for the eight churches and purchase a disc player and overhead projector to share among the group. If we made an event of it in the churches, he said, it would be a success. With a sweeping motion of his arms Rigaud said, "If we put this together, everyone in the village will come!" Part of the reason that it would be well received, is that their culture is very visual and oral. They don't read a lot because many simply can't and the those that can don't have access to books the way you and I do here in the states. A video presentation like this would be very effective in spreading the Gospel and also in getting solid Bible-teaching on a variety of topics out to the village churches.
This, of course, got me thinking about all the great preaching we have access to in the U.S. and the possibilities that exist in this kind of ministry.
Later that night when I got back to the guest-house I found that Andrea had forwarded this link to me. It’s from Desiring God International Outreach and it addresses the theological famine that is happening in much of the world, even the parts that have been reached with the gospel like Haiti. DG has identified 52 sermons that they believe are some of the more crucial ones out of their vast library of resources. In time I hope to have some of these sermons translated in a similar way. I'm very optimistic about this avenue of ministry with Pastor Rigaud.
Pray that God will work through this after we get there. A primary desire for Andrea and I is to help spread good Bible-saturated resources in Haiti and specifically to the churches we are affiliated with there. We want to be a part of famine relief, both physical and theological.
Friday, January 21, 2011
My favorite two phonetic sounds in Creole are the /O/ like in [Ocean] and /I/ is like the ee's in [deep].
Oh! For fun try the nasal /N/. Plug your nose and say /un/ as in [bunny] but don't move your tongue or lips.
There are free recipes, great pictures, etc. We're so thankful that the Lord provided this very practical resource.
Click here to sample this great site with us.
Piti, piti, wazo fe nich li.
Little by little the bird builds its nest.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
(click the link to read their blog post)
We've enjoyed tracking this family for the past four years. We even got to meet them in MN (yay us!). As Makayla said, "They are famous to us." Though, I know they are ordinary children with an extraordinary God; we really appreciate their example; laboring to live according to Him.
Haiti is full of NGO's. Much of the country is sustained by such organizations - which can seem both good and bad. Often times I wonder if many NGO's stifle their personal economy and problem solving skills. Yet, Haiti could be suffering even more than they already are if there weren't any organizations helping. Such a catch 22?!?
All of that to say, we're glad to both represent Christian World Outreach and validate other ministries that God is pouring through as well. We are a many membered body with gifts given, from God, for specific tasks that are different from one another. To this "hand" we want to say, "Yes, the Spirit is working in you - keep going!"
Would you pray with us for the Harbor House and for these ladies?
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
SO - happy! When Jason was there he was able to record Riguad's worship music team.
Folks, welcome to some of the best worship on the face of the planet, in my opinion. Enjoy, Haitian style and pray earnestly for this country. I know a Jewish Carpenter Who will one day make all things right!
With this in mind, let me tell you the story:
While Jason was away he asked if I would work on our newsletter. Since, we are total novices at all of this, it takes us
Meanwhile, several states and an ocean away, Jason is sitting at church in Haiti, on Sunday. What looks to be an offering bag is really a scripture bag. You see someone thoughtfully writes down scripture references ahead of time and folds them individually, accordion style, for each person to draw one out. Every verse is different and meant to serve you throughout the week. This is your verse to meditate on, share, pray through and maybe memorize. The bag came to Jason and he took his.
He unfolds it to find...
Isaiah 58:10. "This is funny", he thinks, "Isaiah 58 seems to be following us."
Our Isaiah stories came crashing together, with great delight, while driving home Tuesday.
As a result, I've been savoring Him all day and counting His kindness even in this. He is here with us. He knows us and is intimately involved in our lives. Why I forget that so easily, is a most frustrating malfunction called sinful doubt.
Our missionary friends told us to write these things down (big and small) so that you can treasure them in your heart; building a reference book for future enjoyment of God's faithfulness and kindness. They tell us we're going to need it when it seems like nothing is working right. We're taking their advice.
"As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Tomorrow I leave Haiti.
It's been a great 10 days. Before I left I was reading through When Helping Hurts, a book on missions. It really advocates a form of ministry that is highly-relational in nature. Meaning that in order to be effective in what you are doing you have to take time, a lot of time, to be involved in people's lives. There aren't quick fixes. Loving and getting to know people doesn't happen in 10 days. It has to be a long-term commitment and it probably will be at a much slower pace than we Americans are used to. So this week I tried to follow the model that the book lays out. It was good and seemed to be successful. And most of all it was a joy. I really liked just being with them, talking with them and worshipping with them. The saying that I've heard others say is true for me as well: I think I need Haiti more than Haiti needs me.
So, the mixed feelings part now from the title of this post: I went to the Franklin Graham event tonight. It was good in many ways. They had great music, which the Haitians enjoyed immensely. Franklin did a good job presenting the Gospel. The event was pretty organized and the Haitians seemed to love it. When American's go to these sorts of things when the preacher gets done preaching everyone calmly files out of the stadium or auditorium to get in their cars and drive home. Not so in Haiti. When it seemed like everything was finished a group of Haitian musicians were on the stage and started playing this peppy caribbean worship song. It was a party. They all knew the song and the actions and everything. It was sort of like the Sunday school song for kids, Father Abraham. You know with all the actions? Except this was people of all ages enthusiastically singing and dancing and laughing. It was great.
Now for the mixed feelings part, really this time: They of course did an alter-call, of sorts, asking people to come forward if they wanted to pray with someone about accepting Christ into their hearts. Lots and lots of people went up which is good.....? Maybe? It seemed like many of them were not getting the Gospel explained correctly or maybe a better word is incompletely. I also worry about follow-up, discipleship and getting them into a good local church. All those elements can "fall through the cracks" with an event like this. Just the vast numbers of people make it very difficult to impossible to do any kind follow-up, let alone meaningful follow-up. I had one boy, about 14 years old talk to me and he wanted to "recommit" his life. Sadrackson talked and prayed with him, had him fill out a card and then asked me if I had any advice for him. The best I could come up with, with a kid I will probably never see again, was to ask if he had a Bible he could read. He said yes. I told him to read it and to ask God to help him want it more than he desires food. He said ok. And then I said the best way for him to see the beauty of Christ and grow in the Lord is through that book. I said to commit yourself to reading it. He said ok, seemed satisfied with my advice, turned around and walked back into the crowd. Will he be followed with? Probably not. They have his card now but I don't know who or if anyone will get with him or the other 999 people who said the prayer tonight. I'm not trying to be critical, really. These are just some of the thoughts going through my head. It seems like Samaritan's Purse is a very responsible agency and they are doing a lot of good stuff.
So their you have it. Two forms of ministry. One is highly relational but is impacting a very small group of people. The other is almost "no-relational" but is touching 40,000 people. Their is probably room for both in the kingdom, but I'm still kinda sorting out in my head how to think about it all.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Today a nice Haitian pastor named Lionel drove Dean and me around the city a bit. When I came to Haiti the first time I didn't get the chance to go downtown or see the capital. Of course it all looks very different now because of the earthquake. The palace (I think that's what they call it?), is much like our White House. It is, or was, a source of pride for the Haitian people. It, of course, still looks the way it did minutes after the earthquake hit. It's still in ruins and there doesn't seem to be any attempts at this point to do anything with it.
Directly across the street is a large tent/shanty town. Today I saw row after row and city after city of tents and shacks. Not just across the street from the palace but up and down Delmas Street and close to Main Street. And, I'm told I didn't see the worst part of it. It's a bit overwhelming unless you just shrug it off and don't think about it. There are thousands of people and some say close to a million people living in conditions like that. It's hot, dirty and very congested. It is difficult to get access to drinkable water and there is no sewer system. It is a very dangerous place, especially at night and especially for women.
What is the answer?
As a Christian I am called to help those people. They are hurting, big time. If Christ were here what would he do? My initial answer is just to focus on a smaller group of people and do what I can to help them. But it seems so...small.
Pray for Haiti. It's really complex. There are many issues, it seems, keeping this country from moving forward. Today Dean asked Lionel what has changed in the last 30 years in Haiti. Lionel said "Nothing" and then continued to tell us how things have gotten worse.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
In these posts I want to do a good job presenting real stories about real people in Haiti and their struggles and victories. I feel like one of the reasons we are coming here is to communicate these stories in a way that will help us remember them so we can pray well for them and be supportive of them. I don't want to live my life as if they don't exist. Today I will write about Pastor Jean-Baptiste Elino. Pretty cool name isn't it. That's another thing I like about Haiti. They are not afraid to name their kids long Bible names, even calling them John the Baptist.
Pastor Elino is the Lead Pastor for the CWO church in La Victoire. He's a relatively younger man and seems to have a sharp mind. He speaks very well and there is a sense of authority when he talks. He knows just a little English so most of my information about him comes through my trusty translator, Lafleur. The congregation consists of 290 Christ-followers. He recently had one of his members die from Cholera. They have 6 children's Sunday school classes every Sunday and 2 teachers per class. He has 2 Elders besides himself, and the church has teams of people that are coming together every day to pray. Haitians love to pray. They pray for a long time and it's always a robust prayer. For Christmas Eve they held an all-day prayer meeting at their church building. He spoke about how they met by candle lamps for some time before they were able to pay to get electricity hooked into their building. He also shared their need for a sound system, mixer and speakers as they currently have none.
Through their church they have a primary school that currently has 176 students enrolled in it. They have a continuing struggle to pay their teachers adequately. They currently pay them the equivalent of 25 US Dollars per month and they are struggling to keep up that pace. Although they are trying very hard to have a school that runs well and does a good job educating the students the pastor has chosen not to send his own children there because it is lacking in these areas.
He has three prayer requests:
1. His church needs to be reconstructed. It is in disrepair now and needs to be leveled and rebuilt.
2. He wants the ability to pay his teachers a better salary.
3. A sound system for their sanctuary.
Please remember to pray for Pastor Elino and his flock.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Dominic, who I will definitely write about later, led us in worship. Some of the songs I could recognize because the melody is the same as we sing in the US. We, or they rather, started singing I Surrender All:
All to Jesus I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name
Remember Rocky 4? When the Russian guy, Dolph Lungren, was coming out to fight Rocky? The stands, which were filled with Russians of course, started singing their national anthem. These guys sang with conviction, sincerity, enthusiasm and gusto. They sang in complete unison and they sang loud. It was intimidating. Even for a guy like Rocky!
Those Russians in that movie had nothing on these 30-some Haitian men singing I Surrender All. I thought the guy sitting next to me, Pastor Ischar, was going to go up like Enoch in the Bible. It was fantastic! I so wanted to step back and record it on my camera, but didn't for fear of being a distraction. What a blessing it was.
Now I want to be careful and intentional here when I talk about poverty. We are all poor, but in different ways. For many Americans there is poverty, just not of the economic sort. There is poverty of relationships with each other and poverty in our relationship with God to give two examples. These men, at least most of them, have pretty severe economic poverty. To hear them sing lyrics like the ones in I Surrender All added some real weightiness to the whole time. They, who we would say have almost nothing left to surrender are more than happy to give more and to give all. God is being greatly glorified in their lives because He truly is their complete satisfaction.
This song rings so true today and so I dedicate this song, My Best Remedy, to our fabulous M & E. You bring so much vibrancy to our lives as we journey along!
My Best Remedy (Amazing)
~by Christa Wells
Thank you for making me laugh today
you took me by surprise
Thank you for catching me down at the mouth
You ambushed me with delight
I’ll take your medicine anytime
you are my best remedy
Thank you for standing outside my head
‘til I came out to you
You forced me to wash my face in the fresh air
and step my feet in the dew
Be here tomorrow when I awake
come running for a dance
Mischievous angel you’ve taken your place in my heart
I’ll take your medicine anytime
You are my best remedy
Sunday, January 2, 2011
The other day I was talking to the kids and Andrea about all the great stuff we get that we never worked or sacrificed for. It was simply bestowed to us by guys, that many of us have never heard of and some names we mightrecognize. Think about it. Most of us were just born into this?!?
We take for granted that our government of checks and balances really does a pretty good job of keeping corruption in check. When corruption is reined in things simply work better. We also take for granted great resources, like libraries, public utilities, big huge clean grocery stores and parents that provided for us. Though, sometimes we cross over the line and start deceiving ourselves into thinking that we, us personally, actually did this - that somehow, we are completely responsible for what we have. That is just not true. We were blessed with it! It was given to us.
Paul was addressing this issue on a spiritual level when he asked, "Why do you boast in what was given to you?" So all of that thinking out loud leads to this:
As I spoke with him I learned that he speaks pretty good English. He was translating for me. I also learned that he taught himself English but he actually speaks Spanish more fluently. I think he also speaks French because that is one of the official languages here (it's taught in all the schools). Then, of course, he speaks Haitian Creole!
So here is a guy, who's character seems to stand out in a crowd, he's a faithful member serving in his church, he's very personable, a good communicator, he can play the piano very well and he's quadri-lingual! Amazing.
He also happens to live in Haiti. That is not a bad thing. I like Haiti. It has lots of good qualities and God has been working here for a long time. He has blessed this country and these people with blessings that you and I should pray for. But LeFluer, like us, has been bestowed with a certain set of circumstances that were completely out of his control. He didn't choose any of the stuff that is going on in Haiti: the corruption in government, the poverty, the cholera, the lack of vocational opportunities. He just got it.
I know there are many lessons here about thankfulness and pride and giving but we won't get into all of that. I just wanted to communicate a story of a real person in Haiti that is doing his best to glorify God in the circumstances he's in. He was a blessing to me today and I wanted to tell some of his story.