Friday, May 30, 2014


A little Haitian girl singing “Our God is Greater” in Creole at the top of her lungs during worship night in the local church. Two little boys playing with a paper sailboat in a mud puddle, as excited about their toy as can be. A young couple inviting us into their home to pray for God’s blessing on their marriage, children, and daily lives. Children running into your arms, content to play with you for hours, just wanting to know that they are loved.

           These are just a few of the sights and sounds that Meagan and I experienced in our week serving in Haiti with Mission of Hope! Meagan and I spent the week in the small village of Titanyen, situated right between the mountains and the sea, where MOH has one campus dedicated to alleviating poverty, providing medical care, educating children, and meeting spiritual needs, all done in the name of Jesus. MOH’s main purpose is to empower the local Haitian church to meet the needs of the community, rather than to simply send short-term mission teams into the village to complete a few projects and leave. They’re pursuing a change that is deeper and more long-term than that. Because of this philosophy, Meagan and I served in the village and completed work projects under the direction of leaders in the local church—men and women who have partnered with Mission of Hope to effect change in Titanyen, and who are aptly referred to as “village champions.” A group of village champions, who also served as our translators, worked with us throughout the week and selected every project that we performed. Because of this unique approach, once mission teams return to the US, the people who are benefited don’t simply remember that “a group from North America” helped them—they remember that the local church stepped in to fill a need, and are much more likely to seek to have their spiritual needs met in their own communities as well.

During our week in Titanyen, our routine was to alternate spending a day doing village ministry with a day doing work projects, so that we could gain exposure to both forms of service. Our last day of the trip was a “vacation day” at a beach resort. “Village ministry” took on different forms—usually, it involved playing with children of all ages from the community, going door-to-door to pray with and build relationships with families, presenting Bible stories in the local park, and providing food to the children. Wherever we went in the village, usually a small crowd of eager children followed us around, just wanting to spend time with us even though we couldn’t speak their language. They were happy to sit in our laps, run and dance around with us, or play soccer with us. The families that we spoke to were so warm and welcoming, more than willing to tell us about their children, their jobs, and life in the village. They were almost always willing to allow us to pray for them—and sometimes they prayed for us. One of my favorite home visits was when my group met with the pastor of a local church, and he prayed over all of us. These are the moments I will remember most.

On our work days, we usually went out in groups to paint homes for local families and, on our last day, to paint a small family-run orphanage that houses about a dozen children. On Sunday, we had the privilege of attending the church on the MOH campus and worshipping with the locals. We always talk about our brothers and sisters in Christ in other parts of the world, but it can’t compare to actually being with those brothers and sisters in Christ, seeing their passion for following the Lord, joining with them in worship even though you’re singing the same song in two different languages. We also had the opportunity later on Sunday to tour a couple other campuses that MOH has in that part of the country. Meagan and I were consistently impressed with this organization and how they’ve been willing to tackle lofty goals like building schools, running a medical clinic and a prosthetics lab for people who lost limbs in the 2010 earthquake, hosting pastor training conferences, and so forth. MOH’s goal is to be run entirely by local Haitians by 2020, without involvement from staff from the US—once again evidence of their goal to empower the local community. 

Meagan and I also were blessed to be able to join up with a large college group from Arkansas and to do all of our projects and ministry with them while in Titanyen. We weren’t sure what it would look like to basically go on a mission trip when it was just the two of us, but right away this group welcomed us in with open arms, and it was wonderful to have a bigger group of people to pray with, process with, and share a vision with. As a result of this trip, Meagan has chosen to sponsor a child in Titanyen, and I hope to do the same in the next few months. I was inspired by a question that was posed to us during our debrief night: What would it look like for you to be a village champion in your own community, being involved in the daily life of your city and helping to draw people to Christ through service and relationship-building? There’s so much still to do, and Meagan and I are so excited about taking what we learned from Haiti and pouring into our own communities! Because it's all for the glory of God. 

I didn't take this picture--one of the other girls in our group did--but I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it because it is so great:

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