It has been a crazy couple of days around the mission. We have a surgery team in this week and they are working on all kinds of different health issues people are dealing with here in Haiti. Some of the surgeries are hysterectomies, some are tumor removal and some are just so over the top gross I can’t write about them. But the joy and relief on the face of the patients, even though they are in great pain, is a blessing.
Last night was an adventure in many ways. There was a woman who needed a C-section and the doctors did the surgery. Everything went great, but the baby was very small. The little girl weighed a little over 4 lbs. Every time the doctors put the baby up near the mother she would turn her face away. She was afraid that her baby would not live and she did not want to get attached.
Doctors and nurses worked a long time getting the baby healthy. They warmed blankets in the drier and wrapped her up. They got her formula and kept her moving. This morning I made rounds through surgery to pray for and encourage the patients. The baby still had not been named for fear of losing her, but she was doing great. While the nurses prepped mom to move from the surgery wing to our maternity wing, I stood by and loved on this precious miracle. (See the picture above). I helped get mom onto a stretcher and along with one of our other staff moved her to the other building. She held her baby and began to feel like maybe this was going to be a good thing. God knew this little one was going to come when she did and he placed doctors here who could care for her in the moment of birth.
After the excitement of the birth last night, excitement of another kind took over campus. One of our Haitian staff members, Mary, was walking home and fell into a hole about ten or twelve feet deep. Fortunately it was near the house of one of our other staff. He pulled her out of the hole and brought her back to the mission. Her head was severely cut and her wrist appears to be broken. We sent her to La Pointe today to get x-rays. Again, God allowed someone to be near to help in this situation.
Life in Haiti is always fragile. Babies are born too small and don’t survive. Moms don’t always survive childbirth. Accidents happen all the time and often are very serious. I am thankful God is not surprised by what surprises us. I am constantly amazed at God’s provision and comfort in our greatest time of need.
Hello from Haiti!! Yes I have finally made it back to Haiti and have already had a very full and productive time. So much happens so quickly at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission that if you don’t keep moving it is easy to get run over. So let me bring you up to speed on what has been happening so far.
On Tuesday, January 14, two of our long-term interns, Alex and Dustin Klink arrived in Florida. They spent two days with Alana and I as we prepared them for their eight-month time in Haiti. On our way home from Orlando, the radiator in our Suburban cracked. Thankfully my friend Paul came to the rescue. He picked us up and got us home and the next morning he and I went back to Cocoa Beach where we left the car and he replaced the radiator. Needless to say, this sidetrack on the day before you leave the country for five weeks causes some panic and frustration. But God is good and all went well.
January 16 the Klink’s and I traveled to Haiti. We flew to Port au Prince and then bused seven hours up to St. Louis du Nord. Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip. Uneventful is always good when travel in Haiti is involved.
January 17 we had three people from a church in California come in to do a vision trip to the mission. I spent the next three days showing them all of our programs, introducing them to staff, and helping them see some of the ministry that happens in Haiti.
One of the really fun things we were able to do was go into Port-du-Paix and purchase a motorcycle for Pastor Stfimin. (See the above picture.) Stfimin pastors a church in the village of La Coix, which is very high up in the mountains. You cannot get to La Coix without using a donkey or a motorcycle. Bedford Acres Christian Church raised $1,500 for this motorcycle to help Stfimin get around the area to minister. Pastor Stfimin is the pastor who supports the other pastors in the area. The motorcycle is a great tool to travel around the northwest area.
On Monday morning, the group visiting our mission and I traveled six hours to our campus in Mole St. Nicolas. It is at the far western tip of Haiti. It is also where Christopher Columbus landed in 1492. It has a rich history and is a beautiful place. We walked to a fort built in the 1600’s.
We traveled a half hour by boat to the fishing village of Preskel. These people live in small, rounded huts that amazingly survive every storm and hurricane. Our staff in the Mole has been working with this village for a couple of years. They provided donkeys for them to help get to the water supply. Before it took three hours to walk to get a five-gallon bucket of water.
On Tuesday our vision team left from a grass airstrip on a plane from Mission Aviation Fellowship. They went to Port-au-Prince and caught their flights to the states. I loaded up in a truck with our staff back to St. Louis du Nord. We had three flat tires in one hour, spent two and a-half-hours on the side of the road and after nine hours we arrived back at the mission. It is a trip of 48 miles.
I am excited to see what God has in store over the next few days. I will be working with staff doing various projects to get ready for our surgery teams that come in on Saturday. Our surgery teams will do many different surgeries to help the people of Northwest Haiti.
Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support. You allow us to do what we do for the Kingdom of God. Please pray for Alana and the kids while I am away. Alana does so much and is so supportive of all that I do. God has truly blessed me with an amazing family.
Yours for His Purpose,
Yesterday as we were driving from St. Louis du Nord to Mole St. Nicolas in Haiti, a friend of mine and I were talking about the choices we make in life. I was telling him of our transition, almost one year ago, from pastoring a local church to working on staff at Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. I explained how on so many levels what we were doing did not make sense. His response was to quote an author he read who made the following statement:
“As a Christian, if your life makes sense to your neighbors, you are not doing it right.”
There are moments in the last week where I am not even sure my life has made sense to me. I came into Haiti last week to minister and serve for the next five weeks. I love this place, these people, our staff and all the adventures I have in Haiti. Occasionally I find myself wondering if I am making an impact or I am just going through motions.
Everyone in ministry goes through these moments. You doubt your decisions. You doubt your purposes. You doubt your calling. And there are moments where you doubt God.
As Christians we are told to walk by faith, trust in our Heavenly Father, obey what we have been taught and to pass it on to others. Most followers of Christ may half-heartedly do one and ignore the others. Most of the time the cause is fear. We tend to live our lives by trying to be cautious, safe, and comfortable. But that is not the life Christ has called us to live.
Christ told us to take up our cross and follow him. What is safe about carrying a cross? Christ told us the world will hate us because it hated him. Do you really feel safe with people who hate you?
Following Christ is a life that people who do not follow Christ do not understand. They have no concept of what it means to live your life based on the life of a man who died on a cross. They don’t understand that the way to gain your life is to lose it. They have no concept of what it means to live beyond yourself, for others, and sacrificially.
Maybe our life is not one that makes sense to others. And at times, maybe it doesn’t make sense to us. But, maybe it was never intended to make sense.
We all have thoughts and ideas of how our lives are going to go. When you are child you dream of being an astronaut, a ballerina, a baseball player or a rock star. As you grow your dreams morph into areas where your talents and gifts are strongest or where you feel most comfortable. When you graduate into an adult, your dreams may give way to practical areas where you can actually make a living. Hopefully your dreams never die.
A few years ago if anyone had asked me if I would have dreamed I would be the pastor of a church I would have laughed. If anyone had asked me a few months ago if I would ever work for a mission organization that works in Haiti I would have laughed at you. Time and experience shapes your dreams and your realities and the unexpected becomes a routine.
This month marks one year since we joined the staff of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. Serving as the Mission Pastor and working with our staff, partnering with churches, telling amazing stories of what God is doing in Haiti and seeing my entire family develop a passion for the people of Haiti is more than a dream come true; it is a divine movement.
There are times and moments in our lives where God has to move us. There are plans and purposes He has in store for us we could never imagine. We go from dreaming and shooting for stars, to comfort and security and sometimes it takes a movement of God to shake us out of the nest and into a new dream and a new reality.
My family was fully content to continue our lives in a local church setting. We loved the people, the routine, the passion and the comfort. Last year when God stirred our hearts to make this change, we could never have imagined the new dream God would birth in our lives.
It should not surprise us. Scripture is filled with people comfortable in their lives and work that God had to move to accomplish something greater in them. Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Peter and Paul were all content to run a business, hang out with sheep, thresh wheat, fish and throw people in jail. But God had other plans.
The lesson I have seen in my life and the lives of others is the death of dreams leads to comfort. When “arrive” and “settle” and find that we are comfortable and at peace. But God rarely, if ever, uses those who are comfortable to accomplish great things. God rarely uses anyone who is simply content to change the world. Instead, God births a calling and a vision and a new dream arrive.
I have a new dream that could never have been accomplished in my comfortable life. I dream of supporting people who have given their lives for the gospel. I dream of bringing healing to those who are physically and spiritually sick. I dream of children who have been abandoned finding love and a family. I dream of American churches partnering with Haitian churches to fulfill the great commission.
These dreams would never have been possible if I had continues in my comfort. Being a pastor in a local church was a great experience and maybe someday God will move us into another role of that type. But for now, we are dreaming of what could be and should be in the place god has called us to serve.
What is your dream? Is your comfort squeezing it to death?