Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Heart for Haiti

On January 12th the world was shaken by a devastating earthquake that literally decimated Port au Prince and the surrounding areas. Television images of the earthquake's damage and destruction were hard to grasp, must less to grapple with the incredulous number of 300,000 left dead in the rubble of its damage.

Janaury 12th I was shaken by what I saw--to the core. I have seen other tragedies from a distance, and the havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina I saw up close and personal on a work trip taken by six friends and myself to assist a missionary couple in rebuilding their home in the Ninth Ward.

I was glued to the televsion for the first four or five days, watching intermittently at work, and immersing myself in the tragedy each evening when I came home. Almost immediately I said to Beverly, my wife, "I have to go to Haiti". Every day I watched the news, read the local newspapers, researched the internet for updates until Haiti litrally disappeared from the news media; even when it was written about, it was a hidden nondescript piece relegated to an insignificant space on papper and screen.

But my heart did not change. Almost immediately I announced to our church that I wanted to take a work team to Haiti. Over forty expressed interest in going. Within weeks I contacted a group of men who donated funds for water purification tablets a missionary friend was taking to Haiti. We announced the collection of clothes for Haiti and over sixty large industrial bags were stored at the local thrift store. A committee was formulated to ask questions, i.e. "Who do we know in Haiti?" "What is the greatest need?" "Where would we stay if we went?" "Do we know anyone who speaks French or Creole?" "What difference could our small group make?"

On June 20-26 two men (Logan and Ron) joined me in a survey trip to Haiti, following up ona God-ordained lead through Michelle Lacourciere of Sirona Fuels/Sirona Cares, a ministry/corporation dedicated to producing eco-friendly fuels), linking us to Gilbert Jules, a pastor in Port au Prince. He ovesees a ministry called Ambassadors for Christ in Haiti and is responsible for four churches--one in Port au Prince and three in villages to the north--with schools at each site. Gilbert's wife, Legett, is a doctor, and she oversees medical clinics at each site as well.

We saw the city and its incredible need. Nearly 1,000,000 living in tents in a country with 75% illiteracy and 85% unemployment awaiting the devastating winds and rain of the hurricance season greeted us. Rubble and waste, though partially removed, remain a constant deterrent to transportation, construction...and hope.

And what can we do? I had been asking myself that question for the last six months--what small thing can we do that would make any difference in a country so devastated by disaster and ruin? Well, here's the best part. God matched us with a man with a vision--a man with a heart for his people. Gilbert's primary concerns were not the primitive, broken buildings that house his ministries; rather, his concern was for the spiritual needs of his people--especially the chidlren and the ten pastors he has been training to guide the people that are a part of his spehre of influence.

In November we will return to Haiti with a team with two objectives--the training of pastors in how to study and teach the Word of God more effectively (Gilbert thinks 100 may join us) , and ministry to 2,000 children through eight sessions of VBS at his four church sites.

I am still shaken. But now it is because I recognize the incredible open door God has placed before us to do our "small thing" in Haiti. It's been in my heart for six months. Now it is coming to fruition. Pray for us.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

prayer meeting

Seven joined us at our recent all-church prayer meeting for our unsaved loved ones. I was thankful for those who came and committed to the task of interceding for those we love who don't know Christ. I was encouraged as we prayed by the empathy we expressed to one another as we recounted the general needs of those we loved.

I was reminded of a song we used to sing when I was a teenager at church on prayer meeting nights...

"Someone is praying for you,
Someone is praying for you,
And when you think you're all alone and your heart would break in two,
Remember, someone is praying for you."

Though we were a handful, I believe our hearts were joined together in a special way and that our prayers together were honored by God.

Maybe you'd like to join us next time...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

awash in washington

We just returned from four of the most beautiful days in the state of Washingtton. My wife's brother and sister-in-law, now retired from the dairy business, have carved a beautiful home out of the side of a hill overlooking the Spokane Valley.

When I think of Washington, I think of green hills, beautiful evergreens...and rain. And I was not disappointed on either count. It was incredibly green and beautiful but it rained off and on the whole time we were there.

Noormally, I would havebeen disappointed because I love the clear blue skies and the glowing sun, especially in late spring, when it is still relatively cool. And, of course, since we were on a short vacation and I was looking forward to hiking and enjoying the outdoors. If I had known the extent of all of these weather variables before leaving I would have been "awash" with disappointment.

But Washington did not disappoint. Our hosts were terrific, our accommodations were five-star and the setting was heavenly. We walked every day, hiking through
verdant vegetation and enjoying breath-taking views. I am a fledgling photographer but was enamored with the ever-changing skies and spent alot of time endeavoring to get National Geographic-like pictures of the surroundings.

I have thought this week about how what we don't know before hand is sometimes a blessing. It potentially could pre-empt some wonderful experiences enjoyed, evenw itha ll the unexpected variables. I guess that is what adventure looks like.

For most of you, a few days in Washington hiking and taking pictures may seem pretty tame; for me it was a time of rest and refreshment. I have been revelling in its memories--and ongoing benefits--since my return to the now browning hills and escalating heat of summer in Amador County.

I know...quit complaining; who knows what adventure awaits us here this summer...?