It is a special place, magical even.
It has a way of getting under your skin and piercing your soul.
It has it all.
Hungry bellies crying out.
It has it all.
I found myself, 8 years ago standing for the first time on Haitian soil in Ounamenthe, Haiti, trying to keep pace and take it all in as we winded down dusty roads lined with cactus hedges. Little kids shouting "blanc" ("white") with fascination and wonder in their eyes. They poured from out of their houses to greet us, touch us, slip their hands in ours and run alongside of us for a brief second as we walked by... I knew my life was about to change. God was doing something inside of me and I knew I would not return from that mission trip the same.
I have been to this magical place countless times since my first time 8 years ago. It has never stopped being magical or stopped being a place where God grips my soul and forever changes a piece of me.
On our trip this year, we camped in Phaeton where Lucner pastors the church and leads the nutrition center. God is doing great things through him in this community. The other six pastors traveled by motorcycle (some for many hours) to reach us.
Pastor Lucner and wife Marie
When they arrived to Phaeton, they laughed and greeted one another with a familiarness and love of a family reunion. Such joy! They turned and grabbed shovels and joined us blancs on the job site, and boy were we ever thankful for their help. Truck by truck, remains from the old sisal rope factory were dumped on the foundation of where the new church and nutrition center is. Our job was to level the fill that was brought in... 24 truck fulls!
The sisal rope factory located in Phaeton was once the largest source of income for the entire country of Haiti. The country boomed in it's time, and the factory was a sign of hope and promise, but as quickly as it met success, the lights went out, the factory shut down and left a town (and country) hopeless. Now the remains from that factory will be resurrected to bring hope and promise in a new way in the form of a church and nutrition center. Redemption.
The remains of the Sisal Rope Factory
The sweetest part of our trip was sitting down side-by-side with the Pastors and hearing their heartfelt stories of love, devastation, vision, hopes, and dreams.
Meet Jonas Lekkler. He is 47 years old. He works in a community called L'Hat. It is very difficult to find on a map. His eyes are kind and warm and convey a joy from the Lord that is unspeakable.
He is one of 7 incredible and passionate pastors we work with through out the Northern mountain region in Haiti.
He has been married for 24 years, has 6 children and has lived a life mixed with joy and bitter loss. He has been able to attend many of the trainings that G.O. provides through North-American Pastors visiting the island and teaching them. He shared how truly blessed he was by these trainings and not only has he learned so much about Christ and how to preach through them, but other pastors are listening to him and finding training through his sermons that they are taking back to their own churches. Renewal.
His favorite verse is Psalm 94:17. The NIV puts it this way:
Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers? If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” your love, God, took hold and held me fast.When I was upset and beside myself, you calmed me down and cheered me up.
Jonas knows the sting of death. He and his wife have lost two children. One was just a baby and the other who suffered from what they believed to be Epilepsy had a seizure, fell and hit her head and the injuries took her life. Voodoo is prevalent in Haiti, it is hard to get away from it. It is believed in their community that the deaths of their children were the works of witch doctors who do not like or want the presence of a church honoring Christ in their town. They have received much persecution.
Not only does this man of God pastor a church, he also has a school, the only one in the small town of L'Hat brimming with 167 children in attendance. The kids will grow up with a Christian Education, empowered with the hope of Christ to become agents of change in Haiti. Restoration.
God gave our staff a glimpse of the beauty of his redemption, renewal and restoration throughout Haiti. A great revival is on it's way to this Island.
Will you join me in prayer for Jonas and his family? Let us come before the Throne of Grace and lift up these warriors for the Gospel together in expectation of the Lord's provision.
Jonas knows what it means to "slip" and "fall" and has felt the promise of God "taking hold fast." You and I know what it means to slip and fall as well and have felt that same very promise that God will take hold of us fast, calm us down; cheer us up. We are not so different from one another.
Is God calling you to be a part of something bigger? Ask God to search your heart and show you what it is he may have for you. Maybe it is coming on a mission trip with G.O. Ministries. Maybe it's to be a prayer warrior for the local leaders we work alongside of. Maybe it is to financially come alongside of someone and help them live out the calling they have received from the Lord. Don't let an opportunity to do good and be used by the Lord to redeem, renew, and restore pass you by.
Until next year... enjoy some of the pics from our time in this magical place.
Our crew at the Citadel
We managed to almost fall off the side of the building again... good thing Tim was there
The "Teams Team"