When I got to Doko, I met strong people who are struggling with life so that they can bring bread to their family every day. Occupations include cultivators, farmers, vendors, and fishermen. They can’t provide all the necessaries things to get all of the kids in school on time, but they are making all of their best to make them go to school even at the age of 13 years old. -Hudson
On Monday, May 7, 2018, over 200 people gathered at Scotts Hill Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC, to celebrate missions around the world. On this night, 25 tables were set to share more about missions based in the Wilmington area but operating all over the world.
Two of the tables hosted by Pastor Roger Barnes, Sophie Leonard, Alexandria Augi and Jennifer Augi (all members of the March 2018 team) highlighted and told the story of Haiti Awake.
Sophie Leonard and Alexandria Augi were also able to talk with the children in attendance at this event about the Bible schools they led in Haiti while traveling with Haiti Awake. They encouraged the children not to feel limited by their age but to listen for God’s calling to go and serve being the hands and feet of Jesus.
The mission night was a wonderful opportunity to share in our local community how lives in Haiti are being changed through friendship, discipleship, community, teaching, resources, time, and most importantly the unifying love of Jesus Christ.
The following is a guest post, shared by our friend, Dori Nason.
For the past four summers, I have had the opportunity to teach 9-13 year olds how to sew with a group of talented ladies in my church. Power Camp is a ministry of Myrtle Grove Presbyterian that shares the gospel of Christ with kids (rising 1st -8th grade) as they are extremely active in various sports and arts activities. During the sewing specialty week, we teach the basics of sewing, and then tackle a project to take home, whether it is a pair of pajama pants, a wall hanging, or something equally challenging. It is amazing how much these kids learn over the course of 15 hours!
Historically, only girls have signed up for sewing camp. However, this past summer I was personally contacted by a homeschool mom who said her 11 year old son wanted to learn how to sew. Surprised by this, I wanted to learn why he wanted to sew. She responded that her son, “wanted to learn how to make clothes for his little brother and to make dresses for little girls in Haiti.” His answer touched my heart and I knew that we needed to add a new element to our week of sewing.
We were going to make something for someone else. God helped us move quickly into making this boy’s idea into a reality. Approvals were given, fabric and notions were donated, and a dress pattern was designed. We were blessed to be able to partner with Haiti Awake and teach our 11 students not only to make a backpack they could take home for themselves, but also a beautiful dress for a girl in Haiti. Decorating the room with the Haitian flag and a world map, we showed them pictures of Haiti and Haiti Awake’s ministry there.
Over the course of the week, 11 precious dresses were lovingly handcrafted and prayed over. We taught the kids that even though they didn’t know who would receive their dresses, they could pray for that person’s safety and that they would also come to know the Lord with each stitch that they made. As a final touch, we had labels attached in the dresses telling the recipient who made each dress. When I packaged everything up to take to Becky, I had no idea how our prayers would be directed later that summer as hurricane season started brewing.
Early in September, Becky started sending me pictures of the recipients of our dresses. These pictures brought so much joy to us! The first picture was of a girl named Phoebe holding the dress made by our inspirational young man. Next was of a little girl who lives near the ministry wearing her dress. It was their beautiful faces we visualized as we prayed that Hurricane Irma would turn before it reached Haiti. Those precious smiles will be forever etched in my memory. Stateside, we rejoiced as the hurricane turned and we received word that all at Haiti Awake were safe. Our prayers and stitches made a difference, not only for the recipients, but also for each boy, girl, and sewing instructor involved in the project.
1. Haiti does a lot of things right—especially, relationships and worship. I learned that relationships can be built non-verbally, through interacting, and cross-culturally. I’m a talker. A verbal-processor. But I saw that sometimes words aren’t necessary. That touch can be powerful and that laughter is a global language.
2. Happiness does not equal stuff. Worldly possessions are fleeting—in an instant they can be taken away, lost, or become out-of-date. Being in a place that is not driven by consumerism, you see how society functions remarkably well without the need to constantly buy and consume the next best thing.
3. The power of touch. Sometimes you meet a person whom imprints on you and you know you won’t soon forget them. I will not forget much about my time in Haiti, but my most vivid memory is of a woman named Karen. This is a woman who has been struggling with a skin condition for the last 5 years. She has to wear long pants and long sleeves and a hat to cover her skin. Her skin itches and has marks all over it and she has to force herself to eat. No one knows what her skin condition is and, thus, the whole community has ostracized her. The only interaction she has is with her 6 sisters – all of whom live in the same room with just 2 mattresses. We visited her, brought lotions and medicines and talked with her. Before leaving, we put our hands on her and prayed with her. Tears streamed down her face as we prayed and I left thinking, wow, it has probably been quite some time since she has experienced human touch. I saw her several times throughout the week and as we smiled and greeted one another I knew we had bonded. Jesus literally broke this physical boundary and allowed us to enter into an emotional and spiritual connection with Karen.
4. If you ever get the chance, look at the world through the eyes of a child. Get excited. Be curious. Show affection to others. Be loving and nonjudgmental. Getting to spend a week alongside dozens of children in Haiti was a huge blessing.
5. Ministry can look different than what you are comfortable with. Sometimes it means getting dirty and serving, being the hands and feet of Jesus, sometimes it means sitting with and being uninhibitedly with another person, sometimes it means loving your team and helping them to process. Then, upon return, looking for ways to serve in the place you have been planted.
6. God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.
Written by Kelly Shannon, a grad student at UNCW studying social work. Kelly is from Huntersville, NC, and she is engaged to Tyler Johnson. Kelly organized, planned, and led the March Haiti Awake team.
The following was written by our friend, Kaitlyn Hopfer, who is pouring her heart into helping the people of Haiti and Haiti Awake.
I run a local non-profit called Mission Made Jewelry which is focused on creating jobs in developing countries through the sale of handcrafted items. Early last year, our founder suggested that I join him on a trip to be able to truly experience what it looked like to live in one of the counties we worked with, Haiti.
In June 2016, I boarded my flight to Port Au Prince, Haiti full of nerves, questions, and concerns. I wrote in my journal during the flight into Haiti:
Little did I know that from that day forward God would awaken in me a passion towards Haiti that is indescribable.
Upon our arrival, my team members commented on the smell of the burning trash, the animals scattered throughout the road, the state of living conditions throughout the area, but I noticed something else – the people.
All around people were huddled together, hugging and high fiving, helping each with heavy baskets or broken down cars, standing united in a way I had never seen before. As we were driving down the road we came to a sudden halt, the person in front of us had saw someone they knew and literally stopped the car in the middle of the road to talk to them. I quickly realized, Haitians take relationships seriously. They live out the command to love their neighbor in a way I have never experienced before.
I thought I was going to Haiti to "give back to those in need,” but I quickly learned that this experience was about something much bigger; it was about building relationships. I realized that I needed to open my heart to loving them, not fixing them.
In the book Helping without Hurting, Steve Corbett states:
I knew that if I wanted to make a difference in Haiti I needed to build meaningful and long-lasting relationships.
My friends in Haiti have taught me to love selflessly until it hurts. They practice fellowship in the way Jesus represented it, spending fellowship with his disciples, pouring into them and helping them grow. Jesus could have had 10,000 disciples, but he didn’t. He chose a select group of individuals to pour into, to love, and to share life with.
Haiti Awake gives us the opportunity to do just that, to walk alongside our friends in Haiti in fellowship.
In June I will be heading back to Haiti for my 3rd trip in less than 1 year. I continue to invest my heart into Haiti Awake because these are my friends. They are no longer nameless faces in a far-off country. Instead, they are the people I pray for daily and share fellowship with.
They are the people who I want to experience life with.
Each time I see them I know that God is helping us grow together for His kingdom. I believe that Haiti is the next crowning jewel of this world, that Jesus Christ will be known through the nation, and that Haiti Awake will play a huge role in making that happen.
The following is a guest post by Paige Carroll who traveled to Haiti with The Bridge team in August of 2016. She and her husband, Jacob, are monthly supporters of Haiti Awake, and they are leading their own team back to Haiti in June of this year.
This past summer, I traveled to Haiti with Haiti Awake. During the first few days of my 10 day experience, I quickly picked up on something different about Haiti than what I was used to in the US. In Haiti, relationships matter. In the Haitian culture people genuinely care about one another. Haitians take the time to learn about what’s going on in the lives of those around them. Whether they know it or not, they are living by the motto of “Love your brother as yourself.” People on the streets stop to help a brother in need: they take care of each other; they build relationships and value those relationships.
Haiti Awake is no different from the culture of Haiti. The staff of Haiti Awake believes that relationships matter. They take the time to know and care for their neighbors. They build relationships with others, leading by example that iron sharpens iron. The Haiti Awake staff builds heartfelt relationships with the children in the Children’s Home; spending time, money and energy learning about what makes these kids happy, what gets them motivated, what helps them learn, not because it is part of their job, but because they have that desire to build a trusting relationship.
Once I returned home, I was eager to do whatever I could to continue impacting those relationships I formed in Haiti, as well as what I could do to ensure that relationships continued to grow across that country. Haiti Awake taught me that it is important to invest all that I have into something if I want to see it succeed. I want to see Haiti Awake succeed. I want to see the Gospel known in Haiti. I believe that through the power of Jesus Christ, Haiti Awake is going to do great things throughout the entire country of Haiti - from Tabarre to Cite Soleil to Tabarre to Les Cayes, to those places God has yet to call them to.
This is why I invest my time, my money, my energy, (my Target clearance shopping trips!), my heart, in Haiti Awake.
This is why I support Haiti Awake monthly. I know that my support goes 100% to Haiti to meet these needs, that otherwise could be forsaken without my support.
People were created to be in relationship with one another.
Would you consider forming a relationship with Haiti Awake, and being a part of the work they are doing to bring Relationships, Gospel and Hope to the nation of Haiti?
The following is Hudson's report of the most recent work in Les Cayes.
We were back in Les Cayes, especially in "Gelee". This time God has made a path direction to Jack Charlie's house and his family.
We feel so much enthusiasm by how God uses our heart, our hands to make it work. Even everyday is a blessing day.
This family feels further blessed, and we got to feel the same way as them because God has touched our hearts and make us do the right thing.
They are so thankful, so happy, and they want to keep us in their prayers... We feel the same way too.
All our acknowledgment to God, Haiti Awake, and you all that've made this work possible.
Do not forget that God loves us.
Editor's Note: We will continue the work in Les Cayes as long as funds are available. Please consider Haiti Awake in your year-end giving.
The following is a guest post from our friend, Lisa Moore.
I'm sitting in a big comfy desk chair staring at my oversized computer screen. Looking back at me is Haitian woman and her child whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew. My home consists of carpet, tastefully painted walls, and a solid roof to keep us protected. Her home is no longer a home, but a thrown together shanty made of broken sheets of iron.
I look at the rubble and trash and rocky ground around her home, and I just can't understand as my home is surrounded by a pristine carpet of St. Augustine grass. I see her shoeless feet standing on the concrete slab, and I think of my recently painted purple toe nails. But then I notice in the picture her one year old son standing in the makeshift doorway of her dwelling. He's naked. And I think, "Where is his diaper?" My western mind hasn't connected that a shoeless, nearly homeless woman would not be able to buy diapers. Wow.
I continue to stare at her but honestly, I struggle to have compassion for her. I continue staring at the computer screen waiting for compassion to erupt from some deep place in my heart. But it doesn't. I wait, and still, nothing. It' difficult for me to dredge up empathy for this poor woman because I cannot relate to her situation. I cannot comprehend her desperation. I have shoes, a home, and children that are dressed head to toe.
I continue to read about this desperate mother, Moline, and her family. She has three children. She sells fish at the nearby beach. Her husband is a fisherman. And then I read a sentence that does produce a reaction in my heart:
And I am cut to the heart. Because, you see, while my heart may struggle with compassion and empathy to relate to a woman I will never know, God's Holy Spirit lives in me. God knows this shoeless woman that I will never know. He sees her ramshackle dwelling and her diaperless child. He hears the hidden wailings of her heart that I will never hear. He cares for Moline oh so much.
And God sees me. God knows that I have the means to help this woman. He knows that I have some extra room in my budget and I've been waiting on Him to know what to do with it. And God knows that when He speaks, I will listen. Although I often resist and question, I will eventually obey. Jesus, after all, is my example. God hears the silent prayer of my heart, my surrender, “Not my will, O God, but yours be done.”
My heart is moved to action and these extra funds in my budget will now be sent every month to Haiti Awake, a ministry on the ground in Haiti that helps real families like Moline and her diaperless child. I know that my US dollars - the amount my family of four would spend to eat out just once - will make a sizeable difference for families in Haiti.
And even though I still may not understand or comprehend their plight, I will make a difference. I will touch Haiti - not with my hands and feet - but with my heart. God's heart.
What about you? Is God speaking to your heart to be a monthly supporter of Haiti Awake? They need monthly support they can depend on, which allows them to plan, to grow, and to follow where the Lord is leading. Whether you can share $10, $25, $50 or more, God will use it to care for the Molines and families like hers in Haiti. Please prayerfully consider giving to this ministry.