A Love-Haiti Relationship
Hispaniola is the second largest island in the Caribbean, and it is home to two nations: the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This tropical land was once called “the pearl of the Caribbean.” The picture in my mind is that of a tropical paradise, though that image does not accurately describe the Haitian side. This small nation of 11 million people is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Political instability, economic failures, and corruption have contributed to this situation.
One doesn’t have to look hard to find signs of suffering and need. In fact, it’s unavoidable. I have traveled to Haiti six different times, and every, city, town, and village I have visited is full of poverty. It’s out in the open for the world to see. The physical needs are so great that no one person or organization can adequately address them. Non-governmental agencies (NGOs) have been working in Haiti for decades to improve life by offering various forms of assistance, but true transformation will require something much greater than this, and I believe the answer lies with Christ.
Haiti has a reputation for being very spiritual. It is often said that in Haiti 75% of the people are Catholic, 25% are Protestant, and 100% practice voodoo. I interpret this to mean that there are great opportunities for the gospel.
I spent several days last week visiting CBF missionary Jenny Jenkins in Grande Goave, Haiti discussing her ministry and how Forest Hills might partner with her. Jenny is a trained nurse and she practices a wholistic ministry, which address both the physical and spiritual parts of life. She does not feel a need to duplicate what others are doing. Instead, she prefers to go where there are unmet needs.
For this reason, Jenny has chosen to work in mountain villages near Grande Goave. These communities are sorely neglected. Nearly 14,000 people live in this area, and yet, there are no medical clinics, doctors or nurses. Jenny is in the process of building a medical clinic, though her vision for this ministry goes beyond providing medical services. She envisions that this clinic will serve as a center for education, outreach and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
I am excited for our church as we enter into a ministry partnership with her, and I think of this as a “Love-Haiti Relationship.” We are planning to send our first mission team in November. Jenny wants to utilize the gifts and talents of those who want to serve by matching them up with needs she is identifying among the people in the Grande Goave region. I think this is a terrific model because I believe in my heart that God uses every one of us by matching us (including our gifts, talents, and passions) with the world’s greatest needs. God works through us to bring about the kind of healing and transformation that can come only through the gospel.
Whether or not you ever intend to serve in Haiti, God can use you to make a difference. So, where is God calling you to serve? And where do your gifts, talents and passions match up with the world’s greatest needs?
Forest Hills is taking a mission trip to Haiti from 11/9-11/16. An interest meeting for this trip will be held on Sun, 4/28 following worship in the Youth Attic (3rd floor). Please come!