Answer the Call

Answer the Call

For almost as long as I have know him, my friend, Yvan Pierre, has tried to teach  me that when God calls, God provides. Being the hard-headed learner I am, I nod my head but really don’t get it. However, Yvan’s teaching is very biblical and is certainly the directions God gives to his followers. When Jesus sent out the disciples (Matthew 10:5014):

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts–no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. (Mat 10:5-14 NIV)

This lesson does not come easy to me or to many others it seems. As a pastor and leader, I have often been in the position of sharing a Godly vision only to be asked by church leaders, “How will we pay for it?” When I find myself asking the same question in response to God’s call and direction on my own life, I have to share a guilty smile! You see, this is fundamentally the wrong question! We should not be asking, ‘How will I/we pay for it?” but rather, “How can I best answer this call and trust God in my response?”

I a previous post I discussed the provision of a lens set for the Optometrist in Haiti. I was so busy trying to provide for this need, I missed the very real fact that God was providing. My job was to ask, seek, and knock until the door opened. I did not need to raise the money, make the purchase, or even shop for what was needed. Through Marie Claude’s request, God had called me to present the need. Even though I had to ask many times, seek in several places, and knock on as many doors, so to speak, God was providing in his own way and his perfect timing.

This leaves us with the clear direction to simply answer God’s call. Rather than worry about the funding or the supply, we need to just move forward. It is interesting to read the response of the Twelve when the returned from their assignment. They were amazed that people were healed and that even the demons withdrew at their command. They were provided for along the way, as they went, and as they answered the call and command of their Lord. This is a matter of trust! Since I struggle with this, I want to end this post with a prayer:

Lord Jesus, help me to simply respond when you call; to answer when you lead; and to move when you direct. Let my heart trust in you even as my feet, hands and voice work at your command. I ask it all in your precious name, Amen!

How God Provides!

How God Provides!

I learned a lesson today in how God works behind the scenes to provide everything we need! One of the dearest ladies I know in Haiti, Marie Claude, asked me several years ago to find her a lens set for finding eyeglass prescriptions. I had no idea what one of these sets cost, but God had laid her request on my heart and I have worked ever since to respond. Several times people promised me a set, but then failed to deliver. I simply kept asking and kept hoping.

Two weeks ago, I had my annual eye exam with Dr. Schmidt. I mentioned the need and he said he would look into it. Due to the fact that my eyes had already been dilated, he could not get an accurate refraction so I had to go back today and see him again. After checking my eyes and writing my lens prescription, he said, “Wait here a minute and I will get you checked out.” A moment later he came into the exam room carrying a small suitcase size aluminum case. It was a brand new lens set with everything Marie Claude needs! He had mentioned my request to his wife, who is also an Optometrist, and she said, “Let’s just buy a set and give it to him.”

This made my day! I was disappointed that no one had met this need before and was discouraged that I would ever be able to provide for Marie Claude’s needs. You see, she too is an Optometrist and she cares for the eyes of all the children in the ICDM school as well as trying to do eye care in the community where she lives. With this set, she can determine accurate eyeglass prescriptions, plus it is portable enough for her to carry it anywhere and use. All the time I was waiting, God was working! When I was discouraged and ready to give up, he had the right person, the right tools, and the right timing to bring it all together. What a great God we serve!

Good Economics of Mission Giving

Good Economics of Mission Giving

I was originally going to post something about the need to give and support missions, which I think is critically important. Then while researching some other issues, I figured out that giving to missions actually makes sound economic sense. I live in Jacksonville, FL a city consolidated with Duval County to the point where the two are virtually one municipality. The cost of educating one public school student in this county is approximately $9,089. At ICDM’s Ecole Henri Christophe in Bayonnais, Haiti, we can educate a single child for about $480. What is more, this $480 includes not only the cost of their teachers and school, but also their uniforms, materials, and a daily meal. For this modest cost, the elementary school student will learn reading and writing (in French and English), math, science, and history. What is more, all of the their education is rooted in strong Christian teaching and discipleship.

Although there is probably much that could be improved in our educational systems here in the US, that is not my point. What I am trying to say is that our donations and giving dollars can accomplish much in a place like Haiti! Even more important is that fact there is no public school system in Haiti and without the mission schools and private schools, their would be little if any elementary or secondary education. Haiti is trying to build a strong educational system, but for now, these schools are an essential tool in educating, equipping, and empowering new generations of leaders and workers.

If you would like to sponsor a child, check out http://www.icdm.us and click on the “Sponsorship” link!

Missions and Money

There are two myths about missions and money. The first is typical of people who live fairly prosperous lives and do not themselves do charity or mission work. This myth is that we can throw money at a problem and this will fix it. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti literally billions of dollars were spent (or at least were claimed to be spent) in helping Haiti. But none of this money actually trickled into the local economy and many of the times when donations did reach the affected communities, the fact that food and supplies were handed out free wrecked the local businesses and left people in worst shape than before the “aid” was supplied. Some of the organizations providing “aid” required that supplies and equipment be purchased in the home country rather than in Haiti. This also deprived the local economy and businesses from taking part in their own recovery. I do not want to describe all the ways that throwing money at a problem does not work. If you want to see how that did not work in Haiti, I suggest Jonathan Katz’s book: The Big Truck That Went By.

Another myth about missions and money is that the church is the only organization we need to support missions. Many folks and churches think that by simply giving to missions they have met the demands of the Gospel and have no further responsibility. The problem is that there are far more needs than there are dollars and people to meet them. For the missionary, this means they have to seek funding to do the things they do among people who may already feel (correctly or mistakenly) that they are doing enough.

One answer for both missionaries and the churches that support them is to engage their communities in helping. The team  I worked with in Cape May Court House, NJ started an annual golf tournament as a fundraiser. Although it attracted some players from the church, most of the participants were not active church members. They got donors and sponsors from local businesses who donated door prizes and hole prizes. They even have two car dealers donate a car for two “hole-in-one” holes. If you get a hole in one on that hole, you win a car. This team has raise $20,000-30,000 each year since starting this tournament.

I would like to hear from some of my readers/followers about what you have done to support the work of short-term or full-time missionaries. What are some creative ways we can engage our communities and allow bigger projects to happen that feed, clothe, and support those in need as well as spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Leadership and Loyalty

Leadership and Loyalty

One of the most disappointing experiences I have had as a pastor is the disloyalty of folks who have at first spoken their commitment to my leadership, but then turn against me when the personal cost of discipleship becomes too great for them. So here are a few of my thoughts on leadership and loyalty.

First, loyalty begins in the life of the leader. Whether a pastor or CEO, the leader must be loyal to the institution or organization and especially to the folks who he or she expects to work with them in the organization. For a pastor or missionary, this means they must first of all be committed to the people they are called to serve and to any organization through which they are called to work. For me this is why I choose to work for and through International Christian Development Missions. This is not the only good organization that is working in Haiti and they care certainly not the only one I could work with. However, their vision and mission matches very closely with what I have discerned as God’s call on my life. What is more, I know the leaders in ICDM and am comfortable submitting to their guidance and direction for all that I do.

Second, loyalty is centered around human relationships. If I do not know people and allow them to know me, then my leadership will by default fail! If you are a pastor or missionary, this is even more critical as you cannot serve and love people you do not know and share life with. It is not enough for me (personally) to just visit Haiti on a regular basis. I must also know people who live there, work there, and have their families there. In spite of numerous trips to Haiti, I first began to sense my relational connection this past January. I met folks like Marcdala, Jean Noel, Abraham, Verlen, Gina, and Djimsy. Knowing these people and staying in contact with them when I am here in the states, is a key loyalty builder for me. The more I know them and love them, the more drawn to Haiti I become. And through them, I have the potential to meet and know even more people. With each expansion of my relationships comes an expansion of my loyalty to and love for the Haitian people.

Third, loyalty develops when people see that you are not going to walk out on them in the hard times. I have watched many congregations of the church who were on the verge of great growth simply disintegrate because a leader became overwhelmed and walked out too early. Again, this is loyalty of the leader for the people, but without it, there can be no expectation that others will follow and stick to the task. My prayer is that I am never guilty of this in my work in Haiti. My hope is that God has called me to this task for the remainder of my earthly life. There are challenges ahead and obstacles that I must overcome, but this is the journey and mission God has called me to. What can I do except follow?

Dearest to my Heart

Dearest to my Heart

My passion and vocation at this stage in life is the training and equipping of pastors and church leaders to lead and transform their communities for Christ. This is why the most recent update from Rosemond Pierre has got me so excited! Over the last few weeks training has gone on in La Chappelle and Pierre-Payon in Artibonite; and several locations in Port Au Prince. This training is not only in the fields of theology and ministry, but also in leadership and community development.  With the central role pastors play in local communities, this training is both significant and necessary.

Since there are no strong theological training centers in Haiti (universities and colleges) and since sending pastors and leaders to other places for training is costly, the best remedy is to train them on-site. Through our Portable Bible School and programs related to our School of Evangelism, ICDM provides both initial and ongoing training for pastors and leaders of all denominations. This training is biblically sound, academically rigorous, and practical in the extreme.

This effort is spearheaded by Pastor Rosemond! So far, these programs have provided training to over 5,000 local pastors in Haiti. These training programs are so effective that other mission organizations have sought our advice in helping them reproduce our success in their nation and setting.

Bayonnais Clinic

Bayonnais Clinic

The newest project ICDM has going on in Bayonnais is our new community clinic. We currently have a clinic at the Ecole Henri Christophe that serves the children of the school. Ever since it opened our staff nurse has also tried to meet the needs of as many as possible in the surrounding community. Since the school clinic is the only current medical facility in the area, taking care of all the needs has proven impossible. Tom Puderbaugh is heading up our efforts to construct, equip, and staff a new clinic dedicated to the community.

Having been spoiled by excellent medical care all my life, my visits to Haiti made me keenly aware of its lack in many areas. There are many trained and dedicated doctors and nurses in Haiti, but few clinics or hospitals even in the cities. When you get out in the rural areas the lack of both trained personnel and adequate facilities are even more apparent. Our new clinic will provide primary care, ongoing vaccinations, and maintain medical records of clients throughout the area. Below is a breakdown of our budget for this project. If you are interested in helping build this needed facility and help equip and staff it, please check out the ICDM website (www.icdm.us).

Budget:

  • $0 – Land is already acquired and ready for building.
  • $100,000 – Building Construction.
  • $25,000 – Medical Equipment.
  • $7,000 – Medicine/Supplies.
  • $18,000 – 1st year salaries for 2 nurses and 1 part-time doctor.
  • $150,000 – Total needed.