Tag: International Christian Development Missions

Putting the “GO” in the Great Commission

Putting the “GO” in the Great Commission

Having made trips to China, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and now Haiti, I am often asked, “Do these short term trips really accomplish anything?” Or I am asked, “It costs so much for you to take a team to Haiti (or wherever). Why not just raise the money you raise and then send that to Haiti?” I want to try and answer these two questions because I think they actually miss the point about why we do this.

First of all, yes, these trips do accomplish a great deal. The team that Tony Geinotta takes from Cape May county in New Jersey have made seven trips and are scheduled to be there again this coming October. Each time they complete a measurable task in terms of building. On my last trip with them in 2012, we completed the framework for the forms that allowed the next team to pour the entire ceiling for the first floor of the Center of Hope. This is how the teams work: One group may dig and pour only the foundations; The next assembles the walls using concrete block. Another team like ours, sets the forms and the last team pours the ceiling, which then  becomes the floor for the next level. Some might protest that it would be cheaper to just send the money and pay Haitians to do the work! This is true, but it would not accomplish the full task of these teams.

You see, the goal is not just to build a building or clear new farm land or even teach pastors and church leaders (something I usually do). This is only a part of the task and often not even the most important one. On all of these trips, we work right alongside Haitians. We get to know them, share some meals with them, even laugh and play with them (I learned on my first visit not to challenge the Haitians to a Dominoes tournament!). A team traveling to Bayonnais, where ICDM has their main campus, is likely to meet and play games with students from Institute Henri Christophe. We will meet and sometimes even help the teachers there. Our cooks are all Haitian as well. What happens by the end of one of these trips is that we have made friends with many of the Haitians. When the team returns home their vision of the world is changed because they now see these people as real, as human, and as friends. Although their attitude on the first trip may be, “I am going to do something for Haiti,” after their first trip it usually becomes, “I am going to do something with Haitians!” This may seem like a subtle difference in attitude, but it is an important difference. Now that they know these people, the reasons behind their work all change. Even the reasons for fund-raising will change. I remember the first trip with Tony’s team, we saw fund raising as primarily to pay for our trip. After that first trip, fund-raising was more about what was going to be done and who we were going to help on our next trip. The actual going leads to people coming home like the disciples after Jesus sent them out: Praising God and proclaiming, ‘even the demons obey our word.’ This goal of making friends and partners in Haiti is easily more important then the work we actually accomplish, although both are the result. However, there is still another reason to go.

When I took this team from New Jersey, there were numerous complaints by church leaders. Some thought we should be working directly on a United Methodist project and ICDM holds no denominational affiliation. Others felt that our fund raising would diminish the money given for current mission projects of the church. Still others thought that we needed to work at home before we went overseas to do missions. Here is why I still say we should go: 1) ICDM does not hold a denominational affiliation and this has given them the ability to work across many denominational and theological boundaries. In fact it allows them to work with (that “with” word again) other mission organizations and churches with far more flexibility and influence; 2) Instead of diminishing church funding for missions, this group actually increased the giving for missions supported by the church. This happened two ways. First, the persons who had gone on the trip found themselves more sensitive to and responsive to mission needs, whether local or overseas. Second, the group shifted their fund-raising to the community rather then from the church and then tithed all they raised to the church’s mission fund; 3) When Jesus said “go” it was to the whole world. Whether you read the Great Commission as found in Matthew 28:18-20 or Acts 1:4-8, the command is to go to the whole world, not in some sequential steps (home first, then the nations next door, and then the ends of the earth), but rather to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth, all at the same time.

In conclusion, I think every leader, particularly every pastor, should go on at least one foreign mission trip. We need to see the world through a wider lens and make friends with those whom we would help. My first trip to Haiti changed the direction of my life. Once I saw these people as God’s children, abused by their neighbors, ignored by the world, and yet joyful in their existence, I could not accept the idea that I could do nothing. So I keep going and taking new people with me. They come back transformed and as often as not lead transformation in their church back home. So who will go? Will you?

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!

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.
Hope for Haiti

Hope for Haiti

I have been involved in foreign missions since I first started in vocational Christian ministry. At first I just supported other missionaries and passed on their stories to inspire those I served in the local church. In 2001, I visited China and over the next few years visited Puerto Rico and Jamaica. However, I really found my place in missions when I visited Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. As I flew home from Port Au Prince, Haiti in April of 2010, I felt like I was leaving home, even as I flew home to my family. I had never experienced this emotional attachment to another country and people group. The feeling has only grown stronger on each visit I have made to this island nation. I love the country and its beauty, a rugged and piercing beauty to me. More than that I love the people of Haiti. They are fiercely independent; quick to smile and laugh; and there humor will capture your heart.

In September of 2016, I was given an awesome opportunity: to work with and write for International Christian Development Missions (www.icdm.us). This group, founded by a friend of mine from Asbury Theological Seminary, Yvan Pierre, serves the community of Bayonnais, Haiti with a school, a local church, a pure water project, a farm, and other community development projects. Now they are in the process of building a clinic to serve the entire community. ICDM also trains pastors and Christian leaders through a system of Portable Bible Schools, a School of Evangelism that trains leaders to start new churches, and ongoing training through correspondence courses and virtual education initiatives.

This opportunity and recent work has led me to begin working toward becoming a full time missionary to Haiti where I hope to work in training pastors and leaders, developing new programs to educate, equip, and empower Haitian communities, and get to know more and more of the wonderful people of Haiti. In this blog I will be telling the stories of people like Yvan Pierre, his workers in Haiti, and the children, teens, and adults I meet on every trip! To start the process, please take a look at the picture posted with this entry. This is a picture of me and Gina Faustin, a 12 year old girl I met this past January. She worked very hard to avoid my camera as I sought to take a picture of her, but I finally talked her into letting me do a selfie of her and I. I promised I would make her famous with this picture. So feel free to copy and repost the picture and Gina’s story on any social media you use. Gina lives in Gonaives, Haiti with her three brothers and mom. She speaks French, Kreyol, and English and is both bright and funny! I am proud to call her one of my dear friends.

Look for more information about plans and missions I will be doing in Haiti in my future posts. If you are interested in visiting Haiti, please let me know and I can set up a plan to allow you to see the work going on and meet some of the wonderful people I have encountered in this country!1483720209363