The Where: so here I sit, enjoying an early dark cup of greatness 20 hours before I board a plane to Haiti. This past March, I swore, I would not be one of those that came back loving Haiti, after all, Haiti was hot, humid, and more like Africa than it was the places in the world I loved – Russia, Eastern Europe, and Turkey… But I was wrong, I flew away loving it, I can’t explain it, but I did. No, it doesn’t have the same spot in my heart as other places, but it’s there, and when I got back in March, all I wanted to do was one thing – go back. So here we go.
The Who: This trip is a little more exciting for me, as I get to partner with friends from ANC, my brother, and other friends. I’m going with…
- …our Music and Arts Leader, Lamar Stockton and his wife, Jill – who seem to wrestle with the exact same things Sarah and I do when it comes to missions – I can’t wait to talk to them on the flip side of this trip.
- Then there is Jeremiah Keck, not only a best friend, but a guy I have had the opportunity to walk with through salvation, marrying him and his wife, taking him on his first trip to Russia, church planting, living missionally, baptizing, and now Haiti – him and his wife are wrestling (in a good way) with God’s direction for them, I’m excited to see what God may be doing through this trip…
- Then there is Nathan Hansen, my brother and best friend and a person I deeply respect as a leader and man. Nathan and I have been through a lot together in life, but never something like Haiti, in fact, this year seems to be a journey for both of us taken together, yet separated by a short distance, He’s from Dallas and a member of the Village, and I’m a pastor in Austin. We started this journey, about 2 months ago, committing to physical health and transformation as we started Insanity, with our wives – we have all finished it. Now we embark on Haiti, and when we get back from Haiti, we will be taking a long awaited (12 years to be exact) vacation with our wives and some of our best friends (Jeremiah & his wife will be joining us as well), and then we’ll cap it off with another physical challenge – Tough Mudder (Lamar, Jill, Jeremiah and Rutherford will be joining us on this as well).
- I get to go with Shonna Shelton, her and her husband have been on a beautiful faith journey for the past few years and are Restore Leaders in our home church and currently going through the challenges of adoption, I’m excited to see how God speaks to her in this environment of poverty, chaos, orphans, and beauty…
- We get Kris Rutherford again, who was part of the first trip, and someone I’ve grown to love and respect, plus I can’t imagine going to Haiti without him.
- Then there is the founder of HELP and a man I have grown to love and respect and am proud to consider a friend, Chris Marlow. Chris’ heart for the orphan and impoverished is amazing and his journey from a youth pastor (years and years ago), church planter, and now Non-profit founder is even more amazing. There are others on this trip, that I don’t know, and look forward to getting to know; but my point is, this, for me is not the average pilgrimage (no pilgrimage is average), but I am going with people I love, people I know, people who are part of my journey outside of Haiti, so, I’m not sure what to expect, but then again, I hope I can’t expect whatever it is that this trip will bring.
The Why: So, why Haiti, if you want to read a few more detailed versions of this, click on any of the three following links: Restore Haiti, pt.1; Restore Haiti, pt. 2; Development. Essentially here’s the why: Back in March we made an exploratory trip looking into the human trafficking issue in Haiti. We found out a few things: (1) While human trafficking/slavery is rampant in Haiti there is very little being done about it. (2) You can’t engage the fight against human trafficking without also being committed to the orphan and those trapped in cycles of poverty (3) The win is in long term development, not quick American remedies (4)The Haitian church needs to lead this. At first this seemed like too large of a fight for a few small churches and a brand new non-profit, but then again, those are the types of fights, that no man, church, or organization can get credit, and all glory goes to God, which is what we want. So, all we needed was a starting point that can evolve into more. We needed to simply start by simply removing one of the layers of vulnerability for the most vulnerable, so we are starting with what we are calling, “Preventive Safe Homes”. Bottom line is, putting a roof over those who are most susceptible to human trafficking will NOT remedy the entire situation, but it will remove one of the layers of vulnerability from them. As I said, this is not the end, rather the starting point. We are also working with and talking to other NGOs, Haitian leaders and churches about long term-sustainable solutions like job creation; environmental stewardship; restorative and preventative justice; family mentorship programs through the local church; pastor/leader training programs; etc. Again, this is a long term work, and we are starting with the building “Preventive Safe Homes”, which, by the way, we will be building one while we are there, but we know it doesn’t stop there, which leads us to the “WHAT”
The What: Instead of addressing the normal “WHAT” I want to simply address, “WHAT we need from you?”
- We need your prayers for individuals: We need you praying for the individuals on this team – we would love to see each person hear from God on this trip. We want, even if they never come back to Haiti (which we doubt will happen), them to fly out of Haiti with either a renewed vision, clearer direction in life, or a very unexpected word for their life.
- We need your prayers for favor and wisdom: We will be meeting with on-the-ground Haitian leaders, leaders with BIG vision, and our hope from the beginning was not to reinvent the wheel, rather find leaders with a vision that we can come along side and assist. Our hope is to come back from Haiti with a more definitive plan, and that is going to take God’s favor and wisdom.
- We need your prayers for the team: We are a team with different theological views, different life paradigms, different life backgrounds and experiences. Our team represents pastors, leaders, doctors, mom’s, grandma’s; practically minded folks, and big vision minded folks; etc. Though we have a plan, the one thing we all know about pilgrimages is that the only full-proof plan, is to plan that the trip will be full of unexpected events and twists. To add to that, we will be in hot, humid, crowded, tiring, environments. All of this is the perfect equation for either deep committed community, or chaotic, unfriendly division – we obviously believe that a community will be created, but we know that satan will aim for the other, so pray for community.
- We need you to pray for you: I know that sounds weird – why pray for you, when you aren’t going on this trip? Because when we come back from this trip with a more detailed and in depth vision, we will be engaging you for how you can be involved – that may look like financial involvement; that may be being part of a future pilgrimage to Haiti; or it may be in a way you never thought, but just keep your minds and heart open, and pray for you.
isit la nou rive Ayiti!