I recently had the privilege of participating in a missions trip to Haiti. Our church has been sending teams to Haiti in the last couple of years as we have had an opportunity to partner with Full Life Crusade, a ministry based in New York state. The overall goal of our mission has been to serve the people of Haiti, particularly in the city of Jeremie, by partnering with Full Life ministries in their activities and by developing our own areas of ministry in the area.
It is difficult to go to a third-world nation, see the difference in living conditions compared to home, and come away with your worldview intact. Seeing how others live in a poor nation, one that was very recently rocked by a massive earthquake, brings a sharp sense of contrast to the plentiful provisions and relative safety of home. This was most obvious to me as my family and I walked into a Wal-Mart in Fargo upon returning home from the trip. It was a little overwhelming to see that from one open spot on the sales floor, I could see the grocery department, clothing, pharmacy, auto parts and toys just by scanning across the store. Finding items such as these in Jeremie would have taken more than half of the day and a long walk around different parts of town. When we went to the cashier with our items, she asked, "Did you find everything today?" I simply looked her in the eye and choked out, "Yes, I found everything". We truly live in a country that has been blessed by God!
While in Haiti, we celebrated with a small church as they marked the first anniversary of their ministry in Jeremie. A year ago, we had taken the opportunity to help this church get started, and now we were able to see the results of a year of diligent hard work and reliance upon God for daily provision. In addition to weekly church services reaching people with the gospel, the church also hosts various "schools" to reach the people in the area with very practical, marketable and helpful skills. These skills include training in electrical, culinary, and interior design trades. Students come to receive training in the various skills, a certificate upon successful completion, and the empowerment to go out, start a business or get a job with a larger business. It is one of the most effective means of helping the people of Haiti, many of whom are facing a poverty that is difficult for many of us to imagine.
The lesson in missions that I think we take away every time we go to Haiti is this: God has blessed us tremendously so that we might be a blessing to others. It is not only a chance for us to share from the bounty we enjoy, but it is also an opportunity for our lives and priorities to be changed. Many of our team members have related the experience of having their eyes opened to the worth of family, home, health, safety and provision that we experience as a gift from God every day. It is a privilege to participate in what God is doing there, and He continues to call us to follow Him in reaching out to the world.