Early in November several guys from our church went to Haiti on a missions trip. When we came back home we did a presentation on the trip at church. Art McLain, one of our congregants, works for the local newspaper, and wrote up a piece on the presentation. Here it is.
The island of Hispaniola has two countries with extreme differences in living conditions for their citizens. On the eastern part of the island is the Dominican Republic known for exotic resorts and home to an economy that is prosperous and healthy. The mountains that separate it from Haiti give it favorable conditions with the northeast trade winds that bring rain that Haiti may not receive.
In stark contrast to the good conditions in the Dominican Republic, on the western side of the island, Haiti is ranked the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There is not enough food and resources available for their population of 11 million people. The country has been almost completely deforested and most of the needed top soil to grow crops is gone leaving mostly dust. Adding to their misery is years of corrupt rulers and hurricanes and earthquake.
Imagine being on an island with almost nothing. No job, no money, little prospect of anything good happening and foraging for food in order to survive. There are no easy answers for solving the problems in Haiti. It is easy to just not think about the horrible conditions the people have to live in.
Recently four men from our area visited Haiti and brought with them food, clothes, toys and Bibles. Jim Spano, Pastor Tim Madden, Joe Woody, and Logan Droppa from Cornerstone Bible Church visited three orphanages and attended two pastors conferences and visited a village built by charities.
Three and one half hours on a plane will get you to Port-au-prince, the capital of Haiti. A multitude of taxi drivers wait hoping that you will choose them to be your driver. The poverty is all encompassing and the temperature in the 90s with near 100 per cent humidity. Motorcycles may transport 3 or 4 people and cars and trucks are scarce
There are some hotels and it is possible to escape the reality of the desperate struggle for survival faced by the majority of the population. One experience the group had was meeting two women who had reached the hotel by boat. When they remarked about how nice Haiti was they had no idea of the conditions just outside of the resort. This turned out to be one of the blessed events of the trip as after learning what was really going on in Haiti they expressed a desire to help.
When most of 11 million people are suffering what can one person or a small group do to make a difference? “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone” is how Pastor Andy Stanley advises us. While we can all feel bad for the Haitian people “compassion without action is a waste of emotion” says Frank McKinney, philanthropist of Haiti. These two phrases from Andy Stanley and Frank McKinney help to explain why the pastors and missionaries to Haiti do what they do.
As our local group visited the orphanages they had an opportunity to distribute food, clothing and toys. Having nothing, the children were thrilled to get dominos and a soccer ball for their orphanage. Their beds are basic and the mattresses very thin but an improvement from having to sleep on a piece of plywood on the floor not that long ago. Through the orphanage the children can have 3 meals a day when they used to get 3 meals a week.
One story shared by Joe Woody who when at one of the orphanages felt a small hand take his. It was a young girl who held onto his hand for about 45 minutes, so thankful for their visit and company. Tim was struck by how happy the children were even though they have no material possessions.
One lighter moment was shared by Logan who sports a beard. Beards are almost non-existent because of the constant heat and humidity. The children were curious and amazed by touching Logan’s beard.
They visited orphanages in Port-au-prince, Saint Marc and Anse Rouge. Tim described one trip as 2 hours on a road and 2 more hours on a dirt road into a very remote village. Tim said the villages are very similar and not distinctly different as opposed to our cities and towns in the United States.
The name of the charity organization that we are working with is Hope to Haiti. Donations will have 93 cents for each dollar reaching the Haitian people. Some charities through administrative costs may only forward 10 cents of each dollar to the intended recipients.
Part of the reason for this trip was to do an exploration of what is most needed. Electric power is one of the needs and through solar power installation a source of power can be instituted that will not be lost due to hurricanes or earthquakes. The idea is to teach the natives how to operate and maintain the solar energy.
Local pastors asked for Bibles. Less than 20 percent of one church’s congregation had access to a Bible according to their pastor. The Bibles are translated into the Haitian Creole language. The cost for a Bible is approximately $3. Even though churches don’t have fans or air conditioning and the heat is stifling they are often packed to overflowing and people may travel quite far to attend a service.
Cornerstone Bible Church has set a goal to raise $3000 for 20 bunk beds by Christmas Eve. Donations can be made through the Cornerstone app “Cornerstone Forest City” or text cornerstonefc to 77977 or you can also give through the church’s website at cornerstonebiblechurch.org. At either site at the Give tab you should select “Bunk Beds for Haiti.” Message & Data rates apply.
Tim says, “generosity is not giving away things you do not need. Generosity is giving away something that costs you something. Because Jesus was generous to us on the cross, we can pass on generosity to others.”
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.