pastors

Today marks a distinctive day in Haiti. It is 12 Janvier. Six years have passed since the earthquake rocked this ground and the lives of so many. It is an emotional day in Haiti, but at the same time, God is doing so much within these borders and the lives of the people here. In that spirit, I chose today to start a series of blog posts centering on the pastors I have come to know and love as our lives have intersected for this time in Haiti.

I have spent a lot of time around pastors in the states. Some are incredible, Spirit-led leaders, some I greatly respect through their flaws, some I definitely do not respect and others have made me evaluate my role in stateside church based on their leadership and how I have been gifted. Pastors in Haiti have infinitely more responsibility and I am grateful God has used them to heal some of my experiences with stateside pastors. 

When it comes to partnering with the local church in Haiti, there is also an element of encouraging, supporting and praying for the pastors in a unique way that would not be considered in stateside culture. Haitian pastors bear the weight of not only the kids in their care, but also their own families, congregation, school support and the surrounding community. As many pastors have said, life in Haiti is hard, but life as a pastor in Haiti is even harder. Imagine the multitude of requests for food, money, medical help and caring for kids in an economy where for every Haitian who is employed, they are supporting eight other Haitians.

Over the months of September and October, I had the incredible honor of sitting and listening to eleven of the pastors partnered with Global Orphan Project in Haiti. We laughed. We shared stories. We encouraged each other. Still, months later, I am enamored by the stories of these men and their willingness to take time from their insanely busy schedules to simply be present with me and allow me toss questions at them. After living for 22 months in Haiti, I am grateful to call many of them friends and even more so, for their sacrifices in caring for orphans in their communities, many of whom have forever marked my soul and continue to do so on a weekly basis while I have the on-going privilege of living here.

It is important to know for each of these incredible pastors that they were all caring for kids in their communities long before GO Project knew them. We get the honor of praying, encouraging and financially supporting them where they needed a partner to come alongside them in education or life care costs for their kids. We have no ownership over their ministries or the children in their care. Many of the pastors are businessmen, some are builders, and others have gone back to school to earn degrees for higher paying jobs to offset the cost of their ministry to orphans in their care. Some have congregations that are very small, while others have hundreds of people in their churches on Sundays.

Their callings and how God has directed their lives are unique to each pastor. Every single one of them told me they never intended to become a pastor, and their obedience in answering that calling is inspiring. Most never intended to care for kids in their communities, but their leadership and placement within that community led them to build children’s homes.

I share these stories to not only bust open your worldview and offer a different perspective, but also to lead you to pray for them. I carry a heavy burden for the pastors who do not have active partnerships and for them to have churches, organizations or groups of people that are loyal to a partnership with their village. That loyalty could look like several different things, but let me offer some Biblical perspective on loyalty in relationships.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” [Micah 6:8 NIV]

The word ‘MERCY’ from Micah 6:8 in Hebrew means, ‘unfailing love, loyal love, kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship.’ Mercy makes it personal, emotional and genuine. It makes partnerships between cultures a part of your heart and asks you to look beyond yourself. Mercy is not easy. Mercy is not ‘surface.’ Mercy is messy, because it can be ugly at times. Real, loyal relationships are not always pretty. Yet, God uses mercy to not only be in relationship with us, but also invite us to take our relationships with others deeper.

Haiti needs others that are willing to be loyal through the mess. Those who will be curious, learn and ask questions, gain hard answers and be willing to wade through the muck of the mess of relationship. I carry a burden for these pastors to have others that choose to walk with them. The pastors have a deep desire to have dedicated partners to visit, spend time with them, play with their kids, get to know the mamas and pray with them. And not simply one time, but to do so yearly or even multiple times a year.

So…I pray and discern for those conversations and opportunities to tell stories that might bring someone face-to-face with where God is calling them to invest. My hope in these posts is that you pray, discern and be willing to see through a different set of eyes. Life in Haiti is not easy, but in these next several posts, I want to provide you with a look at leaders in local church communities who are on the frontlines of a physical, emotional and spiritual battlefield. May what God does with that always move us toward his Kingdom on earth.

 

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surreal

Surreal moments. Those places in time and space where you can honestly not believe you are where you are and observing what you are observing.

Acts 1:8…come on, quote it with me, you should know by now…

My obsession with this verse is old news. Very old news. I remember a couple years ago when I had the random God thought that the verse got complete turned on its head when you heard it while living in a different area of the world. That thought busted open a new worldview for me. What was my Judea as the United States would be Europe for someone living in Europe, while Europe was actually my ‘ends of the earth.’

Imagine my utter astonishment to find myself sitting in church on Sunday as a Haitian Pastor preached Acts 1:8 to a congregation filled with Americans, Canadians, Haitians, Europeans…all living in Haiti.

It was such a surreal moment for me that I am certain I chuckled under my breath.

As his comments unfolded, it became very apparent that God has worked this verse over on this Pastor in very similar ways that he merged it into my vernacular.

I sat in awe as he asked the congregation, ‘Where is your Jerusalem?’ Your city, he stressed.

‘Where is your Judea? In all the departments of Haiti!’

‘Where is your Samaria? Friends, how do you feel about Dominican Republic? God is calling us to be witnesses even in Dominican Republic.’

His reference to Samaria’s place that makes Haitians uncomfortable should enlighten you on how Haitians feel about Dominicans.

And then…then he spread both hands wide and shared with the congregation that he knows ‘God is calling Haitians to the end of the earth. For hundreds of years, Haiti has been receiving missionaries. It has become normal for us to believe that someone will help us and that people will come. We have become too ready to receive help from others. Who here is God calling out of Haiti and into the world to be a witness for Jesus?’

I got goose bumps at those words. I have said them myself in a post I wrote last summer called ‘dare.’ As the pastor continued, I heard my own words ironically echoing in my head, ‘Americans will not save Haiti. Instead, I firmly believe that Haiti will save America. And if the world chooses to pay attention…God will use Haiti to change the world.’

Friends, God is doing something spectacular in Haiti and he is intentionally placing Haitians where he needs them to be his witness.

I hear Haitian pastors preach on excellent topics quite often. In most recent months it has been a lot of calling people out on their sin, imploring couples to get married after years of living together, confronting voodoo social practices and church planting around Haiti. It was inspiring to hear a Haitian pastor preaching for his people to seek God’s calling on their life, and to be open to the possibilities that it may be beyond Haiti.

Haitians are typically not dreamers. Americans are raised to dream big, the sky is the limit. However, when most Haitians are concerned daily about how to pay for school or where food will come from tomorrow, dreaming is not a reality.

Inspiring Haitians to seek their calling from God is monumental. It’s exciting, and it opens a new Kingdom door to Haitians that has previously been unrealistic. I am honored to join Haitians in prayer to seek their calling. In order to join then, are you willing to set aside any preconceived notions that Haiti is just a country seeped in poverty and dangerous? Are you willing to see differently? Are you willing to see Haiti as a hopeful nation? Are you willing to see how God is working in the lives of Haitians?

I cannot wait to see how God will be speaking to not only individual believers here, but how he will continue to use the Pastors to speak into the lives of the congregations. And a large piece of me breathes a sigh of relief that others are hearing the same thing from God when it comes to scripture.