What Haiti Taught Me

Recently I went to Haiti on a vision trip for Awakening Church to learn, experience, and explore how the Lord is moving in Haiti through a missionary couple we’ll be partnering with, Jean Jean and Kristie Mompremier.

From the moment we set foot outside of the airport in Port-au-Prince, I knew my time in Haiti would challenge and teach my soul. I tried to set no expectations, to just allow God to show us His mighty hand, and He came through. We were exposed to extreme physical poverty– hunger and thirst, brokenness and need. Focusing on these evident needs would have been easy, yet God was teaching me much more beyond the surface. I was there to learn, not to teach; not to help, but to be helped.

I was there to see authentic community in action.

When we arrived in Caiman, where United Christians International (UCI) operates, I began to see glimpses of the passion and devout nature of the Haitian community. We were quickly brought in by the locals and the students from the university. We played sports with them. We had conversations with them. We ate with them. We laughed with them. We worshiped with them.

We got to see a very real part of their hearts.

One student in particular had been in Port-au-Prince in 2010 when the earthquake struck. He was caught under debris for a couple of days, until local Haitians looking for survivors saved his life. He recalls being overwhelmed by the devastation of the city he knew and loved, seeing the raw pain and hurt of his community. This motivated him to become a doctor– a goal that he is fulfilling as he studies medicine at UCI’s university. He explained the desperate state of the medical system in Haiti, the lack of doctors, and the increasing need for even the most basic care. He expressed his warranted frustrations being in those conditions with such lack of support for his people. When I asked him why he wanted to stay in Haiti, he simply answered: “Because this is my family.” His intentions are clear; he is not in it for a fancy career with a fancy doctorate degree or a fancy six-figure salary. He is in it because he is trying to serve his people. This is selflessness.

Again and again, my new Haitian friends displayed this same sense of selflessness, this sense of community, all traits that are clear signs of God’s transformational love in this nation.

God also wrecked my heart and taught me that physical (or financial) poverty is only the beginning.  Financial poverty is easy to spot, especially coming from a rich, western nation where basic utilities and services, infrastructure, and access to resources are the norm. We saw many Haitians who were malnourished and had poor living conditions. People who I imagine would feel forsaken and forgotten if I were in their place. Yet they were so full of joy, so full of hope, so full of love– and had such authentic hearts for the Lord.

As Christians, our desire is to be used by God, to bring healing to broken circumstances, and to be instruments of God’s reconciling work. To be able to successfully play this role, we need a paradigm shift: we need to be able to see the world through the lens of Jesus and stop seeing the world through the narrow lens of “self”.

Experiencing the way my Haitian friends worshiped and thanked Jesus, in more genuine ways than I ever had, deeply humbled me. And it brings me great joy to see Awakening Church join the narrative of love and redemption Jesus has for the Haitian people.

*Awakening Church is sending two short-term teams to Haiti this year. The dates are June 21-28, 2014October 10-17, 2014. If you are interested in joining one of these teams, please email [email protected]