I know we have been offline for the year, but that is not because we have been without work! In the coming weeks, we are looking to update the website more, including a little facelift. In the meantime, I thought I’d provide a little summary of what God has graciously allowed us to do this year.
This year, we held two national training conferences and three regional training conferences. In January, the first national conference was on God’s Word: It’s Nature and Effect in Life and Ministry. In December, the second national conference was on Behold Your God: The Character and Attributes of God. Both conferences were attended by pastors, deacons, orphan school teachers, and soon-to-be pastors (roughly 65 in all). At the close of each conference, each person received a certificate of participation and had opportunity to share how the training impacted their lives and will be used in their church and community. In the December conference, the director of Haiti National Television attended along with his television crew and journalists who reported on the conference through national news. Through these conferences, several theological resources were given to every attendee, including J.I. Packer’s Knowing God and John Piper’s 50 Reasons Christ Came to Die.
The regional conferences provided more tailored training, and they took place through our church partnerships in Port-au-Prince, Desarmes, and Saint-Marc. The themes for these training opportunities included gospel-centered discipleship, the purpose of Christ’s death, and an exegetical/expositional walk through 2 Timothy to know more of the marks of a biblical church leader.
At the heart of The Haiti Collective are our church partnerships (US churches working with Haitian churches directly. This year, we are excited to see two new partnerships formed (Cornerstone Baptist, Wylie TX with Drouin, Haiti and Oak Park Baptist, Jeffersonville, IN with L’Estere, Haiti). These partnerships are critical to our long-term investment in the development of local churches and serving them so that they can effectively reach their communities for Christ. Already, leaders of these two churches have made multiple trips to Haiti and demonstrated a strong commitment to the work taking place through The Haiti Collective. We are grateful for them and pray for many more in the coming year.
Though we had provided some medical relief in the past, this year was a substantial move for us. In January, a medical and dental team worked with the orphans in multiple communities to clean and pull teeth, provide medical screens, and prescribe medications for illnesses. Also on this trip, we began providing deworming medication for all 1,600 orphans supported through our indigenous network of churches as well as vitamins for the children to take on a daily basis. Our medical team leaders established partnerships with organizations like Blessings International and created short-term medical mission trip manuals for future trips.
In August, we were able to begin a small pharmacy in the headquarters of our organization in Haiti, along with replenishing the deworming medication and creams for the orphans. In December, we sent our second medical team to continue the work that began in January.
In May, we participated in a Global Strategy Conference through the New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC) where we were able to learn and connect with many leading organizations doing relief and development work in places around the world. In September, we continued that participation through a second Global Strategy Conference in NYC as well as Movement Day hosted by Redeemer City to City and NYCLC.
Additionally, we have begun to explore possibilities with Selovita and iSeedUSA about providing food security for orphanages on the site of our local churches through aquaponics and innovative agriculture. It is our goal to move from relief to development in our work so that we can begin to discover local solutions for their needs as they are equipped to take ownership of the ministry before them in greater ways than before.
International Adoption and Child Sponsorships
We have considered the possibility of adoption in the past but simply did not have the bandwidth on the stateside or the infrastructure on the Haitian side to give it serious thought. However, through the increase of church partnerships and expansion of our orphan care, we have begun the exploratory process in recent months. Some remarkable events have taken place during this time, including the opportunity to meet with the director of IBESR (Haiti’s ministry of social work) three weeks ago to discuss with he and his team directly about orphan care through our churches. To our surprise, he granted our churches in Haiti full license not only to operate as orphan schools but also as orphanages, which clears the way for international adoption and child sponsorships on the Haitian side of things!
There is much work to be done on this, and we realize it is a complicated process. Nevertheless, we have seen God work in remarkable ways, giving us great encouragement for the years to come. Building and maintaining the infrastructure and processes for child sponsorships and international adoption will be a leading emphasis for us in 2014.
Church & Community Development
Our micro-businesses continue to do well in Desarmes (radio station and internet cafe). Over the past year, we have continued the work in Desarmes, assisting the church with acquiring the land beside and behind the church building, giving them the whole block to expand. A second floor has been built over the church for the radio station HQ, and a classroom has been reconfigured for pharmacy and storage of equipment/supplies. In August, we completed the work on the church building, which included the installation of windows and painting the exterior walls of the building. Most recently, we were excited to see a well go in that will have reverse osmosis system to provide clean water supply for all the children as well as the church.
In Saint-Marc, an emergency need arose when the owner of the mountain called the note on the land due for the church. Through our church partnerships, we were able to help the church in St. Marc pay off the land while a team from Christ Fellowship Bowling Green (their partnering church) worked on expanding their facilities. In L’Estere, the church has been hoping to relocate from their current location to provide more security for the children and opportunity to expand. With help from Oak Park, the church in L’Estere were able to do that just last week.
THC Growing Up
Finally, a few things about The Haiti Collective as an organization. Two years ago we started out of Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, FL. We have continued to see growth over this time such that we have had to make administrative changes, including procedures for handling donations that would comply with government regulation as well as guard us from any impropriety. This year we began to build an administrative team of volunteers to assist me in directing and administrating funds and overseeing the accounting of our work. We are working to increase the scalability of our budding organization, and we are excited to see what will develop in the coming months.
As we continue to grow, our prayer has and always been to stay true to our core convictions and philosophy of mission. We are committed to working in and through local churches to carry the gospel in word and deed to the people of Haiti. We are careful to examine our practices and projects for unintended consequences of hurting when we think we are helping. We are delighted to have the privilege of such an open door of mission and consider it a sacred trust to steward well for the advance of the gospel and good of the people in Haiti.
2013 has been a wonderful year, full of answered prayer and providential blessings. Pray with us, and consider joining us in 2014 with hearts and hands open to love the people of Haiti with the love of Christ!