About a year before our mission trip to Haiti a friend had talked about her trip and a prison opportunity that she had along with a few other things that she had done. Through her lengthy discussion , her mention of a missionary at Ignite Your Faith Ministries and her passion for this prison and sharing Jesus, I heard one thing, a little story about a children's home in Haiti and babies that do not have enough adults around them to hold them and love on them each day, who were simply surviving. I was heartbroken at the thought of small children or even teenagers who had no one there to hug them and love on them and the permanent emotional scarring that that could cause, especially In the absence of God's comfort. In that moment I I felt God tugging me or maybe just my passion for children, which God gave me, tugging me and telling me that I would someday go to Haiti and hold these babies. I wasn't sure how that would happen but I began to pray to God to give me the opportunity, the financial resources, and the health to be able to go to Haiti. I also began praying for the women who cared for these children in the children's home, that God would bless them, give them good health and lots of energy, and the resources that they needed to care for these babies. I also prayed for the children themselves, that God's spirit would be very strong with them and bring them joy in the midst of the desperate situation that had been described as well as provide for their basic needs...including a caring touch, hugs, kisses, and lots of love and comforting peace from adults.
Several months passed and our pastor tells me the church is thinking about a mission trip to Haiti...wait, what?!!! I'd nearly decided to let that go. I didn't think it would be possible nor would I be able to manage such a trip. My prayers had become more for the children and people of Haiti as well as this new ministry I started hearing about which was Ignite Your Faith Ministries. The leader Tom came to our church and shared about his ministry and his mission field which sounded like such a personal sacrifice on his part it was almost unbelievable. He did not try to persuade us that his job was a sacrifice or more important than our mission field at home. Instead, he talked very simply from his heart and shared the Great Commission that it is our job to tell others about Jesus. Then he shared how he does that through a water ministry, a prison ministry, and just simply trying to meet the basic needs of people in Haiti. He also shared about the many children he had taken in over the years and the dozen or so that he is currently caring for on his own. That spoke to me immensely. For one man to give up the comforts of an American life and the joys of relationships at home with a wife and family of his own, to go to a country and live with fewer comforts than we can imagine in America and take care of dozens after dozens of non-biological children is a huge act of selflessness. Impressive to say the least.
Again, God was tugging at me. I was busy. I was not super healthy. I had no money to spare for a trip to Haiti. Haiti repeatedly entered my mind and I repeatedly found an excuse. I talked to others about this to gain wisdom and maybe a word from God that I was missing. Some sat quietly by, some encouraged me to find a way and go, and then a statement was made that groups go to impoverished countries to try to help them better their existence all the time and nothing ever changes so why go...hmmm why indeed. Of course, I knew why, because everyone needs Jesus. If we do not have food or water or a bed or a home we can still be content in the Lord and assured of our future. Challenge accepted once again. But I still had to figure out how to afford such a trip, how to manage with my health, and figure out what exactly would I be needed for. I did not speak their language nor did I have any relevant skills to share. Just my arthritic self and an overly compassionate love for God's children.
Fast forward through a few more months of self-doubt and making excuses, now it's time to go to Haiti! The morning of our departure I had a very sharp pain in my side which even prescription pain medicine did not help. If I had not been leaving for Haiti I probably would have gone to a doctor. The entire trip to Haiti I worried and questioned my sanity for embarking on such a trip when I had this severe pain that did not stop for two days. I prayed that I was in the will of God and he would either use this or stop this pain. The very minute I stepped off the plane in Haiti my side stopped hurting and other than one day with a headache during the entire trip in Haiti my body was blessed with no pain from arthritis or anything else. I felt better than usual! God is Good!
I believe I was prepared for seeing poverty or hunger when we arrived in Haiti. I had expected to see people in need. I was not surprised by any physical lack or need that I saw, and there were many great needs. But I was not prepared for the impact that Haiti would have on me.
My heart broke a little every day. It broke for the emptiness I saw in little eyes, for the hopelessness expressed by many women, for the spiritually confused people I met each day who had been led by false doctrine, and by the desperation in trying to survive without good jobs, food, or water. Surviving in Haiti is hard! It requires a tremendous amount of faith every minute, more than most Americans can imagine. It requires you to not only have faith but to wait on and trust in the Lord. It requires complete dependence on God if you hope to have any joy at all. Survival is a daily prayer. I learned how little I actually depend on God and how much I take for granted when I should be giving thanks and praising Him. I am heartbroken for those in Haiti and for myself and all Americans who take for granted our comforts and our freedoms in Christ. I'm heartbroken that I cannot do more for those small empty eyes that I still see even though I'm home.
During this trip we visited three different villages in Haiti and drove by many others. All had great physical and spiritual needs. Ignite Your Faith Ministries is bringing truckloads of water, teaching English, mentoring, and sharing Jesus with as many as they can. There is enormous opportunity for growth in this ministry and growing God's kingdom. What a burden Tom must feel.
I could write many pages sharing the stories of each village that we visited. I could write for days about the impact Ignite Your Faith Ministry is making for Christ and the love Tom is sharing in the most humble manner I've ever seen. I can tell you that there are thousands of people still unreached and lost, more than one man and a small staff can manage on their own. God's presence is not only evident in this ministry but it's overwhelmingly depended upon as well. They pray, they wait, and God provides