God continues to bless our time together here with World Relief and the relationships we are forming as we learn about this bountiful, beautiful country we are in. It’s amazing how God uses us in our own time and place for His purpose. The same day Pastor Mark launched our Beyond These Walls series, we were privileged to be attending the first celebration for the pastors of the Church Empowerment Zone in the Pitchon region. These pastors successfully completed a training program facilitated by Worlds Relief. The four-step program empowers pastors in their local churches to use their church members’ talents and resources to help the most vulnerable people in the community.
Our first verses for the Beyond These Walls journal were Acts 2:43-47. As a God moment, we were here witnessing firsthand God’s people putting these verses into practice in this area. Sixteen different denominations representing 46 churches each come together and share with each other as the collective body of Christ, all with the mission to work together for His purpose.
The spirit, perseverance and the resilience of the Haitian people was evident as pastors and guests walked for miles, dressed in their Sunday’s finest suits and dresses on rough, rocky roads through a torrential downpour to make sure to attend the celebration.
We were considered honored guests at the celebration and were given seats at the front. The pastors entered in yellow and blue robes with faces filled with pride, joy and excitement. The celebration was spoken in Haitian Creole, but the messages were clear that these people were filled with hope in God’s promise and the Holy Spirit. Peppered throughout the speeches by the pastors and Joseph from World Relief were the stories of how the church came together to help families in their communities. The first story was of a Haitian-style barn-raising. A new house was built for a mom of seven who had a leaky roof. Another man with an ailing wife and who had lost 11 children spoke of how profoundly their life had changed after having the church body help them. One other community had no school. All the churches decided to come together to start one with 120 children. They now have a second school with 220 students, all paid for by the members.
Betsy made a heartfelt greeting and shared blessings from Chapel Hill to the local pastors. She was presented with a spectacular flower arrangement as a gift of thanks. It was so touching to have them honor our group on their special day.
We all witnessed God’s glory, mercy, generosity, and spirit through the blessings of these churches coming together to use their combined resources. We heard example after example of how the local church already has everything it needs to do the Lord’s work. The lack of material things is not the definition of poverty, it is a symptom. Poverty is our broken relationship with God, others, self, and creation. It manifests itself by compromising emotional, social, physical, or spiritual wholeness. The solution to poverty circles back to Acts 2:43-47. The focus needs to be reconciliation with God, with the church body banding together to share and serve each other in His name.
Our blessings are already too numerous to count here in Haiti. We have witnessed first-hand these verses put into practice by the Church Empowerment Zone. The faces of these wonderful people are forever etched into our memories. The Holy Spirit is alive and at work in them.