Tag Archives: orphan

Faith That Climbs Mountains: Haiti Days 4 & 5

On Wednesday, we got to the orphanage early because the kids at school have chapel first thing. As we got there, the kids were all lined up outside. They sang a song together that they had sung in church. After that, they sang the National Anthem of Haiti as they raised the flag over the school. They then prayed and went into the main room for chapel. Each class walked in one by one in an orderly fashion in their bright red shirts and blue bottoms.

 

 

Once inside, we sang several songs and prayed. One of our students had volunteered to teach chapel that morning. He told them the story of a father who had a son (me) and a daughter (my wife) (This created many jokes from the Haitians all day!). The father gave each of them a mango seed. One of us threw it away and were mad because all they got was a seed. The other was great fun and buried the seed. They watered it and cared for the tree as it grew. When it was old, the tree produced more mangos that people from all over could enjoy.

  

He then shared how what God gives each of us may not seem like a lot. What matters is what we do with what God gives us. Many people throw away the little things God gives them because they seem insignificant. But if we are willing to plant it, cultivate it and feed it, God can use it to plant seeds in the lives of so many others. He pointed out that each person who took a mango from the tree not only walked away with food, they walked away with a seed they could plant. The replication of the growing process is endless as long as we use the seed for its intended purpose. 

After chapel service, the kids went back to class and we went back to work. We were able to finish all of the projects we were assigned to do. The pirate ship was now painted with weatherproof paint and the ground behind the school was level. We gathered out front, cleaned up our messes and the kids came out for recess. We played with them, loved on them and many were coved up by them. They love to pile on top of people. It seems the more they can get on you the better. 

  

After lunch, we held a service for the orphans. Our students reenacted the story of David and Goliath. It helped that we had a boy who was fairly short and one who was 6’9″. The kids watched in amazement as he fell. They were told that they can defeat the things in their lives that they’re afraid of. We then sang, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing that He cannot do for you!” After singing. We handed each kid a paper and crayons. We asked them to draw the thing they were most afraid of. After they showed others what they were afraid of, they ripped the paper and declared that with God, they don’t have to be afraid. 

  

On Thursday morning, several of us got up early to climb the mountain across from our guest house. For me, it’s always a spiritual journey. As we go up, there are Haitians crying out to God, praying and signing. It’s a very reverent thing for me to walk by as they pour out their hearts to Him. I often pray for them as I walk past. The path is very steep and rocky. There are many times people on the team want to give up. I tell them to quit looking at the summit and find a place about a hundred yards away. I ask, “Can you make it to there? Then let’s go there and rest again.” We inch up the mountain at times, but in the end, when you reach the summit, the view is all worth it. You almost forget how difficult it was to get there.

  

In our Christian lives, it’s very much the same. The path is narrow and often rocky. There are plenty of opportunities to give up. If we are willing to walk along side of each other, we can help motivate and encourage each other through those times. God did not intend for us to stay in the valley. He wants us to climb to the top of the mountain like Moses did and spend time with Him. When we finally get to Heaven, I don’t think we will complain about the climb. We will rejoice that we made it and celebrate together.  

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Double Rainbows

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It wasn’t long ago that I was driving home from woke when I saw this double rainbow. It was so brilliant that people (myself included) were pulling over to take photos of it. Anyone who has read the Bible knows that God placed the rainbow as a sign to remember His promise to not flood the earth again. But, when I see a double rainbow, I think it must mean something extra special. When I I think of two promises side by side in the Bible, I think of God’s promises to care for orphans and widows because they’re usually mentioned together.

One of the promises is found in Psalm 68:5. David wrote that God is a father to the fatherless and a protector of widows. He knew God as much as anyone in the Bible and he wrote that about Him. In Deuteronomy 10:18, Moses said, “God ensures orphans and widows receive justice.” He wrote that after spending forty days and nights in God’s presence. It’s clear that God Himself has made a covenant with both orphans and widows as much as He had with Noah.

God has used ordinary men and women throughout history to be a father to the fatherless and a champion of widows. He has always looked for men and women who would step up and answer that call. Today is no different than any other time since the world was made. God wants to use people who are willing to say, “Here am I. Use me.” His invitation goes out, but only a few ever respond. What God does with those few is nothing short of amazing. Just like Jesus multiplied the fish and the bread, He multiplies the affect one can when fulfilling His promises to others.

Every day people choose to give of their time, their resources and abilities to help Coreluv make a difference. What started as one family responding to that call has led to thousands giving to defend orphans so that the fatherless could have fathers. The defenseless now have advocates working tirelessly so that they have food, shelter, clean water, education, job skills and the medical care they need. God is fulfilling His covenant to the orphan and the widow through people like you and me when we partner with organizations like that.

There is no greater joy than to be the very fulfillment of God’s promises. There is not a better way to store up treasures in Heaven than to be a father to the fatherless and a champion of widows. When I see a double rainbow, I smile because I know that God is reminding me that He has promised to care for orphans and widows and in some small way, I get to be a part of it. My hope and prayer is that the next time you see a double rainbow, you’ll think of orphans and widows and answer His call with, “Here am I. Use me.”

November is Orphan Awareness month. If you would like to find out more about how you can help defend orphans and widows, click here and select “Get Involved”. I personally partner with this organization and have seen first hand how my money is put to use. Pray and ask God how you can be a part of fulfilling His promise to orphans and widows.

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A Tale Of Two Orphans

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One of the best things about going to the orphanages is when you first arrive. As we get out of the trucks, the kids come running up to us. They’re grinning from ear to ear and looking into each face. When they find you, they throw their arms up in order to be picked up and loved on. When you get them in your arms, they wrap their arms around you, lay their head down on you and smile in contentment. As you wrap your arms around them and hug them, that same contentment comes over you. There is completeness in that moment.

On my last trip, I couldn’t help but notice one little boy who didn’t run up to anyone. As I approached him, he took off running with a frightened look in his eye. I squatted down where I was and held my arms open. I motioned for him to come to me. The more I did, the further he got. When any of us got close to him, he began to cry. He was scared and didn’t know how to trust yet. No matter what we tried, he still ran and cried. I wish I could say that by the end of the trip, he was running up to us and hugging us. I wish I could say it got better, but it didn’t. He still ran when we came near.

As I watched the two types of relationships unfold over the week, I saw our relationship with God. So many times in life we face rejection by those we love, a devastating loss or an unexpected life change that takes us out of where we were comfortable. In those moments, God comes near looking to show us love and comfort. Many times we are like those orphans who run to Him with our hands up. We just want to be held and loved on. We want to find contentment when our world has been shattered. God gets that same contentment as He holds us. The same contentment as a father holding his child.

There are sometimes though when we run from God. We’re scared of what coming next. We don’t feel like we can trust Him after all we’ve been through. When He reaches out for us, we run. When He comes near to make things better, we reject His help. We think we’re better off alone. It’ll make us stronger if we do. We won’t have to depend on anyone. We think, “If I can just make it through this, I’ll be all right.” We try to do it in our own strength and in our own way. God patiently waits when we do. He knows that once you let go of the fear and embrace Him, you’ll see that it’s going to be all right.

We each fall into one of these two scenarios. Either we are the type that embraces God when He comes near or we are the type who runs from Him. Where do you see yourself? Are you resting in His embrace with your head on His shoulder? Are you smiling with contentment in any situation because you know He’s there to protect you and help you? Or are you afraid to trust Him? Are you running from His open arms? It’s time to realize you can’t fight every battle on your own. You can’t go through life without trusting. Stop running away and run into His arms. You’ll find the peace and contentment you’re looking for.

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Changed Through Serving

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It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back from all God has for you. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “No Longer A Slumdog: Bringing Hope To Children In Crisis” by K. P. Yohannan. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

On our last full day in Haiti, we started off by climbing the mountain in front of the guest house. It was as much a spiritual journey as it was physical. We walked through a poor neighborhood on the side of the mountain and then followed the rocky path up. We had to stop several times to catch our breath. It was good to see how far we had gone and then be able to look at the top to know where we were going. It reminded me how we often grow weary doing good. We get tired in our walk with Christ. We hit plateaus at times, and at others, we have steep climbs to make in a short amount of time.

When we got to the top, there was a spot where a church was being built. There were two ladies and a man who were up there singing and praying over the community below. When we walked back down the mountain, there were more people along the path who were also singing and praying. It challenged me to pray for my community, city, work place and wherever else God has me. The sound of prayer was inspiration on such a tough journey. It reminded me that prayer gives us strength where ours runs out.

After we arrived back at the guest house, we loaded up the team and headed for Roboto. It’s the poorest part of Gonaives. The students got out of the truck and immediately started filling plates with the rice we brought. We then went class to class giving these students the only meal they will receive for the day. It was incredible to watch these students serve the poorest of the poor in the Western Hemisphere. They truly were the hands and feet of Jesus and brought light into such a dark place.

After we finished feeding and playing with the children, we went to the Gonaives orphanage to pick up the children there. For the first time the children were going to visit the Myan orphanage. They climbed the trucks like they were jungle gyms. As we drove over the mountain to Myan, the kids were smiling ear to ear. There was laughter and excitement. When we pulled into the gates, they jumped out and immediately began playing with each other. It was beautiful to watch orphans from both our orphanages playing together for the first time.

Before we left, we went out of the gates to where we were breaking ground for a school building. While the construction team was digging up the ground for the foundation, they came across another foundation that was a part of a nearby wall. The contractor researched the history and found that there was a French fortress that had been built on that spot in 1802 that enslaved Haitians. Over 200 years later, an orphanage and school are being built on that very spot and is setting Haitians free! Our God new 200 years ago that we would hear the call to defend the orphan and would build in that spot.

God moved in our hearts on this trip. He called several to be missionaries and others into ministry. I watched as God took kids who were timid and opened them up to share what He has done in their lives. This experience has wrecked their lives because they’ve done what James 1:27 calls true and undefiled religion. They have cared for orphans and widows. They have helped push back the darkness in Haiti with the light of Jesus. Not only have we been changed because we were here, Haiti is different too. We now have a 14 hour journey home where each one will tell their story and others will catch the vision.

If you would like to win “No Longer A Slumdog” by K. P. Yohannon, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (March 29, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.

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Haiti Makes Me Happy

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This week I’m in Haiti with students from Lifestyle Christian School and will be sharing what we are doing and learning. Our first two days have been full of travel, but also full of rewards. After two flights, we arrived in Port au Prince Saturday evening. When we got in the back of the coreluv.org trucks and headed through the city, I took a deep breath to breathe in the Haitian air. The noise of motorcycles whizzing by, the smell of burning trash, the blaring horns of semi trucks, the music coming from stores and people walking everywhere reminded me of the times I’ve come before.

I looked at the group of mostly first timers and exclaimed, “Haiti makes me happy!” They’re learning first hand this week how it makes them happy. When we walked through the door of our guest house, we were greeted with the smell of fried chicken. We sat down, ate and then retreated to the balcony for our first service. We sang worship songs accapella. We shared about our first impressions of Haiti. Then the missionary here told the group to be thinking of three questions this week:

Where did you see Jesus today?
What makes you sad? Mad? Glad?
What do you see that you are not OK with

On Sunday morning, we went to a Haitian church service. We didn’t recognize any of the songs. We didn’t understand any of the language either. There was no air conditioning on a 90+ degree day in that building. Even though it wasn’t like a church any of us were used to, we experienced the same God we would have at home. I noticed several times when our group had their hands raised in worship, had their head bowed in prayer joined in the corporate worship. It was amazing to see and experience. There are many nations, many languages, many denominations that serve the same God.

They asked if one of us would like to preach. Jeremiah threw his hand up without hesitation. He later said, “I don’t know why I did that!” I know it was because the Holy Spirit was upon him. He preached through an interpreter a convicting message about Jesus overturning the tables in the temple. He pointed out that Paul referred to our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. He asked, “Since when did we start thinking it was ok to put thing into our lives, our temples, that God is not ok with?” I pray that we give God permission to come overturn the tables of our hearts and turn our lives into houses of prayer.

We left church and went to visit a woman whose husband and father to her children is a witch doctor. They are very poor and can’t care for their children. They are considering giving up the children to the orphanage. If they are able to come, imagine the course change for that family. Children who were born to a witch doctor would typically become witch doctors themselves. Children who live in these orphanages grow up to follow Christ. Before leaving, our group joined in prayer for that neighborhood. We prayed that God would liberate them from idolatry and shine His light in such a dark place.

From there, we went to “Faith, Hope, Love”, an infant rescue center. In this orphanage are children with HIV, AIDS, lymphoma, HPV, brittle bone disease and so many other life threatening things. Their parents can’t afford the medical care they need so they drop them off here. We went in and began loving on these children, playing with them, putting them on our shoulders and marching around. Laughter filled the air as these kids without hope had students who weren’t afraid of their disease and touched their hearts.

We left Port au Prince and took the slow drive to Gonaives. We stopped at the mass grave site where over 100,000 bodies are buried in a field. Survivors of the earthquake shared their horrific first hand accounts of what happened and what life was like. We drove through tent city where so many in Port au Prince still live since that fateful day in 2010. We followed the coast northwest and stopped at a resort to let the team cool down in the Caribbean waters. They learned to catch jellyfish without getting stung. After leaving there, we drove through the farm land of Haiti to make our way to the guest house in Gonaives.

After an amazing dinner, we joined together on a balcony and began to worship God. We talked about what it means to give up everything you have for God. We also talked about the widow in II Kings 4 whose husband had died and she couldn’t afford his debts. Elisha asked her what she had in her house. All she had left was a jar of oil. He told her to get jars from everyone she knew, fill them with oil and sell them. When she did, she didn’t just have enough to pay the debt. She had enough for the rest of her life. God always goes above and beyond what we ask. He simply requires us to use what’s in our house.

Today, we’re going to work at one orphanage most of the day and visit another one later to play with kids. I’ll update you tomorrow.

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Your “Little” Is A Lot

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I forgot how hard it was to go back to work and my normal everyday life after a trip to Haiti. It’s hitting me this morning though. As I pull out of my driveway, drive out of my neighborhood and turn onto the freeway, part of me is fighting it. I wonder why can’t every day be full time ministry, why every day can’t be spent on the mission field and why can’t I be doing things with an eternal purpose all the time. It’s an ongoing struggle that I’ve had since April and was renewed with this trip. It’s hard to do things that won’t matter for eternity once your perspective changes. It’s hard to do the things you once did when you see the need others have.

When you meet an entire village of people who are living without electricity, cell phones, Internet or brick and mortar homes you begin to see how truly blessed we are. You also see how wasteful we are. When a bug hits my windshield, I simply pull a button to spray water to clean him off. In Myan, Haiti, a person would have to walk six miles for water that I’m using to wash a bug off my windshield. When I get the same meal two days in a row, I complain. There, they’re lucky to have a meal each day. They’re thankful for the same meal over and over because it’s life and death.

There’s so much to be done there and yet, so much has been done. It’s easy to see a mess that big and think, “I can’t possibly make a difference here.” You can also pretend that it doesn’t exist. After all, ignorance is bliss. If you aren’t aware of it, you don’t have to do anything to help. The only solution I know of is to go in, get your hands dirty, connect with the people so it becomes real names and people, not just stories, and then do what you can to make a difference with what’s in your hand. If you can’t go, help someone who can.

The real question is, “What has God given me that He intends for me to use for Him?” I am and have been wasteful with what He’s given me. We think we have so little because we’re comparing ourselves to the rich in this country. If you look at the other 98% of the world, the “little” you have is more than they will ever have. We use the excuse of “I don’t have much” to keep us from giving or doing things that matter. In reality, we have been blessed more than we will ever know. As Jesus said in Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given, much is required.” If you can read this, you’ve been given much more than most of the world.

What excuses have you made that have kept you from giving and using what God has given you? Have you falsely compared yourself to the world’s wealthiest people instead of to the majority of the population? What will you do differently going forward? How can God use your “little” to make a big impact in the world of others? It all starts with you recognizing how much you truly have, how wasteful you’ve been with it and opening your eyes to the potential God sees in you. What are you willing to let go of that He can use? The power of letting go rests in your hands.

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Saying Goodbye

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Saying goodbye in Haiti is always the hardest part in coming here. I know it’s coming on every trip. When I start to think about it, I start to cry. Fortunately, as you’ve read, we’re usually so busy, I rarely have time to think about it. At each passing day though, it looms and I’m made more aware of it. Day 6 on this trip was that day. It would be the last time we visit Myan and the last time we play with the children in Gonaives. I have to force myself to get in the truck so they can drive me away.

We started the day off in Myan. We wanted to go back and help those who didn’t get into the clinic the day before. Word spread quickly that we had returned. People would dress their absolute best to be seen by the nurse. They would come and patiently wait to get in. We had told them we were leaving at 12:30. When that time came, we had two pregnant ladies and two elderly people in line, plus all the kids who wanted to be around us. I couldn’t leave them sitting there. No one could. We stayed an extra hour in order to help them.

The kids were all running around playing, throwing balls and being kids. I got a couple of the older ones and pulled out my phone. I played a video of a few of them who had sung on my last trip. When that started playing, they yelled out names. Before I knew it, there were twenty kids piled around me wanting to see it. I then asked for an encore. The boys sang again and others joined in stomping feet, banging Toro bottles and lending their voices. I don’t know what they were singing, but it was beautiful. Afterthought song was over, they sang “The is the Day that The Lord Has Made” in their native Creole. I couldn’t help but to be overcome by the situation.

As we loaded up and drove off, I took one last look at the orphanage. The next time I come back, there will be orphans there, the buildings will be completed and generations of families will be changed because people give their time, money and talents. I tried hard not to look at anyone on our team because I knew I’d break down. Instead, I prayed over the future of Myan. I prayed for those who have yet to be born and abandoned that will call this place home. I prayed for those who have a hand in helping to make this dream possible.

We made our way to the orphanage in Gonaives. When the gates were opened, the kid who chose each one of us on our other visit came running through the gate to find us. The team grabbed their child or children and began playing. Soon, we headed off to the soccer field. Choosing teams was hilarious with kids running back and forth. I had no idea who was on my team, I only knew our direction. A kid pointed at me and then at the goal. I was nominated to play goalie. I picked up a Nelson, a small child who is HIV positive and is deaf, and kept him on my hip while we played. With every blocked shot, he gave me a fist bump. Every time we scored he made a sign of celebration.

As the sun set, it was clear that it was time to leave. The kids had to go to bed and we had to get back to the guest house. Fortunately, we were able to delay the goodbye until we leave for the States. When we got the guest house, dinner was ready. During dinner, the missionary asked if we’d like to have service at Myan. The team agreed. We quickly finished dinner and headed out there. Even though it was dark and late for this community, several locals showed up for our service. They came and dispersed among us as we stood in a circle on a cloudless night lit only by the moon.

God came down and met us there. As we stood in a circle, we prayed for the locals and then each other. We shared what changes we plan to make when we go back. It was a very intimate setting with a very real God. The locals left one by one as we continued to pray. At the end of the service, there was this quiet presence of God. We rested in that moment and then loaded the truck. The ride back to the guest house was like being in a bubble of peace knowing that God was happy with what we accomplished and who we accomplished it for.

Today, we make the long journey back. We have a four hour ride in the back of the truck sitting on suitcase. We’ll load a plane and fly home. It will be after midnight when we’re finally with our families. For some, their journey will continue until sun up. We can’t wait to get back to our churches and friends so we can share how God met us in Haiti. Our challenge is to continue having Him meet us when we’re back. It’s also to find what He wants us to do for Him over there. God’s desire is that we live daily in His presence and show others who He is by how we live our lives wherever we are.

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