God is awakening believers in Haiti to new ways that he wants to renovate their lives and work.
Flying over Cap-Haïtien on one of Haiti’s breathlessly clear days reveals lush green mountain tops that effortlessly roll down into golden coastlines and gem-like tropical waters. At first glance, one would think this must be paradise.
However, the scene on the ground is a very different view.
Exiting the small airport, I was instantly mobbed by overly enthusiastic men frantically vying to take my luggage. They probably hoped that I’d let them escort me to my destination and capitalize on what they would consider a rich foreigner.
As I shouldered through the curbside crowd outside the airport, I glanced off to the right and saw a small mountain of trash that stretched as far as the eye could see. The streets were brimming with people, garbage, cars and—when the ocean breeze shifted just right—the overwhelming stench of rotting waste and sewage.
Now that’s a breath of reality.
Local Leaders at Work
Traveling throughout the city, I could see that Haiti is a country of people desperately hungry for life’s basic necessities.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, over two-thirds of the workforce don’t have formal jobs, and the unemployment rate is estimated to be upwards of 40 percent. More than half of the population live below the poverty line, earning less than $750 per year.
Despite these bleak surroundings and difficult living conditions, there was hope in many of the men and women I met. World Challenge has been actively working in Cap-Haïtien and its surrounding areas since 2013 and has active community evangelist groups in 62 villages.
This time we had the privilege of leading a God-centered training that reached a group of 29 volunteers and community leaders who are working to make sure no one goes hungry in their communities. They are part of the 500 plus committee members who are active missions workers.
Many of these men and women traveled great distances at their own expense, using multiple forms of transportation, to attend the training. Others opened up their homes for lodging or gathered food and cooked meals for those attending. Still more volunteers tirelessly took care of the all the logistics to make this event possible.
All were making daily sacrifices in one way or another for the good of their communities.
God’s Heart for Haiti
Although there are many problems on the ground level, God sees Haiti much like the view from the plane I experienced earlier, beautiful and full of potential.
As Jesus did with His disciples, these leaders are equipping, training and daily sending out their volunteers to spread both spiritual and practical seeds of knowledge. These seeds have taken root over the past several years and the success of the training is just a small sample of the fruit being produced.
Forty communities now have programs to help them build a better life around the knowledge that Christ values them so much he was willing to die for them. House churches and Bible study groups are spreading and growing. Nearly 400 people are in economic savings groups, and over 200 small businesses have been started.
Community health evangelists now number well over 1,000. It’s estimated that about 15,000 people have been directly affected by their work.
These beautiful people have valuable resources that are just waiting to be released for the glory of God and the service of others.