As I prepared for my sixteenth trip to Haiti, I felt a tide was changing in Living the Adventure Ministries’ work in Haiti. Up until 2017, we had been mostly focused on building buildings and building relationships. In the summer of 2013, we made our first trip to Yvon. I quickly fell in love with the people of Yvon and found in this village a people who were looking for a brighter future for their country. There was a deep desire to work for a brighter future and a willingness to take on new challenges. We met men who traveled into Miragoane, Petit Goave, or Port au Prince to find work and to make enough money to support families. We met women who were seeking opportunities to start new businesses and a few years later, there were micro-credit opportunities provided for them.
Each year when we would return to Yvon, we watched the new church building progressing. It was exciting to watch the new church go from the foundation in 2013 to its completion in August 2017. I was excited to see the completed building when we arrived this year, and I was excited for the village residents that they could celebrate this accomplishment. We quickly discovered the church building was being used to invite the community to experience the power of Jesus Christ. The church building was being used for a community revival that had been put together by several churches in the community. It was a great joy to be asked to preach during the final night of the revival.
As much as the church building’s completion and the school building’s wall that we worked on last year being completed excited me, I felt a calling in my heart to go deeper with the people of Yvon. As I was preparing for the trip, I had a desire to learn more about the role of men and the role of women in Haitian Culture. I also had a desire to place a focus on inviting men and women to a relationship with Jesus Christ. So, on Tuesday night of our trip, the men of our group sat down with some of the men of the village to discuss the role of men in the community and to discuss the ways the church and community are working together to train young men to be responsible, Jesus loving men to help lead the village into a brighter future. Our discussion was slow at the beginning, but as we asked questions of one another and listened to one another, I began to become more excited.
As I wrestled with how to share my vision with these men, I suddenly had an illustration come to mind. I said, “I was here when this church building [the place where we were sitting] was a foundation alone. As I returned in subsequent trips, I witnessed the progress being made in completing this building. I was able to participate with you in helping in that progress. It took many teams and many days to complete this building. I envision the same image of working with the young men and the older men of the village to begin to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ to see a brighter future for Yvon and for Haiti.” After I shared this vision and we discussed it for a little while, one of the Haitian leaders shared a vision of meeting with additional men the next night at the church. The group would include other pastors, leaders, and possibly a Voodoo Priest. I was filled with great excitement with our meeting.
The next night the men gathered with some of the men from the previous night and three pastors from the village. At the same time, the women of our group were scheduled to meet with some of the women from the community. We quickly discovered that we should have planned the women’s meeting for during the day because no women came for the meeting. Our women ended up meeting with our female translator, and they reported learning a lot of things about the role of women in Haiti.
As the men’s second meeting began, the three new members to the group began asking our group for money to build cisterns, orphanages, and fix their church buildings. We listened to their requests and then I shared my vision. I said, “I am not here to give you money. My desire is to come alongside you to build a brighter future for your village.” The men seemed surprised, yet willing to listen. I shared with them the vision I had shared the previous night and then I said, “It is my vision that we will not need to build an orphanage if we can find ways to invest in parents to take responsibility for their children. I also envision bringing more jobs to the community and raising up young men and women who want to invest in a brighter future.” One of the pastors said to me, “That is going to take a long time.” I responded, “It took many years to get this building done. I am willing to be patient, if you are willing to allow me to work with you to reach some goals for the future.”
I left Yvon this year with a renewed vision and purpose for our work in Haiti. I believe Living the Adventure Ministries will continue to work on rebuilding infrastructure and buildings. We will continue to support local schools and the educational endeavors of the children in the community. Now, though, we are going to put more emphasis on personal development, spiritual growth, healing, and job creation. Please join me in prayer for this renewed vision and for the people of Yvon.