Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Immanuel Missions

Let's just dive on in to what the title of this blog post means.
Immanuel Missions is the name of the new non-profit organization we are starting here in Haiti. When I say "we" I am referring to myself and three other friends- Brett, Chris and Jordan.
This is so random and out-of-nowhere, right? (Rando commando... that one is for you Justin- shout out!)
Well, throughout the past 10 months of my life in Haiti I have really been trying to assess the work being done in the country. Like I said, I have been here for 10 months, which means I am not incredibly experienced in the country. I have been in one city living and working inside 4 security walls- which is necessary in the orphanage I am in now, but it limits the amount of experience one can really gain by living in Haiti. So, I am probably too inexperienced to be explainng any of this to you, but I am moving forward in doing just that because I believe God has spoken and given a vision.
For the time I have lived in Haiti and the few places and cities I have been... the same question has been asked over and over again in my mind- "HOW are we HELPING Haiti?"
There are nearly a million organizations in Haiti (exaggerating here) and there always seem to be new ones popping up (ironic, I know). Many are faith-based, and many are humanitarian. All claim to be helping Haiti.
There are nearly a million volunteers coming to visit Haiti (not exaggerating here) on weekly trips. All claim to be making a difference in this country. They even wear the t-shirts to prove it ;)
Haiti has become quite the popular travel-to country in the last few years. People are constantly in and out, volunteering at orphanages, building and rebuilding houses, completing construction projects, giving MUCH needed medical attention, sponsoring children, donating food and other items, planting churches, teaching English, adopting children out of the country, and the list continues. These short-term volunteers ARE needed and they help the established organizations accomplish their goals. I was on several of these short-term trips before moving to Haiti and you never know what God will do through these trips.
The problem I see here, however, is that many of the Haitian people are being physically helped by the volunteers traveling in and out of the country, but how are deep-rooted, consistent relationships forming from that? When a Haitian sees a foreigner, they immediately think "give me" because that's what we do... we give.
More and more long-term people are moving here to start medical clinics, build schools, plant churches, start orphanages, and this list goes on as well. These are all (for the most part) thought to be started with good intentions. But are the people starting these (we'll call them "ministries")  ministries being done in a way that will aid Haiti longterm? Are the new ministries knowledgeable of the country enough to REALLY address and battle the needs of the people while helping, not hurting them? And what are the REAL needs of the people?
All of the above begs the question... is Haiti truly being helped? Are we TRULY making a difference in this country?
To not sound naggy and negative here, I must comment that there ARE organizations making a difference. In fact, I can name you 6 organizations off the top of my head that I am convinced are REALLY making a difference in and for Haiti:

My Life Speaks
Real Hope for Haiti
Heartline Ministries
Respire Haiti
God's Littlest Angels
Reach Global

There are more, but these are the ones I personally feel confident enough to mention here. All have websites. All have blogs. Look them up!!

Okay, so now that I've said all of that, here is where Immanuel Missions comes into play.
Our vision for this ministry focuses on being with the Haitian people- Haitian people of ALL ages. REALLY being with them. Building relationships with them. Doing life with them. Living amongst them. Empowering them. Showing them Jesus Christ through our lives. Pointing them to the only healer of all our brokeness. Making disciples. Helping them help themselves. Teaching them about Jesus. Teaching them to live as Christ lived, with God and only God in mind.
We desire real, intentional relationships with the Haitians. Meeting them where they are. Learning from them, and teaching them.
We believe God has moved us to begin this organization in order to serve the people in our surrounding community, focus on helping families stay together, and teach God's word to a dying nation. What we believe Haiti needs more than anything is neighbors. This will involve meeting their physical needs, but we want to really zero in on how to meet their spiritual needs through relationships.

Immanuel Missions' house is located in a village in Mariani. Our contract move-in date is September 1, 2012. We have met many of our soon-to-be neighbors and are super excited about what is to come! We want to spend the first part of our time in our new community meeting the people, learning their names/families/homes, assessing what is needing to be done in order to help them without hurting them, and learning how they do life. From there, we would like to set several goals for Immanuel Ministries to strive to meet in the areas we feel we can be most effective. As you all know, there are about a million areas to do work here in Haiti.
This is not going to be an easy task. I know much of this post sounds upbeat and optimistic, and that's because it is, but please be aware that this is going to be one of the hardest, most dying-to-self, most dedicated tasks we've ever been a part of. It will require SO much of us, and it is going to be extremely trying and stretching. BUT... we believe and even know God has gone before us and has paved the way for this to happen.
We have started the lengthy non-profit process, and will be incorporated in the next two weeks. That is when we will officially begin telling everyone about our organization in hopes of gaining awareness and support! NONE of this will be possible without support!
PLEASE be praying for these doors the Lord has opened. Pray for us as we solidify board members, budgets, contacts, fundraisers, etc. Pray for God and God alone to be glorified and that we would all continue seeking Him and His will above all else.
There is so much more to tell and share, but because it is 1:48am I am going to end here and go to bed. God is SO good and has already met some needs of our organization!! I had no idea this was in store, and what an AMAZING opportunity He has given us. Get ready for one awesome, life-changing journey :)

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,  
     and provide for those who grieve in Zion
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations."

Isaiah 61:1-4

Amen! Amen! Amen!