Archive for the ‘Haiti’ Category

January 12th will mark one year since the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  Those few moments and their aftermath took hundreds of thousands of lives, left many more homeless, and affected countless children in profound and permanent ways, including leaving many as orphans.  The eye of the media has largely moved on to other stories, but the need in Haiti remains as pressing as ever.

Of course, there are as many unique callings and places to serve as there are Christians in the world.  We certainly should not feel guilty that we can’t all focus on Haiti.  But still, if we felt ache and anguish in the days following the earthquake, we would do well not to quickly forget.  To do so merely mirrors the world’s sad and harmful pattern: to feel deeply yet act little and persevere even less.

The true disciple of Christ consistently matches compassionate emotion with both loving action and loving perseverance, just as the Good Samaritan both cared for the wounded traveler and also promised to return later to cover his future medical bills.  Even if our primary calling is to Russia or Cambodia or foster youth in the U.S., we can remain faithful in prayer to Haiti.

I’m tremendously thankful that Scott Vair and the others at World Orphans felt a desire to gather Christians virtually on the earthquakes’ anniversary to pray for Haiti.  We invite you to join with us and others members of the Christian Alliance for Orphans community on January 12th, 2011 at 4:00pm EST for one hour via “webinar.”  Led by a number of orphan advocates, we will be praying together for the country of Haiti, for stability and integrity in its government, for ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts, for the Haitian church, and for the children of Haiti we all care about so much.

Registration is required, and you can do so today here.

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As I write this I am on an plane approaching Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As you may already know, Hope for Orphans is locking arms with a group of other organizations to come alongside Haitian churches as they seek to love and care for children who were orphaned by the earthquake. The HORT initiative (Haiti Orphan Relief Team) sent its first team last month to connect with Haitian churches with a heart for caring for orphans in their communities (you can read David Leventhal’s blog posts from that first HORT trip by clicking HERE). On our current trip, we will take the next step with 10 of these churches and will continue to meet with others as well. On Wednesday, we will be meeting with the pastors of these 10 Haitian churches for the day to discuss more of the details of what it will look like to partner together. During part of that time I will be team teaching with Dan Cruver (Together for Adoption) on a biblical framework for adoption.

I am really excited about this particular initiative and the potential impact it can have. Each church’s program will identify up to 20 children to place into homes within the church. Each church will identify a team to oversee the program and will help to ensure that each of these children gets food, medical care, education, and is developed spiritually. With 10 churches starting the program initially, that means 200 kids are getting care right out of the gate –- and in Christian families.

As you know, it’s important to always be asking the question, “what can we do better together than we could ever do alone?” The HORT initiative is another encouraging example of organizations coming together and putting their collective shoulder behind something that will really help kids.

I would like to ask you to pray with us for this time and for the program. Here are few things you can pray for:

  1. That we would make good connections with more strong churches
  2. That we would be active learners and great listeners
  3. That we would be able to truly identify ways to help Haitian Christians care for
    Haitian orphans.
  4. That churches would see many changed lives in the children they help.

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David Leventhal is still in Haiti.  He wrote the following after addressing 100 Haitian pastors:

“This morning Paul Myhill (President of World Orphans) & I had the opportunity to speak before 100 Haitian pastors at a Campus Crusade for Christ training conference in Port Au Prince.  The training was being led by Esperandieu Pierre.

Esperandieu asked us to cast vision & encourage these pastors in their love & service for the orphans in their community.  We didn’t have much time & because Esperandieu had to translate for us the time we had was cut in half.

When I woke up this morning I began asking the Lord what He wanted me to communicate to these men.  It had to be short, easy to remember & useful.  As I worked through my thoughts & reflected on a couple of passages I realize the best place to start & finish was at the very cornerstone of all we believe.  I distilled it down into two main points:

  • The gospel is the basis for WHY we care for orphans
    • The gospel frees us to love others – we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
    • The gospel frees us to look outside ourselves towards the needs of others – we look at Christ who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (Philippians 2:5ff).
    • The gospel provides the power by which we can love sacrificially when it doesn’t make sense for us to (Romans 6:11ff).
  • The gospel is the model for HOW we care for orphans.
    • The gospel is offered free of charge – we are to care for orphans without expectation of receiving anything from them (John 3:16).
    • The gospel is not dependent upon our abilities – we are to care for orphans irrespective of their physical, mental or emotional capacity (Ephesians 2:8-9).
    • The gospel addresses the whole person – we are to care for the spiritual, physical & emotional needs of vulnerable children.  This is more than just basic food, clothing & shelter (James 1:27, 2 Corinthians 4:16ff).
    • The gospel cost Christ his life – we are to spend ourselves for the cause of the orphan, the vulnerable & the defenseless (Romans 8:32, Romans 5:8)

At the end of the day orphan care should tie back to the grace of God made fully known in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.”

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David Leventhal sent this update from Haiti:

Today was a good laying the groundwork day.  Our team met with CMBH (Southern Baptist Group in Haiti) & World Relief.  The net result of our time is that we will be able to meet with 46 churches in the coming week.  Definitely a great start to the church to church partnerships we are hoping to create to care for Haiti’s orphans.

Our time with World Relief was especially sweet as we got to hear about all the great things they are doing to care for orphans & vulnerable children.  Their headquarters in Port Au Prince was destroyed so they are working out of one of their hospital / orphanage facilities called King’s Hospital.  After our meeting we were able to spend some time with the children in their orphanage.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing like getting eyeball to eyeball with a child that has lost everything.  It brings a renewed perspective that you simply cannot get from a book, a sermon or a meeting over coffee. It will wreck you in the best possible way.

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Hope for Orphans is proud to be a part of the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT).  HORT is a cooperative effort of disaster response experts and U.S. based ministries that have joined together to respond to the orphan crisis in Haiti.

The first deployment, which I will be a part of, departs on February 14th with the specific mission of supporting the churches of Haiti to care for the orphaned children in their communities. HORT will collaborate with and train Haitian ministries to sustain this effort beyond the deployment period.

The primary goal of this first initiative is to better enable Haitian churches to reunite children with their families or to keep children within extended family structures. For children that have no other options, HORT will help Haitian churches to provide direct care in home environments, as opposed to institutional orphanages.  The focus is on long-term, sustainable orphan care through the local church.

U.S. churches are also part of the solution and are being recruited by HORT to come alongside these Haitian churches in church-to-church partnerships to initiate, strengthen and grow their outreach to orphans in their immediate communities. These partnerships will also work towards the self-sustainability of the orphan rescue and care efforts in Haiti.

A couple of things you can do:

  • Pray like crazy that this team would:
    • Exalt Christ as we look for long-term orphan relief strategies
    • Remain unified & focused on the goal – we want to set aside logos & egos for the purpose of glorifying God as we care for the least of these
    • Be protected physically & spiritually while in Haiti.  We deploy on 2/14.  Some will be returning on 2/24 & others on 2/28.
    • Be able to identify churches on the ground in Haiti & in the U.S. that will be able to partner with us and one another.
  • Advocate: Spread the word via
  • Support the HORT effort financially through the website below
  • Educate: Learn more at www.haitiorphanrelief.com

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Click below to hear these girls singing:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:25-30

On January 12th, God allowed a violent earthquake to rock Haiti. He also allows earthquakes in every one of our lives. Have you ever noticed that God has used earthquakes to punctuate important times where He is working. Examples include the crucifixion, the resurrection when the stone was rolled away and increasing earthquakes as the day of His return draws near. Earthquakes, whether geological or personal, get our attention. How we respond makes all the difference.

Two weeks ago, I spent 5 days at a Christian-led orphanage in Haiti. Almost everyone I met there knew someone who had died in the quake. The orphanage director, a pastor, lost his entire house and belongings, but he led the children in praise to the the Lord who had saved their lives. Almost every day I was there the aftershocks continued. The children were all sleeping outside each night afraid to go back into the building. Our team of medical and orphan advocates brought all that we could including a few tents. A group of the middle school aged girls enjoyed one of the tents and eagerly took care of some of the very small children each night. I noticed from my first day there, that despite having almost nothing, no biological family present and still living with the terror of the earthquake, they still sang in the morning and they sang as they went to bed.

On the afternoon of the aftershock that measured 5.9,  I was sitting on a 3rd story balcony. The whole building began to sway. The children began to scream, the doctors scrambled and we all ran out into the yard. This was a very personal reminder that our lives are but a vapor and no one has anything but each breath God gives us. About an hour later, I was walking by the middle school aged girls tent and I heard some of the most wonderful singing I have ever heard.  They were singing in Creole. I leaned into the tent with my iPhone and began to record. At first, I was taken aback by the smell of the urine that was no doubt evidence of the number of babies sleeping there each night. But, as the girls sang, I was quickly immersed in worship that can only be described as pure. After a few more moments, I was able to recognize the tune they were singing….It was In His Time. Incredible. Then I realized in the midst of that praise so soon after the 5.9, that I didn’t smell the urine any more. Instead I was aware that the Lord was in that place. The thought came to my mind, that for those of us in America we think we live in such ease and comfort…..but really we sleep in tents that smell as well….unless we are praising God and living for Him,  especially when the earthquakes come.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to the staff of FamilyLife about my trip. I played for them my recording of the Haitian orphan girls singing In His Time. You can listen to by clicking on the play button above. The neat thing is that one of our staff actually knows the author of In His Time.  Her name is Diane Ball. My friend told her about these girls singing her song and she began to cry. When earthquakes come into our lives, we should pray that the Lord will give us the grace to sing like Paul and Silas and these wonderful Haitian orphan girls.

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Last week Hope for Orphans’ Founder & Executive Director, Paul Pennington was in Haiti advocating on behalf of a group of orphans.  He was able to see and experience firsthand the utter devistation in Haiti.  Paul returned to Texas on Monday & had an opportunity today to share about his experience in Haiti on FamilyLife Today’s radio broadcast.

Click below to listen to the interview

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