June 16, 2010 Haiti

Update June 16, 2010

Last week, Terry and Doug Stringer visited some ‘veterans’ working in Haiti for 27 years.  This couple arrived from The Netherlands and initially began building caskets, then high-end kitchen cabinets, until the earthquake hit, when everything shifted to housing.  

They, like us, have looked for others to team up with in the country to get the people working!   Let the following letter received after that meeting, paint a picture for you of how God is hooking us up with others already on the ground.  It’s great to have many people come in from the outside; at the same time, we must work together with those who are established in this culture.

Dear Pastors,

Just another mail to thank you for your visit yesterday. Our conversations keep replaying in my head, and it is such a blessing to share our vision with people who really understand.  We’re on to something big, and I feel the Lord is gently tapping people’s shoulders to stop reinventing the wheel and to rather join forces to do something more substantial.

One thing that God had laid on my heart to share with others is the story of Ruth: she had lost everything (her husband, her belongings, her family and her country), partly by what had happened (her husband’s death) and partly by own choice (leaving together with Naomi). So she must have been grieving and mourning, and exhausted of the travel. But what she actually did was GO TO WORK, gleaning the fields for leftovers of the harvest.  And here it comes: she could do that because the law (as stated in Leviticus) required people to not work their whole field, but leave some work for the poor. It did NOT say “work your whole field and then hand out part to the poor”, but instead it clearly says that the poor will have to come to work the fields themselves!

Nowadays there is a lot of talk about there being “dignity” in work. I strongly believe there actually is healing in manual labor. Having gone through all the coups d’Etat, the embargo, the kidnapping of our son, and now the earthquake, I know quite some about post traumatic problems and about the healing of hard work and finally seeing come something out of your hands again.

And we’re not alone: both inside and outside the Evangelical realm there are common initiatives;

– the Episcopal church’s Ecole St.Vincent for the Handicapped started a musical program years ago: they equip the handicapped (blind, amputees, etc) with a musical instrument and train them till they’re ready to actually join an orchestra. Some have made it as far as finding a place in Haiti’s national Symphony Orchestra, others have been able to obtain a scholarship for the States. So now these kids are a source of pride for their parents, rather than just the burden they once were. BUT they have had to work very hard to get that far: just getting a handout (the instrument) was not enough, they had to learn and practice very hard

– Bobby Duval’s Club Althlétique d’Haiti helps kids from Cité Soleil with a soccer program: he provides the land, the trainers, the shirts, but the kids have to learn all the ins and outs of soccer discipline. They are now really good, and some good enough to hopefully being picked to play internationally. Here again: the free beginning was instrumental, but it was up to the kids to become the superstar

– Daniel Rouzier, CEO of E-power, not only started the E-power electrical plant project to once and for all solve Cite Soleil’s problems (creating jobs and an industrial park around it, thus making Cite Soleil the booming part of PauP – at least in theory), but also is preparing some “model village” in the South of Haiti which he wants to be build on “the old Christian values” (Roman Catholic in his case) starting with building schools where the local priests can install these values in the children’s hearts and minds.

There clearly is a biblical mandate to work and help people find their way back to work (what did the Prodigal Son do when he came to his senses: back to his father to ask to WORK)…

The parable of the Talents teaches us that even if you feel you “cannot work”, you are still accountable to the Lord for what He has entrusted to you, and you should take utmost care to make your talents “work” and at least bring them to the bank who will make them work for you. This means that “getting people back to work” also entails Biblical teaching and life skills training.

There has been a discussion for too long, about Missions being “just” evangelizing or “just” being feeding the hungry, or some combination of those. And Christian business people have been standing/put on the sidelines of both the Church and Missions for way too long (although their big checks were always welcome), and they too need to see that they have to work their talents: no longer saying that their business talents are too small for anything spiritual and thus putting them under the ground… I strongly believe that a business talent is a God-given talent and should be worked in the first place (something we failed to do in the beginning – which is yet another story…) and then be put to use in God’s Kingdom: not just for generating money, but for generating life skills and a Biblical work ethic.

As Light Ministries is dreaming about this “model city”, all of us here in Haiti would like to see something like that: a city that’s clean, safe and self-sustained. That requires urban planning, special architecture, and providing work. But my point about safety is: if all men are at work, and every child/youth at school, there is no one left to erect barricades, start demonstrations, or kidnap people!

In Haiti this is all turned around: women taking care of EVERYTHING, and their men playing Dominos in the street until the next group comes along to pay them money for creating trouble.

Last week I spoke to a missionary, who is starting a new ministry in City Soleil, working with the gangs and their entourage. When asked, the men’s greatest 3 needs were: financial, medical, food. The women’s: work, safety and food. See, “work” wasn’t even on the men’s list!!! So this missionary too concluded that where he could start a women’s ministry based on micro finance and such, the men’s ministry would have to be centered on first of all Biblical teaching and character training.

Yesterday I spoke to two gentlemen who had attended the Housing Conference that I was scheduled to be at (but my attendance being canceled I got to meet with you instead). They were so disappointed about all the “talking” at this conference, and so encouraged to then visit us and see a place “where something is actually happening: while all the others keep talking, you guys are just making it happen”. They keep telling us we need to expand to a much bigger scale. We keep telling them we are already spread way too thin and exhausted. We clearly need direction as to where to go, and that is now the focus of our prayers.

Well, enough said. I am looking forward to continuing this conversation, and to help network where possible.

Blessings,

Evelien de Gier

Thanks for praying and giving to see a new Haiti come to pass.  We need you! 

Cary

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