What, exactly, do you even do there? Does that small of an organization really make a difference? Americans are in need, too, you know! Why bother if their government doesn’t even care? You’re wasting time, money, and energy on a country that will never improve. There’s so many countries and people in need, what made you chose Haiti?
Hi. I’m Kate, and I’m part of the Helping Hands 4 Haiti team. The above questions are some that I am asked on a regular basis; sometimes the person asking has a criticizing tone, but often they are not asking with ill intentions. I want to share my story and my heart for Haiti, and hopefully give you a better understanding of what it is that HH4H does.
My priorities have changed drastically since I began working with HH4H in 2013. When I first went to Haiti in 2010, I was more of a “volun-tourist,” meaning I wanted to see the world and do some good in the world in the process. Doing short term mission work was an affordable and effective way to do accomplish these goals. As I look back, my intentions were more selfish in nature than beneficial. Because of their attitude, I didn’t get much out of that first trip and neither did the people whom I intended to help.
Fast forward a couple years, and I was ready for another country and another orphanage, this time in India. When that trip fell through, Michelle was quick to ask me to return to Haiti, where she and Jonathan were going to look for opportunities to serve on a long-term basis. I gladly joined them, not exactly sure as to what we would be doing. As part of this experience, we visited The Voice of the Children orphanage (VOC). It didn’t take long for me to realize the orphanage was in dire need of structure, character development, and educational opportunities for its residents. Honestly, there was so much need it was overwhelming. I didn’t know whether or not I would return.
As the next summer rolled around, Michelle asked if I would be returning. Following a lot of prayer, it seemed that God had put on my heart that I was to be involved with HH4H and help in whatever capacity I could. So, I made the trip with an attitude that I would do whatever the organization needed me to do and, I would do it to the best of my ability.
That summer was a true turning point for me. It is amazing what happens when one commits to God’s direction. As I departed Haiti this time there was no question in my mind if I was coming back. In fact, I couldn’t wait to go back! As the following summer sojourns came and went I was gradually given more responsibility. Now, I can confidently say that I am a part of the great work being done by Jonathan, Michelle, and the entire HH4H staff.
So what is it that we do, exactly?
This is the most frequent question I’m asked. It’s not always an easy answer. We don’t dig wells; we don’t typically build buildings; and we’re not planting churches. So how is it mission work? In my honest opinion, what we do is so much more than building structures, we’re building the Kingdom of God and instilling love and hope into the hearts of those who have been abandoned and left behind. Matthew 28:19-20 says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We have learned, however, going and preaching the Word without prior relationships is mostly ineffective. We have spent years building relationships, showing relentless love, teaching life lessons, and inspiring these kids to do their best. We have invested in their schooling, improved their living conditions, and provided their meals. HH4H has poured everything they had into the children at the VOC in an effort to be the hands and feet of Jesus and show in a tangible way how they are loved by us and by the Father. In the summer of 2018, 16 of these children stepped out in faith and committed their lives to Christ through baptism.
This is what why we do what we do. Buildings will eventually crumble; wells will dry up, and churches will dissolve without proper leadership, but the foundations for a life with Christ will never falter; the hope and love found in Jesus’ love will never dry up.
We are working to build leaders for the next generation of Haitians. A goal such as this cannot be accomplished in a week or two. It seems that many well intentioned mission groups swoop in for a week or two and spread “goodness” to a very needy population and then leave. HH4H is not in that mold. In fact, it is almost the opposite. Our goal is to have a lasting impact on a nation by equipping Haitians to become the leaders of tomorrow. Doing so takes time and commitment for the long haul but the potential rewards are immeasurable.