Lessons From Haiti

Part One

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:12-17

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4

Every time I go on a mission trip, I learn a little bit about myself and so much more about Christ.  This time would be no different.  I am still reflecting on my trip to Haiti and God is still revealing things to me about the trip.  Yet one of the first lessons I learned was one I thought I already knew- how to serve with humility.  Our first day as a team running our medical clinic, we failed.  Not to the people we served – from the outside looking in it was a success – but we knew we failed as a team.  I can’t speak for my other members of my team, but I can speak for me.  We did not operate as a cohesive unit. During our debrief that night, I realized that we were Americans giving and I prayed to God that we would become Christians serving.  There is a difference.

That prayer changed not only my heart, but it changed the mission trip for me.  As I struggled and prayed, He began to open my eyes and heart to a people so that I would serve them instead of looking for ways to give to them and change their life.  In my own hand, I could not change or transform anything.  But when I – all of us – allowed ourselves to become tools and instruments of service, the entire trip changed.  How we served and ministered to others changed.  When you constantly go on mission trips you can easily get caught in the emotional high of ministry, but you can also become focused on doing and giving instead of serving.  Coming from a culture of excess and entering a culture of little, you sometimes adapt the attitude that you are coming to rescue people from their lives.  However, it is thoughts like that which focus on your own self interest and not the interest of The Lord. This mission trip was not about experiencing a feel good moment and feeling a sense of purpose; this mission was about serving however He desired in whatever manner.  We intended to go to Haiti for one reason and one reason only: to serve and do for the least of these.  We did.

When you look at the life of Christ, one of the main themes is service. Christ was always about serving others.  He healed in service, He taught in service, and He sacrificed in service all for the Father’s glory and never His own.  When He washed the feet of the disciples, He was teaching about serving others and remaining humble, even if you have or know more. We should all strive to daily follow that example.

You don’t have to travel across the world to serve others and sometimes, you do not have to look beyond your family, but in whatever way God has called you to serve, SERVE.  Just remember to always serve for His glory and never for your own.

Be used by Him this week,

Shaniqua & the Great Is Team

P.S. Interested in seeing pictures from Haiti? They will be posted next week, so stay tuned.  J

Part Two

Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.  After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. – John 6: 5-14


That simple truth changed everything about my trip to Haiti.  I have seen poverty up close and personal (I have literally seen a woman in Kenya making her dirt floor for her mud/hay home), yet what I saw in Haiti overwhelmed me to the point of asking myself “why I was even there?”  How could I do anything to change the lives of a people and the trajectory of a nation? How could God even use me to change anything?   God can take what you deem as nothing and multiply it something beyond comprehension.  While in Haiti through our make-shift medical clinics and the children’s programs we touched and served 1,035 men, women, and children.  Such a small number when you consider the more than nine million that live in Haiti and are in need. But as we know through observing history, all it takes is just one to start a change and spark a revolution.  And usually that one is manifested when conditions are perfect…the perfect storm.

So as I looked around Haiti with a spirit of discontent at what I was observing, I asked God to speak to my heart and show me how His children, the Haitians, would move beyond the cycle of poverty that was everywhere I looked.  And He opened my eyes to the children.  No matter what I saw everyday in the streets, no matter how much trash and sewage I saw, no matter the stray dogs and pigs wandering the sewers and streets, everywhere I looked I saw children who were pressed and dressed as they walked to school.  I saw children who walked through squalor clean as a button. The juxtaposition of the impoverished surroundings with clean children in their bright and colorful uniforms spoke to my spirit on the deepest level.  As I saw fathers walking their daughters to school holding their hands and mothers escorting their sons, I knew that the sacrifice being made would one day multiply into something I couldn’t even imagine. And that is how God revealed to me that the smallest people in Haiti, the children, are in fact the future.  They are being multiplied and molded to become greater than the poverty they inhabit.  And just as the little boy that presented his five loaves and two fish to Jesus to perform a miracle, so can Jesus perform a miracle through the children of Haiti.

But how does this relate to your life?  Haiti has its own share of problems and you have your own.  Simply put, what God spoke to me about Haiti is something that I took home with me.  God is the author – the very Creator – who made something out of nothing (Genesis 1).  The feeding of the 5,000 was not the first miracle as such. When Elisha the prophet addressed the widow’s need and fear of her sons being sold to pay off debt (2 Kings 4), God allowed Elisha to show the widow how her little oil would be turned into abundance – an abundance that overflowed and filled up all the casks and jars in her house and all those she borrowed.  So when Christ was faced with a crowd of hungry people, He did what His Father did – multiplied little to nothing and made it into something.

If you have a little faith, pray to The Lord for increase and He will make it greater faith.  If you have a loaf of bread, give it to God and He will turn it into a full meal.  And if you have a willing heart to serve, God will use that heart to become a multitude of blessing for His children.  And that is what I believe is happening in Haiti.  I believe God for greater than I saw in Haiti because that is the kind of Lord that He is and always has shown Himself to be.

Walk with Him,

Shaniqua & the Great Is Team

PS: The Photos – As promised last week, for those that want to view and see our Haiti photos, please feel free to click here.  This will take you to our Face Book page and the photo album and you can click on the photo to enlarge and scroll through them. Don’t worry; you don’t have to have a FB account to view them – they are open to all.  But if you do, please take a moment to LIKE us!

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