Category Archives: Ministry Updates

Ministry Update – November 2012

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS UPDATE LETTER

In South Sudan, the first devotion shared was on being stretched as we pursue God and seek His Kingdom. November has definitely been a stretching experience in both my life and ministry.

The first part of the month was spent in Southern Sudan watching God throw the doors wide open for people to meet Christ as Savior. Though there were many challenges, such as having to wade across the river at the Kenya/S. Sudan border, it was well worth it. In a matter of days, we saw around 100 people saved – from the highest tribal chiefs to the lowest prisoners. God even confirmed our message with some divine acts of power as we saw a handful of people healed during times of prayer.

After S. Sudan I had 22 hours in Washington D.C., and spent a full, jet-lagged afternoon walking around visiting all the monuments and memorials. It was a great reminder of the wonderful history we have as a nation, and an encouragement that we must continue to be a people who seeks God on behalf of our nation and government.

Then, on the 10th, the return to Haiti was a weird experience for me as this place has become a second home. While in the U.S. and S. Sudan I even found myself craving some Haitian foods and definitely missing our kids like crazy.

Most ofHaiti doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but it was also my 28th birthday, so on that Saturday I took a big cake and celebrated with the kids. It was a very special day for me.

Though I am looking forward with much excitement to what God has in store for my ministry in the next year, leaving Haiti in February will definitely be a hard goodbye for me

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I know it’s always nice for kids to get a break from school, see all the family, and gorge ourselves.

Growing up, I never really thought too much about Thanksgiving. The majority of my family always lived close together, so it wasn’t unusual to see them all in one place. The main marker of the holiday was the food (that would usually continue well past Thursday.)

This year, though, being here away from it all was harder than I expected. As I saw all the pictures and status updates on social media, it hit me how much we really do have to be thankful for when we can gather with family and friends and think on God’s goodness to us. Fortunately for the modern missionary, there is Skype, and I was able to see all my family for about an hour that afternoon.

“But certainly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” ~Psalm 66:19

  • Pray for God to send revival; that salvation and healing will come to this nation.
  • Pray for Erin, the new HGIM missionary, as she prepares to move to Haiti in 2013.
  • Pray for me as I begin making speaking appointments for my time home next year.
  • Pray for the HGIM Board of Directors as they meet in Dec. to make some vital    decision for the future of the ministry.

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Writers Wanted for Discipleship Website

To all Pastoral and Ministry Leadership friends,

As many of you know, earlier this year HGIM developed a gospel presentation booklet called ‘Learning2Live’, which presents the gospel in terms of.

  1. God created life.
  2. Sin gave way to death.
  3. The good news is there is eternal life available in Christ.
  4. In the end, everyone either gets eternal life with God or eternal death separated from Him, based on their acceptance or rejection of the gospel.

We tried to make it informative and easy to understand, as well as cutting out any cheesiness that many tracts tend to use. We wanted to offer a straight-forward gospel presentation

The booklet is currently at the printers and will be available for order through Heart of God early in 2013.  As a companion to this booklet, we are building a website that will have further articles and videos explaining the Christian faith and lead new believers into the discipleship process.

I am now asking for your help. We need to get the website up and running soon so that the booklets can go out as planned, and I am seeking people willing to help us out and write articles to be featured on this site.

In my current planning stages, the articles will be divided into 4 categories:

  • New Life – Understanding the Gospel
  • Living Up – Your relationship with God
  • Living In – Dealing with yourself
  • Living Out – Dealing with others

Submissions Needed:

We are looking for articles written on the following topics, though will take other submissions fitting one of the four categories as God leads you to write:

New Life

  • John 3:16 Explained
  • Why did Jesus have to die?
  • How can I know I’m saved?
  • Eternal Security? (Romans 8:38-39)

Living Up

  • Getting started in personal Bible study.
  • Personal prayer life
  • Finding a good church – specifically, what are some characteristics to look for
  • Receiving God’s Forgiveness

Living In

  • Your New Identity as a Child of God
  • Baptism – What is it? Why should I?
  • Continuing Repentance – the ongoing process of turning from self/sin and toward God
  • Overcoming your past

Living Out

  • Becoming a Servant
  • Reaching out – How to share your new faith
  • Forgiving Others
  • Dealing with persecution

We also invite any articles that fit into the above categories that are explanations of particular scriptures to encourage new believers or that may become “Life Verses” for them to hold to and be strengthened by.

There will also be sections for “Men’s Interests” and “Women’s Interests,” and though I don’t have a list of articles we are requesting in this area, if you have something to contribute to one of these areas, please feel free.

Submission Guidelines:

We are asking for all submissions by December 31,2012. Articles should be sent to singram@heartofgodinternational.org. Here are the basic guidelines.

  • Limit articles to 1,000 words or less (use a word counter).
  • Articles must be non-fiction but may include “parable-type” examples.
  • If personal experiences are included, change the names and locations to protect the privacy of others involved.
  • Cite each scripture used. All scriptures quoted will be published in the English Standard Version for copyright purposes and website consistency.
  • Carefully and properly cite any commentary or other sources included in your article as footnotes (not included in word count).
  • Submit each article in .doc or .docx format for easy copy/paste publication.
  • Submit a personal bio, written in third person, no longer than 150 words, along with a small photo (100×100 px) to be included with your bio on the website.
  • Your article must be proofread and ready for publication although HGIM reserves the right to edit to insure uniformity with our Statement of Faith.  (See http://heartofgodinternational.org/about/beliefs/)
  • By submitting your article(s), you release HGIM to publish your work with the understanding that you will receive no compensation or monetary benefit from publication. Please contact me if a formal release is needed or your preference.

If you plan on writing an article please send me an email to let me know which topic(s) you are taking on (even if it’s not one listed above), so that I can mark it on this page as ‘in progress,’ to prevent duplicate submissions.

Here are a few sample pages from the booklet itself. Sorry for the annoying watermarks.

(For those interested,  a Haitian Creole version is currently in the works, and there are plans for a Swahili and Arabic translation soon, though these will not have the website linked.)

South Sudan Mission Recap

The team all met up from different parts of the country at the Washington D.C. airport and made our way to Nairobi, Kenya via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We spent one night in Nairobi, then headed for the small airport which would fly us to the northern town of Lokichoggio, from which we would drive into South Sudan. This morning we were met by our Ugandan team members, Saphan and Isaac, we made it to the Loki airport without issue, then waited for a few hours on our vehicles to pick us up there.

The rain had hit throughout the night, so the roads were bad. It took us about three hours of driving to make it to the South Sudan border about 45km away. We had a few issues getting stuck in the mud, but the major issue came when we reached the border and discovered the riverbed to be full of flowing rainwater. We sent our facilitator across the river to see if the immigration office would remain open for us a bit, and believing they would, we abandoned our vehicles and the team waded across the river. Our bags came behind us in the hands of some very helpful young guys, for a price of course.

Once across it was discovered that the immigration office was not going to be as helpful as we thought, and Heart of God Africa Director, Denise Matthews had a fight on her hands to get us accepted into the country that night. After our luggage was across and Denise had won her battle, we hired new cars to take us the last hour drive to Narus, South Sudan; our home for the week.

Throughout this first night and the next morning much of the team was very discouraged, as things did not seem to be coming together according to plans and expectations. But through an intimate and powerful time of prayer, everyone’s spirit was rejuvenated and ready to reach the Taposa people with the Gospel of Christ.

Believing that the book of Joshua was setting the theme for the trip as we travelled into the unknown, and having very little idea what we were getting ourselves into – pioneer missions at it’s finest – we decided the first day we should send only a small group of people out of the compound to ‘spy out the land’.

When those of us who went to spy returned, it was only with strong confirmation that God was at work. The team greeted many of the Taposa who we had been told do not greet visitors well, and especially do not like their photos taken, yet we were greeted with smiles and waves, allowed to take many photos of and with the warriors, and one lady even threw down her pile of firewood to invite us for a drink of water. As we entered a small hut, we instead told her about the living water and she, along with a couple of other women, gave their lives to Christ.

The next day, the whole team ventured out into the village with the same results. We were greeted very warmly, as we went around telling anyone we met about the love of Christ and praying for blessings on them.

The third day we decided it would be good for us to visit the homes of the 15 members of the church, pastored by Joseph, our trip facilitator. Joseph is a Ugandan missionary to South Sudan, trained by Youth Ablaze, and has been in the country now for around a year, I believe.

As we walked past the tree under which the church meets, there was a blind man sitting in the shade. The team prayed for the man who said he could only see shadows passing him, but nothing more, and as we prayed he began to be able to see distinct shapes and colors, identifying skin color of team members and saying he could see the color of the dirt and leaves of the trees. Though there was not a complete healing in our time with him, the report came later from one of Joseph’s assistant pastors that the man was up and walking by himself around the village. The team also prayed for blessings on the homes of most of the church members, and prayed particularly for many women to be able to bear children. We are believing that next year we will see many toddlers around, confirming that God heard our prayers.

On Saturday we drove a little over an hour to another, much smaller village, called Korjip. The village elders had heard that our team was in Narus and that God was moving among us, and inviting us to come, had already determined amongst themselves to donate land for us to build a church on, as well as any other project the Lord leads us into.

We sat in a circle under a shade tree and exchanged formalities with about 40-45 people there, then I was given the opportunity to preach the Gospel. I began by asking the people, “when I say the name Jesus Christ, how many of you have heard of Him and know what I am talking about?” Out of the whole crowd, only one person raised their hand. Relating the message as best as I could in a way they would understand, there were obviously a few who walked away not wanting to hear what I was saying, but by the end of the message, between 30-35 of them accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I also told them that God was not just a God of words, but also of power, and told them how we had already seen God improve the sight of a blind man and prayed for barren women, and that we would like to pray for them as well.

The men moved to one side to pray for men and the women stayed under the tree, as it is offensive in their culture for women to touch or pray for the men. The very first man who had greeted us in the village, an elderly warrior who had walked in with use of a walking stick, was the first to come up for prayer. He told us that his knees were bad and that he wanted us to ask His new Savior to heal him. I and another team member, Paul, placed our hands on the old man’s knees and prayed. When we had finished praying I asked him, hoping-ly, to test it out. He said there was no improvement. As little discouraged at what I had got us into, I told him we should pray again (see Mark 8:22-26 where Jesus prayed twice for a healing). We put our hands back on his knees and began to pray, begging God to prove Himself with power, that these people would know we weren’t just coming with some new teaching. After a few minutes, I asked the man to try walking again. He took two steps, took of running, the leaped high in the air; completely free of knee pain. I may have been even more excited than this man was, and now we were rolling.

The next man came up with the same exact problem, and he was healed the same exact way. Prayed once, and nothing; prayed again, running and jumping.

There were so many that we all split up and I ended up praying mostly with just an interpreter  at my side. We prayed for a third man with excruciating pain in his side and lower back. Once we had prayed he was able to bend and move pain-free. Another old warrior with bad knees was in line behind this man. I prayed for him once and asked him to test it. Out of excitement at seeing his friends leaping around, he followed suit, and took of running and jumping. The problem was that he hadn’t been healed. He came limping back toward us barely able to walk, causing Denise, upon seeing his limp, to tell another lady that if this man walked out healed, she’d kiss the tree. Well…

While we were still praying for people, the village Chief arrived from a meeting he had been attending, and so we regrouped under the tree. He made a formal presentation giving us the land and asking us for help with water. As you know, we have been fundraising to drill a water well in relation to this trip, and Denise told him yes, and that we would be sending someone to test the water before we drill.

The team returned home overjoyed with what God was doing in us.

On Sunday we attended Joseph’s church under the tree. There were many new faces in attendance, and a small handful of them received Christ as their Savior in this service, after hearing the Gospel of Hope and the testimony of our team.

Then in the evening we met the church members in the central marketplace for an open-air outreach meeting. We sang and danced. Most of the team members shared their personal testimonies with all who gathered to listen, then I was again given the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them. Although we could not get a formal count, in looking around I saw a group of around 30 people praying to receive Christ. It was an awesome day for the Kingdom of God.

On Monday the team again divided, some staying at the compound to pray, while others went to visit the two small hospitals in Narus. We were shown the conditions people are treated in and told of the needs they have, and had the opportunity to pray for all the patients there that day: 4-6 suspected cases of measles, one epileptic boy, one girl with malaria, and a man badly damaged in a motorcycle accident. We also prayed with the hospital staff for God’s provision and blessing on their work.

On Tuesday, our last full day in Narus, we went into the local prison – something, as we were told, that no other missionary group has ever done for them. We were met by every police officer and security guard on the force, in full uniform, and the 14 prisoners currently residing there. There were cases of theft, adultery, and one murder in the crowd. Saphan, the Heart of God Africa Prison Ministry Director from Uganda, preached the Gospel to these 13 men and 1 woman, and all of them accepted Jesus as Savior. I then had the opportunity to share my testimony of how God changed my life, and Isaac shared a word of encouragement to them on the power of God now at work in them.

The prison director confessed to us the difficulty of his job in being honest and kind while trying to rehabilitate the prisoners, and the temptation to beat or even kill some of them. I laid my hand on his shoulder (apparently something you should not do when praying for someone in uniform, but love covers a multitude of sins) and I prayed for him and all the police standing around us. As we left, many of them took a group picture with our team, though I do not have a copy at this time.

Sadly, the next day our time in South Sudan was over. We prayed one last time as a team, then loaded the cars. After a short stop in the local Commissioner’s office to tell them goodbye and pray for them, we made our way back to the Kenyan border, and on to Lokichoggio where we would spend some time in a nice little hotel to debrief as a team before the long flight home.

I can honestly say that I am overjoyed by the fruit born on this trip and am hopeful for the future there through Joseph and his church. I cannot wait to return and see how things have progressed, and how all the people saved – roughly 100 for the week – have held to the new truth they have been shown and carried it forward.

This was only our first push into the 10-40 Window, but as God continues to open doors to the unreached, we will be there to step through them. If you would like to support my evangelistic works through Heart of God, like this one and others, you can click the ‘Donate’ tab, or you can learn more about Heart of God and how you can get involved through any of our various ministries at http:www.heartofgodinternational.org.

Ministry Update – October 2012

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS UPDATE LETTER

As I write this update I am sitting on an airplane flying from Texas to Columbus, Ohio. First thing in the morning the team is off to South Sudan, before I return to Haiti on November 10th.

Right before I left Haiti on the 16th, I spent a full day hanging out with our kids at the center. It was a happy day full of playing, laughing and tickle fights as we were having our own little celebration because the roof on the orphanage (that had blown off with Hurricane Isaac) has been completed and they had spent their first night back in their own house. I just kept telling them, “Aren’t you happy? You got your house back.” For the month and a half leading up to this point, our kids were essentially homeless as they were moving their mattresses into the church every night to sleep on the floor, then moving them out in the morning so that the church could be used for other things in the daytime.

As another hurricane is now moving across the Caribbean, we are still waiting for a report of any damage to our property or facilities. You can keep up with any news we find out on the blog at www.HeartofGodHaiti.org.

This update is coming out to you a little early this month as tomorrow I will be meeting the rest of the HG Africa – South Sudan team, who are set preach the gospel in a new area for our ministry. The word from our partner pastors on the ground is that we will be going into some remote villages that have never heard the gospel before. This team of 15 people from the U.S. and our partners on the ground are geared up to go in with love and truth, hoping to bear eternal fruit.

My first week in the U.S. was spent at a ministry conference in Pennsylvania. There I heard from pastors, evangelists, American missionaries to foreign countries and also foreign missionaries to the U.S.

This conference was so awesome as it gave me time to make some new friends, worship God in the language I understand and be refreshed in the word.

After the conference, I returned home to TX for a few days in order to vote and get a new copy of my driver’s license (which was lifted by a pickpocket a couple of months ago).

Even for such a short time, it was good to see my family and visit with a few friends. I even had the opportunity to visit and share with the AWANA and Youth groups at one of my supporting churches.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! ~Psalm 4:1

  • Pray for God’s hand of protection over Haiti with this hurricane blowing over.
  • Pray for our South Sudan team to be effective witnesses to the Gospel and for God to move through this team in a powerful way on the ground there
  • Pray for all of my travel over the next three weeks. Many flights still to come.

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Contentment and Hope

This morning begins with me leaving early for the airport, leaving Haiti for the next 4 weeks. As I usually do my writing on Tuesdays, but seldom am able to get any thoughtful writing done sitting in airports, I thought that this week, I would just share what has been on my heart lately with the orphanage and our work here in Haiti. This post is one I originally wrote on Saturday over at the Heart of God Haiti blog. Please pray for our work with these kids, as we still have much work to do.

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More and more with every visit, I fall in love the kids in our orphanage here. As I am now preparing to head out for about 4 weeks for a pastor’s conference and a trip to South Sudan with Heart of God Africa, it is hitting me how attached I have become. Not only is it an honor to get to spend time with these kids every day, but God is also using them to teach me so much about the simplicity of life.

One of the most popular verses in the Bible for many Americans is Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

But what many Americans don’t realize is that this verse is in the context of talking about contentment. Specifically about contentment in situations like our children here face daily:

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:11-13)

This is one of the lessons that seeing these kids teaches me. Contentment in all things.

For the last month and a half we have had to learn a new normal for life at the center. With Hurricane Isaac taking the roof off the center, the kids have had no space of their own in which to live. Mattresses are daily carried outside of the church so that the building can be used during the day, then carried back in every night and set up to sleep on. Clothes that were soaked with rain were lost to mildew and have had to be tossed out. They now eat cramped into a small room on the side of the church because even the porch on which they spend their days eating, coloring, or doing homework has been useless as the reconstruction took over that space.

Yet despite a situation that most of us Americans would find absolutely unnacceptable, these kids (and our awesome staff) have pressed on, making the best of the situation. They have learned contentment. I am the one who has struggled.

The kids have seemingly not even noticed much of a change. They are happy every day. They have been helpful in cleaning clothes, washing dishes, and looking out for one another. They have taught me so many new ways to build toys out of the trash they find on the streets, whether toy cars made of oil jugs and milk bottle caps, or doing construction of their own with rocks and spare cardboard. They are content.

I on the other hand have remained so stressed through this whole ordeal, longing for the day we can “just fix everything” for these kids. The roof has been a struggle. Getting the kids enrolled in school was a struggle. Paying for uniforms and school books is still a struggle. Not because this stuff costs too much to do from and American perspective, but because these kids live in a world where they are easily forgotten. I know that everyone in America knows there are children living in Haiti in desperate and hopeless situations. But do most of us take the time to do something about it?

Hopefully today the roof will be finished, and the kids can return to their home. I am so thankful for the blessings of God through donors and prayers who have allowed this work to be accomplished. Yet I still look at these kids and see so much potential for a better life that could never actually reach them.

As you can see just in these pictures, we have aspiring mechanics, mothers, construction workers, and electrical engineers. But in order for those opportunities to reach reality, we need your partnership over the long-haul. We need people willing to do more than give money for a one time project. We need people who will make the commitment to sponsor a kid financially on a monthly basis to provide their food, healthcare, education, and daily needs like clothing and hygiene products. We need people and church groups who will donate a week or two of their time to come to Haiti and hold these kids, loving on them in person and sharing the Word of God. We need people who will pray for us and spread the word about the work being done here, even though it is so far from daily view.

Every day I get the opportunity to sit with these kids and dream about giving them a better future. I can’t fathom that the only thing keeping them from seeing these opportunities for themselves is the fact that the resources are not there for them. Will you partner with us to help give these kids the opportunity they will not otherwise have? Our kids have learned contentment. Will you offer these kids hope?

Ministry Update – September 2012

CLick Here to Download and print this update letter

It is really hard for me to believe I’ve already been in Haiti for a full seven months. It has gone by so fast. I am also quickly getting hit with the reality that my time here is growing shorter every day.

This month I have been preaching in multiple churches and we are continually making progress on the work projects as God gives us the ability. Today I delivered the money to buy the wood and nails to build the new rafters on the orphanage roof reconstruction. The retaining wall for the eroding church foundation is also almost complete, and plans are in the works to build an addition onto the orphanage so that my replacement on the ground full-time next year, Erin, can stay at the center and begin investing in the kids more hands-on every day than I have had the ability to do.

Another aspect of my personal ministry has been to begin planning out the next missions God has put before me. All my flights are booked to go with Heart of God Africa on the first-ever trip to South Sudan later in October. We are working on a possible trip with Heart of God India in March of next year, and I have personally been communicating with a ministry connection in the 10-40 window to plan an evangelistic outreach in April. (For security reasons, the location cannot be disclosed at this time.)

Among next month’s travels, I will also be making a quick stop in west Texas to get a new driver’s license. Mine was stolen with my phone and camera last month, and with the cops in Haiti cracking down on everything from seat belts to only allowing non-drivers to drink in the car, I must get this ASAP.

As many of you know, the missionary life carries with it a lot of responsibility to not only God and to the people on the mission field, but also to all of the churches and individuals who so graciously support the work in both prayer and finances.

Firstly, I don’t think I can tell you “thank you,” enough for your support. I can’t do this without you.

Secondly, I also want to let you know that this long-term stay in Haiti will be finishing up in February, and I will be back in the U.S. for a while to catch up with donors and do some much needed support raising.

Whether you are a current supporter or not, if you would like to schedule a visit to your church to give report and share my ministry, I would love to work that out with you. You can check for open dates on my itinerary.

No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it. ~Guy H. King

  • Pray for God to send revival; that salvation and healing will come to this nation.
  • Pray for my travel in October and November (17 flights in all).
  • Pray for Erin as she is beginning her own preparation to move to Haiti in 2013.
  • Pray for me as the move to the higher altitude is causing daily headaches and frequent allergies.

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Ministry Update – August 2012

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS UPDATE LETTER

August has definitely been a month filled with many highs and lows, but God’s goodness has and will continue to prove faithful to us. The month began in preparation for a visit from Heart of God Haiti’s Executive Director, Dave Young, and a team that included HGIM President Jan Ross, two HG Haiti advisory board members, and another young woman praying about coming to Haiti as my relief next year.

The team was fired up to see all the good things God has been doing here since the last trip, and was able to make some plans for the immediate future including formalizing a child-sponsorship program and moving forward with some much-needed building projects at the center.

After the team left, it didn’t take long for the joy to turn to fear as we became aware that Tropical Storm Isaac was set to reach hurricane status and pass right over Port-au-Prince. However, many of you took this straight to prayer and as a result the storm did not measure up to expectations, nor did not cross over the city. Unfortunately, one strong gust of wind at the end of the storm did manage to take the roof off of the orphanage.

The good thing is that none of our children or staff were injured; just a bit shaken up. They are now sleeping inside the church, having put benches together and laid mattresses on top. Meanwhile, construction has begun to put the roof back on.

Again, thank you so much for your prayers and a special “thanks” to those of you who have donated to the reconstruction projects. Though you are not with me in person, my work would not be possible without your faithful dedication to my ministry.

The Salvant family has returned to Haiti, and I have moved out of their house. Though there was a short period of crisis trying to figure out where I’d live next, I am now staying at a nice guesthouse up the mountain; closer to the orphanage.

Staying here has the benefit of much cooler temperatures (who thought I’d need a hoodie in the Caribbean?) and it gives me the opportunity to daily oversee the rebuilding projects.

If I were to be honest, Haiti has began to wear me out a little bit, but I can honestly say that God is proving Himself faithful, not only to our ministry, but to me personally. He is giving me a personal understanding of what it means that when we are weak, He is strong.

This is definitely the perfect training ground for the ministry God has called me to, and I truly am thankful for the new lessons I am learning from Him everyday

“Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the kingdom”  ~Charles Spurgeon

  • Pray for God to send revival; that salvation and healing will come to this nation.
  • Pray for Heart of God Haiti’s funding for the immediate reconstruction needs and other property development projects in the months ahead.
  • Pray for God’s direction for Heart of God Haiti as the mission continues to develop.

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