Tag Archives: Missions

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.

Advertisements

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.

———————————————————-

July Mid-Month Ministry Update

Already the month of July has been a crazy one. I just wanted to throw in a quick update to say that stuff is moving along quickly right now.

God has blessed us with the ability to buy a car for the work here. It isn’t new, but after spending some time with mechanics getting a full tune-up, our 1991 Land Cruiser is ready to serve. I have already driven it to the center in Kenscoff twice, which is saving the money we had been spending to rent vehicles to carry food supplies, and is giving me much more safety getting around Port-au-Prince than using the motorcycle taxis.

Our “New” Car

The one immediate need with the vehicle is new tires. The current ones have very little tread left and the roads in Haiti are very bad. This is especially true of the last stretch of road to our center. After looking a few different places, it seems we are looking at about $200 each for new tires. If you would like to help with this need you can click the ‘Donate’ tab above; be sure to specify “Tires” in the comment box or on the memo line of your check. Thank you.

Also this week, we were blessed to be joined by a volunteer team from Life Paths Global Alliance based in Ontario, Canada, who came to do a medical clinic with our children on Monday. Unfortunately on the way up the mountain we were met with an overheating engine, and then a major storm that blew in knocking down trees and power lines. The decision had to be made to return to Port-au-Prince and not risk the drive up to the center.

The ride back down the mountain in the back of the truck with freezing rain was not fun. This was then followed by a motorcycle ride home for me and my translator, Junior, during which we found the rain waters all over again, as you can see in the video:

The team is trying to work their schedule to be able to come do the medical clinic on Friday, but if they are unable, the doctor in charge of the project had promised to come with some of his own staff next week.

The plan is that this working relationship will lead to regular check-ups with our kids, and will give us a doctor in the city who already has medical records on our children that we can bring them to in case of sickness or emergency.

Please keep me in your prayers as my t0-do list is growing quickly while the number of hours in a day are not. With a new means of transportation, I hope to be able to report some successfully completed projects in the near future, so stay tuned.

Ministry Update – June 2012

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS UpdatE LETTER

The other day at church a young man from L.A., here on a short term mission team, asked me what I have learned or if I had any advice for him. What I told him was not profound, but I believe it is the same advice necessary for all Christians, whether in Haiti or anywhere else in the world, if we are going to be obedient to the Great Commission.

I told him, “it’s been 2000 years since Christianity began, and we still haven’t reached the whole world with the Gospel. You can’t expect to reach all of Haiti in one week. Instead, as God gives you the opportunity, focus on reaching the one.”

This advice, while taking a lot of the grandeur or mystique out of missionary life, is usually the only option we have. In Haiti, especially being my first time here and still learning life in the culture, my evangelism and discipleship is most often closely tied to navigating daily life. What this looks like is having morning devotions with my translator, Junior, who is a Christian, but not firmly grounded in solid doctrine; or in things like conversations with my motorcycle-taxi driving friend, Daniel, discussing what saving faith truly is. While Daniel is committed to raising his daughter in church, there is little evidence that he understands this kind of faith, and as such takes his daughter to any and every “Christian” church in the area.

The reality is that even among Christians in Haiti, the religious atmosphere is often a mixed superstition that ranges from church attendance to voodoo ceremonies to “the power of positive thinking.” This is why it is vital with both our words and our lifestyle to declare the Gospel of Christ and invite people into the freedom of God’s Kingdom. This requires relationship and it is done little by little, one person at a time.

I am now taking a step further into Haitian living as I have taken on temporary home-ownership. My friends from New Hope Haiti Mission have returned to the U.S. for the next 6 weeks and I am now house and animal sitting while they are gone. This is a major blessing financially, but is only a temporary solution.

Once they return, I think the next step may be renting some form of long-term housing that will last me through the end of the year, also allowing for more privacy and space than public guesthouses.

New Hope will also be allowing me to utilize their staff’s help in getting a vehicle bought and registered. If things work out as planned, I hope to have this done in the next week or two.

If you would like to give a gift toward the car or housing needs, or for food and projects at the orphanage you can do so by clicking the ‘donate’ button at the top.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” –Jesus; Matthew 6:10

  • Pray for God to send revival; that salvation and healing will come to this Haiti.
  • Pray for Junior and Daniel in their faith life, and that God will continue to bring me into relationship with others “with ears to hear” the truth of the Gospel.
  • Pray for God’s direction for Heart of God-Haiti as our mission here continues.

———————————————————-

This video is from a recent trip to the orphanage with a mission team from a Haitian association of pastors called CONASPEH. The children received a stash of food, some small toys, and a bunch of smiles.

This is Daniel having his first Dr Pepper:

This is Junior doing some translation work on orphanage dossiers:

Here are some of the kids at the orphanage covered in stickers from the CONASPEH group:

Ministry Update – May 2012

—————————————————————————————————————————

You can also subscribe to the Heart of God Haiti newsletter here.

—————————————————————————————————————————

As I write this letter, I am reminded of the writings of King Solomon: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to break down, and a time to build up” -Ecclesiastes. 3:1-3

As I hope you have already read the attached update letter from Executive Director, David Young, you know that the ministries of Heart of God Haiti are in a season of change. While losing old friends is very painful for us all, knowing that God has a better plan is where we find rest.

For my personal work now, I am very excited as God clarifies His direction for our work here, helping rebuild the nation of Haiti.

The Bible teaches us that as God’s servants, our role is to live out the reality of God’s Kingdom here on earth so that others may see, glorify God, and enter into that Kingdom themselves (Matt. 5:16). It is compared to yeast hidden inside a lump of dough that slowly leavens the whole thing even when we don’t see how it happens (Matt 13:33). The message for us is that no matter how the seasons change for us, God’s Kingdom will still go forward and we must be faithful as He leads us on.

Please be encouraged with me as we start down this new path with Pastor Justin and as our work expands across the border into the Dominican Republic.  This truly is “a time to build up.”

 

After a visit from HGIM President, Jan Ross, and Haiti Director, Dave Young, it became clear that my mission in Haiti would extend past our original expectation of late summer.

As the time came to renew my visa, I returned to the U.S. for a 10 day trip home, and began collecting the needed materials to pursue a residency permit, allowing me to extend my stay annually.

While it was a nice time at home, I am now glad to be back in Haiti and back to work.

We are now working on an orphan donor program to sponsor the children and have  begun to plan some various work trips for later this year. If you or your church is interested in this information as it becomes available, please let me know.

“One can believe intellectually in the efficacy of prayer and never actually do any praying.” —Catherine Marshall

  • Pray for God to send revival; that salvation and healing will come to this nation.
  • Pray for the new ministry opportunities presenting themselves to HG Haiti and that  we will be faithful to the work God calls us to.
  • Pray for my family back home as they trust God’s protection for their son/grandson.

 

Ministry Update – April 2012

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS UPDATE LETTER

Two months in and my mission to Haiti is completely different than what I expected. Yet, God has sovereignly used this assignment to lead me into a deeper awareness of the needs in this country while preparing me for what lies ahead.

One thing I’ve learned these past weeks has been the meaning of the word “flexibility.”  I had a plan to come here to achieve certain goals, yet God had another plan, and I’m learning to be okay with that.  While there is much work to be done, the direction God led me has been different yet a powerful experience on the mission field.

Next month, HG-Haiti Director, Dave Young and HGIM President, Jan Ross, will be making a short trip down here to handle some administrative matters and together we will be looking at more ways Heart of God Haiti can continue to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom across this land.

In preparation, I have spent the last few weeks doing a survey of Port-au-Prince ministries, meeting with missionaries, nationals and other NGO’s who are working here. I will be introducing some of them to Jan and Dave and it will be at that time that we decide what my responsibilities will look like in the near future

It’s never easy to put yourself in the hands of God and trust Him totally for direction. Yet, I can tell you that resting in the sovereignty of Christ during this mission will prove to be a blessing for those here as well as those of you who have been praying for me and my work here.

Last month I asked for prayer in learning the Creole language. As an update, I can now say that I am having small conversations beyond, “Hello. How are you?” I still have a long way to go, though. It takes daily effort to review what I already learned and continue in study.

Despite difficulty, my efforts in study have not gone unnoticed by the Haitians I have met. They are very encouraging to me in practicing, and make it a point to offer new vocabulary words in every conversation.

I have been told that “to learn Creole is to become a Haitian.” Now, although becoming a Haitian is not my goal, learning the language is definitely endearing me to the locals. And it is giving me the opportunity to meet and talk to more of them every day.

“Prayer is where the action is.” – John Wesley

  • Pray for God to send revival; that salvation and healing will come to this Haiti.
  • Please continue to pray for the staff and children at Victory Center Orphanage as God continues to give direction concerning their well-being.
  • Pray for God’s direction for Heart of God-Haiti as our mission here continues.

Ministry Update – March 2012

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS UPDATE LETTER

On March 1st I landed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and as cliché as it may sound, I really can’t believe it’s already been a month.

As an always-busy American, one of the hardest things for me to adjust to any time I enter a third-world setting is the lack of ability to get anything done quickly. This is just as true of Haiti as it has been anywhere I’ve been. But despite all of my workaholic frustrations, I still believe that things  are getting done exactly as they should in God’s sovereign timing.

The HGIM-Haiti orphanage is still going through the government’s bureaucratic process for certification, and because it is a lot of inspections, meetings and paperwork, there has not been a lot I have been able to do yet as far as assisting and equipping the staff in daily administrative work. Unfortunately, even the church planting work has been put on hold until the government certification work can be resolved.

In the mean time, my month has been filled with making various connections with other Christian ministries and NGO’s working here, many of which have come through the guesthouse where I am staying. I have also had the opportunity to share my faith with many people I have met around the area, both Haitian and American. I am also hoping to begin finding some preaching opportunities as I continue to meet other missionaries and pastors here.

The biggest challenge I’m facing is the Creole language. Most places I have been to before have had a fairly large English speaking population. In Haiti, though, the problem is that even many people who can speak English will not do so as a matter of pride. This means a large part of my free time is being spent in language study, and it certainly isn’t as easy of a language to learn as everyone keeps tells me it is.

Also, I have been working on video editing and article writing for a forthcoming discipleship website being developed by HGIM. This site will be a great “equipping” tool for us and our ministry partners as we continue to expand our evangelistic efforts, and hopefully for yours as well. Be watching for the site’s release later this year.

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.” Sidlow Baxter

  • Pray for God to send revival; that salvation and healing will come to this nation.
  • Continue to pray for the orphanage certification process, a speedy completion, and for our staff to stand faithfully against frustration and fear of man.
  • Pray for my ability and dedication to learning the language.