(I was excited and thankful that Pastor Dale gave me the opportunity to share about my enlightening trip to Haiti with our wonderful congregation at New Life Church.)
Thank you to so many of you who were praying for our trip and especially to Luke who kept the kids alive while I was gone. 😉 The first question PD asked was
1) What did you learn about God from going to Haiti?
I saw God’s beauty and creativity. There was lush green foliage and gorgeous blooms everywhere and many views rivaled the beauty we experience here in Santa Barbara.
There was so much color and vibrancy in Haitian art and decor, just reminding us that because we are made in the image of God, we are made to create beautiful things too.
And I also saw that God can redeem anything.
Like Haitian clay – in the past it has been used to make “cookies” by poor mamas to keep their kids’ stomachs’ from growling. But our artisan partners use the clay to make colorful beads for necklaces and bracelets that allows them to feed their children and send them to school.
I met orphans and widows and former prisoners who are now singing praise songs in artisan workshops because through this provision of work, they know God loves them and that he and his people have not forgotten them. (I loved this recycled steel art piece on a rooftop garden box at one of our artisan workshops. It says, “God is Crazy Good.”)
2) How did this trip impact how you feel about what you are doing with Trades of Hope, (the missional company that I work with)?
This trip confirmed and got me even more excited about the effectiveness of Trades of Hope’s unique model of “business as mission.” (IF you want to know more: http://www.businessasmission.org) So many of you are familiar with the saying, “Feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time.” But we would add: Give a man (or woman) the opportunity to establish a fishing business and you will eventually empower communities and generations.” This mindset is a dignified, long term and exponential approach to God’s command to care for the poor, more so than just sending government aid, writing a check or going on a short term mission trip. I went on a vision trip to SEE, listen and learn how the jobs Trades of Hope is creating in Haiti is actually breaking the cycle of poverty, while awakening hope and purpose again.
And now my mission, my work, happens when I get home. My job with Trades of Hope is to GO and share the redeeming stories of these artisan partners and their families, to show off their quality Fair Trade products, and to connect with people who want to host gatherings, events and opportunities for me to present these powerful stories and ideas to new audiences. And I’ve been to so many places and groups that don’t know God, but are drawn to our humanitarian mission and end up witnessing the hands and heart of Jesus at work. It’s pretty cool.
And I also get to share the unique opportunity that anyone can become a Compassionate Entrepreneur like me, so they can provide for their own families while empowering families around the world. The more women who join this business and do what I do, the more artisans we can partner with globally. Such a win-win! I am so grateful that God led me to Trades of Hope.
(Final question) 3) What do you see God doing in Haiti that you did not know or see before you went on this trip?
I think I expected to feel really heavy about witnessing the poverty there, and I did see and feel some of that, but overall I felt overwhelmed by the hope, resilience, and potential for Haiti’s future.
I believe God wants us to see Haiti and other underdeveloped countries as more than just “poor.” Both of the artisan groups that we work with there are beyond ready for us to highlight their accomplishments, celebrate their triumph, and welcome them to a respected seat at the world’s economic table. They aren’t interested in pity purchases because they create high quality goods. The “least of these” are in equal standing with us in God’s eyes and they deserve our respect as fellow Image Bearers. May each of us use our wealth, privilege and opportunity to not just help, but empower them.
And God is raising up Haitian leaders through this business who are the future of this amazing country, because they are taking these Christ-centered values and vision and sharing it with their families and communities.
Like Jerry and Guerdy, who met and married while working in one of our artisan groups and have both risen into leadership positions there. Jerry started studying English just a year ago and was able to communicate with us how men have come to work organically at this originally all-female group. He talked about how important it is for the men to have community and that they can grow faster when they work with the ladies. But most importantly he said, “When a woman speaks, it is a GOOD idea!” J #Amen
I will end with a common but inspiring Haitian greeting that we learned. When we first walked into the brightly painted compound of our 300+ artisan group, it hummed like a beehive. The sound of work is beautiful. Our gregarious tour guide taught us to ask each room full of artisans “Sak pase’?” which means “How are you doing?” And each time they resoundedly responded “N’ap Boule’!’” which literally means “On Fire!” I LOVE THAT!
I think Americans could stand to learn something from the Haitian spirit of resilience, persistence, and gratitude to God despite hardships. It was a privilege to get to know these wonderful souls. May each of us GO to where God calls, whether it’s across the globe or right next door. Thank you!
WHAT NEW THING DID YOU LEARN ABOUT HAITI?