Why Go to Haiti?
By Amanda Fletcher, Director for Communications
“We want you to go to Haiti so that you can come back and communicate the ministry that is happening there to the people at Hershey Free Church.” My first thoughts upon hearing this were, “I am too busy, too tired, life is too complicated. I have already been to a third-world country, and I have ‘put in my time,’ so to speak.” I tried to get out of it.
I also felt inadequate and unqualified to do the task I was being asked to do. My background is not in communications, and as a child and young adult I struggled greatly with any and all social contexts. I was comfortable here in Hershey, but there was no way I could go to another country where my sole purpose was to talk to people.
Armed with my bad attitude and my list of excuses, I boarded a plane for Haiti. I can’t say I was surprised by what I saw, and I didn’t fall in love with the country of Haiti; but I fell more in love with Jesus. I was reminded of the scope of the kingdom of God. My current experiences and feelings can often crowd out the voice of God and distract me from seeing the bigger picture.
I met 18- to 20-year-olds who were in charge of checking on the physical, spiritual, and educational growth of 50 kids every month. Their prayer requests were that God would protect them from abusing the authority they have, that they would continue to see these children as image-bearers of God, and that they would be safe as they entered gang territory to ensure that the kids were getting to school.
I met a nurse who came to Haiti after she could have retired. She came for one purpose but saw God pointing her in another direction. She is now educating families in nutrition by providing one egg each day. By treating the rampant malnutrition of the children, she is bringing hope to the whole family and relating their physical health to their spiritual health.
I met students, professors, and leaders at STEP Seminary. I heard their heart for discipleship. I talked to professors who had changed the way education is done in Haiti. These professors began to invite students into their homes, and these students learned more about what it means to live like Jesus by watching their professors’ lives than they would have learned from 100 days in a classroom. According to one student, discipleship used to be theoretical, but now it is seen in action.
I realized that despite the huge differences between the United States and Haiti, we are not all that different. We have kids in need of a mentor or a friend. We have broken families without hope. We have churches without authenticity or growth.
So why go to Haiti? Haiti is a short flight away. Haiti is an extreme cross-cultural experience. The people of Haiti have significant needs that we can address, and they need to hear the message of the gospel. But going to Haiti can also strengthen your own faith. Our lives can get so comfortable that we forget what it means to radically trust God, step out in faith, and be in awe of what he will do. When you come home, listen to the voice of God. What is he asking you to change? What sacrifices can you make here that will have an impact in the kingdom of God? As we help Haiti, Haiti helps us. Our journey with Jesus will look different, but it’s also a journey we take together.