Friday, November 14, 2014

Reciprocal Learning...

How much do you think this man
could teach you? You might be surprised.
I wrote last week about the concepts that our American Church teams should be teaching while they are here in Haiti.  We need to be thinking about Discipleship, not only doing physical projects.  The physical projects are a big part of what I think God wants us to be doing, but let's not allow those projects to displace the Gospel work of making disciples.

Today, I want to emphasize that it goes both ways.  Not only do Americans need to be investing in Haitians, but we want to facilitate a learning process where Americans are learning from Haitians too.  We have found that this happens naturally by simply being present with one another, but now we want to double down on our efforts to accelerate reciprocal learning.

Listen up Americans, we need help!  I believe the American Church has just as many problems as the Haitian Church, if not more, and we are ignorant of the fact that some of these problems even exist.  We need to invest in one another so we can grow up into who God wants us to be (like Christ).  We want to facilitate partnerships that change lives and reconcile souls that will undoubtedly transform churches, marriages, families, communities, institutions... no matter your zip code.

What are some of the things that I think Haitians need to teach us Americans?

Respect for One Another
Respect for God
Perseverance and Endurance
Sanctity of Worship/Scripture/God
Authority of Scripture
Supernatural vs Natural World

I have so much to learn.  So do you.  Let's learn together... in partnership.

Monday, November 03, 2014

It's Worth It: Beacon EFC Goes to Morency.

I had the great privilege of hosting a first time team from the church where I grew up, Beacon Evangelical Free Church, from Galloway, NJ. Not only was it the church where I grew up, but my Aunt and Uncle were on the team! We had 17 people respond to the Gospel wanting to follow Jesus, we built school benches, we handed out food for the hungry, we played lots of soccer, we encouraged the men/women/youth/kids in special gatherings for each, we worshiped, we received way more than we gave, we even danced! The week could not have been better.

The following comments represent a great reminder of why we do what we do... all the administration.... all the sweat and long hours... all the sacrifice, tears and hardship... all the traveling... all the prep and logistics... It's because we are having an impact...

To give you an idea of how things went, here is some feedback we received from Beacon EFC upon their arrival back home...

"Our team came back in awe of the experience that they had. God was at work! I just keep hearing story after story of how amazing and faithful our God was."

"Last night (team member) shared with the 30 women at my house for Bible Study . We had all been praying for her and the team. She shared, with tears in her eyes and holding back sobs, of the experience that she had. I knew that this was a totally-out of her comfort zone trip. Her life was changed by people who had nothing and gave so much. She witnessed to the fact that God is working on her about relationships being more important than the daily routines of life. The girls prayed for the church at Morency and for the 17 lives that were given to Jesus."

"Love you guys and believe in what you are doing for the Kingdom remembering that "time is short and Hell is hot". Keep up the good work."

"Thank you for your leadership with RMI. I see how you are delegating responsibilities and how your RMI team is taking the reins of leadership. Our team has a deeper connection with your family and a greater understanding of the ministry you are serving in. You are doing a great job!"

"Thank you to your team and the great job that they did. Our team felt safe and cared for the entire trip!"

"I have accepted the challenge to incorporate Jesus into my story of the trip."

"To see the joy that the Haitian people of the Morency Baptist Church have and to be so deeply moved by them giving up their beds and sleeping on floors for us, cooking for us, preparing songs for us, welcoming us in a parade of singing and waving of palm branches and leading us to their church with signs of "Welcome" and "We love you" while dancing and shouting greetings of "bonswa" it was so love filled that there wasn't a dry eye in our group."

RMI, Beacon EFC, and Morency building school
benches together.  We were able to provide an
additional 75 places for kids to learn.
Beacon EFC having fun with the kids.  There
was ALWAYS a ball being kicked around.
Beacon EFC out giving food to the hungry.  They
provided 5400 meals for the people of Morency.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Are We Doing the Work of the Gospel?

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching..."
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Yes.  I answer an emphatic YES!  But, I think there is more...  Please read on...

Together we focus on 5 Impact Points... Evangelism, Discipleship, Education, Social Compassion and Community Development.  The Gospel requires this.  This is why we exist.

I have had some unique experiences recently that have really caused me to deeply reflect upon the needs of the church here in Haiti.  Out of respect for the Haitian church and people, I won't share the details.  Please understand, I fully understand that there are grave and troubling problems in the US church as well.  In fact, RMI considers both lands when we consider what we hope to accomplish in our push to "transform lives in Christ".

Let me be clear, our teams come and do a lot.  As an example... together we feed the hungry, we give clean water, we share the gospel in open air meetings and yard2yard conversations, we provide schools for education, we enable kids to have hope through education, we hug each other and are simply present with one another, we provide generators so people have power, we train leaders, we build school and church benches, we pray for one another, we provide medical care, we encourage the faithful, and the list goes on and on...  and all of these are REALLY important Gospel activities and we have no desire for these to slow down.  In fact, we want to do more.  But, today I want to encourage RMI and our partners to increase our efforts in the area of discipleship.

What do I mean by discipleship?  Biblical teaching on what it means to follow Christ more and more in every aspect of our lives.

I recently sat in my office talking to one of our national RMI leaders, sharing my experiences mentioned above and asking them to give me insight.  Their response was "Director, it's a problem of discipleship.  They simply don't know any different.  No one has told them what the Bible says about that."

Go and MAKE DISCIPLES, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded.  America is an educated society with LOTS to share.  We are blessed, so let's not be stingy.

Why not set aside some time while you are here with your team to bring together the church people, maybe specifically the various leaders of the church, and do some teaching.   This can be a special gathering, and/or you can do this in our normal gatherings... youth, kids, men, women, deacons, etc.  Consider the following...

What is Biblical Holiness?
As fellow members of the Church, what is our responsibility to one another?
What does the Bible say about stewardship?
What does the Bible say about jealousy?
What does the Bible say about marriage?
What does the Bible say about purity?
How can we use our bodies to honor the Lord?
What does the Bible say about pre-marital and extra-marital sex?
What does it mean to be "Christlike"?
What is truth and why is it important?
What is grace?
What is Love?
What is the role of men in the church and family?
What does the Bible say about the exploitation of women?
What does it mean to "not conform the the pattern of this world"?
What are the Fruits of the Spirit?

Remember, don't teach what the American culture says.  Teach what the Bible says.  If you would find it helpful, our field team would love to talk with you about your content ahead of time to help you contextualize with Haitian culture.

Why not encourage the AWANA discipleship program more in your Haitian church?  Ask us how.

BTW, some other day, I will share what I think the Haitian church can uniquely teach the American Church.  American Church, we have problems too!