The hope for Haiti’s future lies in the churches ability to recognize and empower leaders as they emerge.
On my first trip to Haiti I got to see this first hand. As we built relationships with key church leaders we began to gain access to some of their best and brightest leaders.
I met John on my first day in Port-au-Prince. When we divided into teams to go to a massive public worship service, Lars and I were assigned to John. [Pictured right]
John was working as a translator since the earthquake destroyed and indefinitely closed his seminary. He had translated for another ministry in his early 20s, but since there weren’t many other options for him to work– it was logical to go back to it for him until his seminary opened.
For the next 3 days John and I were constant companions. Each time we went out to do ministry it just became a given that he and I would work together. What I like about him is his easy-going attitude and heart for ministry. He took his job very seriously. It wasn’t just work, it was ministry for him.
One day, as we were walking from one tent city to another, I asked John about his life as a seminar student. “What is your greatest difficulty?” He kind of looked at me and thought about it. Finally he said, “Doing my homework in an internet cafe is very hard. I find it hard to concentrate on my Greek or a passage with so much else going on.” He wasn’t asking for me to help him buy a computer, but it was clear that a computer would make all the difference in his studies.
I left Haiti and committed to praying for John’s ministry. And in the months to come John emerged as one of the key translators and connecting points for AIM.
Flash forward to May. Mark Oestreicher and some other church leaders headed back to Haiti to launch the Church to Church program. During the trip, Marko had the opportunity to get to know John as well. And as we exchanged texts one morning I asked Marko if John had anything I could bring him when I came in July. His request? A laptop.
Good. Because that is what I had in mind as well.
But the truth was… I didn’t really have an extra $400 I could spend to buy it. Kristen and I put out so much cash for our trip already, it just wasn’t responsible.
So I put out this Twitter request:
To my surprise and astonishment… yes, people did want to help! Within a few days I had raised the $400 needed to buy a very nice netbook for John. On top of that coolness, when I went to Best Buy to pick it up, I explained what I was doing to the associate who helped me… and he kicked in a protective sleeve as his contribution.
In the grand scheme of our trip to Haiti I had hoped to see John again and give him this gift. It wasn’t to be. The ministry site I was at was nearly 40 minutes from the place he was at. And without a car it just wasn’t possible to make that moment happen. I was, however, able to give it to his boss who could give it to him. Not quite as “fun” for me… but the gift will have the same effect anyway.
It might not seem like a big deal. One computer for one leader. But, to me, it is a big deal. An emerging church leader should have the equipment he needs. And the thought of studying for a Greek exam in a crowded and hot internet cafe, or writing a message, or just trying to do some research… it was an inequity I wanted to do something about!
Some big thanks! Several people donated money to help equip John’s ministry. In fact, donations covered this 100%! I owe a massive thanks to Todd Tolson, who rallied his friends from Journey church and his business, Wired Community. I put out the call and within hours they had met 75% of what I needed to raise. I was shocked!