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haiti

Go to Haiti with Me in 2017

I’ve been going to Haiti a few times per year since 2010. With each trip my convictions are re-enforced:

  • The Holy Spirit is on the move in Haiti. When you go with a heart to serve, you are filled more than you can give. The church is exploding in growth as communities see the church in action.
  • A century of dependencies is being undone by building strategic partnerships that elevate the role of local church leadership.

I’ll cut right to the chase.

Next summer I’m headed back to the south western part of Haiti, the Les Cayes area, to expand on some of the ministry partnerships I’ve been part of the past several years.

As you may or may not know… that part of Southern Haiti was most effected by Hurricane Matthew and more recently horrible flooding. The small village I worked in 2 summers ago was completely devastated. Literally, anything not built out of concrete block was destroyed and even a lot of the stuff built from concrete was severely damaged. (A very small percentage of homes are built using concrete, so most of the homes were completely demolished)

So, as you might imagine I’m anxious to get back there, to continue what’s already been started but also help however I can.

This trip next summer will be working with families directly impacted by these natural disasters on behalf of the local church, simultaneously serving the needs of the community and building up the local church.

And I’d love to have you join me! My July 22-28 trip is currently half full. I’m looking for a total of 40 more people. My trip is operated by our long-time missions partner, Praying Pelican Missions. Your team will have it’s own trip, but each evening all of the various teams will come together to share stories, worship, and celebrate what God’s doing through our groups.

The cost is $695/per person not including air fare. That’ll cover food, transportation, housing, and ministry stuff.

If you want to learn more or register your group here’s the link.

If you’ve got questions about the trip that you want to talk to me about, drop me a line!

Categories
haiti

Let’s Lift Up Haitian Leaders

Megan and I just returned from a two-week trip to Haiti Tuesday night. In February, 2010 I left a country brought to it’s knees by a devastating earthquake with a simple promise: I’ll keep coming back until it’s clear I’m no longer needed. 

Since then I’ve seen the needs of Haitian churches adapt. Immediately after the quake the churches task focused on disaster relief– meeting the physical needs of the community, literally providing food and shelter to the displaced, caring for and protecting the orphaned and the widowed. As those needs were met the local church found opportunities to minister to the spiritual needs of the community, serving those who mourned the loss of family and those struggling with the lingering question: Why did I survive but not ____?

And now, with the earthquake in the rearview mirror and churches full as a culture embraced a church that truly works as Good News in the Neighborhood, the Haitian church is experiencing a new challenge.

Actually, it’s an old challenge.

Will Haitian church leadership stand on their own? Or will new dependencies on outside help re-emerge?

The reason we do short-term missions through Praying Pelican Missions the way we do– where we quite literally serve under the authority of local church leadership– isn’t because we can’t do everything. It’s because we want to strengthen the local church. We want to do short-term mission trips in a way that builds up… not builds dependencies.

The 2010 earthquake destroyed more than buildings, it also shook loose old habits, finally putting to rest something we refer to as the “White Savior Complex” where outsiders come and do stuff.

That’s where you and I come in

This is the heart of PPM missionaries Almando and Cassie Jean-Louis. They want to continually build into their staff and partner pastors– encouraging and empowering them– so that the work of PPM is never seen as outsiders bringing help we couldn’t do ourselves and is instead legitimate partnership.

Today I’m asking that you consider joining me in helping to raise about $9000. These monies will be used to gather, invest in, encourage, and build up two different groups of critical leaders– the staff that leads trips in Haiti and their partner pastor couples.

The staff retreat is about $3000. This will get the staff together one last time at the end of the summer to celebrate all that God has done through them over the summer, ending the season full of encouragement and leadership development.

The pastor retreat is about $6000. This will help gather all of the Haitian church partnership pastors, and their wives, for a couple of days. There they will cast vision for the continued development of the partnership, share best practices, pray together, and build up unity among them. When I talked to the pastor’s about this gathering the #1 thing they looked forward to about it was the unity… no where else in their lives are they able to reach across denominational lines and pray for one another, get to know one another. It’s truly a special and unique gathering.

Here’s How to Give

Both of these retreats are coming up quickly. I’d love it if you could help me make these happen with a gift in any amount.

Here’s the link to donate

Make sure to add a note to indicate that the funds are for the PPM Haiti Staff Retreat. If you want more information about the cost of these events or just want more information about them, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me through my blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Categories
haiti

Investing in Long-Term Relationships

At the chewy center of Praying Pelican Missions is the local church pastor.

Organizationally, they have a heartfelt desire to put the pastor’s vision for the church first and the needs of the visiting missionaries under that. So, whenever possible, short-term mission team stay with the pastor in his church or even at his house.

But who are these pastors? What are they like?

Over the past six years that I’ve been coming to Haiti I’ve had the glorious opportunity to meet with and hear from dozens of pastors.

Before you can understand the pastors you need to understand a little bit about the role of the church in Haitian culture.

Unlike in the United States, the government does not provide a safety net for the poor.

Some people, myself included, would like to see American churches more involved in the social welfare of our communities. But the reality is that programs like WIC and welfare make sure people don’t starve. All children under 18 years old have access to free public education. And in most states the poor have access to Medicaid, housing assistance, and other things which look people who need help.

In Haiti, this work largely falls to the local church. It’s not something they “should” do. It’s an expectation that the local church helps the poor in very practical ways. I’ve met pastors and church leaders who offer feeding programs, operate schools, run medical clinics, build and maintain sanitation systems, and last week a team spent time working on a local library. One of my favorite pastors, Pastor Jean Obed Delcy, I lovingly refer to as “the mayor” of his town.

So, when you meet with local pastors in Haiti, you automatically need to know they are heavily invested in both the ministry of their church as well as meeting the practical needs of their community.

Haitian pastors are mostly male, almost always fun-loving and full of smiles, warm and quick to welcome you with a hug, universally tired from long days, no-nonsense and ready to get down to business, well-trained– seminary is just the beginning of their training, and infinitely patient. Oh, I almost forgot, most of them are paid very little or unpaid altogether. So they do all of this for their church but often times have another business or job!

So who are these pastors? They are passionate men of God who work serve in harsh conditions all of their lives. What are they like? They are an inspiration. You can’t help but admire these men.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with two pastors about their lives in ministry– specifically life in ministry with their spouses.

Meet Pastor Docteur and His Wife Jacqueline

A: Have you always lived in Hinche? Were you born here?

Pastor: We are mostly from the north part of the country. I was born in a small town. We now live in the central part but I’m from the north part. So my wife was from the same area. We went to primary school together. We used to go to the same church, a missionary church. So we grew up together. We used to share spiritual activities because we went to the same church, prayer groups, choirs, and things like this.

A: Tell me about your church. How did you get started in Hinche?

Pastor: This church was started in a small room, close to this building, (pointing to the building next door of a small radio station) and it was in 1983 that we started here. I got to study for your years at the Bible college but they gave us money for supplies. So when I got back in December 1986.

We started with the church in 1983, working with children. Now after a year the room was pretty full. So we bought the house down the road from the church and after some years the house downtown became pretty full. Then in 2001, we started wit this building of the current church. The Lord has blessed us very much.

A: What are some challenges that you face in Hinche? What are some difficulties?

Pastor: Some challenges. You know Haiti is a poor country? As pastor in this country. You know how it is. You don’t have to take care of just your family. You have to provide food for people in the community. You have to provide opportunities for the children to go to school. Like when school is ready to start, you will have a lot of people coming to the pastor and asking for money to pay for school fees. How can you help me? And I can’t even provide food for them… how can I provide for their education? Maybe in the United States it it is different. In Haiti, the pastor doesn’t have to only take care of the church spiritually, but also physically. You don’t have enough for your own family, but you also have to take care of everyone else. It’s a big challenge.

And some of the people they don’t even have a house. So this is a challenge. The church sometimes needs to provide a room for them to live. Actually, the church is trying to build a place for some of them to live. Even when some of them die you need to take care of them. It’s a lot of challenges.

A: How do the challenges of ministry impact your marriage?

Pastor: Sometime we are discouraged with the attitude of some of the christians from the church. You are trying to help them but they don’t understand what you are trying to do.

A: Did Madame Docteur see herself in ministry as a little girl? Did she always see this life for herself or was that something she did because of you?

[laughs are shared]

Pastor: Her father was a pastor. She used to work with her father, so she had some training before they got married, during her early age, for ministry because her father was the pastor.

A: How did you know you wanted to marry her?

Pastor: [he giggles, HUGE smiles] It’s a big and a good question. I know I was going to marry her. The first thing I did, I prayed to God, chose for me a girl who can be my wife. I think I received revelation from God to chose her. (Celine Dion’s “To Love You More” in the background… IT’S TOO GOOD!) Because I was a Christian and she was a Christian. Everything we would like to do, we knew we would go to God first.

To Jacqueline from Annie: How do you view your role in this ministry?

I always knew I would marry a pastor, that God would put a pastor on my path. I give myself to the ministry.

From my childhood, I had this heart for ministry.

A: Specifically, does she work with women and moms?

Pastor: She works wit the women, children, and she is involved with the men. She has a women and men’s singing group.

A: Do you have a place that you go to rest and recuperate in the ministry? Maybe home to visit family or just something you do in your marriage?

Pastor: That’s not happened often. Sometimes when we cannot do it when we would like to. More often what happens is that we go with friends and we can go to some place and spend some time out of the ministry, out of the house, and we can get rest.

A: It takes someone else to tell you to do it?

Pastor: Yes.

Meet Pastor Valcourt and his wife

A: I’m curious how long you have been married?

Pastor: December 23rd I am celebrating 20 years. Since then we have two girls and one boy.

A: How did you meet your wife?

Pastor: [laughing] I met with my wife at that time. She was one of my neighbors friends, he knew both of us. He invited me to go and visit a church and she was there.

She used to come visit her friend, who is my neighbor. When I went to visit her church I saw that she was very active, she had a lot of responsibilities, I saw that she had a lot of activities in the church. At that time I was also one of the leaders here in this church (Cote Plage) even though I was not yet a pastor. I saw in her someone that I can love and work together in that way.

Through my neighbor we became friends. So when I told her that I loved her, she was surprised, she didn’t have that in mind.

And then after that we realized that– I realized and she realized that God had made us as the perfect ones for each other.

A: Did you both grow up in church families?

Pastor: Yes. Her dad was the pastor. In my family, only my mother was a Christian but my dad was not. So when I got married, my mom was not a Christian, but then she became a Christian.

A: So, Madame Valcourt knew what she was getting into because she knew what the life of a pastor’s wife was?

Yes, she knew that. She always testified that her mom used to welcome all the missionaries who would come. So she was ready for that. Because the way we do ministry together, it’s like she was used to that in her family. You know, welcoming the missionaries and all that. I can confirm all that.

A: What are her gifts?

Pastor: She composes music, she leads worship, she can preach, she is a teacher for the children at the church, she used to teach kindergarten, she is a mom, she knows how cooks well, she studied culinary in school, as well she has her own school at Mariani where she teaches the youth how to cook. And she knows how to sew. She makes all the uniforms at the school. And she works in the social area and she also works in the special.

A: Madame Valcourt is an amazing woman!

Pastor: What are things you remember about the last pastor’s conference?

So the thing was… it was about unity! It was a vision for unity. We had all the denominations, even the Catholic priest, and we sat together and met together. We didn’t talk about our doctrines because that was not the goal of the conference. So we sat together, to feel the unity, and PPM always shows that unity works– just like when teams move like 200 cinder blocks together– that’s a symbol for how we can all work together on the same vision. So we took that moment to share our visions for our churches together. And now we have contacts with all of the pastors so we can stay connected with one another.

I had the honor to stand in that conference as the first beneficiary of PPM. I remember when they came in August 2010. For me, from that partnership, all the other churches can learn about how they can benefit from a relationship with PPM.

A: Why would it be a benefit to have the pastor’s wives attend the conference?

Pastor: After each conference, the past conferences we’ve had, I always share with my wife everything that happens, the theme and all of that. It would be a big benefit if my wife could ask questions. I don’t know if my wife will be in the same meetings as I am, but if she is at the conference she is going to benefit a lot and that would help me in my ministry.

In the same way I hang out with the other pastors, sharing my experiences, my wife would be able to do the same.

A: How often are you able to get away with your wife alone?

Pastor: [A long pause… HUGE smile. Really the smile tells it all.] Because of all of our responsibilities we don’t do that often. This is something that we are working on and trying to do that more often. But, you know, when we have some days off we try to take some time off. We try to make time at night to take time and talk. And with the kids, too. There is time we do that with other people, too. So what we do every day is that we always pray for the ministry together.

As I’m a musician and I can compose music, too. So when she has to compose music for the ladies sometimes we work together. So that’s a way we spend time together, working together to serve the church.

Expanding the Pastors Conference

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with Cassie Jean-Louis about my upcoming trip. She’s been praying about their upcoming Pastors Conference, where she and Almando gather together all of the PPM partner pastors for a couple days to pray and share vision for all that God is doing.

Cassie’s heart is to expand the purpose of this Pastors Conference to include their wives. In previous year, it’s been good, but they’ve squeezed 3 guys into hotel rooms… literally strangers sharing a bed. To do this, she is hoping to raise about $6000.

The Smile Says it All

As we were interviewing pastors and their wives, during each interview I made sure to ask when was the last time they’d been alone together. And, universally, they’d stare at each other and smile… you know… they smiled in that way a husband and wife smile at one another.

I’ve got a lot of friends in ministry. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re in ministry. And you know just how important it is to get away from the ringing phone and the people coming to the office and all of that. That’s why this Pastors Conference is so important. Yes, of course, it’s about getting PPM partner pastors away to share vision and strategy for the ministry to come. But it’s also about Almando and Cassie ministering to these pastor couples who are integral to the success of the ministry in Haiti.

Please consider helping me make the chewy center of PPM missions in Haiti, the pastors, just a little bit more sweet.

How to Give

You can donate at this link.

Make sure to add a note to indicate that the funds are for the PPM Haiti Staff Retreat. If you want more information about the cost of these events or just want more information about them, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me through my blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Categories
haiti

Genuine Partnerships Flow Through Local Leadership

Genuine partnerships. Long-term relationships. Sustainable ministry. 

Those are the three pillars of Praying Pelican Missions. Those aren’t marketing slogans. As I’ve seen over and over again those pillars are the secret sauce of what sets PPM apart from everyone else doing short-term missions. Hearing those values pour out of the mouth’s of staff and then seeing those lived out on the field each time I’m here… this is why, I believe, they’re the best at short-term missions. It’s so simple and difficult at the same time.

They don’t have values on a wall. They live them out every day.

Wrapping Up a Special Summer

I was here at about the same time last year. My trip last summer was great. But something is noticeably different in 2016.

At this point in the summer most of the trip leaders are in their final days. They’ve been welcoming teams and shepherding them through trips week-after-week since early June. Some of them are able to get away for a few days while others run from start to finish with little more than a day off to do their laundry, handle some paperwork, and get ready to welcome the next team.

It’d be totally understanding if they were a bit cranky. Since we’re friends I’d expect them to share daydreams with me about getting back to their daily lives. That’d be perfectly natural, right? Instead, every staffer seems to be dreading the end of the summer season.

Sure, they’d like to catch up on sleep. Sure, they’ve each got a few wounds to heal. But everyone I’ve hung out with over the past few days is sad to see this summer end. It’s been special. When Annie, Mel, and Anuel picked Megan and I up on Wednesday morning they were sleepy, it was 7 o’clock in the morning, but they were downright cheerful about our 4 hour drive up to Hinche. Later that night, when I first saw a veteran leader and full-time PPM staffer from Ohio named Lonnie, he first told me how dead tired he was after a week of ministry. Then, with his body melting steadily into his bunk, he proceeded to talk my ear off for an hour sharing stories of all that he’s seen God do on trips all summer.

He was ready to go home. But he was still holding onto the summer.

Local Leadership

This summer about 70% of the staff are Haitians. These highly skilled, highly trained, and highly motivated local leaders serve teams at every level. In some cases, the only American PPM staff serving on trips come along as assistant trip leaders, helping make sure everything translates across language and cultural barriers and posting a daily trip journal. Why? Because the national leaders have learned how to do everything. Haiti Operations Generalist Annie Schoessler shared with me, “I’ve almost worked myself out of a job and I love it.

One of the things I love about working alongside PPM is how fair they are as an organization to their staff. If you’re excellent at your job you can earn more responsibilities and opportunities regardless of nationality.

I want to introduce you to a couple of these amazing leaders who I had the chance to interview recently.

Meet Nadege

I first met Nadege in 2015. One quality that sticks out to me about her is how sensitive she is to the Holy Spirit as she works in ministry. For example, I was with her last summer as she lead a group of Americans around a community in south Haiti doing tree ministry. Tree ministry is a modification of door-to-door evangelism where teams go around the community meeting with neighbors on behalf of the church, offering to plant a tree in their yard, [deforestation is a major problem throughout Haiti] and asking community members if they’d like prayer.

As you can imagine, tree ministry puts a lot of pressure on the Haitian staff because they are trying to keep track of their group PLUS trying to translate conversations and prayers PLUS trying to make sure that the experience is a positive one for both the trip participants and community members alike. Our group did a lot of walking, lot of talking, and a lot of tree planting. While our energy faded in the withering heat hers increased. While we felt awkward meeting new people her disarming smile and straight-forward way opened up hearts and removed suspicion. She was tender and pastoral and inspiring.

You might think someone like that grew up in church or was a pastor’s kid. That’s not the case with Nadege. While she went to church off and on growing up she didn’t really get serious about her faith until her teenage years. When I asked her about her church life now her face lit up, she loves her church and goes year-round with some fellow PPM staff, in many ways they are her adoptive family.

Like lots of people her age she’s enjoying ministry while also pursuing her career. During the summer and during breaks she works with PPM, but otherwise she is studying to be a nurse.

Nadege is super positive so I had a hard time pulling out of her something that she finds hard or frustrating about her work leading trips. Finally, after some prodding, she shared how managing teams expectations is hard. Teams sometimes use language about bringing God to Haiti and it can be hard for them to wrap their minds around the fact that God is automatically active everywhere, all the time. Teams learn that they aren’t coming to bring God to Haiti but to encounter God outside of their own culture. When I asked her what she hopes teenagers will take home from their experience here, she paused for a long time to make sure she said it just right: “I hope teams go home with a vision to do what we’ve done here back home.”

Amen.

That’s my hope, too.

Over and over I’ve seen people come with a heart to give, postured to pour themselves out– but they go home filled up in a new way, having been ministered to as they serve. When they try to pour themselves out their cup is filled, overflowing. Like Nadege said, my hope is that they take that experience… that new thing they learned about serving God… and do it back home. In a week you can make an impact. But in a lifetime you can make a difference.

Meet James

James grew up as a church kid. Except for a time in his teenage years when he wanted to learn what like would be like outside of the church, James has always gone to church with his mother, brothers and sisters– being involved in all sorts of aspects of his church.

Today, after living for a while with his brothers on their own, one of his older brothers got married so he had to move back home with his mom. When he’s not working for PPM he’s working on his carpentry skills, there’s tons of building going on throughout Haiti and a skilled carpenter stays very busy.

A couple of years ago his brother Rudy, another PPM staff member, asked him to get involved leading trips. It took a little convincing but after his first summer he really fell in love with it. “The best part of working with PPM I get to use all of my gifts. For example, I play guitar, I love to talk, I have some leadership skills, I speak English, I try to make people comfortable by being funny. By being in a place where you can use all of these gifts is great.”

I asked him, “If you weren’t leading trip with PPM, what would you be doing?” With big smile he said, “Um, leading trips. I love it.”

Jokes. James is full of jokes.

When I asked him to describe more about what he likes in leading trips he said, “It’s getting to know new people, making new friends, and also seeing old friends come back– I love those reunions. I enjoy the challenge of getting to know people, each team is different, and them leaving at the end week wanting to come back and request me to lead their next trip. I also love working with the children in the communities.”

Why do kids come out of the woodwork here?

“It’s part of our culture. They enjoy people coming and meeting people. They want to try everything. They want to grab your phone and try the filters on Snapchat. They just want to have fun.”

That’s been my experience, too. Haitians love languages and learning about different cultures. There’s an inviting innocence to that which makes it fun and easy for everyone.

Is there something that drives you crazy about Americans?

“To be honest, the biggest thing is assuming things. I don’t find that a lot but I do find it sometimes. People get so caught up in what they think about our country that they aren’t even really here. If you are here to experience something, you need to be fully here, you can’t be thinking about home. You need to be open to experiencing the full potential of the trip. Another other thing that is hard is when teams think they are going to bring God down here. I don’t like when people think that they are bringing God here. Think about it… “Where isn’t God?” It’s OK to come here with some expectations. But the problem is when you are trying to live into your own expectations instead of what’s really happening. People are sometimes looking for moments that they expected, like “Haiti is a dirty country.” They are looking for that and sometimes that’s not true, so it becomes a distraction as they look for it. They get to the point where they so believe in their expectations that all they are looking for is to validate what they already thought. And that’s hard.

What are you hoping they take home?

“First of all– God. To know that He’s everywhere, that they need to rely on Him. Second of all, you should never judge a book by it’s cover. You have to read it first. I want them to come down here to find God, or maybe find him in a different way, and know that He is everywhere. I also want them to go home knowing that we are all the same. We are real people, we have feelings, the differences that we have are just cultural. God has placed us where we need to be because He knew where you needed to be. He loves us the same.

Investing and Celebrating Local Leaders

These are two example of PPM’s Haitian leaders. There’s an incredible team being built here with much to be celebrated.

But it’s not without it’s challenges. For example, at the beginning of the summer Praying Pelican Missions gathers it’s top leadership in the United States to build into the staff, to cast vision, and to share encouragement across all of the countries they work in. But because of the costs and visa situation it’s not been possible to get all of the Haitian staff who would normally be invited to those meetings.

But, like ministry often teaches us, when something comes up as a difficulty you end up seeing it as a opportunity. Full-time missionaries Almando and Cassie Jean-Louis are hoping to gather the Haitian staff this fall, to celebrate all God has done and continue building into their team as they look forward to fall 2016 trips and the 2017 season.

Their hope is to create a gathering of Haitian staff (and their spouses, kids) at a resort for 2 days for encouragement and celebration.

That’s where you and I come in. To do that we need to raise about $3000. (enough for 30 people) I hope you can join me in investing in the continued development of these leaders by pitching in to help make this retreat happen. Whether you and your team have been personally impacted by this team or whether you’re just learning about the ministry of PPM in Haiti for the first time, together we can help this hard-working team finish off their summer right.

Here’s the link to donate

Make sure to add a note to indicate that the funds are for the PPM Haiti Staff Retreat. If you want more information about the cost of these events or just want more information about them, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me through my blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Categories
haiti

In Haiti… For a While

IMG_8887Hi. My name is Adam McLane and I’m addicted to going to Haiti.

How many times have you been to Haiti?” That’s a question I hear quite frequently when I meet people on trips. “A lot” is my new response. I suppose I could go back and count, but it’s easier to just say that I’ve been here a lot.

This trip has two distinct parts and one special bonus.

The bonus is that Megan, my 15 year old daughter, is with me. This is her first mission trip and second time out of the country. That she’d even be willing to spend 14 days with me is enough… it’s so fun for me that she gets to meet a lot of my friends in Haiti and experience a whole bunch of new stuff. It makes a dad’s heart happy to share what he loves with his kids. I’ve been looking forward to it and so far she’s doing great.

IMG_8853The first part of the trip, from Wednesday until Monday, is being spent visiting with our missions partners in Haiti. We’ve been going around and visiting church leaders and Haitian staff, collecting stories that I’ll share here on the blog next week.

The second part of the trip, next Monday until we leave on August 9, Megan and I will be joining the high school team from our church. There we’ll work with our sister church in Carrefour, investing in the church’s ministry to youth.

From Then to Here

IMG_8875As I’ve shared on previous trips… things have shifted in Haiti. We are well past emergency relief after the 2010 earthquakes. At this point so much of the work being done is building up the local church, who often act as the social net for the poorest of the poor in each community. So far this week I’ve already had the opportunity to visit with social entrepreneurial non-profits, Papillon Enterprises and Haiti Made. These types of NGO’s are exciting and new– even two years ago they weren’t thriving like they are now. These are exciting to visit, doing very well, and are totally gorgeous (and tasty!) pit stops for visitors.

You can follow along to the more minute details of my trip on Twitter and Instagram.