meet geftay and john, or, why people give

i think i miscalculated something. please hear me on this: what i’m about to explain is not an attempt to guilt anyone or manipulate. i thought about how i should write about this, and realized that my blog isn’t about spin, and that i should just say what’s on my mind. so here it is, my miscalculation…

i thought it would be super easy to raise $35,000 for AIM’s church to church program. i think (and thought) it’s such a unique and revolutionary approach to long-term help for haiti. and i think (and thought) people would be quickly “in” on helping finance that kind of thing, particularly when the funds we were trying to generate are for the express purpose of providing the salaries of a few haitian church leaders.

but, man, i miscalculated. so far, our efforts have brought in a total of about $750 (plus a $3500 offering taken at my own church a week ago), even though we’ve had tens of thousands of blog readers and radio listeners hear about it. some of our team think people in the US have “haiti fatigue”. that may be true; but i’ve been very pleased with the response to the church partnership program in terms of interested churches (this was the very successful part of our trip there this past week). and i can already tell that the partnership my own church has formed will be transformational for both churches. so i’m not completely convinced it’s a “haiti fatigue” issue.

what i’m wondering is: did we talk about it in the wrong way?

i was (finally) reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide on the plane ride home sunday (i bought the book on kindle back when it came out, but my wife short-cut me on it, and it fell out of my ‘to read’ cycle). the authors mentioned, at one point, research that shows what people are more likely to give to: the research showed that people will give to a real person who’s story moves them much more than they will give to a program, even if the program is very promising in terms of impacting the lives of hundreds or thousands. and it struck me: we’d talked about the concept of church to church, and how it will bring sustainable change in haiti; but we’d failed to tell the stories of the few church leaders we’re hiring in haiti to run it.

so, let me introduce you to geftay and john, two of the three (the other is samuel, but i didn’t get to know him as well). geftay and john were two of our translators on our first trip to haiti in february. but now, on this return trip, they are basically the haitian hands-and-feet (and heart!) of this program. they’re amazing young leaders, with big hearts and ready smiles. they love the church and their country, and they’re 100% committed to standing in the middle of god’s kingdom flow, god’s restoration work in haiti. every day, geftay and john are working long hours, meeting with haitian church leaders, discerning needs and hearts. they’re the guys who are able to give us the insight on which pastors have a heart for their communities (rather than a heart for building their own kingdoms). they’re leading discipleship groups of haitian pastors. they’re providing leadership for work sites (for groups coming down to help). they have shown absolute integrity, and have proven that they’re not in this for their own gain.

at one point on the trip, i had a chance to chat casually with john. he told me why he’s had to postpone his wedding: he can’t get married until he has a place to move with his future wife. but the house he was in the midst of building was destroyed in the earthquake. so he’s starting all over again (though he doesn’t currently have any money to do so). geftay is an architect, who is putting his training into the service of god through his work in the church to church program. both guys lost the jobs they had due to the earthquake (as pretty much everyone in haiti also did — this is one of the most significant problems there today, resulting in a complete lack of resources for basis life needs, like food). but they’re not involved in the church to church program merely because they need employment — this is missional stuff for them. i get the sense that they would do it whether they were being paid or not.

here’s my sense of geftay and john: both of these guys will be key leaders in the haitian church over the next decade (or more). both of them are clear-minded leaders, but with humble hearts. they’re value-driven, passionate and articulate, but they listen more than they talk (a leadership trait i often lack). they understand suffering at a deeper level than i ever will, and bring that compassionate leadership to every interaction (whether with a haitian or an american).

it wasn’t until we were halfway through our week there that i realized that geftay and john (and samuel) are the three haitian church leaders we were trying to fund with this giving project. for me, the whole thing moved from a great concept to a wonderful personal story.

so, again — no manipulation or guilt from me; i’m not interested in using those tools. and, i think this is probably the last time i’ll ask here on my blog. but, if you’d like to support geftay, john and samuel, in their desire to connect haitian churches with non-haitian churches, for long-term restoration in haiti, here’s the link. geftay, john and samuel are paid $10/day. they work 6 or 7 days a week, every week. if you give $10, you can cover a day; or $30 will cover all three of them for a day. give $60, and you’ll cover one for a week; $180 covers all three for a week. or, go big: about $300 covers one for a month; or $900, all three of them for a month.

5 thoughts on “meet geftay and john, or, why people give”

  1. Let me just echo what Marko’s saying (Marko, I’m the guy you chatted with in the rain at Marassa last Friday)…

    I spent last week working with AIM at Ktadb–a tent city that hadn’t received any international aid before we arrived. I also had the opportunity to meet Geftay, John, along with other phenomenal interpreters like Watson, Ramses, Fay Fay, David, King David, Blaize, Morny, Dorly, Pierre, and others. These guys worked alongside us all week, prayed with the Haitian people we ministered to, sweated alongside us as we tarped homes, helped distribute food, sang praise songs, played with kids, and shared meals with us.

    They have amazing faith that remains unshaken despite the earthquake throwing their lives into turmoil. A couple of them have kids on the way–and no home to welcome them to (just a tarp or a tent, if they’re lucky). Half of them didn’t have water bottles during the week of working in 90+ heat (we made sure that situation was fixed before we left). Most have relatives who need clothes, food, shelter — life’s basic necessities.

    Yet not once–not even one single time–throughout the whole week did any of these men complain or ask for anything. In order to find out about their needs, our group had to pry… we had to dig to find out what they could use for their families in order to bless them with it.

    That’s sacrifice right there. These guys work tirelessly so that other people might be blessed. They take on these ministry positions because they want to see Haiti reach the world, not because they need a paycheck. They love God because, sometimes, He’s really all they have. And that’s a faith I wish I had…

    After a week in Haiti, I came to love every single one of these guys. They love God, they love others, and Haiti will be rebuilt on their shoulders.

    I thought I’d encapsulated it on Facebook when I uploaded a picture of us praying for the interpreters before we parted at the end of the week. I said, “Haiti needs more men like these.”

    My friend Emily, who I met on the trip, corrected me. “The WORLD needs more men like these.”

    She’s right.

  2. Marko,

    Going back to our days at LAC, I have found that people will give if they can connect to a story. God is a God of story, We read stories in the Bible and are moved by how God has worked in the past, so that we have hope for how he is going to work in the future.

    Stories are different that philosophy of Western Culture. In Western culture we are taught to seek an answer to ‘Why”. Thus, WhyisMarko. But, In God we find the ultimate answer to the question, Who!!! Who is God cannot be solved by Philosophy. People want to know Who is God because it all about relationship. So, despite all the tragedy of Haiti, Who is God! The people Who worship God in Christ represent Christ in their actions, deeds, words and Love.

    So, Why Marko, aren’t you telling the story of “Who God is in Haiti and in your response?” People want to be moved by this Awe-some God, Who we worship.

    The story of the Good Samaritan starts with the question, Who is my neighbor? Being a Good Samaritan and responding to a tragedy is not a Why question!!!!

    Keep up the good work Marko.

    Blessings,
    Ken Gates

  3. I think people have economy fatigue. I know of myself and many others who have worked harder than ever to raise less money than before. I was pleased to see the church (mine too!) initially respond to the need in Haiti. People are broke and don’t have jobs. And if they have a job, they don’t make what they used to and have depleted their savings. It is tough.

  4. Hey Marko!

    Don’t be too discouraged or think you have talked about it in the wrong way! You have done a GREAT job communicating about the trip which has been wonderful seeing the photos and hearing what is happening via your trip. .

    One possible reason could be people like myself who are readers of your blog may be giving to Haiti but already doing it through other organizations via the local church they are part of. Our church gave several thousand dollars as a church immediately after the earthquake to World Vision. Then as a family we made an additional financial gifts through World Vision. And tied into supporting children via Compassion International ongoing each month. Our church just wrapped up a several week all-church shoe rally for Haiti via “Soles for Souls” where people donated both new and used shoes and we had a couple of barrels of them sent.

    So it might be that there are people who are giving and care about Haiti, but have focused their giving primarily via what their local church’s global missions team partner with. Just like your home church has given the greatest financial gift so far, as you and the senior pastor both were on the trip too and had that as something you rallied your church towards (I assume). So people will generally give to the specific projects and teams the local church selects from the dozens of great options out there to help with relief. Many of these were selected before your trip and committed to back then.

    Anyway, I just don’t want you to be discouraged that people aren’t interested in Haiti or not giving to Haiti – or not appreciate what you have done there! You have done a GREAT job sharing with us what is happening and reading the stories has been incredible. It is very thrilling seeing what various trips and ministries have been taking helping Haiti seriously. Thank you!!!! I hope this maybe gives one possible reason for what you are asking about here.

  5. I am sad to hear that your fundraising efforts have not gone well…but I also find myself feeling a little defensive. I know so many people who are already giving to Haiti monthly, or still trying to raise money for them in creative ways (just last weekend my neighbor organized a huge garage sale with all the money going to pay for building houses in Haiti.)

    I think the issue at play here is really just one of timing. It’s not that people are failing to be generous. Your group has a truly great idea for how to help….but it’s realllly late in the game. I mean this in the kindest way. I know Haiti still has a long way to go, and it feels just like the beginning, but dont you think that most people who are inclined to give are already hooked up with one of the 2700 organizations that alread had a presence in Haiti? Our church found a partnership just a few weeks after the quake and it just seems very unlikely that we would take away funds from a longstanding group, to give to a new group. Does that make sense? I think the idea is wonderful, and the heart is wonderful…but it might have been better 4 months ago before everyone was already signed up elsewhere.

    I wish you much luck and creativity in finding funding!

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