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.