Tag Archives: church to church

relevant magazine article on my church’s partnership with a haitian church

i was totally stoked to see that relevant magazine published an article about adventures in missions’ church-to-church partnership program, which connects american churches with haitian churches. the article uses my own church as the primary illustration. it’s been so cool to see my church lean into the vision for this thing. we’ve had two teams travel to our partner church already, and three more trips are planned between now and january (construction teams, medical teams, and care-giving teams, all serving under the vision and leadership of the partner church pastor).

here’s a taste of the article:

Pastor Edouard Clerhomme and Pastor Ed Noble likely never would have met if an earthquake hadn’t filled Haiti’s streets with rubble. But now the relationship between them and the churches they lead is growing into something that has life beyond the tragedy.

In late May, Noble, the pastor of Journey Community Church in La Mesa, Calif., traveled to Haiti with a group of ministry bloggers to help kick off the Church-to-Church Program through which interdenominational missions organization Adventures in Missions (AIM) is facilitating direct partnerships between churches in Haiti and churches in America.

As they met Haitian pastors already in AIM’s network of trustworthy pastors and churches, Noble and Mark Oestreicher, a speaker, author and consultant from his congregation, were hoping to find the church that Journey Church could partner with.

By the last day of the visit, they still hadn’t met a pastor who felt like the right fit. Yet they had a sense about Clerhomme and were hopeful as they headed to their meeting with him. “Our meeting was stunning,” Oestreicher says. “It was one of those rare moments where God’s presence was obvious.”

click here for the rest of the article.

click here for more info on aim’s church-to-church program.

click here to see my church’s “journey in haiti” blog.

youth leaders and church leaders: interested in exploring a trip to haiti?

i’m so glad i took adam mclane to haiti this past february. i’m glad because i really enjoy him as a friend, and it was great to spend that week with him. but it’s much more than that — adam was clearly moved on our trip, and followed up by taking a 2nd trip this summer, with a random crew of peeps he recruited via social media (as only adam would do).

but now’s he’s at it again. adam wants to take 10 – 15 youth leaders and church leaders on a trip to port-au-prince, december 26 – january 1. he’s specifically hoping to include people on the trip who are either considering taking a group (but want to check it out first), or are considering a church partnership.

here’s adam with a few details:

i couldn’t encourage you to go more strongly. my church has a church partnership that has already been so wonderful for both churches (in fact, my church has a team in haiti at this moment!).

if you’re interested, contact adam: facebook, flickr, website contact page, twitter, or walk into the freakin’ ys office and let him show you the bullet hole in his window.

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.

the face i now associate with partnering (haiti, day 4)

yesterday morning, we started the day by delivering a few dozen cots to a church that has a small tent city on their grounds. in many ways, it was about as bad as a tent city gets — tight, muddy pathways, people smashed together. but in another way, hope was present there in a way i didn’t see it in marassa 9 (the end-of-the-line tent city we’d been to the day before). and this was due to the ministry of the church they were gathered around. there was a large open-air school right in the middle; and when we were there, there was a band — with real brass and woodwind instruments — practicing. it was amazing to see these teenagers who live in utter squalor, playing real instruments together in this school.

but the afternoon was one of the highlights of our trip. i’ve brought along the teaching pastor from my church — ed noble — with the hope that we would enter into a church partnership with a haitian church. ed had met several pastors during our time here; but many of them didn’t quite feel like the right fit. for whatever reason, even though we were both open (even desiring), we’d gotten to our last full day without a partnership that seemed like the right choice. ed and i touched base yesterday morning, and we both had a sense about pastor edouard (we’ve joked that it was because they have the same name). he was clearly a godly dude, with wisdom, and a heart for his community. so we asked if the AIM staff could have him come over to the AIM house where we’re staying.

our meeting was stunning. it was one of those rare moments where god’s presence was obvious. i teared up several times, just from the feeling of the meeting.

pastor edouard is in his upper 50s. he’s been around the block, and has the wisdom that comes with that turf. he directly leads a church in carrefour, just SW of downtown port-au-prince. but he also oversees 10 other churches spread around haiti. he has a rich, holistic passion for the people of his community (for example: he paid for and ran a free medical clinic in the community for years; unfortunately, while he’s continued to pay the rent on the space, he hasn’t been able to have it open for three years, because he can’t afford to pay a doctor or buy medications).

ed (noble, that is) talked passionately about us wanting to serve pastor edouard’s vision, not the other way around. in order for this partnership between our churches to be beneficial to both churches, we have to follow their lead, and we need to learn from them. edouard was gracious, and sometimes very quiet (particularly when he was emotionally moved); but he’s also very passionate, and (thankfully) stood his ground about what would really be helpful and what wouldn’t be (one of the cautions we’ve had to sort through here is that the church leaders are so thankful for any help, they’ll quickly agree to any suggestions we have).

i’m hoping (and expecting) this will develop into a long partnership between our two churches. we outlined four specific projects/ideas where we might start engaging (i’ll not list those all here, as i want ed noble to be able to process them with our church first). these will certainly include regular communication for prayer (us praying for them; them praying for us), supplies and funds for specific projects we’re agreeing on, and groups of people from our church going to haiti to help. there’s even talk of pastor edouard visiting our church at some point, which would be wonderful.

we had a rich time of prayer together at the end of the meeting. edouard’s prayer for us and the people of journey community church had my heart in my throat. and, possibly my single favorite moment of this entire trip came when ed ran upstairs and grabbed a polo shirt with our church’s name on it and gave it to pastor edouard. his face completely lit up, and he jumped up and down a bit, raising his hand in the air. it felt like that was the moment when, for pastor edouard, this partnership became real.

if you would like to have your church explore a partnership like this, check out AIM’s church to church program. click the same link if you’d consider supporting our effort to raise funds for 3 haitian leaders to oversee this program and all the work involved in communication, discipleship, and accountability.

haiti, day 1

we landed in port-au-prince, haiti, just before lunch yesterday (wednesday). it’s interesting to be here again, and both engage on my own terms, and also see everything anew through the eyes of the team i’ve assembled for this trip. we drove around quite a bit, and i’ve been encouraged by what i see on the surface: some (certainly not all!) of the rubble is being cleared, we saw simple construction projects taking place (like walls being built), and there was quite a bit of commerce taking place (in the process of people selling things on the streets in greater numbers than they were in late february). it was also great to see tarps covering some of the bedsheet tents in the almost-without-number tent cities.

but beneath the surface of progress, the story is pretty bleak.

speaking with people (particularly the group of pastors we met with last night), it sounds like much of the initial aid (in terms of food and water) has stopped. the pastor i met with said that the primary need of the people in his community is food, that people are starving and have no idea where food for the next day is going to come from. there’s still no infrastructure here (other than the church), and people are fairly desperate.

at dinner, AIM paired us up with a small group of pastors they’d invited to join us. i had a wonderful dinner and conversation with pastor wilnord pierre, a 30-something pastor who planted his church about 5 years ago, and has a congregation of about 60 people. he also runs a school out of his church (with about 100 students). he’d spent a dozen years working as an interpreter (for the u.s. army, and then for the u.n.), and his english was great. it was so cool to be able to talk, just the two of us, without passing every comment through an interpreter.

wilnord is a man of great faith, and certainly not a complainer. he wasn’t looking for a handout, but is seriously hoping for a church who will partner with him and his church. i’m hoping and praying that in the weeks to come, i can find that church partner for him. i’ll blog more about this another time; but let me know if your church might be interested.

it was also great to reconnect with geftay and john, two of the wonderful interpreters who worked with us on our february trip. such amazing guys, with a heart for god and their country. they are working tirelessly to help bring restoration to haiti.

no rain for us on the first day (it’s rainy season now, and we were told to expect quite a bit of rain every day). but we’ll see what today holds. thanks for praying for our team.


if you would like to help us, there are a few things you can do:
– follow the team on our facebook page or twitter feeds. all our media stuff (posts, pics, etcs) will be aggregated there.
– pray for us.
give. we’re trying to raise $35,000 to hire a few haitian church leaders to run the church to church program from the haitian side.

today, i’m off to haiti

this morning, i fly to miami, where i’ll overnight and meet up with the rest of our team. and tomorrow morning, early, we fly to port-au-prince, haiti. our team is going to do work on and launch the adventures in missions church to church program, pairing american churches with haitian churches. my trip to haiti in february was life-changing, and i expect this one will be also. i so completely resonated with teammate david hayward‘s post yesterday, listing 10 pre-departure thoughts about the trip. most of them are true for me also, in slightly modified form:

1. I am going to miss my family. I realize I’m only gone for a couple of weeks. But we are very close. Lisa and I are very much in love. It will be a difficult time to be separated.
2. I am nervous. I always go into these trips a little anxious. I never know what’s going to happen. I’m not afraid of flying or anything like that. It’s just that I have this sense that I have more work to do and don’t want to say goodbye to it yet.
3. I will be heartbroken. I’m going to come across some devastation and grief. I’m going to witness the ramifications of injustice, poverty and trauma. I am going to meet orphans. That alone will kill me.
4. I am going to get angry. I just finished a book everyone should read, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges. It brutally describes the senselessness of violence, injustice and war, and how choosing love is the only antidote to choosing death.
5. I will fall in love. I’m going to meet some wonderful and humble people. I’m a sucker for those who struggle and don’t or can’t hide it. I will fall in love with people remarkably free of much of our baggage.
6. I will see the depravity of my own life. This usually happens to people who come from more affluent societies. My complaints will fade in comparison to theirs, and my self-centeredness will become painfully obvious to me.
7. I will meet some amazing people. The underlying unity of the human race will impress itself upon me, and I will be driven deeper into my love for the world-wide community.
8. I will be changed. I feel like I’m going into surgery. It is not elective, but urgent. I have this gut-wrenching sense that something remarkable is going to happen to me that will transform me forever.
9. I will receive more than I give. Isn’t this always the case? I don’t feel at all like I am coming with something to offer. Hopefully the team and I will be able to raise some money for the impoverished Haitian churches. But I am expecting to receive much more than I give.
10. I will start the next chapter of my life. I have this sense that I am going through a door. Hopefully not to the afterlife. I still feel like I have some work to do. But we never know our time. I do have a strong inkling that the next chapter of my life will be opened to me while I am there.

if you would like to help us, there are a few things you can do:
– follow the team on our facebook page or twitter feeds. all our media stuff (posts, pics, etcs) will be aggregated there.
– pray for us.
give. we’re trying to raise $35,000 to hire a few haitian church leaders to run the church to church program from the haitian side.

the best way to rebuild haiti

in a few days, i’ll be heading back to haiti with a wonderful team of church leaders, as part of launching a brilliant strategy for rebuilding haiti. adventures in missions (AIM) has created the isaiah 58 project (a.k.a. “church to church”), which partners american churches in a one-on-one relationship with a haitian church. this strategy grew out of discussions and observations on our february trip, where it became clear to us that the haitian church is about the only existing indigenous infrastructure left in haiti at this time. and, with an amazing revival taking place in haiti, this is a wonderful time for the haitian church to provide leadership, community development, restoration, and various forms of assistance. but they could use help, of course. the church to church program provides a supportive, reciprocal relationship between churches and church leaders.

but i need to ask my wonderful blog community to give. i don’t do this very often. but this is a winner; and i want you to be a part of it with me.

we’re trying to raise $35,000 in the next couple weeks. every penny of that will go to haiti (not to central office administrative costs, or anything like that). the funds will primarily be used to pay the salaries of a few proven haitian church leaders who will be coming on staff with AIM to run the haitian side of the church to church program. they will provide the administration, accountability, communication and insight/oversight needed for a program like this. and, really, it’s pretty amazing to think that $35,000 could provide 3 decent salaries for 1 – 3 years!

here’s the link to give.

give whatever you can. know that the impact will be great in the long-term restoration work so desperately needed in haiti; and anything you give will have a massive multiplying effect, as those funds will provide a means of developing church partnerships that will bring all kinds of assistance, support, encouragement and long-term rebuilding.

here’s the official press release…

Ministry Bloggers Go on Scouting Trip to Haiti
Contact: Jeff Goins, Adventures In Missions, 800-881-2461, [email protected]

GAINESVILLE, Ga., May 20 — A small team of leading church bloggers and radio voices from America and New Zealand will travel to Haiti May 26-30 to build relationships with Haitian pastors and launch Adventures In Missions’ (AIM) Church-to-Church Program.

The program, part of a larger relief effort called the Isaiah 58 Project, focuses on long-term investment in Haiti by facilitating partnerships between churches in developed countries and a network of Haitian churches. Pastors of these churches believe that the January 12 earthquake catalyzed a nationwide spiritual revival in Haiti. According to Adventures In Missions, partnership with local church leadership is a key element in the long-term strategy for rebuilding the country.

AIM has established a base in Port-au-Prince, from which a team of Haitian and American staff and volunteers are serving communities through church partnerships.

“Once we move past the immediate phase of delivering food and water and helping with medical needs, the long and hard work of rebuilding begins. For that, this direct church-to-church approach has so much promise,” said speaker, author and consultant Mark Oestreicher. Oestreicher accompanied an AIM-organized team of youth ministry bloggers to Haiti in February 2010 in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and is a key organizer of this new team.

“When we were in Haiti on our first trip, it was clear to us that the only infrastructure in the entire country, other than non-Haitian NGOs and non-Haitian governmental groups, is the Haitian church. In order to be involved in community development and rebuilding that doesn’t build dependency and isn’t colonial in nature, we’re working through the Haitian church to reach and help their communities,” Oestreicher said.

Though Haiti has experienced extreme poverty and weathered other natural disasters, the rest of the world has taken little notice until now. “The world thinks it is coming to bless Haiti,” said AIM founder and executive director Seth Barnes, who will lead the team traveling to Haiti in May.

“Our staff in Haiti expects to see gifted leaders rise from the church in Haiti. We sense that God is equipping them to model lives abandoned to obedience in the way all Christians are called to live but often struggle to do.”

Over 20 U.S. churches have already made plans for partnership with Haitian churches. Initially, AIM is seeking 200 congregations to partner in Haiti. Journey Community Church in La Mesa, Calif., is in progress toward such a partnership. Teaching pastor Ed Noble will travel with the team to Haiti in late May. The team will focus on meeting and listening to Haitian pastors, learning the vision for their communities and considering how partnering churches can support the work they are doing.

“I love meeting other pastors,” said Noble. “I’ve often been humbled by meeting colleagues who sacrifice so much more than I’ve had to. I also feel like the Haitian pastors have something for me, an experience of God born in suffering that I hope to receive.”

Oestreicher noted, “The partnership will be significant for people from both sides: Haitians will receive encouragement, prayer and tangible help, while people from U.S. churches will be challenged in their faith by involvement with wonderfully hope-filled Haitian believers.”

AIM has received over $150,000 in donations for Haiti relief and partnership efforts. The May team is seeking to raise an additional $35,000 to fund salaries for the front-line Haitian leaders who are guiding the Church-to-Church Program.

Visit facebook.com/churchtochurch to follow the team’s stories from Haiti and adventures.org/churchtochurch for more on the Church-to-Church Program.

About Adventures In Missions
Adventures In Missions (AIM) is an interdenominational missions organization that focuses on discipleship. They emphasize prayer and relationships in their work amongst the poor. Since being established in 1989, AIM has taken over 80,000 people into the mission field. AIM believes that by giving people the opportunity to hold orphans, bring hope to the hopeless, and pray for the sick, lives are transformed. Find out more at http://adventures.org.

headed back to haiti

when i walked out of the port-au-prince tent villages of marassa 14 & 17 on a friday in late february, i told the village leaders i’d be back. i think this statement was probably more a reflection of me avoiding the emotions of saying goodbye. but i did feel a burden for these people. and i have a deep sense of anticipation about seeing them again.

same goes for many of the pastors and church leaders we met on that first trip.

next tuesday (may 25, the day after my birthday), i fly to miami, where i’ll overnight before heading to port-au-prince on wednesday the 26th. this time around, i’m taking a team of church leaders, church bloggers, and radio voices. we’re going to connect with pastors and work out more details in the adventures in missions church partnership program (called the “isaiah 58 project”), which will pair up haitian churches with american churches (or, really, churches from anywhere in the world) for prayer, encouragement, community development and rebuilding, and – possibly – trips to bring helping hands. i’ll blog more about this church partnership program separately.

it’s a wonderfully eclectic group going, and i’m pretty stoked to spend a handful of days with them:

david hayward, more commonly known by his nakedpastor blog moniker. david’s blog is one of the top 100 church blogs, and he’s a guy who blogs with a level of honesty that is rare. a self-described “artist trapped in a pastor’s body”, david brings an artist’s perspective to everything he does. he has recently stepped down from his church in canada, where he served for a very long time. it will be cool to be with david in this time of life transition.

doug pagitt. doug is the pastor of solomon’s porch, in minneapolis. author of a bunch of books, and a pot-stirrer in the american church. doug also hosts a sunday morning ‘religious talk show‘ on a local minneapolis talk radio station, and podcasts those shows to a wider audience. doug and i have been friends for many years, but haven’t spent much time together in the past few; so it will be wonderful to hang. and, as always, doug will cause all of us to think in different ways.

ed noble is the teaching pastor of my church. i’ve known ed longer than i’ve known anyone else on the team — he hired me as his junior high pastor (he was the high school guy) at a church in omaha in 1989. ed is coming along to consider a church partnership for our church, with a haitian church.

tash mcgill is coming all the way from new zealand (with a few days of stop-over here in san diego on the way)! tash is a youth ministry blogger, entrepreneur, programmer, and radio show host. tash lived with my family for 4 months last year, when she was doing some work for youth specialties, and she’s always a joy to have around. she’ll be broadcasting stuff about the trip back to listeners in new zealand.

seth barnes is the founder and exec director of adventures in missions. we’ve been friends since about 1990, when i first connected with AIM for a junior high missions trip. seth was on my february trip to haiti also, and it will be interesting for the two of us to see how things have changed (or not) in the last 3 months).

– bruce dawson is on staff with AIM, and will be giving leadership to the new church partnership program. i’m looking forward to getting to know bruce, and dream together about how to get american churches engaged in this amazing approach to rebuilding haiti.

– there’s one more guy coming (paul young), but i really don’t know anything about him (AIM is bringing him).

– oh, and me!

in the days before i leave, i expect to blog at least a couple more times about the trip. we’ll be launching a giving project connected to this trip also, with a focus on raising funds for the salaries of a few haitian leaders who will run the haitian side of the church partnership program. more on that in the next day or two. and, we’ll all be blogging from haiti, as we did in february.

in the mean time, a handful of actions you can take:

– join the team facebook group. if you’re on facebook, go to this link and “like” it. that will bring updates from the team, as well as aggregated blog posts about the trip, to your facebook news feed. if you’re not on facebook, you can still bookmark that page and peek in as often as you’d like.

– if you’re a twitterhead, we’ve also set up a twitter feed for the group. someone here in the states will be watching all our blogs and tweets and retweeting them on this page.

– start to pray for us. pray that god will give us wonderful meetings with haitian pastors that will confirm some aspects of the church partnership program, and cause us to drop or modify other aspects. we want to create long-term, sustainable, non-dependent, restorative relationships with church, built on trust and a belief that both churches have something to offer to the other. what we learn on this trip will be key to launching this program.

– think and pray about giving to support the salaries of the haitian staff who will oversee the church partnership program (and watch for my blog post about that).