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.