Tag Archives: youth ministry advance team

haiti: now what?

i’ve been home from haiti for more than a week. but i’ve had a hard time figuring out how to re-engage blogging. it’s almost like i used so many words that week, and so much of what little emotional bandwidth i have, that i haven’t had reserves left for whatever this — post trip life — is supposed to be. i made it through a speaking event, but restlessly. and i’ve been plunking away at the little details of life: driving the kids to school, answering emails, making phone calls. but i can’t seem to find my way into some of the more creative or time-focused projects i have to work on; and maybe that’s because i’m afraid of what i’ll find when i go there.

tonite (friday) and sunday morning, i’ve been asked to do a 15 – 20 minute interview about haiti as part of the sermon at my church. the sermon happens to be about living with both longing and desire while still holding onto hope. and — wow — what i saw and experienced and soaked in during that short time in haiti is such a strong example of that.

but i’m choking up just typing this, and those faces keep coming back to me.

where’s johnny sleeping tonite? how about pastor chevalier? have the march rains started to impact the marassa tent cities yet? will their little stick-and-sheet tents be swept away? will these people with nothing be left with even less than nothing?


do they still have that hope i saw? what about the joy?

and, really, HOW is it that suffering leads to hope and joy? and why do i ever think my life will be full of hope and joy if i run from, boundary and buffer myself from, and medicate away from suffering?

so… what now?

well, i’m working on setting up another trip. more on that later.

in the mean time, i want to suggest ways you can do something. a few of my friends from the trip have written about this also (including rhett smith, adam mclane, and lars rood). here are some thoughts:

1. pray. yeah, we say this, right? but, seriously, there’s something unique in our lifetime happening in haiti right now. pray for healing and restoration. pray for the leadership of the haitian church. pray that the hope people are experiencing in the midst of their pain and suffering will continue to be anchored in jesus christ. pray that help will come, long after the american media has stopped reporting on the earthquake.

2. give. it was amazing to see the outpouring of financial help during the first couple weeks after the quake. but the need is so great. give to organizations you trust.

3. go. to the naysayers who were saying, a few weeks ago, that people should stay away from haiti unless they have a skill that is specifically needed (medical help, etc), i say, “you are completely full of crap and have no freaking idea what you’re talking about.” hands are needed, and backs, and ears, and hearts. and they’re needed by the thousands. of course, i’m not encouraging anyone to go without a plan. but, find a group that is thinking responsibly about how to help, organize a small group of friends, your youth group or young adult group or men’s ministry or adult small group or neighborhood block party club and go. bring a big heart, listening ears, and ready hands.

as far as who to go with, i can’t recommend adventures in missions more strongly. i love their thoughtfulness and approach. i love that they’re developing a strategy that involves working alongside and in partnership with the haitian church (foreshadowing: they’re putting together an amazing church partnership program that is going to be off-the-charts cool and impactful). AIM — who also host low-cost domestic trips worth checking out if you just can’t do the haiti thing — is already up and running, ready to host groups in haiti, tailoring a trip for the maturity, readiness, and abilities of your group. seriously: check ’em out. make plans for this summer, when most people will have already forgotten about haiti, but the needs will be just as present as they are today.

ok. that’s what i have to say today. my wife just told me she has tamales inside, and i need to go eat one of those. then i’m off to church to talk about haiti and see if i can make it through without blubbering on stage.

rudy singing bob marley’s “redemption song”

i posted a link to this video days ago, but wanted to embed it now that i have bandwidth. we found rudy in a tent hospital, where he was healing from a surgery on a broken femur. he sang this beautiful version of “redemption song” for us that brought us all to tears. rudy taught himself english by listening to music.

yes, please, god; bring your redemption to haiti.

driving through port-au-prince

here’s a video from our trip — just some shots from our van as we were driving. you’ll see what the “tent cities” look like, as well as some views of the city center in port-au-prince. finally, a long food distribution line by the city port. this was a very sobering drive for all of us. we’d seen some of this on the news, but were brought to silence by the miles upon miles upon miles of these views.

my expectations of our haiti trip

our “youth ministry advance team: haiti” leaves this coming thursday. one of the adventures in missions guys asked our team, on our private team facebook group, to articulate some of our expectations for the trip. here’s what i wrote:

i expect to struggle with my emotional response

i expect to get pissed off — maybe by the gravity of the situation, maybe by a team member, maybe my own attitude

i expect to be blindsided by things i didn’t expect

i expect to wish i hadn’t gone on this trip, but be glad i did

i expect to laugh and cry

i expect to sleep poorly and be overly concerned about my stuff

i expect to be afraid at some point

i expect to struggle with the material blessings of my life

i expect to wish i could do more

i expect to be thankful that AT&T is offering free calls, text and data throughout our trip

i expect to struggle with how to put words to what we’re experiencing

i expect to sweat

and i was comforted by the response of our trip leader, seth barnes, who i know to be a person deeply connected to god:

I expect to see all my wonderful logistical preparation fall apart and then as my frustration builds and dependence grows, I expect God to do what he always does – step in and show himself strong in my weakness.


follow out team on facebook and twitter, or sign up for daily email updates from the team while we’re in haiti.

youth ministry advance team: haiti

last week, i blogged about the (still hard for me to believe) reality that i’m going to haiti in a week and a half. as each day passes, and the actual departure feels like a car careening across the median toward me, i’m filled with a combo platter of emotions. i’m nervous — i think that’s the dominant one. yeah, there are a bunch of other emotions in the mix also (like excitement and disbelief and a sense of hopefullness). but as i’m writing this and thinking about it, nervousness is certainly the big one.

there’s plenty — really, plenty — to be stoked about:

– i got to be a part of organizing this awesome group of youth ministry bloggers to go on this trip. i actually conceived the trip; and, knowing my friends at adventures in missions, was keenly aware that they would do what they do best: mobilize quickly and responsibly to host groups in response to the worst disasters. within a day or two of the earthquake, i was thinking to myself, “youth groups, and other church groups, are going to want to go to haiti in the next 6 months. that’s great. but it could be done really horribly; or it could be a tangible blessing to haiti.” and it dawned on me that it might be a good idea to take a group of blogging youth workers as an “advance team”, to experience a trip to haiti right now, and report back to the broader youth ministry community with stories and input. and that’s what we’re doing!

– our team consists of a handful of youth ministry friends that i’m stoked to spend time with, as well as some people i’m really looking forward to getting to know.
here’s the team, in no particular order, with links to their blogs:
adam mclane (who will also be blogging on the ys blog)
tim schmoyer
anne jackson (not technically a youth worker, but we’re going to make her an honorary one for this trip!)
rhett smith
lars rood
jeremy zach
and myself
in addition, ian robertson will be joining us as our videographer; and seth barnes and clint bokelman, both from aim, will be leading the trip (other aim staff from the dominican republic and haiti will be with us also)

– i’m excited that we’re not going as “tourists”, but will be working directly alongside a bunch of hatian pastors who are asking for our help.

– and then there’s adventures in missions: i’ve been a fan of this organization for a long time now. i went with aim on the 2nd missions trip i ever took kids on, back in about 1990. i got to know their staff (particularly their founder and director, seth barnes), and i grew to deeply appreciate their approach. i even served on their board for 5 years, and brought my own dad onto the board also. aim has the combination of deep and biblical theology (when it comes to missions) as well as a practical expertise that’s so essential for trips like this.

– we’re partnering with a network of 100 pastors. one of the key guys in this network is the pastor of a church of 10,000 people in the town just outside of port au prince that was the epicenter of the earthquake. this church has ministries all over port au prince and other parts of haiti, and they desperately need help.

but, yeah, i’m still nervous. not afraid, really, but nervous.

i would love it if you would, in some way, take this journey with us. there are a handful of ways you can do this:
1. “become a fan” on facebook. we’ll be posting all kinds of stuff there, and it will be a central hub for following the team and finding stories and links to blog posts.
2. follow the team on twitter. not all of us will be posting there; but adam mclane, in particular, is likely to update regularly.
3. pray for us. please. we truly covet your prayers. we’ll be adding prayer udpates on the facebook site starting very soon.
4. give. giving on the haiti section of the aim site will go toward food, water, medicine, and other supplies that will be distributed in haiti. it does NOT go to the expense of our trip.
5. check out the aim haiti blog, to see posts about what they’re learning and doing. also, read aim’s haiti relief plan here.
6. pray about going yourself, with a team from your youth group or church.

more to come in the days before we leave, including an itinerary of our trip.