Monday, August 4, 2014

Lawrence O'Neal CCMP in Haiti

I recently had a debriefing with Beeson student Lawrence O'Neal about his Cross-Cultural Ministry Practicum in Haiti.  I was truly moved by his experience and am greatly encouraged to know that God has led him to continue to be involved in this ministry through a local church in Pensacola.  Lawrence wrote his reflections below:

The Love of Christ in the Midst of Destruction

As an American citizen there are certain things in life that are foreign to me: absolute poverty, unstable infrastructure, and the presence of the United Nations tasks force. For the people of Haiti this is an everyday reality. During my two week mission trip to Haiti my mindset was to show up and make a lasting impact on the people of Haiti. This goal of mine was challenged at every turn and I left the country having had the people of Haiti make a lasting impact on me.

Haiti is a land of mountains and one can look from any point of the island and see the majesty of God's handiwork. Yet from that same vantage point if one would take their eyes from the sky and look around there is an immense amount of devastation. Haiti is truly a beautiful country with beautiful people. In 2010 a 7.0 earthquake rocked the country of Haiti killing over 500,000 people and crippling an already unstable country. Four years later the people, the cities, and the country have yet to recover. 

Imagine walking into a 3 bedroom house that has been converted into an orphanage for 31 kids. Imagine seeing people still digging through rubble searching for intact blocks for rebuilding. Imagine seeing 11 people sharing a one room tent that is supported by rope and a tree. Imagine seeing kids who survive off of one meal every two days. 

Now imagine people smiling, laughing, running, jumping, playing, and singing “This is the day that the Lord has made.” Where does this hope come from when it is so easy to sink into despire? Where does this joy come from when the situation is so bleak? Where does the energy come from when all seems to be lost? Under these extreme conditions one might ask, "Where is God?" Yet God is working in, through, and for the people of Haiti.  It is the love of Christ that allows this.

I was fortunate to see God work in many ways during my stay there. On the fourth day of building houses in Haiti my life was altered through seeing Christ's second commandment carried out through a boy that was working with me laying the foundation of a house. The kid was only twelve years old, but due to severe malnutrition he looked as if he was seven or eight. 

During my lunch break I was given a fish sandwich to eat and since he had been working with me from the very first day I got there, I turned to him and gave him more than half of the sandwich. My thought was that he would eat the portion I gave him so that he might have strength to continue working. 

What this little boy did moved my soul and brought tears to my eyes. 

After I gave him the sandwich he proceeded to break the sandwich into 4 smaller pieces and shared those pieces with 3 other kids who were in the village. This selfless act was one that showed me that Christ's love for humanity can be shown by man for his fellow man. There is much work to be done in Haiti, but God's hand is moving in the midst of the destruction.