Written by Bryan Pratt
My Weekend of Service started early. I met twenty others at Grace Community Church at 3 am on Saturday. We sleepily stood around in a circle waiting for someone who had already had a cup of coffee to give us some direction. We were finally told to load about 60 totes and suitcases into Grace’s cargo van (which later that day would be filled with food for the food pantries of Hamilton County).
60 totes and suitcases being packed into a van at 3am.
By 3:28 am we were on our way to the first pit stop of our journey. At 4:15 am we shuffled out of our vans and with our luggage in hand, headed into the Indianapolis International Airport. Three plane rides, thirteen hours, and 1682.17 miles later, we landed in Port Au Prince, Haiti.
Last July I visited Haiti for the first time, and less than 48 hours after being home I signed up to go back. I felt God’s call on my life to serve the amazing people of this country. In the three months leading up to this latest trip I struggled with patience and longing. God called me to back to Haiti the moment I left, so waiting three months wasn’t part of my plan. God’s plan was much different than my own. God brought us to Haiti at this time for a reason: to help the victims of Hurricane Tomas, which hit the day before we arrived.
In the previous months our team met together four times to prepare for this trip. We learned about our spiritual gifts, our strengths and weaknesses, and got to know each other a little better. Even so, I was a little out of my comfort zone with people I hardly even knew. But then again, isn’t that the point?
Dave Rodriguez, the senior pastor of our church, once did a sermon on being brave and not safe. Going to Haiti, I realize, is all about being brave.
The people working at the desk at 4:30 am weren't very happy with us.
Jumping on a plane with 19 team members I barely knew (with the chance of flying into a hurricane!) is brave. In fact, serving God is brave. All 3,500 people that served this weekend in the name of Christ are brave.
God’s presence here in Haiti is completely obvious. He’s working through the villagers of Chambrun and through Pastor Pierre and his people. God is moving here in unbelievable ways. The church at Nehemiah Vision Ministries’ campus was packed today with Haitians ready to praise the God of the Universe. Some of them even walked five miles to get there. The people of Chambrun are filled with joy, because in spite of everything they’ve been through, they’ve still kept their eyes on God.
The faces of people in downtown Port Au Prince, however, were different. Most of us thought the plane rides and exhaustion would be the hardest part of our weekend. Well, we were wrong. As we drove through Port Au Prince we saw so many things that broke our hearts time after time. I will never forget some of the faces I saw today. The heartache and hopelessness in their eyes was haunting. Where was God in this mess?
An aerial view of Haiti.
The answer? In Chambrun. In the work and vision of Pastor Pierre, his staff and his volunteers.
In the end, my Weekend of Service wasn’t as different as the rest of Grace Community Church’s. Sure, I raised $1,500 and traveled to a different country, but when it all comes down to it we were all doing the same thing: spreading the message of God through love and service.
God is moving in Haiti. He is raising up a generation of Haitians to continue his work and make Haiti a beautiful place. I pray that you too will follow the call to be brave and not safe. There are those out there that need you. So rise and serve the people of this world. They are waiting.