One thing that makes church planting special is the opportunity to experience so many “firsts.” The first service. The first year. The first baby born. The first wedding. And, the first global missions experience. Like a professional parachuter, Brenda and I tend to jump out of planes fairly quickly when it comes to life experiences. Sending out a team was on our list from the very beginning of launching 29:11 but then felt the need to wait. Establishing a culture to love and reach out locally was something we wanted to make active before we started sending people out across the globe. What I love about our community was immediately they also wanted to see those dreams come to life right in valley of Phoenix as well. From pizza slices to the homeless to haircuts for single moms, we fed the passion to be Jesus’ hands and feet wherever we are... wherever we go. As our local ministries grew, I was praying our first cross cultural experience would be something that would fit the heart and soul of who we are. When Jaime Kent from No More (fornomore.org) shared an opportunity we could be a part of in a country that was bleeding need and with kids that were deemed “non-adoptive”… I was hooked.
The House of Blessing Orphanage stands like a beacon of light in the community of Callebasse, Haiti located nearly a mile up in elevation outside of Port-au-Prince. There, a handful of orphans live, school and allow the love of houseparents to weave a tapestry of hope for these children. Nestled into towering green mountain ranges, the beauty itself wraps around your soul like the arms of God. A non-adoptive orphanage according to the Haitian government, the House of Blessing puts a roof over the lives of children who have no parents to account for or who can’t afford to keep them at their own home. So, the hands and feet of awesome people like the individuals on our team become the fathers, mothers, big sisters and brothers to each of them. This will be a week where we just continue what is already done on the home ground in Tempe…love, love, love. Learning to really love outside of yourself is a turning point for all of us in our faith as we open our arms unconditionally to those in need. Especially for those in need.
Driving through the cracked and broken streets of Port-au-Prince reminded me that this country has so many similarities to the place I come from. There are shattered lives trying to make it work day by day on the streets of Callebasse just like there are on the streets of Tempe. So, our first global trip as a church is a reflection of what we really believe in…that every human being no matter where you find them on this planet deserves to know about the PLAN God has for their life, the HOPE that is promised through a relationship with Jesus Christ and a FUTURE in which we can face any struggle or hardship knowing His Word is for us.
My daughter Azsia is currently on a three month program studying abroad as a nursing student in South Africa. Her cross culture view now is changing her heart day by day (you can read some of her thoughts through her writing at azsiaolive.wordpress.com). She recently wrote about what God is teaching her about not just bringing relief to those around us that are flooding our world with need but giving them the power to release the potential to become what God has already put into them through Christ’s genuine love.
“I think the root of the problem is the lack of real life investment… the lack of first trying to understand the community you are serving. The lack of loving first.”
Loving first. We are here to love, first. Why? Because Christ came to love us first. So come on this journey with us and let’s LOVE these children in Callebasse and the children scattered across our own community. Every human being on the planet deserves this love…no matter where they come from.
*Come back for a daily post from one of our team members.