Whatever comes our way in life, God has better things in store. When I chose to follow my faith and refused to sign the contract to work for Top Model agency, they chided me for squandering an opportunity “to help a lot of your family in Haiti with the millions.” I yearned to be helpful to my loved ones on earth—but not at the cost of being untrue to my Father in heaven. I learned this as a child from my mother, whose patience and guidance showed my siblings and me the right way to live: through prayer and faith in God.
Despite the blessings of living in America now, my wife and I have never forgotten the land of our birth. In November 2009, we took our children to Haiti to show them where we were born and raised. We visited the Adventist schools I attended: our university in Port- au-Prince and elementary school in Gonaives.
It was great to reconnect with families and friends, but I felt profoundly troubled by the living conditions of the people— particularly children in some rural areas. It broke my heart to see them drinking water from a river contaminated with animal feces.
I didn’t know what to say or do, but I could not go back to the United States and simply resume normal living. My family is not rich, but God has been good. He has blessed us with work and our daughters are getting a Christian education at our church’s elementary school. We are all healthy, we have a place to stay, we have means of transportation, etc. Our life is way better than those of many in my homeland.
A New Purpose
Lingering images of what we saw throughout our trip to Haiti troubled me so deeply that I knew my life would be taking a new course, with a new purpose. But unsure of exactly what to do, I prayed to God and discussed my concerns and desires with my family. During several weeks of corporate fasting at our church for the new year in 2011, we wrote a list of things to surrender to God. One of the first items on the list was how to help Haiti in a sustainable way.
One evening during our family fellowship and prayer, I felt impressed to start an organization that would help Haitian children have access to education, healthcare and balanced nutrition. I shared my thoughts with my family. They voiced caution, but I knew deep inside that God would provide as He always does.
The next morning I started gathering information on how to launch a nonprofit organization. A few weeks later, we had it registered with the state. “International Action Group for Sustainable Development” (also known as “Children for a New Haiti”) is an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It is dedicated to empowering and bettering Haitian children by providing, in a Christian environment, educational and physical support through sponsorships. We match children in Haiti with sponsors here in the United States. Sponsors are kept informed regarding the progress of their children through annual report cards, school year photos, Christmas cards and handwritten notes.
Children for a New Haiti
Based in Columbia, Missouri, “Children for a New Haiti” is governed by nine board members. We currently support 37 children in four areas in Haiti: Port-au-Prince, Milot, Lascahobas and Dos-Palais. Located in the central plateau, Dos-Palais has the majority of sponsored children (currently 27) because it is the most needy area. The 2,200 residents of this village lack every aspect of infrastructure— no electricity, no clean water, no transportation, no communication.
During my last trip, we established a weekly one-day clinic for the community. Among a list of needs too long to detail here, our board has identified the drilling of water wells as an immediate must.
When impressed to start this organization, I perceived it as a call from God and simply answered like the prophet Isaiah did: “Here I am, Lord!” We are a young organization, but I praise God for His guidance and for sending the right people who share my dream. We have become like a family, working not for our own glory but for God’s. The words of Jesus in Matt. 25:35-40 comprise our commission: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Together we can change the lives of these children and give them hope, and this Christmas season would be a good time to begin! As someone unknown but obviously enlightened observed: “The best place to see God is where there are needs! How can we see God clearly? Uncover a need and there He will be, reaching out His hands in compassion. His hands, of course, are our hands: He has no others on the earth today except you and me. The ears that hear the cry of need, the feet that run to help, are our ears, our feet. And as our ears, hands, and feet respond, He opens our eyes to see His glory.”
For more information about Children for a New Haiti, contact Joseph via phone: 573.673.2297, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.childrenforanewhaiti.org.