Off the Grid

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One of my favorite pictures of us, taken in the wee hours of the morning in Haiti after a baby delivery. 

 

The past couple of weeks have been sort of surreal. Tony and I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the love, prayers, and support of so many people. It has been hard to keep up with the emails, inbox messages, text messages, and post comments that have come our way. We are humbled and feel very blessed so have such an amazing and wide circle of family and friends. If you are hearing about this for the first time and are asking, “What in the world are you talking about?” here is a link to Stan’s update that explains it all… https://www.butgodministries.com/category/stans-updates/

As we face this next hurdle that life has thrown our way, we will not be overcome with fear. We know that our God walks before us. Looking back over the past couple of years, it is crystal clear to us that He has been walking before us and saw this time coming before we even had a clue. He provided a home for us; He provided an affordable source of transportation; He grew an amazing staff to be prepared and completely able to manage Hope Center in our absence; and He has now answered the question that has been nagging in our hearts as to “Why” we have not been able to return to Haiti. With all of these assurances in our lives and in His word, how CAN we be afraid!? This is not a road we would have chosen to walk, but we will walk it shouting the praises of our Lord Jesus Christ as this experience brings glory and honor to His miraculous power and might. We cannot be shaken or moved. We claim Isaiah 41:10 which says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Did you know that God actually says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID” in 365 different places in the Bible? I have shared this fact with countless students in the past, countless Haitian friends that have come to me in desperation over one thing or another (I can even say it in Creole! ha!), and I have reminded myself of it numerous times throughout my life. Why would He say this 365 times? Well duh!! Because we have 365 days in the year and our precious Father wants us to claim it every single day of our lives because He knows that this world deals us hits every day that are cause for fear. But as the Psalmist said in Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” And God has reminded us countless times in the last few days the words of Isaiah 43:1, “But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”  Yes, he DID summon us by name, and our calling is not done. The enemy cannot stop what God has started. We will not be moved. 

With this said, many, many people have asked us “How can I help?” Of course, our immediate response is PRAY. Tony and I have absolutely NO DOUBT that it is the prayers of God’s people what have carried us and strengthened us and even provided for us for the last seven years!! It’s a miracle actually! Praise be to God!  Today a precious friend felt led to post on Facebook a suggestion that people help us financially. In obedience to God’s lead, I have to share how people can do that if so led. It is so hard for me to share this because asking people for help is not an easy thing for us to do, but I have learned that is pride. As a very dear friend explained to me before we moved to Haiti, “You better get used to it because it is your life now. Don’t let your pride stand in the way of letting the Body of Christ BE the Body of Christ.” Oh how wise his words were. They are still not easy to put into practice. So, as you pray, if God leads you to want to help us in this way, we will humbly accept your help. We have no idea what we are in for as far as future medical expenses are concerned when it comes to the surgery Tony is having or what additional expenses will come after that. We do have insurance, thankfully, but I have heard from people who have gone through this before that the 20% insurance doesn’t pay can be a huge bill.  We just know that God does know, and He will lead and provide as the needs arise. We have always been able to trust Him to make a way and today is no different. Someone asked me about Paypal and we do have it. It’s under our email: tnmwest@gmail.com. And our Venmo is @Mickie-West-1 .  PRAYER is our biggest weapon and our biggest need. From there, we trust God to lead. 

Now, as the day approaches for Tony’s surgery, a precious friend that we don’t even know personally (now THAT’s God!) has offered to let us stay in their cabin in the mountains for a week. We will take this time to breathe deeply, pray earnestly, and prepare our hearts for the battle ahead. Our armor is the finest and our weapons are fierce, praise the Lord! So over the next week, Tony and I will be going “off the grid,” reflecting on the greatness of our God and what precious, precious friends He has given us to walk along side us. Please continue to be in prayer for us… and know that if you text or email or call and we don’t reply, we will definitely get back in touch with you when we return. Thank you all so much! We have so much love for you, and so much to be thankful for…..we are overwhelmed with joy…..

 

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Giving Tuesday

It has been eleven weeks now…. Eleven weeks of desperately crying out to God for change in the political climate in Haiti. When Tony and I left on September 16th, we only intended to be gone for two weeks. We left Haiti to attend an awards ceremony at Samford where Tony was being recognized, then we were going to visit family for a week and then return. We had return flights booked for October 2nd. However, from the very day we left until now, the country has been in complete chaos and pretty much locked down. We were advised by our Haitian leadership to stay in the US until some sort of resolution is achieved in the crisis, but that has not happened yet. This week seems to be a bit more quiet around the country, but because there has been no resolution in the political situation there, everyone seems to be both rushing around trying to take advantage of the reprieve and walking on eggshells as they wait for things to become violent again. Right now, however, we are all doing the best we can to minister to needs in our village as God provides. Our Haitian staff has done an excellent job of doing just that, and our mighty and loving God has provided in ways that have blessed many, many people of our village. Thankfully we have been able to coordinate via internet and accomplish many good things.

Last month, when I updated everyone on the crisis, I reported about our plans for our schools, building houses, painting projects, etc. We believe that as God moves us to do certain things, He is doing so because He is preparing to meet needs as we prepare, so in faith, we begin preparations. We praise the Lord that He has allowed us to be able to continue to keep schools in session, carry out three food distributions, build two houses, and finish one of the painting projects!

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The students in all three BGM schools have been able to continue school every day in spite of the political unrest experienced throughout the country. Most schools throughout the country have been closed for two months. However, because we employee over 100 teachers and staff from our local village, they have been able to come to school and continue business as usual. This also means that children throughout the village are eating every day because our cooks prepare a hot meal for all students daily.

Praise God, we have been able to complete three food distributions in the last month. First, God made a way for us to get a whole pallet of Manna Packs, so we were able to give those Manna Packs to every student in our elementary schools. Each child received two packs which meant siblings took home even more for their families. We also were able to give rice, beans, oil, and pasta to over 150 families in our village. Lodana is one single mom in the village who not only received food, but will also soon be moving into a new house that BGM is currently building! Lastly, when we went to pick up two more months’ supply of Manna Packs from Love a Child, they also shared with us 24 food sets that included beans, rice, and oil. We gave these to a local organization in our village that ministers to the handicapped people in and around Galette Chambon. The president of the organization and his wife came to get the food supplies and they distributed those this week.

 

Providing jobs is one way that God continues to bless people throughout the village. The teachers and school staff are not the only ones being paid to work. God has provided funds for building FOUR new houses in the village, and that not only means that these families will soon move from devastating living conditions to brand new homes, but it also means that construction workers are getting paid for their work! As sustainability is achieved through job provision, families are fed and lives are blessed. Recently, our clinic doctor advised that we paint labels on all BGM property because sadly, as the country continues to be in crisis, we can expect crime to escalate. He said that it was necessary to mark property so that it can be identified in case of theft. Although the reason is a tough reality to accept, getting this job done meant four young men got paid to do this work. We got word today that all desks, benches, tables, etc. at Hope Center, the church, and BGM Primary have been painted. Soon another painting project will begin that will provide even more jobs. As soon as we are able to purchase and order paint, we will start painting the school! This will employ many people and it will add bright color to the village that will also bring a ray of hope to those who see it and recognize that God continues to work and bless in our village.

Another miraculous need was met recently when our school Superintendent’s baby came home from the hospital. At the time, Haiti was in a very chaotic state and there was danger on every road. Many businesses were closed, and baby formula was nowhere to be found. Moliere’s baby girl was born premature at 28 weeks back in August and she remained in the NICU at Hospital Mirebalais for over two months. It’s a miracle in itself that she even survived, but once she was released, her parents were able to safely get her home as well! Praise the Lord! Once they got home, her daddy went out to buy the formula that had been prescribed for her. He couldn’t find it anywhere. He wrote to us to see if we had any in our clinic. Our staff went to look, and we had five cans of the exact formula he needed!! Hallelujah!!

If you look back at the picture of the formula on the shelf, you might notice that it is the ONLY thing sitting on the shelf. Sadly, our Hope Center Clinic pharmacy shelves are bare. Before Tony and I left for the states back in September, Tony gave our staff a list of medicines we needed to purchase in order to keep the clinic open. As the clinic remained open that next week, they went through what medicines we had left very quickly. However, the streets were too dangerous for them to try to get out to purchase more. In the past, we have relied heavily on teams generously donating medicines for our pharmacy, however, we have not been able to have any teams come with medicines in many months. This makes it necessary to buy medicines in country, but there is not really any large, comprehensive source to buy them. It takes multiple trips to many different places to find the medicines frequently used in our clinic. Our doctor has tried multiple times to get to Port au Prince to try to purchase more, but her sources were either blocked and she couldn’t get to them, or they were closed, or they were out of the most commonly used medicines. If we don’t have medicines, it doesn’t do anyone any good to be open. However, while things are quiet this week, we are working with other medical professionals in the country to try to obtain the medicines in order to open the clinic next week.

Giving Tuesday

Our clinic was the very first mission outreach we began back in 2012. When we first opened, we thought we were serving a general population of 9,000. However, we soon discovered that people from neighboring villages were in desperate need of healthcare as well and that number increased to 25,000. People often walk for days to get to our clinic, over mountain ranges, and often through extreme heat or storms. It’s not unusual to see people sleeping on the benches outside our clinic because they walked for two days to get care and they want to be first in line when the clinic opens. Over the last seven years, God has made it possible to treat literally thousands of patients who were in desperate need of medical attention. Hundreds of people who were dying from complications related to hypertension have since been on daily medications to get their blood pressure under control. They have scheduled, monthly appointments to monitor it, and the improvements in community health have increased dramatically. We have been able to safely deliver nearly 600 babies over the years in a healthy and loving environment where we not only give them the medical attention they need, but we minister to them, love on them, and talk to them about how God has a special plan for their lives and their baby’s life. We have sewed up countless wounds from moto accidents to soccer injuries. We have helped people manage colds and allergies, diabetes, rashes, and pain. God has literally performed miracle after miracle in our little clinic, and it has been exciting to watch and heartbreaking to see it stalled.

Tomorrow is a day that has come to be known as Giving Tuesday. This is a day when people from all over the world donate to organizations to help them function and serve others the way God called us to serve. Many of you will see numerous calls for support on Giving Tuesday, and it might become hard to decide which organization to give to in order to do your part in this effort to support missions throughout the world. I wanted to write to you today to help you know that But God Ministries is one organization you can give to that uses every penny given exactly for the purpose to which it was given. If you research various organization reports, you will find that many report “administrative costs” to be as much as 80% of their budget! When this is the case, your funds are being given primarily to pay individuals who work within the organization as well as pay for offices and travel and elaborate mail outs. BGM is different. Our last audit report showed that our administrative costs are less than 10% of our organizational budget. That, my friends, is nearly unheard of throughout many of the larger organizations out there. That doesn’t mean that these organizations are not doing great things by any means! It just means that you don’t necessarily have a clue where and how your donations are being used. Every week, BGM tries to give reports through social media stories that shout praises to our Almighty and Loving God and show the world the amazing things He continues to do through BGM. Today I am asking you….as you consider which organization to give to – whether it be $5 or $5000 – no matter how big or small – will you please consider donating to But God Ministries tomorrow for Giving Tuesday? Your donation will be used to minister to the sick and provide healthcare and medical services to those in need, and most of all, it will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a village in Haiti that has been experiencing miracle after miracle DEMONSTRATING God’s love in many, many ways. …..Thank you for your support.

Go to the But God Ministries website and click “Give”  or click the link provided here. You will be asked to create an account if you wish to give online. You can also send a check or even set up a recurring bank draft. We also have created the Circle of Hope which is an elite group of individuals who have committed to sending $100 per month to help us support our Hope Center operations and Haitian staff in Haiti. But if you give to BGM’s General Fund tomorrow on Giving Tuesday (December 3rd), your gift will go towards funding our clinic in Galette Chambon specifically. Your gift is very much appreciated. May God bless you for your prayers and your generosity.

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Solidarity is needed for Hope

Many people have been texting, writing, inboxing, and calling over the past few days asking for an update on what is going on in Haiti right now. I honestly don’t know where to begin because so much is happening on both a national and personal level that our heads are spinning and we don’t really know what to say anymore.

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When we run into friends and they smile and ask, “How are you?” we just don’t know how to respond. We could just say, “Great!” and that would be a total lie because we are NOT great by any means, and we can’t even feel human and utter those words at the same time. We could be partially honest and say, “Well, we are somewhat ohhhkayyy….” but that really wouldn’t be true. Yes, WE are okay. We are in a house in a safe community with a grocery store less than half a mile away, and running water, and electricity at our fingertips, so yes WE are okay….but we are NOT okay. We can’t say, “We are heartbroken” either because (1) most people really aren’t looking for that response when asked in passing, and (2), it just opens a can of worms that would require a response that could take two hours or more to spell out. There IS no short version. We can’t express our hearts in a few minutes. So to be honest with you, we would just rather stay inside the house with the TV chattering in the background as we sit silently next to one another reading whatever news we can find about the latest events in Haiti. It’s gut wrenching….

Every day it seems to be the same thing over and over again. We often wonder, how in the world can this keep on every, single day? Where does the mob find the energy and money to keep doing this? Well, I guess when you don’t have anything else to do, and you want to be heard, and some even have a way of turning the situation into a lucrative one, you have your answer! Haitians are sick and tired of being sick and tired. They are fed up with being called, “The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere” Bleh (vomit). They are tired of hundreds of thousands not being able to get ahead while the elite rake in money and ignore the poverty, foreign governments offer subsidies and grants to a corrupt government that squanders the money and the cycle just continues on. Many are tired of their country being ransacked by the angry mob, tired of not being able to carry on their lives and be able to go to market and have access to healthcare – even if it is charity healthcare – tired or not being paid for their work, and tired of their country being thought of by the rest of the world as a dirty, dangerous place. So those are the players….the mob, the elite, and the tired and frustrated “everyman” who just wants a bag of rice that doesn’t cost a month’s wages (which they don’t have). Specifically, it seems like the majority of people rioting and shouting are calling for the current president to step down because of alleged corruption and his inability to govern or protect the people. I have no idea if this is the solution to the problems, but I also don’t feel like locking down the country and tearing it apart is the answer either.

Ultimately, JESUS is the answer. I was texting with a young Haitian friend the other day and his wise words gave me chills. He said (and I translate) that “there are many, many Haitians still clinging to old, demonic ways and thoughts of the past. It is because Haiti gained her independence with those practices and her people have continued to rely on the practice of voodoo that we cannot progress. Our people do not think clearly because our ancestors fought with evil practices and evil creates chaos, confusion and hatred. We can’t put our heads together and trust one another to work for the good of all. We can’t seem to recognize that these practices keep us enslaved. We need to get out of this bondage – this system of the past is what continues our suffering. We don’t ever change. We need solidarity or Haiti will perish.” As I read his words, I raised my hand in praise and agreement, and I pray to God that there are many more in Haiti who recognize and believe this too. It is THESE who will bring change to their nation. For God’s word says in Ephesians 2:14-18, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups [Jew and Gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. . . . His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you [Gentiles] who were far away and peace to those [Jews] who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”  God’s plan is peace, and the way to that peace is solidarity in Jesus.

….So we have been stuck here in the US now for over 5 weeks, and the nation has escalated to utter and complete chaos and disaster. Many say that “Haiti is on fire,” and that is the truth on so many levels. News outlets are calling it a “humanitarian crisis.” Hospitals are either closing or struggling to stay open. Hotels and businesses are starting to post announcements that they are closing their doors for good. Some humanitarian and Christian organizations have pulled their staff out of the country and are evaluating whether or not they can continue to serve in Haiti. Everyone else there still carrying the torch is exhausted, frustrated, and exasperated. Many forge on working hard to take care of the masses as best they can in spite of the chaos. HERO Client Rescue is one organization that is putting their own lives in danger to transport people in urgent medical crisis from hospital to hospital through dangerous crowds and burning tires in search of medical care. Most of the time, it takes multiple stops and the exhausting, heroic efforts of many to get one patient transported and admitted into a hospital only to find that the hospital doesn’t have the supplies or the staff to handle it. The rest of the humanitarian workers there at various missions do what they can to help those in need around them and pass the time making the best of their situation.

Tony and I are members of a WhatsApp group made up of hundreds of expats all over Haiti, most of whom live there like us. Some are still there, others are in the US like us and are watching in order to update our staff or followers here in the states. This week there was a rather large yet peaceful march sponsored by the Catholic church in Haiti. One member of the group explained that it was organized by a subset in the Catholic community called the Conférence Haitienne de Religieux. This word “Religious” in this sense is used in a more restrictive sense unlike the common usage which refers to any group practicing any religion. In this more restricted sense, it refers to members of communities or groups that take the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Basically, it refers to the nuns and sisters and brothers associated with the Catholic churches in Haiti (Fr. Louis) It was a positive and peaceful gathering that I believe offered hope to those who watched and participated. This was a good sign of progress. Their voices singing in unison praising God was very comforting to hear (see video below).

As far as BGM is concerned, there is no question in our minds right now about whether or not we will carry on. We have a very capable staff at Hope Center that is doing the best they can in difficult circumstances to carry on ministry in our village. A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Education issued a statement that all schools in Haiti needed to close for the safety and well being of their students and employees. I received the text from Moliere, our Superintendent, stating that our schools would have to close and my heart sank. If the mob feels like it has to rip the country apart, so be it, but the children must be able to go to school. For so many, education is their hope for a better future. But the protestors want to make a point by shutting down everything in the country, and that includes schools. So we went along with it for a couple of weeks until I started getting reports of many of our school children being hungry. I just couldn’t stand it. Moliere was upset about it too, and we made the decision to open the schools, if for nothing else, to feed the children. Our village is out in a rural area where there are no roads. The children walk down goat paths to get to school, and all you see for miles is thorny bushes and farm land. There IS no rioting, protesting, rock throwing, or tire burning going on in our village. So Moliere opened the schools, the teachers showed up, the cooks started cooking, and within a few days, all of the kids were back in the classroom! That sure made my heart glad.

Today we also started something special for the kids at Children of Christ Home. Their school has been closed too because of the danger on the roads, so today we brought in tutors to help them with school lessons while they are not able to go to their school. It isn’t the best situation, but it is making the best of a bad situation. Five teachers will be coming to Hope Center every afternoon to give the kids lessons, and then the kids will do their homework in the afternoons. This keeps the kids focused on their education and gives them something to do during the day that is organized and beneficial. Some of the professors made a video call for me before lessons started today to tell me they are excited about teaching the kids. I’m so proud of our team for organizing this!!

We are also making plans to start two painting projects soon as well. Joel will organize and effort to paint BGM on all of our desks and benches and other furniture and supplies so that all of our inventory is clearly marked as BGM property. We were advised to do this as preparation for possibly continued difficulty in the future. He will also organize the effort to paint the school soon! I am super excited about this because it will put more people in the community to work as well as encourage people to see that the blessings in the community are not going to stop just because the city is in flames.

Soon the clinic will open as well once we get organized and purchase medicines. When all of the riots started, it was about time for us to purchase lab supplies and medicines. Our doctor was not able to get money or safe transportation to go into Port au Prince to purchase supplies, so our pharmacy and lab are practically empty. Because there has been no electricity, the vaccines and lab supplies that are supposed to remain refrigerated have ruined. Our staff has to clean all of that and properly dispose of it, and then we have to see what we can replace that does not need refrigeration. Once all of this preparation is done, we will get the word out that the clinic is open again to minister to the sick of our community. Please join me in praying that this happens soon!

I look forward to hearing the beautiful sound of these precious voices floating through the air as I prepare to face each day of ministry at Hope Center. I look forward to seeing all of the faces of school children and staff members and neighbors coming in and out of our doors and out in the community. I have no doubt that one day it is all going to be better, and perhaps through this difficulty, God will shape Haiti into an even more beautiful place than it was before. I know that He is shaping all of us! I don’t know about the rest of the country, but I believe God is creating an atmosphere of “solidarity” in our village, and that is a recipe for Hope!!

Philippians 1:4-6 says, “Always, in every prayer of mine, making request for you all with joy,  for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  We are all counting on this!!

Thank you all so much for your prayers!!

~Mickie

Facebook: Well written post by Jonathan Harold LaMare about what it is like “When Haiti is Hot”

Washington Post Article: “There is No Hope”: Crisis Pushes Haiti to Brink of Collapse

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Negotiating with Gangs

The past few days have been excruciating. We have felt so helpless here. But “excruciating” does not even begin to describe what it has been like for people in Haiti. People are running out of food and water and gas while gangs and protestors continue to hold the whole country hostage and literally rip it apart and burn it. It is time. It is time to call upon all prayer warriors and make clear the urgency for the need for prayer. Haiti will one day be restored back to normal, and we will return to our call of ministering to the people of our village as we always have, but right now…. RIGHT NOW WE ALL MUST RECOGNIZE THE NEED TO BE ON OUR KNEES IN PRAYER!!!

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When Tony and I left Haiti on September 16th, it was starting to heat up. The day after we left, the heat turned up a bit more. By Monday, September 21, it was cranked up in full force. At this point, it is utter chaos. When things get hot like this (and this is worse than we have ever seen it), a million things start darting through my mind, but the primary concern I feel is for LyniaNara. Her life depends on being able to travel to and from Port au Prince for dialysis. When things are like this, her travel becomes impossible.

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LyniaNara

LyniaNara has a routine, and situations like this disrupt that routine and her body begins to shut down. A normal week for LyniaNara is not easy, but it is necessary for her to survive. She leaves her house at 3 am with her father to head to a dialysis center in Canapé Vert above Port au Prince every Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday. It takes two hours to get there, four hours spent on dialysis, and another two hours to get back home. If all goes smoothly, she gets home in time to get ready for school which starts at 1. Over the last few months, her routine has gone very smoothly and she has been looking soooo healthy. She beamed with excitement the day she came to pick up her uniform for school. It was the same uniform we had made for her two years ago when she was so sick she wasn’t able to start school. She has missed two years of school because of her kidney failure. This year, it fit her perfectly except for the length. Two years…and she is as small as she was when she was 12 only taller. But the smile on her face was electrifying. It was a good day.

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Today, however, is NOT a good day. On September 21st, I checked on LyniaNara, and her sister, Daphka, told me that she was able to get to her dialysis clinic that day with no problem. I told Daphka to let me know if they have any difficulty in the days ahead. On Sunday, Daphka texted me and said they could not find gas to prepare to go to dialysis on Tuesday. The search began for an ambulance that could go get her immediately. I was hoping this would be easy, but it was not. Most likely, if we managed to get LyniaNara to the dialysis center, she would need to stay nearby for the rest of the week so that she could return for more dialysis, so I reached out to the expat community looking for a place for her to stay. We contacted the guest house where she stayed last time the country locked down, but HERO Rescue said that would be too far from her dialysis center for them to get her there. After hours of searching and inquiring, a Haitian doctor contacted me named Dr. Junior Etienne. He works with MSPP and he began looking for a a guest house that was closer. He managed to find one that was a short walking distance from the dialysis center. Whew! This was a relief! Now to figure out how to get her there…

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LyniaNara getting dialysis at Alliance the last time she was critical

All day Sunday, we worked with HERO and CAN and Dr. Etienne on trying to find someone who could get her to the dialysis center. Because of the gang that has been terrorizing anyone and everyone on the highway between Croix des Bouquet and Ganthier (our city), we could not find anyone willing to take her and we couldn’t find any ambulance service that could come out to get her. The roads were filled with debris from protests and burning tires, and gangs were shooting at any vehicle trying to pass through.

Everyone was paralyzed. Daphka said that LyniaNara was hanging in there, but her feet were starting to swell. Daphka went to Hope Center to ask Didier to get some lasix from the pharmacy. He got her fixed up and that bought her a bit more time…

Monday, we continued to work on finding a way to get LyniaNara to dialysis. We called HERO Rescue, CAN Ambulance Service, and even looked for possible helicopters that could come. No luck… We were hopeful when Daphka texted and said that CAN Ambulance service had called her and told her to get ready that they were going to try to come get her. I told her to go to Hope Center and ask Didier to charge her phone and give her money and food for the trip and stay at the guesthouse. He instructed her to divide up her money and hide it in various places. Reserve 5000 gds in her bag to use as bribe money in case they run into any gangs on the way demanding payment for passage. Didier took care of everything. We waited….. and waited…… no ambulance. We later found out that one of the CAM Ambulances had been ambushed while on another call and the vehicle was torn completely up. Their other ambulance had no tires left because of hitting debris in the streets. The ambulance was not coming.

LyniaNara’s health was declining rapidly. I checked back with HERO as well as Doctor Etienne and both said that the roads were just too dangerous to ask anyone to travel and it was the same on my end. We had just gotten word that Dieudonne, our orphanage administrator, had tried to go get food for the kids at the orphanage and was ambushed by the gangs as he tried to enter the highway. The truck was shot five times and windows shot out. Dieudonne managed to get away, but he had to leave the truck. The gang seized the truck.  We eventually found the truck and negotiated to get it back. We knew at that point that there was no hope of getting LyniaNara out.

This morning, I was awakened by a steady ding on my telephone as one text after another started coming through. Didier was texting me to say that LyniaNara was in bad shape. Dr. Etienne was texting me to see if we had come up with another plan. Alex, the owner of the dialysis center was texting to see if I had heard from LyniaNara. Everyone was worried and none of us knew what to do. I began to pray, “Oh God, help me figure this out! Show us the way!!” Then it hit me! We negotiated with the gang to get our truck back; perhaps we could negotiate with the gang to let us through with LyniaNara. After making some calls, we managed to get the gang to agree to let our driver pass through in our shot up truck with LyniaNara and take her as far as Croix des Bouquet. We would have to pay the gang 5000 gds to get safe passage. 5000 gds….. That is the exact amount Daphka had put in her bag for negotiation. God reminded me that He goes before us….

I called Dr. Etienne and he began making arrangements to meet our driver in our truck in Croix des Bouquet. I contacted Daphka and told her to be ready, reminding her of Isaiah 41:10 that says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” She sent a picture of her and LyniaNara in the truck getting ready to head to Croix des Bouquet. We are now praying that God hold them all in his “righteous right hand” and give them safe passage to the dialysis center and give our driver safe passage back to Hope Center. They all must pass through very dangerous areas.

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LyniaNara and Daphka in the truck getting ready to pass through the gangs to get to the dialysis clinic

We are now calling out to everyone we know that believes in the power of God to move mountains. Please pray for their safety to get to the dialysis center. Please pray that the dialysis can restore LyniaNara to good health. Pray that the girls remain safe in the guesthouse in the days to come. Pray that Meresse and Elorge can return safely to Hope Center. THANK GOD for people like Didier, Elorge, Meresse, Dieudonne, Dr. Etienne, HERO, CAN, and countless other brave people who are doing all they can to maintain things while the country falls apart.

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Dr. Etienne now has LyniaNara and Daphka with him and they are heading up to Canapé Vert to the dialysis center

Pray that Haiti will be restored to peace and that people can find the food and provisions they need to return to normal life. Pray for God to move over all aspects of this time of chaos in Haiti. Oh God, please move!!

We wait on the Lord and we pray and trust that order will be restored to Haiti soon and we can get back to doing what God called us all to do. Haiti is a BEAUTIFUL place with AMAZING and RESILIENT people. I look forward to the day when Tony and I can return and embrace the people who have worked so hard to maintain life as best they can in this situation. They are HEROES.

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Be Still My Heart

Over the past three weeks, I have had a lot of time. Normally, time is something I DO NOT have a lot of. Our daily lives are usually very hectic and pulled in a thousand different directions. However, when Tony and I left on June 6th to go to Fort Lauderdale, FL, for a quick anniversary weekend, we had no idea that our little get away would turn into a three-week+ hiatus. We left on June 6th and have had to cancel 3 return flights already because we were advised that it wasn’t safe to return yet. So here we wait….(I’m not a fan of sitting.)

I have asked the Lord many time why we have not been allowed to return to our mission in Haiti during this time. I have watched from afar as other missionary friends of ours have continued to carry on their work in places not far from ours, and I ask, “Lord, why is it they can be there and we can’t?” Although I have seen and heard accounts of the political turmoil Haiti is in and the violence that has ensued as a result, I still ask God why?! Why can’t we just hunker down and wait it out? Why do we have to sit over here waiting and doing nothing? Why have so many teams had to cancel…again? Why? Why? Why?!!!!!

Then the Lord quietly speaks to my spirit and He just says, “Trust me, and pray.”

So every day my first prayer is, “Lord help me to trust You!”

Here we are in the middle of a huge campaign to build a new school, build over 140 desks, 15 chalk boards, purchase teacher desks, filing cabinets, chairs, cooking equipment, and the list goes on and on… and at the same time, teams can’t come in and help! When the flow of teams stops, they use the funds they raised to recover their financial losses or redirect them to another mission, and that leaves our little village standing here with our hands held out, reaching towards Heaven for provision, tears running down our cheeks, begging God to help us trust HIM to provide. …and He asks, “Is that such a bad thing?” ….I am broken. After all, who has provided every other blessing we have received for this village over the last 7 years? Where is my faith? Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” This is a promise that I have learned to COUNT on, and yet I still get anxious.

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We KNOW that God has led us to this point of building our own school. And we KNOW that God moved people even before we began the campaign to contribute to the construction of the school. We’ve been walking on water here!! We know that God has continued to move people to help and support…and yet I get anxious! I begin to sink. Why? …and God says, “THIS is the question you should be asking. WHY do you get anxious?!” His word says, ““Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (Psalm 46:10). YES!! This school WILL honor Him! So I pray for His Holy Spirit to still my heart. I pray that no anxiety be allowed to stir my spirit, but that my full trust and faith in Him cause my spirit to be steadfast and calm. …and I pray that He continue to move people to give and support and pray so that HE may be glorified even in these hard times.

The enemy wants me to become disappointed and lose faith. The enemy wants me to worry when I post a request for child sponsors and only two people respond. The enemy wants my disappointment to shake my faith in God’s ability to move His people when I look a the huge financial deficit this political turmoil has brought upon our ability to carry on the very basic tasks set before us. My heart breaks when I have to tell a teenager who lost her sponsor that she can’t go to school next year if she doesn’t get a sponsor. So I don’t tell her. I just pray and ask God to move someone out there to choose her. “But what if they make excuses and don’t choose her?” I ask God. Again, His response is “TRUST ME. I know who to move.”

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So to answer my first question of WHY we are here, He reminds me that HE is God and that I must be still and trust Him….and pray. Will you join me in praying for God to continue to move in our little village and to provide all of the resources needed to build this school, sponsor these kids, and pay our staff to carry on the work needed to be done even when we can’t be there? Will you step out of the boat in faith with me and ask God how He wants to use you? Walking on water can be amazing and a bit scary at the same time, but when we step out in faith to His call, and we realize, “Hey! I’m WALKING ON WATER HERE….WITH JESUS!” Then it gets to be pretty exciting! Just look…….

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So these are my biggest concerns right now, and they are the reason I pour out my heart in words on this post. I can’t look at others and compare my own situation to theirs. I shouldn’t ask why God has me here while they are there and let the enemy turn my questions to anxiety. I simply must focus my eyes and thoughts on God’s guidance and His abundance of provision. I’m here to wait on Him and to TRUST Him. And pretty soon, He’s going to have me walking on water with him again. I can’t wait to get my feet wet!

Here are ways you can help:

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PRAY –

  • Pray that God will move in the political situation in Haiti.
  • Pray that God will continue to provide for the building and opening of the school.
  • Pray that He will speak through us as we have difficult conversations with local leaders.
  • Pray that He will replace lost revenue due to team cancellations so that we can continue to pay the staff that is currently running things in our absence.
  • Pray that He will provide leadership and healing in the local church at Hope Center.

SUPPORT –

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Their Hope Will NOT be Shaken!

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Every year, high school students all over Haiti gather at designated locations to take a three-day National exam, and it determines whether or not they can pass to the next grade. It is an extremely important exam. Over the last three years, our students have significantly raised the bar in the Ouest Department gaining national recognition for their impressive results.

This year, BGM High School has about 50 students taking the exam. Of the 50, 39 are sponsored. Their sponsors paid for their exam and they even received scientific calculators to use on Wednesday when they take the mathematics portion. They have worked so hard to prepare for this test. They have gone to study groups every weekend for months. We are so proud of them. We are praying for much success!

Sadly, the country of Haiti has been in disarray again over the last few weeks. The opposition groups that want to remove the president from office are funding gangs to wreak havoc upon the country to force the president to resign. A few days ago, they announced that they would shut down the roads this week with fire, rocks, and much violence in order to prevent students from being able to attend the exams. Last night, I texted our Superintendent, Moliere Arcel, and asked him if our students were going to be able to attend theirs. He said that the exams had not been cancelled, and the students were making plans to go. Today, I was told that Dieudonne and Bicly left early this morning to the testing site for Bicly to take his exam. I continued praying……

We all know how much pressure big comprehensive exams are. Can you imagine how difficult it is to concentrate on an exam while knowing there could be a gang of thugs outside trying to shut it down? Can you imagine knowing that your entire year of school depends on this one exam and there are citizens from your own country trying to block it? My heart just breaks…. Please pray for our precious students as well as all students across Haiti who are taking this exam in spite of the odds against them. They are so brave. Their hope WILL NOT be shaken!

……Please join me in praying for our students. Please continue to pray for peace in Haiti. Pray for clarity and pray for safety. It’s hard to know what is true and what is not true in situations like this. The ones who suffer the most in times like these are the ones who suffer daily under the oppression of a grossly lopsided economic divide. These are our friends and Haitian family. They carry on knowing that God is their provider and He is in control. What amazing faith they have!! Join me in covering them in prayer, please.

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It begins with a click….

One thing we as Americans take for granted is the availability of education. For most of us, whether or not our child will be able to go to school each year has never been a concern to cross our minds. School is compulsory, and it’s just a natural part of every American child’s life. This is not the case in Haiti. Although there are public schools, they aren’t really free, and parents have to pay for transportation to get them there. For villages that are not on the main roads with easy access to transportation, the only choice for education is the small, private school in the village. These private schools are dependent upon tuition to pay their teachers and pay for supplies to run the school. Most families in remote villages with little income cannot afford to pay this tuition, so the result is hundreds of kids not going to school and many small private schools with inadequate facilities and teaching staff.
God led us to change this situation for the children of the village of Galette Chambon, Haiti, where we live. It all began with the BGM Child Sponsorship Program. It has totally revolutionized education in our village. No longer do children in our village have to worry about whether or not they can go to school. They no longer have to take turns between siblings going to school because their parents can only afford to send one child at a time. As long as we can find sponsors, these kids can go to school for free. This is a huge miracle!
Our BGM Child Sponsorship program has been going on now for about five years, and as the years tick by, sponsorships change hands. As this school year comes to an end, we have a significantly long list of students in the program who have lost their sponsor for one reason or another, and they now need a new one in order to continue with school in the Fall. We have not notified their parents yet because we would really prefer to find a new sponsor before it comes to that. If you have ever considered sponsoring a child, please check out our website and pray about sponsoring one of these children. It’s only $37/month and every single penny of the money goes to the child’s education. BGM does not use one cent of sponsorship money for administrative costs. Your sponsorship pays for the child’s tuition, uniform, books, backpack, supplies, a hot meal every day for ALL students, teacher salaries, school supplies, school improvements, and the list goes on and on…but it ALL goes to the school.
Please consider sponsoring one of these children today! I really don’t want to have to go to any of these children and tell them they can’t go to school next year because they lost their sponsor. Some have been sponsored for five years now. Surely there are people out there who have felt led but just haven’t done it yet. Today is the day…. It begins with a click:

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West Family Newsletter, April 2019

I usually send this newsletter out in February each year, but this year it has taken me a bit longer to manage to get it done. My apologies for the delay, but I am excited to share so much good news with all of you!! Please click the link below to open the newsletter. I also provide a jpeg attachment of it below too.

Newsletter April 2019

Please be praying for us as we return to Haiti next week. We begin hosting our first team of the busy team season starting May 4th, and we pretty much have back to back teams coming until the middle of August. We are super excited about serving with all of the teams that have made plans to come and we will be praying for everyone as they plan and prepare!!

Thank you for taking the time to read our Newsletter!

Blessings!

Tony & Mickie

Newsletter April 2019

Newsletter April 2019 pg 2

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Betsy and the Bread of Life

Today I want to share with you a story. Some of you may already know this story, but other do not. It’s Betsy’s story, but it is also the story of countless other children in Haiti who have suffered the nightmare of malnutrition.

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Betsy was our first experience with infant malnutrition about six years ago. God used Betsy to set us on a pathway to eventually opening our own malnutrition center, Pen Lavi. When Betsy came to us, she was six months old and weighed six pounds. She had become very sick, stopped eating, and was wasting away. Her family didn’t know what to do for her, so they brought her to us for help. At the time, we had no idea of what to do, so we reached out for help through the Expat Community on Facebook. There is a medical page there that we often use to reach out for help from medical professionals across the country. Someone immediately suggested we contact Brittany Pierre who was running a malnutrition center down in Bel Anse (about 6 hours from us). I wrote to Brittany and she was flying in from the US and said we could meet her at the airport and she would take Betsy and her mom to her place for care. Over the next few weeks, Betsy had to go into the hospital multiple times as her fragile little body fought hard to stay alive. After multiple miracles, she made it. Today Betsy is a happy, thriving young girl who loves to help others and loves Jesus more than life itself.

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After Brittany took Betsy in, other families began to bring their malnourished babies to us for help. It seemed to be a constant, endless flow of desperate mamas trying to find a way to help their babies survive. We knew we could not continue to take these babies six hours away from their families. We found another malnutrition center that was closer, but it was still 3 hours away. As God continued to grow our understanding of malnutrition, He also grew our desire to open a center of our own that could meet the needs of these families closer to where they live. At the time, Rachel Charpie was working as a two-year intern at our children’s home. I had done some research and was putting together some forms and spreadsheets of the patients we had already had, but I knew that this was more than I could take on myself. I asked Rachel if she might be interested in taking on the challenge. She immediately said YES! God had already begun preparing her heart for the next step He wanted to take with her in her Haiti journey. Rachel had started leading a boy’s Bible study in our house on Saturdays. She practiced her diagnostic skills on them by going through all the tests and measurements required to diagnose someone with malnutrition. Most of the boys in the group were clinically malnourished. She started them on a nutritional regime that would get them to their optimal weight and size and within months, they were all released from the program.

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In the meantime, Rachel started seeing more and more patients in our clinic though her out-patient malnutrition program, but those who needed more intensive care were still having to go to a clinic 3 hours away. We began to pray for God to provide a place where we could offer inpatient care so that we wouldn’t have to send them so far away. God answered our prayers in every detail when He led us to the place where we would open Pen Lavi (Bread of Life) Malnutrition recovery center.

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Since the first day we opened the center, Rachel and her amazing staff have treated over 80 children who were severely malnourished. Not all have survived, but those that did not just came to us at a point when it was too late to survive or they had other medical problems that complicated it too much. These children that are taken in at Pen Lavi are given love and nurturing and nutrition that turns their little bodies and spirits from sickly and scared to healthy and happy just like Betsy. Their mamas are encouraged to stay with them there at the center so that they can not only give their child love and nurturing, but also learn about their child’s nutrition and health needs.

You see, malnutrition doesn’t necessarily mean “starving”; it more often means “bad nutrition.” It means that the child may have been eating, but he or she was only eating rice or bread and wasn’t getting a proper diet to provide the nutrients the body needs to grow and stay healthy. Complications develop in the body that put the child on a downward spiral to death. Organs start to shut down, and the child develops a syndrome called Kwashiokor that can quickly become lethal. We have treated many children with this problem over the last year in our center.

The miracles we see God perform in our midst daily at Pen Lavi are astounding. However, because the center doesn’t have a source of creating income to pay the medical staff and provide the medicines, medical care, and food the children need to recover, we have to raise those funds. We would like for Rachel to be able to focus completely on running the center without having to worry about whether or not the center can continue to be open because of budget issues. This is why we have decided to have an annual fundraiser called Food for Life where we raise all of her budget for the year and she and her staff can continue to provide the care all of these children need to survive like Betsy has. Our prayer is for every child that enters our doors to receive the absolute best possible care we can give them.

We would like for you to pray about helping us do that. Please join us at the Food for Life fundraiser dinner on May 2nd, 2019 buy purchasing a ticket for $45 and/or participating in our silent auction. The auction will be live at the event and online as well. Bidding will actually start online on April 25th. You can go to the But God Ministries Facebook page to learn more about the event or go to this link:  Food for Life fundraising event Your support truly provides Food for Life! Thank you, and God Bless!!

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God is at work in Haiti….

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As I sit here still answering messages that have come to me over the last 24 hours, my heart is hopeful as many, many people are joining us in prayer for Haiti. Monday night around midnight, when I went to bed, I checked my phone to make sure it was not on silent in case Tony called and then put it on the night stand to go to sleep. I checked it occasionally throughout the night for updates on what was going on in Haiti, and then around 5:00 am, my phone began to “ding” over and over….and over again. Between text messages and inbox messages, I had over 63 messages from people expressing concern. As more and more people started seeing people, groups, and organizations in Haiti post about the political demonstrations going on over there, I found myself spending the whole morning answering questions about our perspective on the situation. One of my missionary friends over there was sending me pictures of things she had seen or others had seen going on in the city, and I realized that this is not just a political situation, it’s spiritual. Haiti needs prayer. Right now, the forces that are wreaking havoc are powered by the enemy. Their intentions are evil. They are using the oppression and desperate condition of the masses to bring about political upheaval that will only benefit the wealthy and once again ignore those in need. But God….

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But our God is more powerful. He loves Haiti, and He loves the ones who are being daily oppressed and their condition ignored. This is why He called us there, to minister to the oppressed. And now He is calling us all to prayer. He is more powerful than the one making a mess of things over there, and we CLAIM Haiti, by the power of God, for CHRIST! He WILL move, and He WILL establish peace again there soon so that we can continue to serve Him by helping the people of our village.

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God’s word is FILLED with not suggestions but commands to minister to those in need. Look for yourself. Do a search in the Word about poverty and helping others. Over the last two days I have found myself reading Psalms and Proverbs, asking God to use His word to embolden my spirit. He has done that. Proverbs 31: 8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” God loves them and calls us to serve Him in ministry to them. The poor in Haiti deserve a chance, and God’s plan for them has not changed. In our village, people don’t seek luxury, but they do want to be able to send their kids to school, get dependable medical care, find ways to establish their own businesses, grow and harvest their fields for food and market, worship together in peace, and move about the country easily and affordably as they go about their daily lives. BGM as well as many of you have partnered with them over the years to help them do just this. Over the last 7 years, the improvements we have seen happen in the lives of people in our village are enormous! Thousands of people have come to our village to serve with us and love on our people. This WILL NOT CHANGE. As it is God’s will, it will continue! As David cried in Psalm 35:10,  I cry out too: “My whole being will exclaim, ‘Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.'” When I read Psalm 113:5-8, “Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people” the words that stuck out to me were ASH HEAP. Here I picture the piles of smoldering ash in the streets of Haiti after the burning tires have lost their flames and the people have returned to their lives. God reminds me, “I am on the throne, I see the pain, and I WILL MOVE.” The flames will smolder out, and the needy will be lifted up and seated “with the princes of his people.”

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I needed this so, so much. My heart has been breaking and my spirit in panic as I envisioned once again the poor suffering because of the injustices of others as hundreds of Americans fear coming to the beautiful country where we serve. I  just don’t want to see that happen again. I want to see people joining us in ministry to the ones we have grown to love so much. I have thought about LyniaNara needing medical care, and Mr. Saintus and Mdm Dorsainvil needing their blood pressure medicine. It hurts my heart to know Mr. Milfort can’t make his almost daily hike from Ganthier to Hope Center to visit with us. I cry as I envision all of the children in our village unable to attend school, growing more and more hungry because the food trucks are unable to pass through barricades in the city to deliver food.  I have found myself on my knees, just crying uncontrollable tears to God. ….then it hit me!

God said, “This is where I want you right now.” He reminded me of Psalm 146:5-9 where He says, “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” God is watching over us. He is the maker of heaven, earth, sea….and Haiti. Haiti is HIS. She is not mine, or yours, or anyone else’s. She belongs to God, and He wants us to BOW DOWN and pray for the ways of the wicked to be “frustrated.” He will protect the foreigners and sustain those we serve. It’s happening right now. He WILL lift Haiti up again. We WILL serve normally there again, and soon. This confusion is only for a short season as He stirs things up and moves people to once again turn to Him.

So now for the elephant in the room. Many people have called and written to me as well as the BGM office and asked, “What do we do now? Do we continue making plans to come to Haiti to serve?” The answer is OF COURSE, WE DO!! The called of God don’t let the wickedness of the enemy hijack God’s plan and rob those to whom we minister. We don’t allow the enemy to manifest fear in our hearts and chase us away from our call. We are cautious and practical, of course, as we believe God would have us be, but we do not, WILL NOT, abandon the call. God is clearly not finished with the work He called us to. The many thousands of other believers who join together as the body of Christ to minister to those in need in Haiti are STILL CALLED. This time of upheaval is a call to prayer, to REAL faith in God’s power to move among the people of Haiti as they once again turn to Him and rise out of the grip of the enemy. Before we know it, the streets are going to be open again, businesses are going the be thriving again, schools are going to be teaching again, and WE – the Body of Christ – are going to get up off our knees refreshed and renewed and ready to be His hands and feet to this beautiful nation to continue the work He called us to.

Anyone who has ever lived in Haiti knows how one week you can be lifting your eyes up to a beautiful sky filled with a fresh, ocean breeze rustling the palm fonds, and the next week the air can be filled with the smoke of burning tires.  It’s a third world country. Oppressed people are easily influenced and enflamed by corruption. To serve full-time in a country like this, one must build relationships with trusted people who also have influence around the country, who will spring into action when things get rough. One must utilize multiple sources to be aware of conditions all throughout the country. One must have plans in place for keeping people safe while they serve as well as give safe evacuation in cases of emergency.  God has blessed But God Ministries with all of these things. We will not allow a group to come into the country if we do not feel it is safe to travel to our village. We will be in communication with every group that has booked a week on the calendar as that week approaches and we continue making plans for ministry.  As long as we can safely move these groups in and out, and as long as our Haitian staff can help us prepare, we will do so. We keep our eyes set on God and His plan for His ministry in Haiti. Can unpredictable events occur that are out of our control? Of course they can. Life is unpredictable. But we must remember that panic is not of God. Wisdom is. The plan of God is still at work and will continue on in His power, protection, and provision, and we will rest and trust in His will.

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Please join us in this call to prayer, and please continue making your plans. All of this uprising and chaos will be over soon, and life in Haiti will be no different than it was a few weeks ago when we were busy teaching ESL to village kids, educating expectant mothers, building houses, serving lunch to school kids, and seeing patients in medical clinic. Our prayer is that there will be one big difference though. Our prayer is that Haiti will have a renewed sense of the power of God and a new commitment to His will in their lives and the future of their nation.

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