Monday, February 10, 2014

God is Enough by Steve Duede

God Is Enough! 
by Steve Duede

Today began early. We were up before the sun. Even before the roosters started crowing. We woke up early so we could attend a Pentecostal church service not too far from where we are staying. The service was held in a huge, but extremely modest building packed with folding chairs; however, very few people were sitting. Most of the folks were walking around, hands in the air, praising God. The band was good and the music leader, Pastor Gary, did a great job of singing and proclaiming God’s truths. I’ll admit, I was all in. Especially when we sang songs about God being all we need. As he encouraged us to seek God first - even before seeking health, wealth, food, status, possessions and any other earthly things we might pursue, I was challenged to the core. Could I do that living in these harsh conditions? I wondered why any one in Haiti would even want to follow God? On the outside looking in, they don’t seem very blessed? The poverty level here is unbelievable. Then it occurred to me that maybe, because they have nothing, God is everything. He’s all they have and all they need. Yes, God is still good and worthy to be praised, regardless of our circumstances! I knew that but now I saw it firsthand. Another lesson learned in Haiti.

From there we went to General Hospital. Seeing so many infants and children sick, some of them dying, was not easy. Their families just don’t have the financial means to provide the care and medicine necessary to heal them. The hospital rooms that housed the children were hot, dingy, stale and dirty. Not a place I would ever want my children to be placed. My heart broke for these kids and their families. I’ll never forget one such boy: a 14 year old named Schneider. He had been there for 11 days battling Tuberculosis. He was so thin you could count his ribs and easily put your hand around his legs. But even in his dying days, he managed to sing a long with a chorus of Glory To God. He said he loved Jesus and we all knew what a holy moment it was to get to be with him in his last days on earth. This was a God ordained moment for sure. The one bright spot of this visit is that the music we played and sang provided comfort and a distraction for the children and their families.  Yes. Glory to God indeed!

Our final stop of the day was at an orphanage called Gertrude’s. The kids we spent time with were all special needs kids; some of them had been left on the side of the road to die before being rescued. They not only have disabilities but they have no families. They are the least of the least but they so captured our hearts. I loved our music time there! The kids came alive trying to move to the beat. One of my favorite moments was seeing Guy - one of our team members - holding this teenage girls arm, helping her play a shaker, as we sang. She was in a wheel chair and could barley move her limbs. It brought a smile to my face and my heart. In fact, I had to stop playing and singing for a moment because I was so overwhelmed. The best time though, was spent holding and playing with the kids. One little boy was blind and very clingy. He would cuddle up in your arms and burry his little head into your shoulders. He was so affectionate. We all took turns holding him and many others. When we left, we were tired, sweaty and saturated with a sour urine smell. But man, it was worth it!

What a day! From start to finish it was full of heartbreak and joy, laughter and tears. But it was in these moments that God’s presence was so strong. I saw it in the other team members as they poured themselves out like a drink offering over and over again everywhere we went. God carried us today and showed us what true love looks like. When I rest my head on the pillow tonight my thoughts will end as they begin this morning in the church service:  God is enough!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Recap by Donna Bennett

Where do I start?  Six nights in and my outlook on God’s grace, mercy, love, compassion and HEART are completely transformed.  I am transformed. 

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

This week I was certainly tested: physically, emotionally and spiritually.  The will of God is certainly LOVE …  How open are you to love?  Loving others  Loving God … and Loving yourself for who He has created you to be?  Really, just take a moment and consider that question.

As I sit hear and write this, I am listening to “Quiet Wyatt’s” group coming alive with their own rendition of “Open Arms”.  Yep, a bunch of 30-40 something’s rocking out to Journey’s classic song.  If you are reading this, I will bet you know this song.  Come on … sing the chorus, “ I come to you with open arms…nothing to hide, believe what I say.  So here I am with open arms … hoping you’ll see …  what your love means to me … open arms”!  Jesus has open arms for you too!  1 Corinthians 16:23 says, “our master Jesus has His arms wide open for you”.

Even though that is a classic  “Journey” tune many of us grew up with,  I have to admit, this would be one of the songs the Haitians, along with our team, sang to each other each day.  Everywhere we went there were “open arms”.  When I look back on this week’s journey (no pun intended).  I remember our arrival at the Port Au Prince airport, visiting the dying, visiting the orphanages, delivering water, visiting the elderly,  and visiting the hospital.  In every meeting, we were greeted with “Open Arms” and so were they.

What’s interesting to me is that we were asked at the beginning of the week to “open our eyes”.  The Haitians love that song and if you have read my posts, you know how God has truly opened our eyes to who He is and what He is asking each of us to do to serve the “least of these”.  Keep in mind, that we too are the “least of these”.  In Matthew 19:24 Jesus says, “I’ll say it again.  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.”  Wealth can provide spiritual depravation and poverty can provide physical depravity.  If opposites truly attract, I am sure Haitians and Americans are a match made in Heaven.

This has been a journey that will change each of us forever.  This week, we too were the “least of these”, as God really opened our eyes and our hearts to see Him.  One of the songs we sang tonight was “Hosanna” by Hillsong.  The bridge reads:

Heal my heart and make it clean,
Open up my eyes to the things unseen,
Show me how to love like you have loved me,
Break my heart for what breaks yours,
Everything I am for your Kingdoms cause,
As I walk from Earth into Eternity…

From Earth into Eternity… Think of that!  We will all pass from this earth one day.   How is god shaping your heart?  What will you do for His Kingdoms cause?

I would like to close with one last verse and two pictures.

We met so many people this week.  All live in poverty, all love Jesus and all opened our eyes and greeted us with open arms.

The final verse I would like to close with is this (it’s long, but worth the read),

Philippians 2:2-11:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his Love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross!  Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Did you read that?  EVERY TONGUE will confess that JESUS is LORD!

One of the toughest moments for me this week was standing in a room for three hours yesterday and watching three AUTISTIC children tied to a crib because they were abandoned.  My daughter is autistic and the thought of her never realizing her full potential because no one would look into her eyes and see God’s light was truly heartbreaking.

The second heartbreak in that room was standing next to a 14 year old boy, whose name is Schneider.  He is the same age as my son, and knowing he would most likely not live another week because he has disease that is CURABLE in our country was also heartbreaking.  His body was simply skin on bone … I stroked each rib with lotion and prayed for him.  I asked him if he “knows Jesus”.  He answered, “oui”.  “Yes”, in French.   I asked him if he has “hope”.  He answered, “oui”. 

At this point, the band had just come in to the room.  They began to sing “Glory to God” in French.  Although his voice was faint, Schneider sang.  I pressed my ear down to his lips and just listened.  His heart is pure and all of His HOPE is found in Jesus.  He truly, in that moment, helped me see the beauty in his journey with Christ.

As the verse reads above, “EVERY Knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Chirst is Lord….  To the Glory of God the Father!”

Because we share the same Hope in Christ, one day, I will see Schneider and those precious autistic kids again in Heaven and look forward to giving GLORY TO GOD FOREVER!

This week, the old has passed away and each of us has been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  God has not only called us to open our arms, but to also open our eyes.  We praise HIM who created all things for doing a mighty work in Haiti and in all of us at and on our Eagle Brook worship team this week.  Together we will forever sing,

Glwa Pou Bondye! 

Haitian Creole for
 Glory to God!

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart!  Jeremiah 29:13

Friday, February 7, 2014


Beauty by Maddie Duede

Maddie Duede

Haiti consists of trash baking in the heat, rivers of sewage lining dirt roads, and more poverty than any American could ever imagine. Most people are jobless, homeless, widowed, ill, or all of these.  The smell is unbearable, but the people living here are used to it. The broken glass and scattered trash is abounding, but they know nothing else. As we have driven through such conditions this week, it can be easy to get caught up in how poor Haiti is and miss out on the beauty that rivals it.
            Mountains stretching to the sky, the picturesque ocean lapping on sand, the smiles and laughter of a child who is happy to simply play soccer with an empty 7 Up bottle in the street, but most of all, the strong faith that many Haitians have in Jesus Christ.
            I have met tons of people in my life that genuinely love the Lord, but never have I seen praise so authentic before this trip. We have done different types of mission work this week, but one thing we’ve done consistently is lead worship for people with our instruments and voices. Every time men, women and children, young and old, have raised their hands, sang along with us and rejoiced, despite the fact that most of the time they don’t quite understand what we’re saying; but they’ve known the message we are trying to get across. Quotes like, “We have nothing, so God is everything,” and “You can bring me water, you can bring me food, but nothing will satisfy me like Jesus can,” have sincerely rocked me. The authentic praise and faith I have seen in these people is such an inspiration. It is beautiful. They are beautiful.
            We came to Haiti to serve “the least of these”, but in reality, they have served us just as much if not more so. Amidst the garbage and suffering, there is an indescribable beauty that can only point to God’s hand. These people may be lacking in worldly possessions, but they are storing up miraculous treasures in the kingdom of heaven.


Elderly Visits by Donna Bennett

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing.  You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time.  Winning is a habit. – Vince Lombardi

 “Hey You”!  This is how we were greeted today by many of the Haitian children.  I am not sure who taught these kids this phrase, but it has totally caught on and is now a favorite way for these kids to welcome interaction. 

So, “hey you”, read up and feel free to share or comment on any of the blogs you are reading.

This was an emotionally draining day for me, so this post will be short and to the point!

We visited the elderly today, a mass gravesite of 150,000 Haitians who died in the 2010 earthquake, and Grace Village which is Healing Haiti’s orphanage and school.

Most impactful for me today was our first visit with and elderly woman named, Maricia. 

The band started playing and Kari asked who would be willing to rub lotion on Maricia’s dry legs.  Well, I didn’t volunteer.  Seeing how dirty Maricia was and seeing blood and drool dripping from her mouth from just having teeth pulled didn’t seem inviting to me.  Crazy admission…. I know!  Truth of the matter is, I didn’t want to rub lotion on Maricia.  My hands had broken out in hives and I wasn’t sure if it was from something I had touched from our visit to City Soleil. 

I found myself staring into the tiny room that Maricia calls her “home”.  It is dark, messy and had one chicken walking around in it.

 My eyes were drawn to a certificate that proudly hung on her wall.  It said, “Certificate of Excellence”.

 As my eyes were fixed on this certificate, Sharalee asked Maricia, “What does Jesus mean to you?”  Maricia quickly responded, “I have nothing, so Jesus is EVERYTHING”.

Those words brought tears to my eyes as I took in the joy, thankfulness and love that Maricia has for God.

Maricia’s statement and her certificate instantly brought a Bible verse to my head. 

I Corinthians 9:24-25 (message) says, “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race.  Everyone runs; one wins.  Run to win.  All good athletes train hard.  They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades.  You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

In an instant, I was in complete AWE of this beautiful lady.  She, Maricia, is running the race.  She is running to WIN!

I looked at Maricia and remembered that she is Royalty, the daughter of our King.  She belongs to and lives for Jesus.  He is everything!  All of a sudden, I felt like I was staring at an Olympic athlete.  My thought was “how can I not touch you, Maricia?”  All of a sudden I found myself at the feet of someone who is more than worthy of love, touch and affection.  As I rubbed her leathery body, I felt honored to be in the presence of someone who will one day hear from Jesus, “Well Done, Good and FAITHFUL servant”.

2 Timothy 4:7 says, “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Philippians 3:14 says, “ I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”