By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—“When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come…”The lyrics to Matt Redman’s song, “Heart of Worship” linger in Mark Week’s mind long after a January mission trip to Haiti. Weeks, Pleasant View Church’s worship pastor, will always remember sitting at night with other mission team members after a long day of construction work, and singing that song. What really touched him though, was when the Haitians joined in, singing in their native French Creole.
“They really had lost everything of earthly value. For them it truly was all stripped away and they were just worshipping God,” Weeks said. Pleasant View Church and Welsh Memorial Church partnered to minister to Haiti earthquake victims in January, their second mission trip to Haiti. In fact, the teams were in Port-Au-Prince during the first year anniversary of the devastating earthquake. They worked with International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries Sam and Delores York in a small neighborhood called Damien in Port-Au-Prince.
On their first trip in August 2010, the churches labored every day from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. digging foundations, laying block, building rafters, covering roofs with tin and building and installing doors. The daily heat index was 115 degrees. The teams were able to work on approximately six houses during their time in Damien.
The churches returned in January, adding a medical component to their team—a doctor, nurse and several assistants offered daily clinics, ministering to 352 people in five days while others continued with construction work.
Team members were especially moved with compassion when they visited two orphanages, especially one that was in an old building condemned by the Haitian government.
“There were horrendous living conditions in that orphanage,” Debbie Weeks said. Debbie is the wife of Pleasant View Church Senior Pastor Wally Weeks. “Many didn’t have clothes. They were barefoot, walking in the dirt and they didn’t get to go to school. It broke my heart.”
Both churches have been praying for God’s direction in a way to help the orphanage on a long-term basis. They are now forming a leadership summit, a partnership of Welsh and Pleasant View as well as other churches in Maryland and throughout the country and with Haiti missionaries to help that and other orphanages
Thomas Winborn said God is blessing the efforts of short and long term missionaries. When the teams returned in January, they found overall very little progress in Port-Au-Prince, except slightly less rubble, but there was significant improvement in Damien, where the team had helped Baptist Global Response (BGR) workers. The Haitians, working alongside missionaries, had built an additional 120 homes in five months.
There was also emotional progress. “People weren’t so hopeless. They had a positive outlook,” Winborn said, attributing that brightened outlook to the ongoing work of BGR, the International Mission Board and United States church mission teams, including those from the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. Most importantly, there was a spiritual change. “There was a great difference from the first trip to the second in the number of locals who were open to the Gospel,” Winborn said. “The Gospel is going forth and lives are being changed to the glory of God.”
The Haitians were filled with gratitude. Debbie Weeks said on the first day the team arrived in Damien people came out to thank them for coming.
Winborn said one especially tender moment occurred on the last night of the trip. “… the leader of all the work teams (a man named Thomas) stood before us after having worshiped with songs in both Creole and English for the past hour and told us, ‘You might feel as though the work you did here was minimal, but I promise you…(tears filling his eyes)…the people of Damien will never forget you. We will never forget you, or the love you have shown us.’”
Winborn said many Haitians said that they know God shook them with the earthquake in order to call them back to Himself. “In their own words, many of them believe God did this in order to get their attention so that He might begin a revival in Haiti.”