Tag Archives: hope

Giving thanks always and continually

fall

Oh fall. If you were only with me in Haiti. Taken in Colorado in October.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States and although today is like any other day for us in Haiti, I can’t help but reflect on the whole giving thanks thing.    All in all I have a lot to be thankful for—food to eat, a roof over my head, a loving wife, genuine community, and good health for starters.

This isn’t always true but in general I wonder if it is easier to pick out what we’re thankful for when we’re encouraged to do so on one particular day.

But what about the other 364 days of the year?

This is what I’m asking myself this morning—how am I doing with giving thanks with a grateful heart on all the non-Thanksgiving days?  And if I could add up the moments when I expressed my gratitude on these other 364 days, how many of those would have been during a moment when all is well and in order compared to the chaotic or discouraging moments?

A friend of ours recently wrote about remaining thankful despite the valleys we sometimes find ourselves in.  I found her words encouraging and relevant to the questions I’ve been asking.  She shared the following verse:

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Always.  Continually.  All circumstances.  Give thanks not just on one day and not just haphazardly either but do it well, do it often, and do it with rejoicing.

What a beautiful and hopeful calling.  I’m choosing to trust that today on Thanksgiving and on all the other days of the year, God will give me the strength and grace necessary to live out this calling through Christ Jesus.

I’m also encouraged by people here in Haiti like Manoucha.  We recently visited this young woman who has faced tough challenges yet still manages to keep moving forward.

Crabier, Goats HTK 19-11-14_106

Manoucha shows off her beautiful smile.

We met her for the first time in the summer of 2013 after she received a goat through World Concern’s Hope to Kids program.  The program is meant to provide students with a goat—and therefore a source of income—which can help them pay for school and meet their basic needs.

Crabier, Goats HTK 19-11-14_094

Manoucha walks from her church to her home in the seaside village of Crabier, Haiti.

Manoucha is a little old for her grade at school.  As a 20-year-old she is in the same grade as her 16-year-old sister, Dieunike, because health issues in past years have kept her out of school and at home.

“Now I am well but sometimes I still get sick which means I cannot go to school or work,” Manoucha said.

It hasn’t been an easy road however she was able to begin school this year on time, for the second year in a row, and is now only two years away from graduating high school!

“I choose to keep giving effort at school so that I can one day help my family,” she said.  “I want to study to become a nurse because I like this.  Then if someone in my family is sick I can help them.”

Manoucha is already finding ways to help her family.  Her goat has given offspring and she gave one of the kids to her sister Dieunike so she can also benefit.   The gift of one goat has a multiplying effect within this family.  It is encouraging to see Manoucha continue to persevere despite her challenges.

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Manoucha with her sisters Dieunika (middle) and Nadine (far right) outside their house.

 

Crabier, Goats HTK 19-11-14_129

Dieunika and her goat.

The call to “rejoice always” in 1 Thessalonians is for all of us whatever season of life we find ourselves in. This is an important reminder for me today but also for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows in this next year and I hope it gives you hope as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends and family.

Konferans Agrikol and Seeing Potential

I recently read a blog that began with the words, “Haiti is a country known for its statistics.” Such statistics being the not so good ones such as majority of the population living on less than $2 a day and tens of thousands dead following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010. As this blog said and as I believe too, “Haiti is full of potential” despite these statistics and the bad press the country often gets.

This potential is often best seen within Haitians themselves.  They are people very capable of becoming change makers in their families, communities, and country.  I was reminded of this recently when Martha and I attended a five-day agricultural conference called ‘Konferans Agrikol.’

The goal of the conference was to bring together delegates from across northern Haiti who are actively working in agriculture and sustainable development for exchange, cross-learning, stimulating presentations, and hands-on workshops.

banner The conference was hosted at L’Université Chrétienne du Nord d’Haïti’s (UCNH) beautiful campus in Limbe and coordinated by our good friend and Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM) missionary Rhoda Beutler, who is actually an agronomist.  Rhoda worked closely with a committee made up of UCNH faculty and a couple others from organizations in Limbe and Cap-Haitian.  There were also many other volunteers who put a lot of effort into making this conference come together.

Martha and I were representing World Concern at the conference and also documenting the conference through photos, videos, and interviews so that materials can be produced to attract delegates for future conferences throughout Haiti.

martha and interns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally Martha gave a short photography training to the conference’s interns who were responsible for take photos of what they saw throughout the week and then sharing highlights with everyone at the end of the conference.

first evening sessionThe first evening was spent giving a presentation of activities for the week and introductions.  As introductions in Haiti can take a long time (an open floor is just too enticing) delegates were encouraged to take 3 minutes to introduce themselves and the area of their work.

We didn’t get to everyone that first evening but right away I was impressed with the high level of interest and capacity shown by the delegates who introduced themselves.  Delegates were representing churches, grassroots groups, non-government organizations, and peasant organizations but all were focused on agriculture and sustainable development.

delegates in session

Presentations were given almost daily throughout the week on topics such as: soil conservation, animal husbandry, new and improved agricultural techniques, and even the chikungunya virus which has been wreaking havoc in Haiti the past few months.

While the presentations had a lecture feel, there was often discussion and comments from the delegates, each sharing their insight and asking questions.  The fact that the conference created a space for cross-learning was the most unique aspect in my opinion because everyone had the opportunity to benefit from each other’s experience.

friends at breakfast

UCNH was an ideal place to host the conference because as a university it has a dormitory, cafeteria, and meeting facilities, not to mention lots of space outdoors.  I told Martha it reminded me of summer camp for adults!  Here are some of our new friends enjoying breakfast before the day began.

making compost

In addition to presentations, the conference also organized several hands-on workshops. This is a photo of the compost workshop.  Some of the delegates were familiar with composting already but it was new for others.  This workshop and the others were valuable because they involved ‘learning by doing’ not just listening.

dr kelly

Dr. Kelly Crowdis (center, at the table), also with CVM, gave a workshop on diseases which can be transferred between animals and humans.  This workshop was very conversational and delegates took turns sharing stories and asking questions.

nivo a wide shot

Any idea what these delegates are doing?  This workshop was about the “Nivo A” (or A-frame) technique which is used in contour farming and helps prevent water runoff and soil erosion.  Obviously this is a very important and relevant technique for people working in agriculture in Haiti to know.  I sure learned a lot!

mfk visit

Later in the week, there was a day of field visits.  Three field visits were organized in total to three different organizations doing unique or new work in the region and each delegate was given the opportunity to choose one.  Martha and I helped lead the visit to the Meds & Food for Kids (MFK) factory and experimental peanut plots (pictured above), and to Carbon Roots International’s production site.

inside mfk

MFK makes a nutritious and peanut based ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) paste for malnourished kids in Haiti.  They work closely with local peanut producers in the region and teach them about growing and storing this crop.  MFK produces this paste in Haiti and has a beautiful facility (pictured above) which we also toured.

Green Charcoal (1)

These photos are from Carbon Roots’ production site.  They are all about sustainable charcoal technologies.  Haiti continues to see its trees chopped down to fuel the ever hungry charcoal industry; contributing to many problems such as climate change and environmental degradation.  Carbon Roots is trying to provide another option–treeless charcoal or “green charcoal” made from agricultural waste like sugar cane and corn refuse.

The staff at both sites were very hospitable and receptive.  The delegates were very curious about the work both of these organizations are doing and hopefully encouraged them to think outside the box in terms of how their own organizations operate and function.  Local ingenuity is certainly present in this country, it just needs to be channeled in the right direction and I think these field visits helped delegates see what is possible.

group photo

What a good looking group of people!  It was refreshing to spend a few days with these remarkable people.  I walked away feeling very encouraged because I met many people who love Haiti and are working diligently to help people in this country live more healthy and productive lives.  Haiti has tremendous potential and there is so much more to this place than statistics.  Things are changing for the better, albeit slowly, and it’s fun to see a glimpse of that happening from the ground up.

Out of Chaos, Light

haiti sunset1

cha·os  noun  /ˈkāäs/

complete confusion and disorder : a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything

Confusion and disorder were some of the many words coming to mind this past week as I read the tragic headlines coming out of Nairobi, Kenya.  The Westgate shopping mall was sieged by militants from the radical group al-Shabaab, resulting in dozens of deaths and leaving at least 170 injured.  The firsthand accounts that have emerged are absolutely chilling and paint a picture of utter chaos.  As the attack finally comes to end, the process of grieving will undoubtedly begin.

Following such an evil act, I find myself looking for answers to make sense of it all.  Why?  What was the motivation?  How can this happen despite all the technology and surveillance and security measures available to us in the 21st century?  Was this preventable?  Although I was not affected personally by the attack, it is heart wrenching to see such senseless violence carried out against innocent people.

Thankfully there have been no mass shootings in Haiti recently on par with what happened in Nairobi this past week.  However even this week, I have asked some of these same difficult questions as I learned of tragedies here related to sickness, injustice and spiritual warfare.  It seems that both at a collective (macro) and personal (micro) level, chaos is very present.

So how can we deal with and respond to and overcome tragedy and pain and confusion and unanswered questions and heartache and darkness in our world?

The natural solution to darkness is light and I love how God uses this imagery throughout His redemptive story, beginning with creation.

The first two verses of the book of Genesis read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Our pastor in Haiti has been teaching on this theme of light and explained recently that the Hebrew word translated as formless in this passage actually means chaos.  In the beginning the earth was in chaos.

And what was God’s answer to chaos?  Light.

Verses three and four say, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”

Light brought form and stability and hope and goodness into a previously dark and chaotic place.

And this light and its life giving nature is available to us today through Jesus Christ.

Jesus said himself, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

So how can we deal with and respond to and overcome the difficulties and darkness in our world?  By turning to the author of life, the only one who can bring light to chaos.

Do questions and uncertainties remain?  Yes.

Does pain and grief disappear immediately?  No.

Honestly I still struggle with trying to understand tragedies like Westgate and also the everyday tragedies that we hear of in Haiti.  However I take comfort in knowing that there is an answer to all the chaos.

Note:  I should say that thankfully, all World Concern staff members in Nairobi have been accounted for and are safe.  This is certainly a difficult time for many people in Nairobi, but as our friend and colleague Kelly Ranck who is based in Nairobi recently wrote in a beautiful blog post, “Kenya will rise again!”  I encourage you to read more by clicking here.  

“Saved to serve people”

Berlin Jean Photo1-SMALL

On a recent visit to the commune of Port-de-Paix in northern Haiti, we had the opportunity to speak with Berlin Jean.  Berlin is currently working for World Concern as Shelter Manager for a disaster risk reduction project in the Port-de-Paix area.  He is a civil engineer by trade, 30 years old, and a lot of fun to be around.  Berlin is the kind of person that others gravitate towards.  The earthquake that shook Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas on January 12 2010, also shook up Berlin’s life.  He graciously sat down with us and discussed how, as he puts it, “Jesus saved him to serve people.”  Berlin also shared with us about his current work with World Concern and how it is impacting communities in northern Haiti.

Austin: So January 12, 2010.  How did you start the day?  Do you remember what the morning was like?

Berlin: I remember.  I had a course, a class to teach in Delmas (a neighborhood in Port-au-Prince).  A course of physics.  And after teaching, I have the course at 12pm, when I finish there was a building, a university, in the same place as the college.  And I go to the fifth floor to work with some students you know.  And after some time, it seems there was someone that told me to go out.  It seems there was someone who told me, who asked me to go out and leave the building.  I feel something.

A: No one spoke to you?

B: No, no one.  I feel something would happen.  I told them, tomorrow, because I want to leave.  So I go out.  When I was arriving in the yard of the school, I was talking to my friends you know and after leaving the gate of the school I felt something…I felt something.  I didn’t understand because it was for the first time in Haiti we will have something like this.

A: What were you thinking when it first was shaking?

B: I didn’t understand.  I closed my eyes, I didn’t understand.  And after opening my eyes I didn’t see the school.  I said, “Oh my God what happened?”  And at the same time I saw all of my friends who were in the same class with me and everybody was dead.  I can say only me, only me was there…was still alive, only me.

A: How do you explain the feeling you had to leave the building?  Do you think its’ from God or is it something that just came to your mind?

[vimeo 58994100]
B: I know one of the reasons we have a lot of people died in Haiti is because of the bad manner of construction in Haiti.

As an engineer for example, I find a possibility to teach people, to train people; to say to them that when you construct you have to use the good materials, the good sand, because if something else will happens, I can’t say we will not have any victims but we will have less victims.  This is one of the ways I can serve people.

A: What project are you working on now? 

B: The title of my project is CIDRR, its Community Initiatives for Disaster Risk Reduction.  But there is three parts in this project.  There is water, sanitation and hygiene.  And there is shelter.  And protection of environment.  But me, I am working as manager for shelter.

A: What does this project hope to achieve for the people of Port-de-Paix?

B: Yes, you know the first time I come to Port-de-Paix I saw Port-de-Paix is very very very vulnerable.  You will visit the areas.  You will see how it is very very…for me it is the most vulnerable area in Haiti.

A: What makes it vulnerable?

B: You can see there is mountains around us okay.  Now, the people construct at the top of the mountain and it is bad construction.  They don’t really take, how can I say that, use good materials and so forth you know.

Now I have to visit the community shelters because if there is a storm the population leaves their house to come to the shelter; if the shelter is not good is not nothing.  And I will train the masons, okay I will train them to construct good houses and if there is one day something happen like an earthquake and the shelters have to resist okay.

A: How does World Concern in this project involve the community?  Do you speak to the community about what is needed?

B: Yes, yes.  We have a lot of meetings with the community. We have meetings too with the local authority.  You know we have a lot of meetings.

And we encourage them to participate, to give participation when we are working for them too.  For example in some community we find out about toilet and latrine.  But we won’t come and do the latrine for the people.  They can dig.  Yeah, they have to participate.

A: Have you been able to share your story with other people?

B: This story? Oh yes. Because for me it a very very interesting story.  You know, maybe if someone didn’t believe in God, after hearing this story he would say that “Oh maybe there is really a God.”  My story can help people to save themself.

A: For someone that has never been to Haiti, what would you want people to know about this place, about your country?  What would you share with them?

B: I hear that people say, “Please don’t come in Haiti because Haiti is a bad country.  There are a lot of insecurity, for example, in Haiti.  There are problems in Haiti. Haiti is a dirty country.  Haiti bad country.”  Me, I say to them, “No, no, no.”  The Haitian people is a good, good, very good people.

…I have to say that Haiti have some magnificent places.  Yes, Haiti is a very, very, very good country.  And I encourage people to come and to see if Haiti is a bad country.

A: Your story is giving people hope and encouragement about Haiti and what World Concern is doing here.  Thank you for sharing.

B: Me, I thank you. It’s for me to thank you and to thank World Concern too because in the name of all Haitian people, in the name of all my team, in the name of all employees of World Concern in Haiti, we thanks World Concern very much because it help.  Thank you, thank you very much.  May God bless World Concern, because I love World Concern.

Jekob – World Concern Video

Musician Jekob recently teamed up with World Concern to put together this new video.  Great to see talented artists like Jekob use their influence and leverage to bring awareness to the issue of global poverty.  There are even a couple shots in the video from World Concern’s work in Haiti.  Can you pick them out?

Martha and I will have the opportunity to document World Concern’s work in Haiti, using words, photos, and video.  The poor in Haiti deserve to be heard.  We hope to provide an avenue for them to share their story.  If you are interested in joining our team and helping us communicate stories of hope and transformation, consider making a gift to our ministry!

For more videos from World Concern check out their YouTube channel.

Elevator Speech – Our life and work in Haiti

Since receiving our call to serve in Haiti and beginning this journey with World Concern, I have been looking for the perfect elevator speech.  Do you know what I mean by elevator speech?  We often get asked, “So what exactly will you be doing in Haiti?”  If I am not careful, I can let my passion and excitement get in the way and pretty soon I realize I have been talking for ten minutes straight!  An elevator speech is just that.  A quick look at how we will be serving in Haiti that can be shared with anyone I meet in an elevator.  Well, here is my attempt at giving you the ‘quick look’ of what God has called us to do in Haiti.

Providing training to farmers in southern Haiti

1)   Serve the poor
Martha and I will be working alongside our Haitian colleagues to meet the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable in Haiti.  World Concern excels at providing relief in areas not serviced by other agencies.  As an organization, we go to the hard and remote places in rural Haiti.  We believe God desires for all things and people to be redeemed to Him, including those affected by physical poverty.  Our skills in communication will help World Concern’s transformational work in Haiti continue.  In a recent blog post, I talk about the power clean water can have in meeting the needs of a community.  I hope you will check it out!

2)   Communicate stories of hope and transformation
Martha and I are honored to be given the task of telling individual’s and community’s stories of transformation.  The poor are often neglected and oppressed in society.  We seek to offer an avenue for those who have experienced poverty, to share about their journey.  Our hope is that the stories we collect will serve as an encouragement to those inside and outside of Haiti.  Additionally, Martha and I hope to spur on individuals and churches in North America and beyond, to become involved in partnering with World Concern to alleviate poverty in Haiti.  The story of the community of Lavanneau is one in particular that accurately captures the transforming work that we get to be a part of.

Equipping entrepreneurs and small business owners through microfinance

I (Austin) will also be assisting the local staff in areas of grant writing and preparing project reports.  This writing and administration assistance will be a huge help to our staff in Haiti.

3)   Move the staff and those we serve closer to Jesus
Martha and I are committed to speaking truth and providing spiritual encouragement to those we meet in Haiti.  We will have wonderful opportunities to especially connect with the World Concern Haiti staff.  Each week we as a staff come together in the office for a time of devotion and study in scripture.  Outside of this structured time, we will be focusing on building relationships with the staff members and those we serve.

While attending a cross-cultural training course at Mission Training International, we were reminded of how our love for one another is our greatest ministry.  In the book of John Jesus reminded us of this truth; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Our colleagues and those we serve will be watching how Martha and I treat one another, and therefore we see huge potential for ministry in this area.

We want to equip individuals and communities with the skills to move out of physical poverty, however we also desire to see people come to know the freedom found in Jesus.

Thank you for giving me a few minutes (okay, it might have taken longer than an elevator ride to read through this, it’s a work in progress)!  I hope you walk away with a better understanding of the role Martha and I will be playing on our team in Haiti.  We have developed such a love for Haiti.  I hope you can sense our heart for the people in this lovely country.

If you would like to be a part of serving the poor in Haiti through our work with World Concern, we would encourage you to become a monthly partner.  This means committing to financially support us each month for the next two years, and to pray for us on a regular basis.  If you feel led, you may sign up to become a monthly partner on World Concern’s website here.

Life renewed

As we left the southern city of Jacmel, we began climbing and making the jeep work harder than it had before.  The road quickly narrowed and remained that way as we worked our way further into the mountains.  This was day three of our short but affirming trip to Haiti in June.

It was early enough in the day where I was enjoying the adventure of the bumpy road.  Fifteen hours later, the driving was still adventurous but much less enjoyable for some reason (it turned out to be a long day)!  I learned early on in this trip that when we as an organization say we go to the hard places, it ins’t a joke.  Our group was visiting a community called Lavaneau , where World Concern had recently helped repair of water canal which had been damaged in a heavy storm four years earlier.  This canal carried water from a mountain source directly to the community and was the only source of water for the people in Lavaneau .  As we approached our destination, I noticed the dense vegetation and green landscape.  This is not a sight you expect to see in Haiti, where it is estimated that 98% of all land is deforested.  I was already feeling encouraged.

Jean Metelus describing what the canal has done for his community

We arrived in Lavaneau and were soon greeted by Jean Metelus, the President of the local community organization.  I enjoyed talking with this man.  He was serious, but welcoming.  He appeared to be well respected in the community and knew the World Concern staff members by name.  Jean explained that since the storm four years ago damaged the community’s water canal, they were forced to rely on inconsistent rainfall for all of their water needs.  This includes irrigation, cleaning, bathing, washing, cooking, drinking.  I was shocked.  Although I am new to Haiti, I know that rain is precious and not something people in rural areas see enough of.  Not having access to a consistent water source keeps a community from growing and thriving, and that is the situation people in Lavanneau found themselves in.

World Concern staff sat down with the community of Lavaneau and began discussing what needs they had.  It was clear that repairing the water canal was a main priority for many in the community.  As the project came to life, it was the people of Lavaneau who provided the input and manual labor needed to make the new water canal a reality.  World Concern provided the resources and the technical assistance, but the community owned this project.  This is how, together, we can change lives.  It was a powerful moment for me, to see how World Concern truly does operate with the community’s needs and desires in mind.

Now that the canal is finished and water is flowing in Lavaneau , life is returning.

“You may not have been here to see what it was like in our community before,” said Jean, “but now we have green land everywhere.”

“People are able to grow crops like beans and peppers, and now life is back.”

I was right to feel encouraged upon approaching Lavanneau .  The hard work and diligence of the people in Lavanneau partnered with the humility and talent of the World Concern staff resulted in a transformed community.

[vimeo 48599543]

Water is life.

 

 

 

 

 

I love this stuff! Learning about the canal from World Concern staff members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maurice Moises, a farmer in Lavaneau next to the canal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new crop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality and hope

The Brookings Institution has recently put out a fascinating bit of data related to Development and Aid.  According to the Washington D.C. based think-tank, its’ Development, Aid and Governance Indicators (DAGI) will:

facilitate evidence-based policy analysis and foster discussions about trends in foreign assistance, governance and global development by providing a user-friendly and interactive database that features six indicators covering foreign aid, governance, and global poverty and middle class.

Foster discussion, it likely will, but how much it will actually influence policy is yet to be determined.  For more on the possible impact of DAGI, check out Tom Murphy’s recent post on the Humanosphere blog.

Brookings’ DAGI allows for quick and easy searching by region or country and provides a wealth of data about indicators ranging from global poverty to aid quality.  For someone very interested in development trends, this is great stuff.  I focused my searching on Haiti and what I discovered is very telling.

Here is a graph shows the middle class in millions of Haiti and a handful of other countries I chose to compare it against.

 

It may be difficult to read, but the disparity is clear.  Haiti has a middle class that numbers less than one million in a country with a population of around 9 million.

 

 

Here is another graph that depicts the “headcount ratio” by country, of those living below a poverty line of $2 a day.  This is the percentage of the population living below that poverty line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This data is tough because it is raw.  It doesn’t come with any background, explanation, or solution.

I want to stop here and share with you why I hesitated even posting this information.  The data DAGI provides us with, in some ways, reinforces certain assumptions we already have of places in the world like Haiti.  I can hear now the “I could have told you that these countries were poor” thought crossing your mind.  We have all seen the pictures on the news and heard the stories.  I don’t want to be another voice simply describing how messed up and hopeless the world is.  In fact, I want you to know that Haiti is a beautiful place.  Haiti still faces a number of challenges as it moves forward, but wow have there been some wonderful successes.  The people of Haiti are innovative, resourceful, and fun loving.  As someone invested in this wonderful country, I want you to know about the beauty and not just the sadness.

There is a fine balance I am attempting to achieve.   I want to share with you stories of hope and show you the transformation that is happening at the community level in Haiti.  However, I also feel the need to help you remember Haiti and to communicate the realities facing our Haitian brothers and sisters on a daily basis because we have a short memory.  Often, before one “humanitarian crisis” is over, our attention is already on the next one.  I am in pursuit of finding this perfect balance and I admit I am still learning.

So why share this data?  Well, I wanted to communicate two points:

  1. Great needs remain in Haiti, as individuals and communities continue to rebuild.
  2. Hope is present and transformation continues.

Development, positive change, transformation, and relationships take time.  Continue to remember Haiti!  Thank you for your prayers, passion, interest, and continued partnership.

a Psalm

During this season of Lent, our church is doing a series on the Psalms.  Additionally, I have been working my way through the Psalms (slowly) the last couple of months.  Therefore, I feel like I have been learning a lot from this part of scripture.

I enjoy the Psalms because the writing testifies of different aspects of God’s character.  We see that He is just, compassionate, engaging, all powerful and much more.  We know from the Psalms and from all of scripture that God is deeply invested in creation and has a desire to see all peoples reconciled to Him.  This is true for all of us yes, however we see how He has a special interest in those that are most neglected or looked down upon in the world’s eyes.

We see this revealed in Psalm 113…

Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD, you his servants;
praise the name of the LORD.
2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,
both now and forevermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.

4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
6 who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?

7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
8 he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.

Praise the LORD.

In verse seven we are reminded that God comes and restores.

In verse eight we are reminded that God turns things upside down.

In verse nine we are reminded that God makes the impossible possible.

There are seemingly endless challenges to working with the poor.  Development and progress are high aspirations that sometimes do not come as quick as we as humans would like.  However Psalm 113 reminds us of the kind of God we serve and what is possible with Him.

Martha and I are incredibly hopeful for Haiti.  We believe that healing and restoration is happening and can continue, and we are excited to be beginning this journey.