Thursday, August 11, 2011


Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere. from Chris Tomlin's Song

Have you every had the privillege of experiencing one day in his courts?  Well this last week there was 20 plus of us that had this privellege and it was humbling to say the least.

Our friends from Awaken Haiti Jeff and Deb Delinger allowed me to join their team for the week to build a church in Canaan/Carri. They had been consulting with the local pastor of this new settlement where 18 month old tents are the norm, so this area was in real need of some hope for the people who live in this community. You see these guy's have a great heart for this community and instead of rushing in and trying to fix things they have strategically consulted with the local leader, Pastor Nathan to find what will make the biggest difference in this community of displaced Haitians. Praise God after 9 months of working towards the goal, the people received the gift of not only a new church but a 70 feet by 30 feet community building that can be used as a school instead of the very weathered and torn old UNICEF tent which expired about 8 months ago.

Expired elementary school tent (photo credit Deb Delinger)

So what was so humbling about this week and the experience of building a church/school?

We carried 2 by 2 gallon buckets of concrete for 6 hours in the 38 degree heat along side the pre school teacher and even some Ti moons (Kids) who wanted to help, that was pretty humbling.

Local kids helping to prepare the pad ready for concrete. (Photo credit Drew Kalbach)

The concrete bucket line. (Photo credit Drew Kalbach)

A team of mostly Americans walking alongside their Haitian brothers to train them and teach them new skills to and to see their faces of achievement at the end of the week that was pretty humbling. But what really flawed me was when the construction was complete the community planned a celebration church service on the Friday night.

Pastor Nathan stood there in 30 plus degrees (still at 6pm) in a suit and acknowledged that the community had received a true gift from the God. Pastor Nathan has faithful served the people of Haiti for so many years despite times when he must have felt God had left them out in the desert to rot and suffer. He showed clearly to all that He has not forgotten or forsaken his people. No one can argue that these people have suffered and they still do, but this night was a reminder and celebration for Gods goodness and faithfulness. A chance to praise God's name at the top of their lungs.  They have renewed hope. Their children will be able to learn in a stable building sheltered from the elements.  The community can now gather to worship and continue to seek God's face and bring life out of the dust of this harsh land they now call home.

Jeff was asked to say something to the congregation and the Lord clearly delivered a good word to him. Jeff delivered it at a volume and intensity that would rival any southern baptist preacher, he said "This building is not the church, you and me we are the church and if we truly want to be the church we must remember the first two commandments 1. Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and all of your mind. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. If we follow these commandments we will be the church in action. (paraphrased)  

Some people say a building cannot change a community, and I agree. I don't believe that a 2000 foot square building will somehow wipe away the pains the Haitian people feel day in day out as they struggle to find clean water and enough food to feed their families.  But in alot of ways it goes alot further than you might expect. After seeing what took place this past week, Americans working alongside Haitians training these guy's in building techniques and sharing some common understandings of life and community. These are the building blocks of helping that does not hurt, building blocks that empower a community. It helps rebuild a communities identity.
The church / school / community center (Photo credit Drew Kalbach)

Now not only will the children from all around this village have a chance to go to school but they will be introduced to the gospel and that as we have witnessed is the real power that can transform lives because if it didn't then, I would not be here personally serving a God that has transformed my life.

That is the power in what I saw this past week, to see a community find hope despite the suffering, see a child valued and educated instead of sitting in misery in a dirt patch. To witness utter jubilation as the community thanked God for what he had given to their community humbling truly humbling.

So after 8 months of feeling like being part of the problem here in Haiti this was the week God humbled me in showing a glimpse of what he is doing.

I learnt that in order to be part of the solution sometimes you have to be part of the problem first, because you can gain a perspective from such an experience. Instead of seeing the problems you start to get a vision, but not a human vision but God's vision for how something like community can be developed and how in one week something like this can begin to transform an entire community.

I got to meet people who have lived and suffered from the loss of family members, their lively hoods and their homes taken from them in an afternoon. Yet here they were they had come together under one roof to sing to their God, to praise Jesus name in their local language, I wish you could have been there for a glimpse of this, one day in his courts it was truly amazing and I imagine a glimpse of what we can expect in heaven.

If you have had a day like that lately in your own Christian walk can I encourage you to share it with someone that does not know Jesus or the power of the Gospel because he deserves all the Glory and if we think were smart enough to work this all out come to Haiti because you soon realize these are God sized complicated problems and only he can bring the solutions. We can build all the buildings we like but if God doesn't change hearts nothing changes. 

Barry McDonald