Thank you for your prayers for our recent trip to Port au Prince, Haiti. God certainly blessed this joint effort between Piney Grove Baptist Church in Samson, Alabama, and St. Andrew Baptist Church in Panama City, Florida. Our team worked alongside of SCORE International Missions, a worldwide mission organization with a presence in Haiti.

I want to encourage you to read the team member testimonies that will be posted to the blog over the coming days, and you can still access our field updates from the "Blog Archive" link on the right hand side of the page. Thank you again for your prayers!

Monday, August 2, 2010

God Touched My Heart: A Testimony by Steve Applegate

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles , so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Even after weeks of planning and spiritual preparation, I arrived in Haiti feeling I was not really ready for what I was going to see or do. This was my first mission trip. My prayers were that God would in some way use me to make some kind of difference for His kingdom, no matter how small.

When we arrived at the school where we would be lodged, our senses had already been assaulted by jostling crowds at the airport, sights and sounds of the hard Haitian life along the busy, dusty streets, and now, behind a steel gate with an armed guard, by the stark reality that existed within the walled compound. It was hot. We were thirsty. I had about 8 hours’ sleep in the last three days. Met by the orphanage director and an interpreter, we were given a tour of the children’s quarters. I remember feeling concerned about our belongings left behind in that hallway…. the cement floors and the paint-chipped walls, many children of all ages, some curious and friendly, others skeptical and keeping a safe distance. I smiled, tried to reach out and open up to them, but it was difficult for me. And they knew it.

After everything we experienced during the week, on our last night we were invited to a devotional held in the hallway where we first encountered the children of the orphanage. We had heard their singing every evening across the concrete playground. The children who were leery of our presence a few days earlier now welcomed us into their home and crowded around us, many struggling for the chance to sit next to us on the hard wooden benches lining the narrow hallway. It was the same hot, dingy place where we first arrived, barely enough power to keep a few fluorescent bulbs flickering, but the space had been transformed into a sanctuary by the presence of Jesus. The sounds of the children singing songs of praise filled the tiny corridor. We had seen some astounding sights and shared moving moments during our brief visit, but this was it… the reason for our coming. They were ministering to us! As I thought back on my first impressions of this place, a great shame came over me, but at the same time I felt a profound sense of joy and hope.

Going into the mission field for the first time I did not know what to expect. Each day we went out with certain ideas of what would happen, and invariably God surprised us. We had notions of Haiti as a dark place, even before the effects of an earthquake. By actually going and seeing, I realized that men and their plans are not likely to make a noticeable impact …and as the world’s spotlight fades on the disaster and moves on to other calamities, the conditions as they exist now in Haiti will probably continue for years. But in being obedient to Christ, and with the confidence we have through Him, we are assured that God will be faithful, at least in the lives of those we came in contact with, even if it was just to show His love and offer His comfort.

From my perspective, on your first mission trip the most amazing part is not what God does through you, but what God does to you. My life, my heart, has been touched and the images of Haiti are etched in my mind forever. I learned that God’s plans are carried out in ways that we can not begin to imagine. His surprises are the best! I am looking for the next door He will open to allow me to return to the mission field.

In His service,

Steve Applegate

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hope In Christ: Testimony from LeAnna Miller

I saw God work in my life in a mighty way while I was serving on the mission field in Haiti. I went with the expectation of lending a helping hand to a nation who had suffered devastation from an earthquake. I was hoping that by helping them rebuild, I would show them the love of God and they would be grateful. Upon arriving in Haiti, I saw the desperate needs of the people immediately. I saw the conditions that many of the people are living in and began to question how I was going to help them. It took me about three days to realize that “I” wasn’t going to be able to help them at all! My purpose was to stop trying to figure out God’s plan and to simply live out Acts 1:8 by telling others at the “ends of the earth” about Jesus’ love. It was important not only to tell them about the hope they have in Jesus, but to show them.

I realized after being there for seven days that the only way for hope in Haiti is faith in Jesus. I’ve heard this preached from the pulpit. I’ve read the scriptures that make reference to it. But it was made real to me through the eyes of children, the sweat and dirt of Haitian workers, and the sad underlying tune of their praise and worship songs. I knew right then and there, Thursday night while listening to the children sing, that Jesus Christ is the only hope for this nation. I know that prayer is powerful! I “pinky promised” two of the girls that I would NEVER forget them, and I know that my prayers and the prayers of others CAN help lead them to the hope found in Jesus Christ. This was far from the construction helper that I thought I would be. I now realize that is just rubble and concrete.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”