Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Marcia Smith's Story (Renney & Renol)

Thank you to Marcia Smith from North Point Community Church for sharing part of her story from a recent trip to Alex's House!!
This past week, I and four other Haiti Mission Team Members, from North Point Community Church, had the privilege of visiting Alex’s House Orphanage. Our trip coincided with Alex’s House second anniversary. Upon arriving in Damien, we joined in the celebration of hope and new life. The children danced, sang and we all enjoyed a delicious meal together. Little did we know, we would experience a powerful transformation first hand that week.

We were expecting to spend Monday working at the new orphanage site in Kaliko, but during breakfast, Jimmy received a call from a brother of two young boys, asking for help….the same young boys that Bill, Patrick and Jimmy had met at a mass grave just a week earlier. That day, we witnessed the welcoming of two children, Renney and Renol, into Alex’s House. The brothers shared a tired, hopeless and scared look on their faces. When we arrived at Alex’s House, the other children welcomed them with a song and handshakes. They were shown how to brush their teeth, flush the toilet, they bathed, were given new clothes, and a meal. Slowly and cautiously, they started to play with the other children.

On Friday, we returned to Alex’s House, after being in Kaliko most of the week. The look of fear in Renney and Renol’s eyes were gone. Renol now smiled from ear to ear and played without hesitation. We couldn’t help but think about the parallels to our spiritual walk. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come”. These children were left alone to tend to goats, unsupervised and without food or water for 8-10 hours a day. They were hungry, unsheltered, helpless and hopeless. They weren’t allowed to be kids. Upon accepting Christ, we are a new creation, with hope that doesn’t disappoint. These children’s fears were replaced, and they were given hope and an opportunity for a better future. Now they will have an opportunity to be kids, to play, to have three meals a day, to go to school!

Our eyes are so full! We can’t un-see what we have seen! This experience has changed all of our lives and even our view of the world. We have come back with a “Yes, Lord” mentality! We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a broken and hurting world…. from Columbia, South Carolina, to Haiti, to the ends of the earth!

Monday, February 20, 2012

...and they were ours

We gave them food, water and our phone number and prayed that they would call. We heard nothing for 4 days. When the Northpoint team came in, I told them we were going to stop by the grave site again and hopefully find them there. As we pulled up the long gravel road, I prayed, "Father, if it's Your will, please let us find these little boys. Let us raise them in your love." I was going to say this out loud to Patrick, but I didn't want to verbalize it in fear that they wouldn't be there. Then - I would have to consider what I didn't want to consider - that maybe it wasn't God's will. I just felt in my spirit that we were suppose to have these little boys, so I kept my prayer between just me and the Lord.

We walked all around - but there was not sign of the boys. I stood at the front of the truck looking out on the parched hillside with flapping tarps torn by the wind and rain. Only a few people moved about. I prayed, "Father - please let us take care of these little boys. Please let them see our truck and come walking down out of this mountain.” No one came.

A few minutes later Jennifer Bledsoe, one of the Northpoint volunteers, came up beside me and said "Is that one of them?" "Where?" I asked. She said "talking to Jimmy and Patrick." That little rascal had snuck up behind me. God didn't send him down from the mountain. He was already down - and walked back up it when he saw our truck!

He said his name was Renney and that he was 11. His little brother Renol was not with him that day. There was no sign of his big brother (20ish - the one who we had given our phone number to). Again, we gave him food and water and prayed for him. This time I took a piece of paper and we wrote a note to his aunt (both his mom and dad were killed in the earthquake). We wrote - "We can help. We have an orphanage and can send the children to school and give them food. Jesus loves you and we love you and want to help." Then we put our phone number again and stuffed it in the little boy's pocket....and again drove off praying. 
 No call yesterday. We continued to pray. Then this morning....Praise the Lord! We received the call! They said that they had no one to take care of the boys and asked if we could take them in our orphanage. We arranged a time to meet them this morning. I was concerned the whole way there – praying, "Father, please let them be there when we arrive. We were supposed to meet them at the mass grave site. We got there on time...and waited...but no one was there. Again, I got out of the truck and we started praying for them to show. I asked Jimmy, "Do you think they are coming? He said, "Oh yes - I just talked to them on the phone!" I said, “When will they be here? He said, "They are here now. They said they saw us coming up the road!"

Again - the Lord sent them up the mountain. We saw them walking up the road to us - we had just passed them! We all jumped back in the truck and drove down to them. There they were - two little boys - fear on their faces but a glimmer of hope in their eyes. They had an older brother and a cousin and an older sister who came out with them. The older brother and cousin wanted to come and see where we were taking them. Of course we agreed. 

 After all praying together - we piled back in our truck. The little boy began to cry. His older brother comforted him, and off we went - headed for Alex's House. All of the children were there to greet them. They played games with them, showed them their beds...and the toilets (the likes of which they've never sat on). We gave them a plate of food. They could only eat a little. Probably because their stomachs were not used to much food at a time, plus - they were scared to death. Their eyes were filled with wonder...yet fear as well. As they played (hesitantly) in the floor with the other children, the older brother and cousin slipped out the front, saying they didn't want to make them cry when they left.

And so...they were ours. The smallest one - the one who cried - had the hardest time adjusting. He smiled once...when I had him on my lap playing "Di Blup" (my Haitian version of "gitty up horsey.”) They both started playing with the other children. We stayed on for an hour or so - gave Patrick clear coaching on comforting the boys and letting them share the same bed for security and giving them plenty of attention.

Then we had to leave. I wanted to stay so badly. But I knew - he needed to get attached to our Nannies and to Jimmy and Patrick - not to me. They're the ones who will be there full time with them. They are the ones who will be able to give him comfort and security. So again - we piled on the truck and headed back to Kalico, leaving Patrick with the duties of head comforter and security giver.

Say a special prayer for Renney and Renol tonight. I'm sure they laid there in that bed clinging to one another, struggling to take it all in. Pray that the Father would give their tiny little hearts His peace and security." We've seen it happen over and over again - in a few days - these little boys will realize that that they have food and clothing and safety and security. They will realize that they have a family who loves them.  They will realize that they are Home.  

Besides being in a new place, surrounded by new people - and that is certainly a great challenge in itself - but besides all this - another great challenge that they will have is learning how to be little kids...probably for the first time.

They lived under a tarp - an hour walk from the road. Every morning they would get up at daylight, take the goats and walk an hour down the mountain to the road by the graveside - where there were green weeds for the goats to eat. They would stay there all day. Two little brothers - 11 and 8 years old. No food, no water, no supervision - fending for themselves in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. I'm so grateful that our Father still sees little boys on the side of the road - little boys that need a home and love and family. If for the rest of my life the Lord will allow me to rescue these little boys - I will count myself honored. And if I had another life to live, I would do it all again.

(post by Bill.... with a little US help from Melissa)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hub City Church - New Partnering Church!

We are blessed to welcome Hub City Church of Spartanburg, SC as a Partnering Church!

After speaking with Jonathan Everette, pastor of Hub City Church, about his church and their partnership with Alex’s House, I am so excited to see what amazing transformations God will show us together! Hub City has been in existence for about 3.5 years and helping has always been part of their DNA. For the past year, they have been searching for an international organization to work alongside; specifically an organization they could partner with and “not just go on a mission trip.” Jonathan remembered that Bill Howard was working in Haiti and after conversing with Bill about Alex’s House, Jonathan knew it would be a perfect fit.

Hub City makes their first trip to Haiti March 11-16, but God has already been working in their church and community. Jonathan shared that he knew partnering with Alex’s House would be a game changer for the church, but he hadn’t expected it would be such a game changer before ever stepping foot in Haiti. Jonathan has seen “huge God things” happening one after another.

One member heading to Haiti was in a terrible car accident, along with his wife, last year. The doctors thought he would likely never walk again – and if he did, it wouldn’t be normally. He was walking within months. When he heard about the planned trip to Haiti he knew it was something he wanted to be a part of, but wasn’t sure how he could swing the financial commitment. He works for Dish Network (over 1200 people work at his location) and when his boss heard he was heading to Haiti, she asked him to tell her about the trip. After hearing the plan to work on building an orphanage, she offered to run a fundraiser for Hub City’s Haiti fund. A month long raffle started on Monday with all proceeds going to the fund. Everything included in the raffle is being donated by Dish Network – including 2 tablets. We serve an awesome God!

Jonathan and Hub City are ready for what lies ahead and look forward to the journey together with Alex’s House!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One Heart One Mission

Please welcome One Heart One Mission as our newest partner!

The 19 members of One Heart One Mission (OHOM) encountered Alex’s House while in Haiti. Starting each day worshipping together in different languages – but to the same God – was definitely a highlight for everyone. While in Haiti, the Lord helped form some amazing relationships between the members of OHOM and their Haitian brothers and sisters. Not only did they worship together, they also worked, played and even swam in the ocean together.  As one team member stated, “I could not speak the same language with these children, but sitting in the wheelbarrow and standing in the mud with them did more in my soul than I can explain.”

OHOM realizes there are many organizations that provide for the physical needs of children, but what they encountered at Alex’s House were children who were also having their spiritual needs filled. They learned that Alex’s House was born out of sacrifice, broken hearts, love, compassion and obedience; Alex’s House radiates the love of Christ and puts God’s Word into action. The members of OHOM are eager to continue their partnership with Alex’s House. They look forward to building in Kalico, but more than that, they look forward to being with the children. OHOM is committed to being a part of the lives of the children of Alex’s House – loving them, praying for them, caring for them, sharing God’s Word with them – and in turn helping the generations to come change Haiti’s future. The members of OHOM believe the possibilities are endless with God on our side.

One Heart One Mission from Macon, Georgia was born out of the common desire of a group of people who have the same mission and heart - to share the gospel and to carry out God’s call to care for widows, orphans and “the least of these.”  Amazing things happen when we step out of our comfort zone and let God take control. We are so incredibly blessed they have chosen Alex’s House as a partner.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Alex's House Welcomes Amy Hobbs!

Please join us in welcoming Amy Hobbs to our staff as volunteer Missions Director.  Amy has been active in Haiti ministry over the last year, supporting the work of Baptist Global Response and local orphan care.  She was mentored in Haiti by our mutual friends and Honorary Trustees of Alex’s House - Sam and Delores York. The Yorks led by example and taught Amy valuable lessons relating to life and ministry in Haiti.

Amy is a fun loving person with a wonderful Christ-like spirit.  She is passionate about homeless children in Haiti and has participated in several mission trips and outreach projects in Haiti. She has shared God’s love through community evangelism, medical teams, a “Young Artist” ministry, teaching sexual purity, and assistance in various self-sustaining outreach projects including a mini-farm, back to school, and SEWing the Gospel projects.  Mostly, she is drawn to wrapping her arms around the children of Haiti and whispering God’s love in their ears.

Amy’s addition will give much needed assistance to our founder Bill Howard. Her primary responsibility will be overseeing and coordinating the travel and ministry of all volunteer mission teams.  She will work closely with local churches and ministry leaders to ensure that their mission trip is productive, successful and always Christ honoring.  Amy also has a keen gift of organization and will work to keep the ministry of Alex’s House focused and effective.

Amy is a daughter of the King, wife, and mother of three children – Mary Katherine (7), Caroline (5) and Jack (2).  In her “spare time,” she practices law with The Hobbs Law Firm, LLC in her hometown of Forsyth, GA. 

Thank you, Amy - all of us at Alex's House are excited to welcome you on board!   

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bonswa from Matt Friend

 (Thank you to Matt Friend for contributing the following post)
 Bonswa to all suppporters of Alex's House Orphanage! Some of you know me and some haven't met me yet, but I would like to share a some words about my experiences with the ministry of Alex's House. 
I have been blessed tremendously by our Lord to be able to visit Haiti four times in the past two years. Most of my trips to Haiti have been for the purpose of working directly with the BGR (Baptist Global Response) to serve in the area of construction of homes in the Damien Ouest and Bigarad areas just outside of Port-Au-Prince. God has worked in my life tremendously through these opportunities and has given me a heart for the Haitian people, and more importantly, missions in general. 
I must admit that prior to my first visit to Haiti, I had no desire to leave the comforts of my easy life in the USA, and had always considered missions to be what God calls other people to do. It wasn't for me to go, but to support through prayer and giving. I must also admit that I wasn't really doing that too much either. God brought me to my knees when I first learned of the earthquakes in Haiti. I was particularly broken over a picture I will never forget of a man holding his perished daughter in his arms with tears and anguish on his face. I was at that very moment convinced of, and then convicted by, my actual lack of love for God's people in foreign lands. I was, by God's grace alone, brought to the end of myself. God was placing upon my heart, a need to be in Haiti specifically. I told my Pastor what I felt God was doing in my heart, and asked him to pray for God's clear leading for me. Long story short, God soon opened the opportunity for me to go. I was scared, but excited at the same time. 
My first experience with Alex's House was in Damien, at the current orphanage location. We attended our first Haitian church service as a group at the orphanage. I was able to meet the children and catch a glimpse of what was was happening. God showed me that more importantly than building homes, was the need to help build lives for the future generations of Haiti. What I mean by that is that God desires that we take care of the widows and the orphans. This is what God calls religion that is pure and undefiled (James 1:27). 
I wanted so badly to be a part of what God was doing in Alex's House. He is doing this through so many of His people already. I couldn't have planned what God has continued to do in my life through the four visits to help in any way that He would use me. It has flowed over into every other area of my walk with Him. I recently had the privilege of working with a group to begin construction on the new location in Kalico. What a joy to be a part of God's work there! What satisfaction comes from being used in this ministry! My heart has only been drawn even closer, and I pray that He continues to use me to be a part of Alex's House in the future. 
I don't know what benefit this may be to you personally, but I would like to ask all of you to pray. Please pray for Alex's House. I know that God isn't going to send everyone there, but He does desire for us to pray for missions and give to missions efforts like Alex's House and others that are also seeking to reach people for His glory alone. If He is drawing you to go, please go! You will be blessed beyond what you could ever imagine! God bless you all.