The past year has marked a long journey for Churches Helping Churches as we served alongside pastors of churches in both Haiti and Japan. Whether it was in Japan where pastors volunteered late nights to plan Churches Helping Pastors Retreats; or in Haiti where unemployed church members labored to rebuild their churches without promise of pay; or here in the states where dedicated brothers and sisters gave their time and skills to serve behind the scenes, we have seen the truth of Galatians 6:10 lived out through His church – doing good to all, and especially to our family of believers.
January 2011 started off with a bang when we hosted a huge rally in Haiti on the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake. What an amazing time of remembrance with over 40,000 of our Haitian brothers and sisters gathered together, thanking God for His protection and continued provision, and celebrating the hope that so many of the men and women there have found in Jesus Christ. While there is still a long road of healing and recovery ahead, people left with a renewed sense of God’s love for them, and a feeling of hope for the future of Haiti.
This year Churches Helping Churches continued our involvement in the long-term recovery effort in Haiti, providing transitional shelters for existing church congregations, and working with U.S. structural engineers to develop seismic/hurricane-resistant permanent church structures. The church buildings we’ve developed can be fully assembled almost entirely by local Haitian congregations using simple hand tools. That’s almost unheard of! As construction of our first church began in Haiti last fall, I was amazed at the dedication of the hard-working local church members who tirelessly volunteered for weeks until the church building was done. I am pumped about the buildings we’ve helped make happen. But in the end, the building is just a minor part of this story. The greater blessing will be a congregation who has grown in their capacity to trust Jesus and partner with Him as they serve the local church.
As the first church building was dedicated to the Lord last fall, there was praise, singing, dancing, and believers on their knees in prayer as over 1,000 church members gathered together. Work is going on right now on our next two structures in the Port-au-Prince area. After these churches are completed, an even larger round of building is slated to begin in February and March. I can’t wait to see how God will use these buildings within the communities!
March 2011 brought the deadly earthquake/tsunami that nearly leveled parts of Eastern Japan, shaking the Japanese people to their core. Who can forget the images that came out from Japan in those early days? Churches Helping Churches was on the ground within days. We set to work, partnering with several Japanese churches and a local relief organization called CRASH Japan. We began hosting Churches Helping Pastors Retreats, grief counseling retreats designed to both treat and train pastors for post-trauma recovery through gospel-centered, Biblical counseling. The pastors who attended showed up feeling run down, overwhelmed, and exhausted, having worked non-stop since the disaster struck. How precious to give them the gift of rest, and to serve, encourage, and equip these church leaders with Christ’s love.
As Haiti and Japan both continue to be rebuilt out of the rubble, we continue our dedication to supporting the local churches and church leaders. The year 2011 has come and gone, but the work we’re doing in Haiti and Japan is the timeless, lasting work of our Heavenly Father, giving us reason to praise Him even during hard times. Just as the Apostle Paul challenged the Corinthians, we should also be challenged in the New Year by II Corinthians 8:11 “Now you should carry this project through to completion, just as enthusiastically as you began it. Give whatever you can according to what you have.”Tags: HA04, Haiti, Japan, Recovery, Year in review