Communion

We celebrated the Lord’s supper yesterday during our corporate worship service and it was a profound experience for me. I’ve always loved communion, but yesterday I had a clearer vision of what was going on than I have in the past.

We celebrated by coming to the table together. While sitting in the front row and watching those who came to the table I was moved at the vast differences between those coming. There were beautiful young families, brilliant physicians, elderly folks toiling to walk, wealthy people, unemployed people, athletes and handicapped…all broken sinners come to the table for grace but all glorious in that they have been called brother and sister by the Lord Jesus Christ!

What a wonder is this table, this cross, this family, this savior!

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What to call them?!

The word ‘missionary’ carries so much freight! The odd and frustrating thing as someone who works a lot with missionaries is that it means different things to different people!

For people who have been a part of the evangelical or Catholic church for some length of time, a missionary is a hero! Someone who has sacrificed much in their life to cross cultures to share the good news about Jesus Christ and His saving work with others. Missionaries embody commitment, love, determination, self-sacrifice etc. to this group of people. They are to be prayed for, loved, celebrated and supported in their work. People think of great men and women Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, William Carey! To some they have been seen as another, almost superior class of Christian.

Increasingly however, ¬†for those who have not grown up in a church context, a missionary sounds like some sort of cultural assassin. They appear to be agents of modern Western imperialism who’s very existence cuts against the fundamental assumption that all truth is contextual and relative. No one has cornered the market on truth, so, how dare a privileged few go and try to foist their foreign views on other peoples and cultures. Not only are missionaries seen as destroying cultures and dividing people but they are seen as using their wealth to manipulate/bribe others. At best they are seen as deluded at worst sinister agents.

An interesting ambivalent hybrid of these two views seems present in much of the current American church. There is an uneasiness among many younger folks about the entire enterprise. While there is support for physically helping others and what is broadly called social justice, the table flipping, culture challenging gospel can make us uneasy. Some of this is good! We do need to revisit some of how we’ve engaged with other cultures and people. Followers of Christ don’t need to conform to many of the cultural norms that have been promoted by Western missionaries. However, the truth of the gospel, the love of Christ does compel us to go as humble and bold proclaimers of the good news! (I don’t have time to talk about the missional stance that we are at some level all missionaries).

All this to say (and much more that can be said) perhaps we need a new word that we can use across the board. A word or phrase that would communicate to those inside and outside the church that missionaries are those who are sent and called (Acts 13) to proclaim the good news about Jesus while reflecting that radical, hope-filled truth in their lives and relationships in a cross-cultural context. I’m open to suggestions for new words!-Dave Hyatt

Love bears…what?

Denise Love is a missionary from Hershey Free who, along with her husband David, teaches and works at Rio Grande Bible Institute. RGBI is a Spanish language Bible school training leaders for the church in Latin America.

Part of Denise’s ministry is counseling with the young women who come to the school, many from very broken backgrounds. We received the following note from Denise a couple of months ago. Read to the end to get the rest of the story ūüôā

“During my counseling I noticed that when [students] would open their hearts to share their painful stories¬†they would hold on to a stuffed pillow I had on a chair. That gave me the¬†idea that they need something better to hug. Many of our students¬†arrive with only¬†one suitcase and a backpack. There isn’t room in their suitcases to bring their¬†favorite stuffed toy.¬†

“Now¬†each girl that comes for counseling for the very first time gets to pick out a bear to take back to the dorm with her. The girls can’t believe that the bear belongs to¬†them. They often cry as they hug their bear. Most of the stories I hear in my office¬†would keep you up at night crying. It is unbelievable the horrors that happen to 3- and 4-year-old little girls.

“A few days ago a young 20-year old with a tragic story sat on the floor staring¬†at the few¬†bears that remain. She couldn’t decide which one she wanted. It took¬†her over 5 minutes to pick.¬†

“One older woman who grew up on a very poor South American ranch told me that the bear was the first toy she ever owned. She is now a pastor’s wife and treasures¬†her new bear!¬†

“The reason I am sharing this is that¬†in two years¬†I am now down to about 5¬†bears.”

Once we heard that Denise was running out of bears, the Hershey Free Beyond the Walls leadership team decided to help with a  contribution to restock the bears!!

“I wanted to send you [this photo] of the shopping spree I had December 26th when I¬†purchased¬†a whole bunch of Love Bears for my counseling ministry. The bears were 50% off¬†so I got a good deal. I have $300 still in my account saved for¬†Feb. 15th! I should be good¬†for several years now. Wow! This is so amazing.¬†Thank you so much to Hershey Free Church and this very generous donation for this project!¬†God bless you!”

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Haiti Children & Family Outreach Team

Hershey Free Church has an ongoing relationship with STEP, a seminary in Port-au-Prince. On August 20-27, a Global Ministry Team worked alongside STEP students as they reached out into the local community near STEP through children’s ministries. Here are some perspectives on the trip.

 

8/21/16

We are finally in Haiti! The months of planning and preparation have paid off. I was asked to write a blog entry about preparing for the mission trip. I’ve never written a blog entry but here goes…

Haiti has been on my heart for years. My home church has served in Haiti for as long as I can recall. I remember being intrigued as a teenager when teams would come home and speak with us and when we would receive letters and photos from the children the church sponsored. ¬†I‚Äôd often thought of going on a trip but always had one reason or another for not looking into it. Fast forward 20 years‚ĶI‚Äôve been fortunate to travel for pleasure, work, and to serve. I have an understanding job and a circle of supportive friends. Pastor Dave tells the church about the many trips planned to serve in Haiti that are being planned for 2016. I see that there is a trip planned for Thanksgiving 2016. Perfect! It‚Äôs about a year away, doesn‚Äôt interfere with my son‚Äôs school schedule or other pre-planned events, and gives me plenty of time to raise/save money, and it‚Äôs a slower time at work. This Thanksgiving trip is the one for me. After much thought and prayer I contacted Pastor Dave and started the ball rolling. Holy cow I would be in Haiti for Thanksgiving. I got my passport renewed, made tentative arrangements for my son, and time off of work was approved. This was so much easier than I imagined. In May Pastor Dave tells me that they have added an additional trip to the calendar. ¬†He felt the Children and Family Outreach Trip would be a great fit for me. After learning more about it I was in agreement the only catch was the trip is in August. August‚Ķthe week before school starts, 3 weeks after my pre-planned 15 days off of work, the same week my boss is going on vacation. There is no way this will work but sure I‚Äôll think about it. I couldn‚Äôt get it out of my mind. I prayed, spoke with my small group, my support system, and finally my boss. She gave the go ahead and her words were beautiful, ‚ÄúIf you need to go, go.‚ÄĚ I was even approved to take anticipated leave. Pastor Dave and Lyndsay guided me in the right direction for the basic details and introduced me to the trip leader Matt. This is all coming together. One minor issue, only Matt and I are signed up for the trip. We should have at least 5 people for the trip and they need to commit by June. Looks like it‚Äôs time to recruit. That afternoon I mention this trip to my small group. Next thing you know we have a team for Haiti. Okay, it was a bit more complex but God was working and we were planning. Not only am I going to Haiti but I‚Äôm going with members of my small group. I can barely contain my excitement. The real preparation began in June. Our team was set and we began meeting to get to know each other and to go over culture, language, and logistics. We were blessed to meet with Dukens who is on staff at STEP. We shared a meal and learned a lot for him. We also started fundraising. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of people when raising funds. I was able to share about our trip and of God‚Äôs love when people asked how they could help. Not only was I excited but the people I was able to tell about the trip were excited. Our team was able to raise enough money to provide a generous meal for the 200+ children that attended the Vacation Bible Club each day we would be in Haiti. I was able to share my testimony and love for God so many times during this process. I was able to pray with people I never would have thought to approach. The entire planning and preparation was more of a blessing than I could have ever imagined.

 

 

Medical and construction team in Haiti updates

One of our core values here at Hershey Free is to innovate and take risks (for the sake of the gospel of course, not just for the fun of it :-). Along those lines, working with STEP Seminary in Port-au-Prince, we sent our first medical team to work with the surrounding community there. While they’ve received a lot of construction teams, this was a first. As such, there was a ¬†lot of ‘I’m not sure what that’s going to look like’ type of conversations going on! Add to that, this team also has 4 people building a house while the other 4 do the medical clinic…big risk! Well, here are the reports of how things have gone over the past couple of days!!

Monday

Thank you for your prayers!

We hit the ground running this morning at the construction site and in the medical clinic…. ¬†

Even after one day, we have been so blessed with lots of smiles and kindness from the Haitians we are meeting. What a day!! And so many beautiful people!

¬†The guys worked alongside a Haitian construction team of young men who kicked their butts. ūüôā What made a group of 50+ year old men think they could keep up??¬†¬†ūüôā By¬†all accounts they actually¬†held their own and were able to smile and¬†love on the children and adults who came out to see the Americans for some entertainment.

Two of the men on our team got a bit overheated, but after re-hydrating, cooling off and resting in the medical clinic they bounced back. The heat is a bit oppressive, to say the least. The Haitians seem used to the heat, but it is an adjustment for us all.

The medical clinic saw 68 people of all ages who¬†had vital signs done, saw a doctor and went to the¬†“pharmacy” to get much needed medications (many of which were donated by¬†all of you.) While waiting, a wonderful young¬†seminary student named Akyme spent time talking with the people and connecting, telling them about the love of Jesus.¬†¬†We¬†are¬†rejoicing¬†to hear that two Haitians found faith in Jesus today!¬†

With no translators available,¬†our nurses¬†stumbled through with a touch and a smile¬†and trusted God to use us to show His love as our Creole was limited to a¬†“Bonjour” with a big smile¬†here and there. The people waited hours in their best clothes¬†in the oppressive heat to come in to the clinic, and¬†we were¬†also blessed to hand out crayons and color pages and blow bubbles for the kids.

We are praising God for the privilege to be here in His service. We appreciate your prayers and support!!

 

Tuesday

God is so good!

The nurses went out to see the construction site before clinic¬†to visit¬†the community. The community and workers are warming up to the construction team and our group is learning so much! Our men are keeping up with the young Haitian workers (no heat exhaustion today….praise God!) and the construction project is a bit ahead of schedule, by the grace of God.

We had translators at the clinic today and they were incredible! We appreciated them even more today after not having them yesterday. There is a lot of infection and illness among the children and women, with a few men, but the people are so warm and loving and always have smiles. Some of our key medications ran out and the coordinator had to go buy a whole new batch of meds. Several people put their faith in Jesus today and the seminary students are making relationships with the community through the clinic and construction.

We love Lauren and Mason (the missionary host family with two beautiful children) and they are taking such good care of us all day and every evening!! It is their 8th anniversary today..Happy Anniversary Lauren and Mason!!! so we are keeping this e-mail short so we can give them some celebration time! They are so amazing!!

We are all exhausted but thanking God for the privilege of being here. 

Thank you for your prayers. We are so grateful  to be here and  to see how God is working with the Haitian people and to be a part of His work here.

 

Wednesday

We are nearing the close of Wednesday, hard to believe!!¬† The Haitian people are so beautiful and we are thankful for another full day!¬† We are so thankful for the opportunities to love these people….their needs are so great that it is sometimes overwhelming.¬† In spite of that, they are gracious, kind, friendly and thankful.¬† What a privilege it is to work with them and get to know them.

¬†The sun has been shining…oh my, has it been shining!!¬† It’s good and hot…we have learned that being sweaty all day isn’t such a big deal, and boy does the cool shower feel good at the end of the day!!

¬†Thankfully, our guys working on the building project had another day without heat exhaustion.¬† We are indeed getting better about hydrating and resting, and I guess acclimating to the heat!¬† The house is soon going to be done- very exciting!¬† The men have really been working hard.¬† ¬†No injuries among any of the workers, and it is indeed a challenging physical location to work in.¬† They have really been developing relationships, talking more with the¬†Haitian¬†men working with them about families, etc.¬† The children just flock to the worksite to watch and have a chance to laugh with and touch our team.¬† Like all of¬†us, they enjoy seeing something ‘out of the ordinary’!

The medical clinic continues to be busy.¬† We are caring for people with a wide array of problems.¬†Today¬†two young people were seen who had severe wound infections that were said to be caused by a Voodoo curse.¬†¬†They accepted our care and we were able to pray with them and will be able to provide follow-up care and some extra love before we leave.¬†We pray that they will understand God’s love to be stronger than all else.

People sit on the porch of the clinic, which thankfully is in the shade much of the day, waiting sometimes hours to nearly the whole day, to be seen.   We are all learning some Creole and with the translators, we are managing quite well!  The donations are an incredible blessing here, thank you all so much.  Our words and photos cannot adequately reflect the level of need, but I can assure you the thankfulness is deep.  God has been so faithful to give us the stamina, words, skills and love that we need to work here.

 Our host family, Mason and Lauren and kids Ashley and James, are so welcoming and just fun!!  We have a peaceful and lovely place to relax, eat and fellowship each evening. 

 

Thursday

Greetings from Haiti and thank you for your continued prayers!

 Construction went really well. We helped pour the concrete floor in the morning. Keith was playing and chasing the kids around-they had a lot of fun.We have been learning more of the language and getting to know the Haitians better.

 In the afternoon we fixed a Door Jam, a couple of lights and upgraded the Power Inverter wiring. A young man named Stfort asked for prayer for his unsaved girlfriend. Continue to pray for Enoc a 3rd year Seminary Student as he prepares to go to a remote area to spread the gospel. 

 The Nurses had a very busy day. There were cases of Malaria, Typhoid, temperature of 105, high Blood pressure, infections and high Blood Sugar to name a few sicknesses. One lady had a very sick boy and said I cannot let him die. Together the Patients, Doctors, Nurses and interperters accomplished a lot and worked together well. 

 While people were waiting to be seen by the Doctors there was an evangelistic video. Today four people accepted Jesus as their Savior. Praise the Lord for all he is doing.

 

Friday

Dear Family in Prayer,

Our last day in Haiti is coming to an end – we will leave for home tomorrow morning. Today provided a time of rest and relaxation. The women of our team joined Lauren as she taught Zumba at 7 AM, and later Lauren took our whole team for a little tour of the city – this woman could out drive anyone I know in the States! We ate lunch at a restaurant that afforded a panoramic view of Port au Prince, then traveled back to the Seminary. We were struck once again by the devastation of poverty that stretches for miles across this land.

Much of our work here geared toward meeting physical needs – and there are so many! – but just beneath the surface lie intense spiritual battles! Satan is active in this country and spiritual forces wrestle for souls (Ephesians 6:12) … but our God is doing a mighty work here, and we continue in prayer for these people who we have come to love. At least 11 people came to know Jesus this week, and we rejoice with the angels!

It is with mixed emotions that we say good-bye to Haiti and all our new friends here. We have missed you all at home so much and look forward to seeing you and sharing about God’s work here; but God has changed us – He has revealed himself anew to us this week, and we have been broken for the Haitian people.

We thank you again for coming to Haiti with us through your prayers. Please continue in prayer for our safe trip home and for God’s continued work here in Haiti. We look forward to seeing you soon!