This past November on our trip to Haiti we had the blessing to introduce Nicole, our new EMCC Assistant Director of World Partners to our friends in Haiti. Our team hosted a retreat for community leaders from Gens de Nantes (GdN) and 2 AEM church pastors. Over a 3 day period we created an intentional space to listen to God and each other as we as we worshipped, studied scripture, brain stormed and prayed together about our on-going partnership and desire for mutuality.
Our team along with key leaders from the GdN School, Clinic, Church and community gathered at a small hotel an hour drive from GdN. We got acquainted over delicious local cuisine with our exceptional translator Sammy. Over the next several days our Haitian friends were asked a series of questions and participated in listening and sharing around the following questions:
- How would you describe the community of GdN?
- What are the joys and challenges in serving the community of GdN?
- In your dreams and visions how would you describe a thriving community of GdN?
- What are the gaps between the present reality and the dreams and visions for GdN?
The retreat participants identified many needs and were able to summarize the 2 major concerns of health care and education as the most important aspects to focus on as these areas encompass many of the underlying issues of poverty, unemployment, and health care concerns in the community of GdN.
In small groups we discussed the miracle of multiplication - the widow with the last jar of oil (2 Kings 4:1-7) and the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:32-44). We talked about the key people in the passages; their needs; what actions they took; what resources were available to meet their need; what steps were followed; and what were the results. We then considered how these passages relate to the reality and concerns in Haiti, and specifically in the areas where these GdN leaders work and serve.
After the Bible Study component Nicole led the participants in an activity to list all the resources available in GdN under the following categories: Natural, Physical, Human, Social, Spiritual, Economic, and Time. The community leaders covered the walls in sticky notes as they brain-stormed and listed the many resources under each heading. It was such an amazing opportunity to see the excitement and the connections made between what is available and how working collaboratively some of the gaps or needs in GdN could be met. The main theme and word that came out of this exercise was hope. There was a real sense of hope and excited anticipation among the leadership of what God is able to multiply and provide in the area of health and education for their community. Hernso said “looking with a human eye I can’t see but looking with the eyes of Christ and Biblical principles of resources I can see God’s ability to multiply what we already have."
In our final session together we shared the key take away points. It was a blessing to hear from each of the participants an eagerness to work together in faith and prayer trusting God to meet the many needs in GdN. As we sang our theme song for the retreat “Way Maker’ in English and Creole, we claimed the promises that Jesus is indeed our Way Maker, Our Miracle Worker and a Promise Keeper. Dr. Emmanuel summed it up well saying “The Canadian Team helped us recognize all the resources we have in GdN, dreams can become a reality as we continue to work together”.