Forging friendships across culturesRich Stigall
By Trip Manager Stephanie Mutert
One of my favorite things to do in Haiti is travel with an American church that has chosen to partner with a local Haitian church. When each church is willing to pray for, support, and build relationships across cultural and international boundaries, there is a lot of room for God to show up and draw together a genuine community of believers that can learn from each other. I’ve spent a lot of time with this particular church partner over the last couple of years, and I’ve seen the fervor their student ministry has for Haiti and their friends at Hinche. I’ve seen the light in the lead pastor’s eyes as he pours into a new friendship with one of the younger boys, and I’ve seen Bibles open and the sharing of scripture across multiple languages in small pockets of intimate learning. I’ve seen tears in eyes at the honor of praying for their Haitian friends, and I’ve seen the commitment of the man who travels and leads his people through the vision of partnership with joy and passion since their partnership began in 2012 after meeting Pastor Lavaud in 2010. I’ve seen them all love well, and I’ve seen the mutual love and respect between those that travel to visit and Pastor Lavaud. I know how their visits are valued and made with joy on behalf of everyone involved…Haitian and Texan.
It takes a lot of solidarity to make a commitment to forge friendships across cultures. It takes congregations and groups of people who are willing to wade into the confusion of language, mess of community, and stubborn belief in calling to invest in the life of the local church in Haiti through financial and relational commitments. It takes Haitian congregations that are patient with American perspectives, committed to transparency, and are excited to contribute to the relationships it takes to partner across international borders.
I’ve also seen what that long-term commitment to invest looks like within orphan culture. How a child can become energized knowing a friend, even far away, is praying for them and is excited to hear about their life. How special they feel when someone remembers their name. How the purity of Kingdom moments are held sacred in times of prayer. How a child can feel connected to someone in only one visit and successive visits continue to pour worth and value into that small heart. How teens feel motivated and inspired to dream big and accomplish what those outside the orphan window might say they could never accomplish. How the life of an unsuspecting believer can be transformed through God’s supernatural friendships.
I hear the desire of the Haitian pastors to be encouraged by church partners, and while not all of the GO Project pastors have dedicated church partners, the ones that do cherish that relationship and their villages eagerly await the visits by their friends. When I travel with churches visiting their Haitian church partners, I see hope and a covenant relationship, and within those two things, God’s Kingdom comes alive to every single person involved as well as anyone observing.