Road to Canaan: Haiti’s need ‘incredible’
    November 3 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    Traveling to the poorest country in the western hemisphere challenges one’s thinking.

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    Jennifer Dillon Straughn, center, a dental hygienist and member at Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, took care of a lot of teeth while in Haiti. She, along with her translator Jimmy Gel, left, and other volunteers from the United States saw students, staff members and local pastors as well as some of the patients at the medical clinic. See more photos and video.

    “It was amazing,” said Kim Wheeler, a sophomore at the College at Southeastern, about her October trip with 37 others to Haiti. “God really taught me about love that week.”

    Wheeler joined other students from the college and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest as well as members of Open Door Baptist Church in Raleigh, four volunteers from Tennessee, and one from South Carolina. They went to Canaan Christian Community near Montrouis, Haiti, in October. There is a medical clinic and school on the premises.

    The journey was the first international mission trip for Wheeler, who served with Elevation Church in Matthews before starting classes at the college this summer.

    “It definitely changed my whole way of thinking,” she said. “I expected to break when I went, but I broke more when I came back over what we take for granted.

    “I walk outside and things are the same but I see things differently. That’s the closest to unconditional love I’ve ever experienced. I was struggling over there because I wanted to love the kids more.”

    That’s when she realized that God’s “going to be able to provide for them in a way I can’t.”

    When Wheeler was assigned to organize a closet at the school, she was disappointed at first. She came on the trip to spend time with the children and now she was knee-deep in papers. But after she and her teammate realized “this is going to be a huge blessing to the school so the kids will not have to sit around and wait” for their teacher to find their next assignment. This menial assignment, while not working with the children, would help those children learn better and faster.

    One of the things the team dealt with was heat. Even in October the heat index rose to 115 degrees some days.

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    Kim Wheeler, a college student, shares a story with young girls at Canaan Christian Community in Haiti. See more photos and video.

    “Being willing to sweat and get dirt all over” is a requirement, said seminary student Andrew Goodson, 23.

    “Everyone’s heart was in the right place desiring to serve rather than be served,” said Seth Bible, director of student life at Southeastern and member at Open Door, who organized the trip.

    Bible said planning travel arrangements for 38 people made for some logistical challenges.

    For this trip, though, he said participants were “singularly focused on the task at hand.”

    “The thing that stands out the most no matter how hard you work, the need is still incredible,” Bible said. “You work your tail off all week and still there’s so much to do.”  

    Pursuing partnership
    Bible said Southeastern and Open Door are working on this partnership. Some time ago Open Door identified Canaan as a place “where we could plant ourselves for future missions, church planting and pastor training,” Bible said. Because of the needs, Southeastern makes a good fit as well. Plus it provides an opportunity to see ministry in an orphanage context.

    Bible hopes three or four volunteer groups a year will go to Canaan. He will return with a small group in December.

    The seminary will most likely plan a large trip in the fall every year, while Open Door will send teams at Christmas and possibly a couple of other times a year.

    Elders at Open Door have been working with Canaan’s leadership toward unifying its vision. There are so many ministry opportunities at Canaan that the task seems overwhelming.

    Now Bible said they are pursuing a “unified stream of ministry.”

    A child dropped off at six weeks old can be raised there and given an education either vocationally or through a college.

    “To get a degree with the hope to come back to Haiti and really make a difference” is the goal, Bible said. They want the local pastor’s to “take ownership of the need.”

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    Robby Scholes, a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, plays with Chibelson, also called “Chevy.” The mission team has passed along prayer requests, especially for Chevy, who had surgery in October, and the cholera outbreak, through Facebook. See more photos and video.

    Right now the local leaders are having trouble seeing past their own needs and the need of their own congregation. But Bible hopes that can change because “the gospel is the hope for Haiti.”

    Bible said Canaan’s leadership thought the trip was successful.

    “They are really excited about some of the conversations we’ve had since the trip,” he said. “They were even more excited about the attitudes and the connections that were made.”  

    Training pastors
    One of the main trip purposes was to work with local pastors. Because of one of the founder’s connections in the community, there is a network of pastors linked to Canaan.

    “It was great to see those brothers,” said Dwayne Milioni, pastor of Open Door Baptist Church.

    Milioni, along with several other men, went to Canaan to specifically assess needs and train pastors.

    The leaders asked questions about the pastors and their churches and went through the basics of covenant theology.

    There were more than 40 pastors who came from across the country and stayed on the compound for training.

    Smaller groups divided up and got some counseling from U.S. pastors and were encouraged to work together in their areas to reach the people for Christ.

    “In many ways it infused them with energy and made them feel equipped,” Milioni said.

    For Milioni, the hardest part was hearing the struggles — those who lost buildings and people in the Jan. 12 earthquake and the “gigantic lack of resources” such as Bibles.

    A gathering like the one at Canaan is rare but Milioni said it helped the pastors feel “like they are being cared for and trained.”

    Milioni said another big need at Canaan is for teachers. He hopes people through his church or from Southeastern will volunteer to go for longer periods of time like six months or even a year.
    11/3/2010 10:37:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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