Note: H.E.L.P. founder Chris Marlow is led a team on a pilgrimage trip to Haiti the week of November 2-9. Thomas E. Ward, one of the members of this mission team, is sharing his experiences here on the H.E.L.P. Blog. You can also follow along Jacob Vanhorn‘s updates on Soma Austin Community Church blog.

From Monday night’s stay at the Spirit of Truth Children’s Home in Ferrier to last Saturday’s visit with the kids at the Yahve Shamma Children’s Home in Port-au-Prince, this whole trip has been punctuated by reminders that God is very much at work in Haiti, rescuing orphans, restoring their hope, and renewing their communities. It’s been a privilege for me to see and experience it firsthand—one of the greatest privileges of my life. I have learned (and unlearned) so much.

As I continue to process my Haiti experience, here are a few thoughts that have already begun to take shape:

  • There are few things more beautiful than seeing an at-risk, orphaned, or abandoned child being loved and cared for in a familial environment. It’s one of the most glorious sights in all the world, something I pray I’ll never forget.
  • True religion—the very embodiment of James 1:27—is alive and well in Haiti. H.E.L.P.’s local partners serve Haiti’s most vulnerable with a kind of passion that is not only remarkable but contagious. Heroic does not begin to describe their courageous efforts to ease the suffering around them. If you want to be inspired by these men and women—which is something I hope more and more people will be able to do—then you should prayerfully consider joining H.E.L.P. on one of their 2012 pilgrimages.
  • Child sponsorship works. I’ve seen how H.E.L.P. invests its sponsorship dollars in Haiti, and it’s making a world of difference in the lives of the kids. Without hesitation, I’d say that child sponsorship is one of the most effective ways for the church to engage in the global orphan crisis. If you’ve got the means, sponsor a child through the HELP One Now initiative.
  • Throughout my time in Haiti, I was repeatedly struck by the thought that the people who are laboring in obscurity on behalf of the orphan and the widow have so much to teach me about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in a broken world. Whenever I’m around them, I grow closer to Jesus as a result; I also end up being convicted by my complacency.
  • Some of the most missional people in the world never use the word missional, and I like that—a lot. Leaders in the developing world seem less concerned about having the right verbiage and more concerned with responding in redemptive ways to the needs they see around them. There’s something refreshingly simple about that approach.

In the days ahead, I hope to share more about what Haiti’s taught me, so stay tuned. In the meantime, pray for H.E.L.P. and H.E.L.P.’s Haitian partners, Pastor Jean St-Cyr, Pastor Gaetan Alcegaire, Junior Bataille, and Pastor Jean-Alix Paul.