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God is at Work in Unmistakable Ways

by Rev. Mike Willis

Local Haitian children and Mike Willis, former volunteer management coordinator for the Haiti Response Plan, share smiles together.
Local Haitian children and Mike Willis, former volunteer management coordinator for the Haiti Response Plan, share smiles together.
Image by: Courtesy Mike Willis
Source: Mission Volunteers

I have just returned from almost seven months in mission in Haiti. It is a time of joyous homecoming, of sad separations, of rest and recovery, of reflection and thanksgiving. I have seen God at work in unmistakable ways. I have been blessed to participate in the miraculous and healing work of Christ. It has been amazing.

I first want to thank each and every one of you for your tremendous support as I answered this call to mission. Your notes, emails, and messages through my wife, Mary, helped sustain and carry me through many very challenging tasks. You have blessed literally thousands of people because of your generous and gracious prayers and support.

It is immeasurable what God can do when we truly let go and follow. Here are some of the accomplishments that I have witnessed:

  • 16 worksites opened throughout Haiti, beginning as early as May 2nd;
  • A strong partnership formed with the Methodist Church of Haiti;
  • Repairs and rebuilding begun at churches, schools, a clinic, a pastor’s home, three UMVIM guest houses, and at a Children’s Home;
  • Thousands of dollars given out in scholarship aid to children and youth;
  • Over 400 Haitians hired as builders, cooks, interpreters, drivers, site security, and more.

The list goes on--but the real miracles have been the ones experienced in the relationships formed, in trusting, in open and honest conversations, in strong bonds of friendship in God’s love. I have seen God work in countless ways through these relationships as people opened up, and real needs were discovered. A boy’s life was saved as we discovered medical needs. Another child was spared a difficult life in an orphanage and now lives with a loving family in a safe and happy home. When all dreams seemed shattered and crushed, parents were given hope as their sons and daughters were able to continue in school. There are so many stories to tell!

Yet the greatest gift I was able to share during my time in Haiti was the gift of listening. God has blessed me with the ability to learn to speak and understand Haitian Creole. This alone raises the level of trust. There was a huge sense of human dignity because someone like me--a white guy (their words) who somehow speaks Creole--would listen to their stories.

I listened as mothers cried tears of grief and pain at the loss of their husbands, homes, or children; or because they could no longer give the little things--simple gifts, loving surprises, a piece of fruit for school lunch--to their children and friends. The stories I heard were full of fear and pain because of the complete loss of control in their lives. I listened as children told of their hunger and finally shared their fears of where they might live, of where they didn’t want to live--fears of loss and abandonment.

And, by the grace of God, these times of listening and sharing brought hope and peace--and even a glimpse of the possibility of resurrection. In spite of it all, mothers smile, children laugh and play, wounds slowly heal, fears slowly subside. In the midst of destruction and ruin, God was there--holding each of us. And there was light in the darkness, and it was good.

In the midst of the destruction and ruin, Jeremiah bought a field (Jeremiah 32). People thought he was out of his mind! But I know now that he was not. I now understand why he bought that field.

I pray that you, too, can see beyond the glitter and tinsel of this season to experience the real miracles of Emmanuel--God with us--every moment, every day. I pray that you will take time to offer the gift of listening and sharing, especially in this busy season.

May you and your family have a blessed and peace-filled Advent and Christmas.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:15)


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Date posted: Nov 29, 2010