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12 March 2020
"I never, ever imagined that our community would give so sacrificially and lovingly...I am still stunned at what we accomplished by uniting to help another [in need]."
I am not proud of my country these days. We have projected an image of violence, corruption, petty jealousy, and incompetence to the world. Those of us who have always loved our country are deeply grieved at what it has become.
But I am very, very proud of our community and our staff.
On Sunday, February 16, our branch directors and young leaders presented our coworker Brad Brunsch with a “check” for $1512US. Every penny of this gift was raised by our community and staff.
About a month before, I had shared with our branch directors and in our Sunday fellowship that the Brunsches were really struggling. In June 2018, the Brunsches left Haiti and began working for Lemuel from the US. They had raised support based on cost of living on the Plateau, so returning to the US they knew they would have to seek further support. We could see so clearly how God had directed every step up to and through the Brunsches move to the US and had discussed together how much it would benefit the ministry here on the Plateau to have a full-time staff member in the US. We were so excited by how God was providing for our needs, and we were hopeful that everyone else would be too. But we were mistaken. They have not been supported and embraced in the US the way we had hoped.
When our community heard about this, they were heartbroken. They knew that Brunsches had sacrificed much to come to Haiti and that life here was very hard for them. But to hear they were struggling financially even after being back in their own country for over a year and taking on part-time jobs was too much. They decided that if enough people were not going to step up to show their support for what the Brunsches were doing, they would. They would show their love and appreciation for the Brunsches by giving from whatever God had given them.
A couple Sundays prior to Brad's visit, we held a special Sunday service with our employees to collect the funds that had been raised. It was a beautiful time. There was a palpible sense of unity and joy. Click this picture to see more.
Friends, we are talking about a community that is struggling through yet another drought. We are talking about people who are hardly able to make ends meet themselves and whose salaries can barely keep up with the skyrocketing inflation in this country. I was touched by their desire to support the Brunsches and proud that they saw themselves as people able to help others, not just waiting for others to help them. But I never imagined the sacrificial giving that I saw over the next six weeks. People sold livestock and chickens. They gave from their salaries. The school printed and sold songbooks. The development department sold fried “pate” every morning, taking orders and running all over the community to deliver them. The ladies from campus maintenance collected used clothing and any other valuable items people were willing to give and sold them in the market. Two ladies from the community took a loan from the church and traveled to a market 4 hours away to purchase provisions to resell at a profit. All the proceeds were given for the Brunsches. I had hoped that they would be able to raise a few hundred US dollars. While I knew this couldn’t do much, I hoped it would at least make the Brunsches feel loved and appreciated. But I never, ever imagined that our community would give so sacrificially and lovingly that they would raise $1512. I was stunned. I am still stunned at what we accomplished by uniting to help another.
It is not just the fact that our community and staff gave so sacrificially that touches me. In their book “When Helping Hurts,” Corbett and Fikkert quote impoverished people expressing their thoughts on poverty. One person from Moldova describes living in poverty as, “We depend on everyone. No one needs us.” I grew up in poverty. I understand what this person is describing. Feeling like you need people to help you survive, but that there is nothing you can offer that would help another, diminishes God-instilled human dignity and finally results in nihilism.
To see my staff and the people in our community realize that they CAN help another, and then put their hearts into doing it, shows me that while progress has been slow and painful, it has been genuine. We are not offering people any quick fixes. We are not trying to transform impoverished Haitians into materialistic North Americans. We are trying to help them discover who they are as men and women created in the image of God and what life looks like as they live out of that identity. What they did for Brunsches is a part of what that life looks like.
In Lemuel we say that we do not do for people, but with people. We walk alongside people as they struggle to improve their lives and lend a hand-up when they reach a hurdle they cannot cross. Now we need the hand-up from you. We have done what we can. We will continue to do all we can to support the Brunsches. But this is a hurdle we cannot cross alone. It is a hurdle Brunsches cannot cross alone. If you are already a supporter of Lemuel, would you commit to praying with us for the month of March that God would provide the support the Brunsches need? If you have been looking for a way to bless others with what God has given you, would you consider picking up a portion of Brunsches’ monthly support? It would mean a lot to all of the Lemuel staff and the members of our community if you would join us in this way. If you would like to commit to praying for this month or longer, or are interested in supporting the Brunsch family please write to Brad directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for walking alongside us and helping us help others.
(To read this e-mail in its original format, click here.)