It was January 12, 2010. I remember watching it on the news, and my heart broke. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, causing destruction in the capital of Port au Prince and beyond, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and even more injured. It cut me to the core as the information rolled in, so many displaced, livelihoods gone, confusion and panic, and the question everyone was asking: how would Haiti recover from this?
Little did I know that hundreds of miles away from where I was living in Massachusetts, there was a Life Teen Missions community in Northeast Georgia that had a special connection to Haiti. In 2009 Life Teen had sent mission teams to serve and evangelize on the island of Haiti. So when the earthquake hit, their hearts were broken as well.
The Lord began moving in the hearts of various members of the Life Teen family (myself included) about starting a full-time mission in Haiti. And a few years later, the Bishop of a diocese in Southwest Haiti invited Life Teen to start the St. John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization in Haiti.
Shortly after, a group of Life Teen missionaries moved to Haiti and formed a community alongside Haitian missionaries to lead teens closer to Christ. The community reached out to the local community and hosted discipleship groups, Bible studies, adoration nights, etc. Eventually, they would begin training young Haitian adults to be Life Teen full-time and summer missionaries. These young adults would later aid in advancing the mission of Life Teen by helping lead summer camps and implementing Life Teen in parishes.
Historically, Haiti has been brought down by political corruption, the international influence that hasn’t always had Haiti’s best interest in mind, and natural disasters, amongst other factors. Recently it seems like there is one problem after another, from political unrest to the assassination of the president to the earthquake and hurricane that pummeled the Southwestern region, where the mission base is located. Haiti has been through so much.
A few years ago, we had to stop our ministry from welcoming short-term mission trips due to the political unrest and general insecurity in the country. While this has disappointed many, we trust that the Lord has a plan for Haiti. The nation belongs to Him.
Many who love the Life Teen mission in Haiti have continued to show their support, despite not being able to visit and have asked what they can do. Life Teen is raising funds to help with relief/recovery efforts. For more information on that, visit donate.lifeteen.com.
Though raising funds is important, we believe in and have experienced the power of prayer to change even those situations that seem most hopeless. So another way that we all can help as we stand in solidarity with Haiti is to commit to praying together for the nation of Haiti.
Please join us for our Haiti Prayer Campaign beginning August 30 and ending on the feast of the nativity of Mary on September 8. Haitian Catholics love Mary, and we know that she loves them and will take our prayers to Jesus on our behalf.
We will pray 1 Hail Mary, 1 Our Father, and 1 Glory Be each day at noon for Haiti and her people.
Mèsi Bondye Mèsi (thank you God, thank you),