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God at Work in Haiti
January 14, 2010
Among those praying for the earthquake victims in Haiti and closely watching for news about the survivors of the devastation are InterVarsity staff and students who have traveled to Haiti on recent Global Project trips and are planning return trips in 2010.
Near the Epicenter
Nick Johnson, a campus staff member at Georgia State University, has been taking groups of InterVarsity students to Neply, Haiti, since 2007. “The epicenter of the quake was about 10-15 miles from Neply,” he reported this week. “The initial word (and it was very brief—it’s still impossible to get phone calls through) is that most houses are ‘broken.’”
In an article that described how students laid pipe and gave the village running water, Nick described how Bible study done in this environment was transformational for many students.
One student wrote later, “The Bible studies every morning were challenging and very relevant to what we were doing in Haiti. We were able to see Jesus speak about issues dealing with the poor as well as see Jesus speaking to rich men like Zacheus who, when they met Jesus, were transformed and gave their possessions to serve the poor.”
“We’ve seen three students make decisions to follow Jesus as a result of the trip over the past 3 years,” Nick reported. Others have collected shoes and clothes to send to Haiti, or led fundraisers on campus.
Jesus in Haiti
Jeffrey Nowak, a faculty member at Indiana University—Purdue University Fort Wayne, has led groups of InterVarsity students on Global Project trips to Haiti during Spring Break in 2008 and 2009. Each year 15 students went, volunteering to work with Jesus in Haiti Ministries in Port-au-Prince.
“The impact on the students was life changing,” Jeffrey reported. “One student became a follower of Jesus on one of the mission trips, and several have made personal trips back to the mission to assist in subsequent summers or on breaks.”
Plans for 2010
Even before the earthquake Jeffrey was holding tickets for a return trip with his pastor to volunteer with Jesus in Haiti Ministries next month. “I will be there from the 10th-15th and be ready to do whatever is needed,” he said.
Social Work students from the University of Wisconsin—Madison are planning to work with Jesus in Haiti Ministries during a week-long Global Project scheduled for their spring break this semester.
Nick Johnson will be leading another group of students from Georgia back to Haiti also. “This year we were going to go to Cape Haitien, but in lieu of the earthquake we will be going back to Neply to do relief work,” he reported.
Campus Ministry in Haiti
Through the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA is affiliated with Christian students in Haiti, Groupe Biblique de Ecoles et Universités d’Haïti (GBEUH).
The impact of the earthquake on GBEUH’s ministry can only be imagined at this point, although some information is available.
InterVarsity Press has also just published a book about ministry in Haiti, Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle.
With a population living in extreme poverty before the earthquake, the needs in Haiti have only become more desperate after the earthquake. InterVarsity students have discovered during past trips that God is at work in Haiti. In the weeks ahead, they will discover God is still at work in Haiti, both in their own lives and in the lives of those they assist.