In January of 2016, 8 college students traveled to Jeremie, Haiti with Impact195 expecting to change the world. What happened on this trip left these students surprised and transformed themselves. These are the stories from some of the students who left Haiti forever transformed and on fire with God’s love for his people.
Going into this mission’s trip to Haiti, I had the idea that this would be a fun trip where I got to serve others and see some eye opening things where God would truly work. I did not have the idea however, that God would use this trip to truly transform and change my own life. Jesus used one of several moments to mark a pivotal change in my heart.
On the fourth day of ministry, we served at the Handicap Banquet. I was given the humbling opportunity to wash feet and I was definitely not prepared for what God had in store for me during this time. The first person that I walked up to was an older woman who could not see very well anymore and who suffered from chronic pain. As I got down on my knees and took off her shoes to wash her feet, I felt this weird feeling inside of my heart, but I could not pinpoint what it was. As I finished washing her feet I prayed for this woman and felt even more overwhelmed by a flood of emotions. This happened with every single person whose feet I washed, yet I had trouble figuring out exactly what I had felt. After we had finished, my friend came up to me to ask how I was and I burst into tears. God had finally revealed to me exactly what I was feeling.
While washing their feet, God had given me a small glimpse of the love that He felt for each of these individuals. I had never felt so much love for strangers before in my life. God allowed me to feel such a small portion of His love for them, and that love gave me a desire for the handicap to know Jesus and just how much He loved and adored each and every one of them.
God truly answered my prayers during this time. You see, I had been praying that God would allow me to love the way that he loved others, and He showed me a tiny glimpse of what that meant as I washed their feet. I carried that love with me to each group of people we met for the rest of the trip. It gave me a renewed empathy and compassion for every person that we met. I wanted them to know that Jesus loves them and wants to be first in their life. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed that the God of the universe opened up my heart for a new area of love towards people that I do not know. It was such a remarkable experience and I know that I will never look at anyone the same. It is amazing to think of what the Lord opened my eyes to in that seemingly small moment of washing strangers’ feet.
“Dear friends,let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
Tony Hernandez Jr.
Going on a Mission Trip to Haiti with the Rock College Ministry was a pivotal moment in my life. During my time in Haiti, I experienced God’s love, presence, joy, and power like never before. I learned that doing the will of God brings so much joy and satisfaction. I also learned that when you walk like Jesus, you experience Jesus.
During our time there we helped with the construction of a brand new discipleship school, visited a hospital and a prison, held a purity conference with students from various schools, and held a crusade on an island nearby. As we labored daily throughout all these events you could see God move through each one of us. We prayed, preached, taught, sang, hugged, held, carried, encouraged, served, sweat, washed feet, cried, ate, laughed, slept, cleaned, and gave. There is absolutely nothing like being the hands and feet of God.
I was given the privilege to share my testimony during our crusade on the island. After a few hours on a sailboat packed with people, we arrived to the island with many people waiting for us along the shore. We quickly unloaded and dropped off our stuff in what used to be a fish market, where we would later spend the night. We built a team to help set up a stage in the town plaza, a second team to disperse throughout the island and invite people to our crusade and a third team to play with all the surrounding children desperate for attention. As the day developed, the excitement began to build. The time for the crusade to start was closing in. I began to get a bit nervous to what I had committed to, knowing that hundreds of people would be present. As I prayed and prepared my testimony, God surrounded me with comfort and encouragement. The time came and I passionately shared what God has done and is doing through my life.
When I was done sharing I realized something very important. There is power in our testimonies. Our testimonies highlight God’s grace, power and love for humanity. My hope and prayer is that my story helped at least 1 of those people give their life to God. Through my experience in Haiti, God revealed my ability to teach and preach. He gave me the opportunity to walk in my gifts and use them to bring comfort, knowledge and encouragement to the Haitian people. God used my past to help somebody’s future. I am forever grateful for that experience. My time in Haiti will forever be in my heart.
For twenty-one years I have been a Christian, but it was not until I came to Rock Church that I received a huge calling on my life. I was sitting in the 6PM service when Pastor Miles mentioned outreach work. The Lord stopped me right then and there and said, “GO.” Although I was unsure of what was to come, I obediently rushed home to research and pray about upcoming mission trips. Then I found the perfect fit: a ten-day trip to Jérémie, Haiti with the college ministry team.
At the time I had no idea that this trip would radically change every aspect of my life. I got to serve as both a leader and a follower to the handicap, homeless, hungry, hurt and many other amazing people from this broken, but bright country. Hard physical labor, severe poverty, poor living conditions, little to no food or water, and desperation instantaneously humbled my American heart. I was constantly reminded by these joyful individuals that you can make light of every situation as they jumped into my arms, braided my hair, taught me Creole, held my hand, worshipped with me, laughed with me, prayed with me, and loved on Jezi (Jesus) with me every chance that they got. I went to Haiti expecting to change lives by helping others, I left Haiti with my life changed because they helped me.
When I first heard of the missions trip to Jérémie, Haiti, I thought to myself, "Wow, what a wonderful opportunity to make a change in the world." I didn’t realize what transformation God had planned for me. Picking one story that really changed me was quite difficult because there were so many memories made that opened my eyes. Personally, my "ah ha!" moment was on the last day when the whole group visited the prisons, the Holy Spirit totally took control, and over 30 people were saved.
When I was first standing in the men's side of the prison, I was very uncomfortable for many reasons. I even told both of the guys with me, "I really do not want to talk, I do not feel safe." They nodded in agreement, so I stood quietly in the back. That is until the Holy Spirit took hold of me and had me telling my testimony to a whole cell after a man had asked us for new shoes. I began to explain how we could give them new shoes and clothes, but that does not matter when it comes to eternity with God. Being that I am a 5'4 blonde girl, I knew that they were taking everything I said with a grain of salt, until the Holy Spirit had me tell the inmates that I had been where they were at one point and I know how they felt. They were in shock.
Eric then asked, "Are you ready to receive Jesus Christ as your personal savior?" All 5 inmates nodded yes and we all prayed together. Then my translator started delivering the most intense prayer I have ever heard. Although I could not understand it, I knew it was insanely powerful just by the way he was speaking. After this tense moment with Jesus, one of the inmates handed a bag to us that he was trying to sell in order to say, "Thank you."
This was the most eye opening experience for a couple of reasons. I was honestly petrified to talk to these male inmates, but God used me to reach them. I know about eternity, but the Holy Spirit using me to talk about an afterlife with God made me also understand that it is the only thing that matters. When the man gave us the bag he made, it completely humbled me because I realized the best gift that could ever be given is salvation.
The most memorable moment for me was our last day of outreach, at our very last stop, the prison. To be honest, I was not looking forward to the prison. I was thinking to myself, "ok is there anyway I can just stay at the hotel?" Obviously there wasn’t.
So I told myself before walking in, “Danielle it will be fine, just stay in the back, be pleasant and it will be like an hour tops. In and out you got this.” Well God had other plans. After the Impact team presented a skit called sin chair, which was about a person's struggle with sin, I saw one cell mate in particular. He was right in front with tears streaming down his face. I poked someone next to me and said, “Someone should go talk to that guy after.” I was telling someone else to do it. As in not me, because I told myself I'd be in and out. We were all sent out to talk to the prisoners. I was partnered with my friend Jessica and Delice, one of the Haitian translators. When we approached the cell Jess instantly asked the guys what they thought of the skit and before she could say more a man said, "we want Jesus". Jess asked me to pray. Shocked, nervous and excited all at once I said yes and before we said anything more all the men in the cell bowed their heads.
So I began to pray, Delice translated, and the men repeated the prayer. It was if a fire ignited inside me, and the Holy Spirit took over my words and guided me what to say. Afterwards I felt God tell me to write down the names of the men who accepted Christ and pray for them. The men began to tell me their names, a few told a piece of their story, and again the Holy Spirit ignited my heart. I started preaching to the men about Paul, about God's grace and how they now have the joy of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, and they are no longer bound even though they are in physical prison. I began to experience an inhuman amount of love, mercy, and grace for the men in the cell.
You hear about God's grace, you read about His grace, but it’s impossible for us to grasp the full magnitude of His actual grace. The grace that saves us from death and gives us eternal life. I experienced God's love for those men in that prison. I experienced Him telling me to tell them that they are not defined by their past, their sin, or their circumstances and that they are set free by God's grace and can have joy even in prison. I was humbled to the point where I saw I am not better than any of these men and that God wanted them too! God loves them too! It wasn’t until I walked away and we were about to leave the prison that it all actually hit me. I was overwhelmed with what God had just done and I started bawling. All I wanted to do was fall upon my face and praise Him. I was beyond humbled, beyond honored, that God would use me in this way. I didn’t even want to go to the prison, but again God had other plans and He used me to glorify His kingdom. I am nothing without Him, but because of His grace and sending His only son to wash me of all my sins, I am free. A total of 22 men in that one cell accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts and my life is forever changed.
During this weeklong trip, the ministry team witnessed 197 salvations and 57 healings!
For more information about the College Ministry, click here.
For more information about Impact195 click here.