January 15, 2010

The Partners in Progress Mission Project in Haiti



Monte W. Holland


     A member of the Beanery Writers Group (Latrobe, PA), Claudette, travelled to Haiti on January 12, 2010, on a mission trip to teach women how to create a business so they could have an income.

     Claudette arrived in Haiti four hours before the earthquake struck. She made it to where she was going, beyond the city on a hill, in time to miss being in Port au Prince when the quake hit. Only one brief message has made it through—a Facebook post—which said that she and the others with her are all safe.

     Her mission, I am sure, has changed. With her knowledge of French, and the fact that she is with a nurse and a doctor, it’s certain that she is doing some needed recovery work.

     Her plans were to return to her southwestern Pennsylvania home on January 26.  


In July 2003, my husband Monte, a United Methodist Church pastor, and I took a three month retirement trip, traveling the coast of New England. He wrote the following post at my request.

Other than navigation, searching out lodging, and doing genealogical research, our travels included my preaching at nine different New England churches. My message focused on mission—preaching about its nature by calling upon my mission trip to Mexico. I painted a perspective on mission that I conveyed as best I could in the churches we visited.

     However, on a late September Sunday, the tables were turned. We were attending services at the York-Ogunquit United Methodist Church near our cottage at Cape Neddick, Maine. To our surprise they had a mission speaker, the Reverend David Kerr, former head of the New England Conference Council, who was now retired. He spoke about the Partners in Development, Inc. Project in Haiti. His Scripture, the feeding of the five thousand, took the viewpoint of people getting together and sharing what they already have.

     The question became: Was the miracle really in the sharing among a number of persons that came prepared with food, or the multiplication of a limited supply of food? Was it really the first church potluck?

     We don’t live to eat, he said, but instead we eat to live.


Partners In Development works in a specific community in Haiti over the long term. Their program calls for a five-prong commitment: 1.) child sponsorship- $22/month; 2.) small interest-free business loans; 3.) housing program utilizing $2500 two-family two-room duplexes, with a commitment to thirty year loan, children through sixth grade, and finding employment; 4.) a medical program for community, and 5.) team building trips (one or two weeks, paying travel and buying supplies.) This model for building a stable community in Haiti over a period of time involves bringing in outside resources to help those who commit themselves to bettering their lives.

This model of missions is not only good for Haiti, but for all places. The Partners In Development brochure states Our philosophy at Partners in Development is that given opportunity and resources, people can help themselves find a more sustainable way of life.

An interesting discussion occurred during the sharing time after church. Haiti is very poor on average. Americans are quite prosperous on average. When does one reach an income where no more is needed? Could that be $100,000 annually? If so, many have much disposable income.

The discussion moved on to the question: How do we help those having large wealth, like many persons who summer or live along the Maine coast, catch a vision for resourcing the poor in the world?

 The Reverend Kerr has some good ideas. He reaches the affluent through gala evening events, Making a Difference, that tap the financial resources of persons who have excess income. He invites people to go on a work trip to catch the vision first hand.

Behind it all is joining two ends of the resource spectrum—one end helping the poor get a vision of a better life and resources to move toward that life, and the other end helping the rich get a vision of better life for the poor of the world and ways to put resources into their hands. The desired effect is a better quality of life for all peoples. The poor move beyond basic survival to loving relationships and spiritual richness. The rich move beyond lust for riches and power to a love for all peoples and spiritual richness.

Those in the middle range of wealth learn that sowing seeds of love and resources, even if they are relatively few, is a primary activity for followers of Christ, people who are part of God’s kingdom. 

Maybe the Rev. Kerr’s response to one man’s statement, “Economically it doesn’t make sense for people to go down to Haiti. It’s sending the money down that counts.” is the best closing thought: “We want you to go because no one will be the same after connecting in person.”

He capped his response with: “What if God had just sent money instead of his Son?”

Our theology of mission must always be in a state of flux, leaving us needing to hear from God what His will is for us in “this” moment. We never fully have that answer. It is only in praise and prayer that we open ourselves to God. What is God’s will for the various peoples of the world? What little part does he have for you and me to play?

People who realize that mission is primary to faith practice are always awaiting new insights, and are thankful to cross paths with others who dare to trust God with their resources: their praise, their prayers, their gifts, and their time.


Our best wishes and prayers are extended to Claudette, and her friends, while meeting the challenges of the mission work they must be called on to do.


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I invite your comments on this post. The comment box is at the end of the ADDITIONAL READING list.




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1 Comment »

  1. Hello Carolyn, hope you had a Lovely Holiday Season. I would be so interested in doing a story for my local paper on Claudette in Haiti. How can I reach her? Do you have an e-mail? Also would like to inform you the I will be going to Florida the end of Feburary in Ft. myers for a “Writers Celebration”, hope the weather is Sunny! Also My book ‘Broken Places” will be featured/ presented/showcased at the “American Library Association” event in Washington DC and California. So exciting. I will be at the Washington event. Please let me know if I can get Clauldttes e-mail. thank You so, Have a great day, Ciao Natalee Amati

    Comment by Natalee Amati — January 19, 2010 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

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