Last month, a team of World Orphans board of directors and other leaders traveled together to Port au Prince, Haiti. This is a team of men accustomed to meeting regularly to lead and direct the ministry of World Orphans. Being together in Haiti was both unique and strategic. For some of the team, it was their first trip to Haiti, and for one, his first ever mission trip. Nothing binds hearts like being together in a different country, culture, and environment, far away from the comforts of home. As a ministry, we spend a great deal of time and energy communicating to our stakeholders what, where, and how we do what we do. The purpose for this trip was for our board members to experience these things firsthand, together, building team and relationships, and even now, holding shared memories. No fancy hotels or special treatment for these guys. They wanted to experience exactly what our short-term teams do, so they stayed at our guesthouse—no air conditioning, bunk beds underneath mosquito nets, and authentic food prepared by our two Haitian guesthouse cooks. Together the team bounced their way over the bumpy streets amidst the cacophony of sights, sounds, and smells of roadside kiosks, tap taps, buses, trucks, cars, motorcycles, and the five million plus residents of Port au Prince. Haiti assaults the senses like few other places.

To more fully understand the impact of our work in Haiti, the team visited a number of families who have children participating in our Orphan and Vulnerable Child Program. Alan Hunt, VP of Advocacy & Church Partnerships, shared, “As families received us into their homes, we learned about their lives, listened to stories of loss and tragedy, and heard about faith and hope for a brighter tomorrow. It is a precious privilege to pray for families in their homes in such a personal way. We prayed together about hopes and dreams, fears and concerns, protection from sickness, for adequate food, and for success in school. Not once were we asked for a material need or want. The families we visited were kind, hospitable, and appreciative of their churches and the impact of the OVC Program on their family and the children they care for.”

World Orphans Board Chairman, Mark Haverkate, summed up the trip this way: “We saw our work up close and, with much discussion, sharpened our mission, purpose, and resolve. Haiti is largely in darkness, but the work and presence of our local church partners, and surely others, is providing many points of light. Our strategy to help the church care for the most vulnerable is working in not only providing essential support and protection to the orphans, but also in making those points of light shine a bit brighter for all to see and be attracted to, and to give hope. Jesus brought light and truth to a dark and deceitful world. By helping local churches spread His light and truth, we are following the path He has laid out for us.”

As leaders, the business side of things—the hectic pace of emails, conference calls, budgets, meetings, planning and travel—can sometimes distract us from what we are working to accomplish. The opportunity to go and see, to visit and pray, to spend time with our church partners and the children we serve in their homes and schools, is a strong reminder and anchor. We are thankful for our dedicated staff and for a board that cares and is also willing to go…that they might truly know and understand, that they might help to carry and share this passion for the orphan.