This Sunday, I listened to a sermon on sanctification . . . in Creole. Or I should rather say, I saw the passages being used on the screen, flipped there in my Bible, and did my best to follow along, praying that the Lord would teach me something new regardless of the language barrier. And He did! The first verse that stuck out was 1 Thessalonians 4:3 – “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified . . .” I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I have a tendency to shy away from sanctifying moments, believing the lie that I’m probably doing fine as I am and fearful of the process ahead of me, because let’s face it, sanctification can be hard and messy. But God’s Word says plainly that sanctification is God’s will and will make us more like Jesus. Passing up opportunities to be sanctified means missing out on a whole new level of knowing Jesus.
This past week, I was allowed to tag along on the family trip to Haiti. In Haiti, I saw 16 Watermark families boldly lean in to every ounce of sanctification the Lord had waiting for them through Mission of Hope. I saw kids in 3rd through 11th grade walk into villages drastically unlike anything they’ve seen here at home and love their peers in completely new (and what could be nerve-wracking) ways. I saw parents step out of their comfort zones by giving their kids the freedom to play with and connect with the Haitian children wherever we went, seeking to know men, women, and children in Haiti, and sharing the hope we have through Christ alone. And I saw the Church at work in both parents and children asking thoughtful questions about how we can step up and better love and serve the people of Haiti as well as those we encounter in Dallas.
These families said yes to what they knew would stretch and grow them in ways that are hard and messy. But we also know that sanctification doesn’t just happen in Haiti. The pastor at church on Sunday closed with Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17, just before His death and resurrection. In verses 17 and 18, Jesus prays, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Regardless of whether we’re in Haiti or in Dallas, God has given us His Word as a source of sanctification, especially when we’re living out the calling it gives us to live as those sent into the world to love (John 17:26), serve (Mark 10:43-45), and boldly share about the hope we have because of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). I am confident that our trip to Haiti was life changing for the 16 families represented. And I’m even more confident that it will continue to spark conversations between parents and kids about our mission as the Church.
by Family Trip member Mandy Sisco
Today a sweet eleven-year-old old girl took my hand and spent all morning teaching me Haitian words. Ubelle means “beautiful.” That was the theme of the day for me.
I stood overlooking the homes of Lavic and was floored by the beauty that my eyes were taking in. This little community is tucked among vibrant green vegetation at the base of rolling mountain tops. Grey clouds were sprinkled throughout the crisp, blue sky, seemingly shouting HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!? As I turned to the person to my left to see if they were taking in all that I was experiencing, I realized it was one of our interpreters, and he didn’t seem phased. I told him that my breath was taken away at this sight, and he smiled politely and said, “It’s just Haiti.”
It struck me how easily we miss the beauty around us. What does God have for me back home? What amazing scenes has the LORD set for me that I respond with, “That’s just Dallas”? I’m hopeful that today can serve as a reminder to have my eyes wide open. Open to His goodness even when chaos seems so evident. Open to His faithfulness when I can only see what’s just in front of me. Open to His reminders of who He is.
I can’t help but be reminded of Psalm 121:1. It says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?” As I lay a weary head on my pillow tonight, my prayer is that our whole team would have our eyes lifted up and ready to see where our help comes from.
by Family Trip leader Rick Howard
Over the past 5 years, I’ve made 7 trips to Mission of Hope Haiti with Watermark teams of all ages and compositions. But family trips are my favorites of them all, because it’s on family team trips – like the one I’m on this week – that I see the best in parents and kids come out. Parents are at their best, because it’s on these trips that those parents, unencumbered by the distractions and busyness of Dallas, more often than not step out of their comfort zone as believers and live out their faith in ways that seem more tangible and fruitful than they often do at home.
Saturday we split our team of 42 into 4 groups for painting houses, playing with kids, and sharing the gospel. On those teams, two women in particular stood out, as they did that one thing that makes most believers very uncomfortable – but for them it is “jet fuel” for their soul. That is sharing their faith with strangers. Those ladies, Julie Fowler and Julie Anders, while blessed in many ways, have also both experienced more than their fair share of challenges and disappointments the past few years. In spite of that, they’ve never lost their passion for telling others who Jesus is and what He did for all of us. That passion for evangelism was never more evident than earlier in the trip as we traveled and Saturday as we served and shared in the village.
These two Julies, it’s clear, rather than shy away from conversations about faith and Christ, looked for them, embraced them, relished them, and celebrated them. As many on our team focused on painting and playing, the two Julies remained on point as our lead evangelists on their teams. No matter what else was going, they did what we are called to do – share not just the love of Christ, but the story of Christ. In doing so, they set an example for every parent and child what it looks like to truly be on mission with the gospel – while at the same time being refueled spiritually for the days ahead when they’ll do it again whether in Haiti or in Dallas.
As of this morning, the Family Trip folks had arrived safely in Haiti and at Mission of Hope.
They headed out today to paint two houses in a new village and spend time with kids at a church, but you’ll start to receive “reports from the front” (as internet availability allows) soon.
Thanks for praying for the team!