Celebrating God at Work
Bertha Vaughns, Lynette Francois (founder), Volunteers with Family, Finished Home (left to right)
The Long Road to Recovery
Fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The disasters keep coming. And the church responds to people in need. The immediate responses are rescue and relief. Lives are saved. Food, water, a change of clothes, and temporary shelter are provided. Then comes the long road to recovery. Long after immediate needs are met, the church must stand with those who are trying to recover and rebuild. Recovery takes years. People need help. The cooperative work of the church and volunteers is essential. This story of churches and volunteers cooperating to assist the people of Haiti in the long road to recovery underscores for us the need for continued commitment and cooperation in responses to all disasters. Let this story of committed volunteers, serving in the name of Christ, inspire you to find your place of service in helping others recover from disaster, whether at home or abroad.
Story by Meredith Cook, UBA Today Guest Writer
In ministry, while a vision or idea may originate with one person, the work most often cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of other individuals and churches. A cooperative mindset believes that more can be done together than can be done apart.
This has proven true in the story of Lynette Francois and International Ambassadors for Christ. Twenty years ago, the Lord gave Lynette and her husband a vision for work involving houses and land in an unfamiliar place. While, at the time, details were unspecific, Lynette began to pursue this vision through research and help from the Baptist General Convention of Texas. She was eventually led to Haiti, leading a trip there in 2014. While there, she and her team witnessed firsthand the physical needs of Haitian believers. Specifically, she noticed the lack of durable housing and a sustainable source of protein. It was that year that International Ambassadors for Christ was formed and subsequent trips to Haiti taken in partnership with Lifeline Christian Mission.
International Ambassadors for Christ seeks to spread the goodness of Jesus Christ in nations outside of the United States, and to encourage the church body to be moved to action by praying, giving, and/or going to the international mission fields. While the focus is on international missions, the coalition is also conscious about providing participation and engagement opportunities for volunteers who may not be able to travel.
Currently, there are approximately forty volunteers involved with International Ambassadors for Christ, including some from UBA churches (Bethany Baptist, First Church Heights, First Metropolitan). Christ Temple Apostolic Church is also in the partnership and has built 2 homes and plan to build additional homes in the future. The ministry focuses on three areas: building homes, nutrition, and mission trips. Their primary focus is building homes and sharing the Gospel with Haitians.
Lynette's mother, Bertha Vaughns (above, left), has also been heavily involved in the ministry. She herself has taken two trips to Haiti with the organization. Her church, Bethany Baptist Church, has raised money to build two homes in Haiti and shipped peanut butter to Haiti to assist with the nutrition portion of the ministry. The congregation is excited about the ministry and have even committed to sponsor the families for whom they built houses. This sponsorship will give the families access to healthcare, schools and food.
Another volunteer, Juliette Wiggins, a member of First Church Heights, always wanted to be an international missionary. God confirmed her desire to go when she met Lynette and learned of the opportunity to be involved with International Ambassadors for Christ. While she initially worried that finances would stop her from going, through the generosity of family and friends, she has been able to take more than one trip to Haiti with the ministry. Though she broke her foot on the first trip, the Lord healed her enough to take a second trip and was even able to help paint the house! She has found much joy working to help others in Haiti.
For those who want to get involved, "Homes for Haiti" allows individuals, families, or churches to sponsor a home for a Haitian family, dedicated as a gift from Jesus Christ. Each home costs $4,775. To date, 14 families have received housing from this ministry. In addition, jobs are created in Grand Goave, Haiti because of this ministry work. Brick makers, masons, construction workers and translators gain valuable skills and paychecks to support their own families and communities.
The ministry hopes to provide housing for 15 more families in the near future, and are looking to partner with more congregations and organizations to meet this need. Juliette's church, First Church Heights, hopes themselves to build two more homes.
Through the cooperation of these volunteers and their churches, Haitians are hearing the gospel and their physical needs are being met. If you would like to give to this effort, please visit http://lifeline.org/advocacy/campaign/124773/TexasHomesforHaiti.