What is partnership? What is healthy partnership? If I could bottle it up and send it to the orientation you do with your Experience Teams before they hit the ground, I would probably send a lot of snapshots from this month with both Grace Bath and Community of Hope as they joined their partners in Bercy and Cabaret.
Teams did not just write an agenda and send it down, but instead worked for weeks and months sending an itinerary, questions, and ideas back and forth. The Haitian pastor led these discussions.
Team leaders sacrificed time that could be spent “doing” to ask the pastor to sit down with the church and share his heart, vision, and story.
Churches came together and community was experienced on a deeper level that we are digging for in partnership – not one that is accomplishing a task, but instead using a task to build a relationship between the American and Haitian church (and Haitian community around the church).
A schedule for one team was completely rearranged in response to Pastor Chelo’s newborn daughter being sick and needing immediate medical attention. Instead of sticking to the schedule, a morning was spent just sitting with his family and learning about each other, singing and throwing jokes in.
A community member who is suffering from a broken ankle was poured into by the team, with visits every morning and night. The gospel has been talked about and hours were spent together. At the end of the week he was talking to Brooke and said, “The pastor is helping me.” For this individual who is not connected to a church – he did not see an American group, strangers, or CPR-3. He saw his local pastor.
These all took time. These all meant not going home with a list of “accomplishments” that people would be excited to hear about.
So many things were accomplished – craft events, medical clinics, agriculture lessons, serving the impoverished section of the community, encouraging the sick families and new mothers, learning more about the communities that people are partnered with, connecting with sponsored students.
But even more – the WAY that they were accomplished was the way that we have dreamed with partnership. Listening to the pastor who lives in Haiti long after we leave, dreaming together, bringing out each others’ strengths, learning on both sides, and pointing to the Haitian church as we pray that we are setting it up to win.
Partnership is hard, after two years on the ground I can see why it is rare to find this relational, long-term way of coming alongside of Haiti. However – this month has been such a beautiful of picture of WHY partnership.
Thank you, church, for doing partnership well. You are the movement.