How to Do Short-Term Missions the Right Way

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How to do Short-Term Missions the Right Way
Outreach Magazine, April 2, 2018
Short-term missions have received a lot of flak in recent years. And we at LiveBeyond understand where the criticism is coming from, but we have some solutions. Here are some short-term missions best practices that will help you do them the right way.

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Anniversary of Beans & Rice Evangelism

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A year ago today, I felt like the Lord was calling me to something new, so I took a deep breath and stepped out in faith. At the time, I had been living in Haiti for nearly a year, and I loved my job. I was teaching about 15 women in my discipleship training class, I was going out into the villages and sharing the gospel when I had a spare hour or two in the afternoons, and I felt like I was settling into as decent a routine as possible for living in Haiti. But in April of 2017, I felt like the Lord was challenging me to more. I felt like He was saying, "Don't get comfortable or complacent." On April 2, I was sitting in church in the States, and I felt my spirit was wrestling with being happy and proud of the work I do but not just letting that be good enough. I decided to start easy. My first thought was, "What did Jesus do?" I started naming the qualities and characteristics of Jesus, and I opened my bible to Matthew 14, Mark 6, and Mark 8. Each of these passages talk about Jesus feeding large numbers of people. In each passage, it says that Jesus had compassion on the people. Jesus met the needs of each person. If they needed healing, He healed; if they were hungry, He fed, and without fail, He always met the spiritual needs. That day in church I wrote in my journal, "Make a pot of beans and rice, bring plates, and sit at the water well. Share the gospel and bring meds to heal the sick. Start in Cai Soda. How can I reach more people for Jesus and how can I look more like Jesus?" As soon as I made it back to Haiti, I talked to our head cook, Mauna, to see if she would be willing to make an extra pot of beans and rice. She happily agreed, and I was ecstatic that plans were falling into place. The next day, I put the beans and rice in the back of the truck, drove to Cai Soda with Pastor Sargesse, and while I made the plates of beans and rice, he preached to everyone as they gathered around. We were able to feed about 50 children, a much smaller number than Jesus' 5,000+ but it was certainly a start! I was amazed at how effective this was. The children and adults that had gathered were willing to listen and were curious to hear what we had to say. Normally when we went to share the gospel, we had been sharing with individuals. This time we were able to share the good news of Jesus to over 50 people at once! As we drove home, I started dreaming even bigger. We need more food, more plates, more spoons, and we need to try to do this several times a week. Now, a year later, we can make upwards of 550 plates a week. We can visit villages repeatedly because after sharing the gospel for the first several visits, we can then go deeper into how to walk with Jesus on later visits. And we have had hundreds of Americans join us in experiencing how to share the gospel. The Lord has been so kind to introduce a new program at LiveBeyond through something as small as handful of faith and a pot of beans and rice. I eagerly look forward to this next year, daring not to get comfortable and dreaming with the Lord to see what His next plan holds for expanding the Kingdom of God in Thomazeau. 

Plunder hell and populate Heaven,

Jacklyn Vanderpool
Spiritual Life Program Coordinator for LiveBeyond

World Health Day 2018

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By: Devin Vanderpool & LiveBeyond team

On this World Health Day 2018, when we all realize that there are still so many millions of people around the world who don’t have access to basic health care and who die from fully treatable diseases, we’d like to thank Congress for passing a budget that has sustained or increased funding in many of these very vital efforts. We know it takes compromise and arguing and give-and-take on all sides, so we thank you for never forgetting the very lives at stake for each dollar that goes to programs like USAID or PEPFAR.

We see the necessity for these programs – and the good that they do – on the ground in developing countries like Haiti, where something as routine as appendicitis in the U.S. is pretty much a death sentence when there are neither enough hospital beds to go around nor money to pay for them.

With an average of less than one hospital bed to 1,000 patients in Haiti, an appendectomy surgery that takes no more than 2 hours in the United States is nearly impossible in a country of 11 million people. And considering 60% of the population lives under the poverty line, those in need of surgery often can’t afford to pay for care, meaning they are turned away from hospitals that do exist because their funds and resources are already stretched too far.

And that’s just one surgery. What about the thousands of women who give birth at home alone? Or the child born with cerebral palsy who is left to sit alone in a chair because his parents don’t have any resources to care for him? Or the man whose family starves to death because his broken leg puts him out of work?

In 2017, National Geographic ran a story about pharmacies run out of buckets by street vendors. Because the street vendors are not under oversight from the Haitian government, customers have no way to know for certain if the medicines they purchase are helpful or harmful. They might be taking a placebo or an antifungal to treat a bacterial issue. Can you imagine living in a world with such unreliable means of achieving health, such limited access to medical care?

In Haiti, that’s the reality. And Haiti is just one country among hundreds that face similar odds. Half of the people in the world today lack access to essential health services. Health costs have pushed approximately 100 million people into poverty. It is the goal of World Health Organization to extend health coverage to 1 billion more people by 2023 so that we will be on track to reach our Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Universal health care sounds like a lofty goal, but it starts one life at a time. The organization I work for called LiveBeyond is working determinedly to reach this goal in our community of about 200,000 people in Thomazeau, Haiti. LiveBeyond has a fully-operational clinic that sees up to 1,000 patients per week. We recently secured funding to build a surgical hospital with four fully-functioning operating rooms to service an area with no surgical services currently available. Our maternal health program helps nearly 400 mothers deliver their babies safely each year. We are striving daily to reach the Sustainable Development Goals in our area so that no more women die in childbirth, no more children go untreated for diseases and malnutrition, and no more Haitians die of appendicitis.

And there are other great organizations also striving for these same Sustainable Development Goals all over the world. Catholic Relief Services and Doctors Without Borders are two fantastic organizations working to provide health care in other parts of Haiti. Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros Anhanom Ghebreyesus says: “Health is a human right. No one should get sick and die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access the health services they need.”

Thank you, Congress, for understanding this, and for doing what it takes to pass a budget that includes funding for global aid. Together we can fight for #HealthForAll.

 

March is National Literacy Month!

Written by Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications

It was 2015 -we were reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in my English as a Second Language class in Thomazeau, Haiti. I was working with a group of about 8 adults, and I couldn’t believe how excited they were getting as we moved further and further in the story. “Aslan did WHAT?” “Why did Edmund do that?” “When can we read more, Teacher?”

 My ESL class in 2014.

My ESL class in 2014.

They weren’t just excited to be reading in English. They were excited to be reading a book, a chapter book for that matter. Haitian Creole is a beautiful language; it’s a simple, easy-to-use language. But most of the traditions are passed on orally so there aren’t many resources written down to pass from one generation to the next. Compare that to the 300,000+ books published in the US market each year. Literacy, literacy in English more specifically, can open a world of doors for people in developing countries around the world, simply because of the size of the English book market.

I don’t even remember learning how to read. My parents spent so much time reading to me as a child that I memorized entire books, even flipping the pages in the right spots by memory. When you asked me my favorite book, I could never pick just one (I still can’t). How many doors have been opened to me, simply because I am literate?

According to CIA World Factbook, approximately 40% of Haitians are illiterate. This compounds the problem of illiteracy through generations as more and more children grow up without parents to read to them. What does that do to foster imagination and creativity within a culture? How can we put a stop to this cyclical problem?

This March during National Reading Month, I’d like to pass some of my love for reading to my friends in Haiti. We at LiveBeyond are putting the finishing touches on a school building that will offer curriculum in Haitian Creole and English. In my mind’s eye, I’m already envisioning the library filled with rows of bookshelves, children sprawled across floor or sitting at tables as they dive into the world of The Lorax or Narnia or ancient Egypt. I like to picture children devouring books in Creole, English, French, and Spanish, their minds bursting with new ideas with each turn of a page.

I don’t think I can sum it up any better than Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan: “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right.... Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.” 

If you are interested in contributing to our literacy efforts, we have an Amazon Wishlist of children’s books for our school. By spending a few dollars on a book, you can help foster creativity and imagination in the minds of children in Haiti. What a great way to celebrate Reading Month!

 

 

Training for a Goal

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Written by: David S. Vanderpool, Director of Development & Marketing, Agriculture Program Coordinator

Recently my friends and I decided we wanted to train for a half Ironman triathlon. We are running, swimming, biking, lifting, and training on a daily basis. We’ve changed our diets and read training books in our free time. We wake up long before the dawn to hit the gym for a few hours before we have to go to work. Our conversations now revolve around our split times and different bike models. We’ve all always been athletic and active but once we all paid the money for the triathlon and set our goals our focus took on a whole new intensity. Setting our goals changed our lifestyle.

How do we set goals within our Christian walk? What are our spiritual goals? Maybe we say we will curse less, or control our temper better, or gossip less, or... sin less. But what do we do? What do we do more? Love more? What does that look like? Pray more? Spend more time in the Bible? Ok, but what are we training for? What’s our triathlon at the end of our goal? If we choose to read the entire Bible in a year, what does that help us achieve?

What if our spiritual triathlon that we were training for was planting a church, becoming a missionary, or selling everything and giving it to the poor. How many of us are in good enough spiritual shape right now to finish that kind of triathlon? But more importantly, how do we even begin to train for that race? Where is our spiritual gym, what are our spiritual exercises, and how do we set our training goals?

Prayer is definitely a part of our training. Spending time meditating on scripture should be a huge part of our daily regiment. But we need more. We need a healthy spiritual diet to trim the fat of our sinful lifestyles and to feed our spiritual muscles. We need to spend hours pounding the pavement running our spirit until our feet are numb. BUT WHAT IS THAT?

I think it starts with sacrifice. Just like how the athlete sacrifices his time, comfort, and energy for training we too need to sacrifice ourselves for Christ, for our spiritual training. If our personal priorities are not Christ’s then our training will be incomplete and we will burn out mid-race. We must sacrifice our lives, our lifestyles, and our priorities and adopt His as our own.

As the athlete trains and her muscles tone up, her speed increases and her times get faster, the results of her hard work become more and more evident. Where is the proof of our spiritual training? The fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I can honestly say that I am not producing most of those fruits. No one who knows me would ever describe me as gentle. Patience is certainly not one of my strong suits. I tend to think of myself as a man of war rather than of peace. My spirit is very undertrained. I MUST exercise those muscles. They are so atrophied that when it gets to that part of the race where they’re needed I will collapse quickly.

However, toned muscles are not my goal. My physical body is strong and healthy but I cannot go out and compete in a triathlon today. I must train more. The fruit of the Spirit is not my goal; it is the by-product of a healthy spirit. And a healthy spirit is what I need to run my spiritual triathlon. We all need to sign up for our race, pay the dues, and commit ourselves to a training regiment. Then get out there and go. Spread the Gospel. Take care of the Poor. Tend to the sick. Sacrifice yourself for G-D and His glory. And submit yourself to His will.
 

 Tired after a tough swim preparing for Tri Fort Worth on May 20th. 

Tired after a tough swim preparing for Tri Fort Worth on May 20th. 

World Oral Health Day - March 20th

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Written by Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications

Oral health and hygiene is a topic that makes many of us cringe. The thought of a dentist poking and drilling away inside of our mouths prevents many of us from making our recommended appointments every six months. And yet most of us know that oral health is important. We know that problems in our mouth can lead to health issues throughout our bodies. “For example, oral diseases are linked with diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, and some cancers; while having diabetes increases the risk of getting gum disease.” “Oral diseases can impact every aspect of life, from personal relationships and self-confidence to school to work to even enjoying food.”[1] So we brush our teeth. Some of us even floss.

But this type of preventative care is unheard of in places like Haiti. Even when dental groups go through, much of the focus is on extraction, getting painful teeth out of people’s mouths to remove their suffering.  

And it isn’t as if people in Haiti don’t know that oral health is important. They understand that healthy teeth are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. They want healthy teeth just as much as you or me! We at LiveBeyond see oral disease for what it is – oppression. It’s an oppression caused by lack of resources. And since sugar is a staple in Haitian diets (just as it is in our own) rotting teeth are a common sight. So many in Haiti don’t have access to basics like toothpaste and good toothbrushes to take care of their teeth.

And that’s a problem. One we can’t stand. So we, along with organizations like the World Dental Federation, are finding ways to help people gain access to supplies useful for better oral health. We have an Amazon Wishlist for hygiene kits containing toothbrushes and toothpaste to pass out to women in our Maternal Health program, children in our Kè Pou Timoun program, and the thousands of patients we see in our clinic throughout the year. We have teams of dentists and dental hygienists that come down throughout the year to offer dental clinics to those in need. We have a room in our clinic dedicated to dental needs and treatment, and a team of dentists and dental hygienists with international experience that help us gather supplies necessary for better treatment options for our friends in Haiti.

Oral diseases affect 3.9 billion people worldwide. Millions in Haiti suffer from poor oral health, simply because they don’t have access to the right supplies. A nice tube of toothpaste costs less than $3; a good toothbrush is about 27 cents. So, for less than the cost of a nice coffee or a cheap burger, you could provide someone in need with the tools for good oral health for about 3 months; the cost of a nice meal could provide their needs for a year. Isn’t that a price we should be willing to pay to relieve the suffering of others? Join me in promoting World Oral Health Day and supporting organizations that provide oral health care in developing countries.
 

[1] http://worldoralhealthday.com/

World Down Syndrome Day

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Coach Gene Stallings Remembers Johnny on World Down Syndrome Day
Alabama Living, March 21, 2018
For former Alabama football coach Gene Stallings, World Down Syndrome Day is an important date on the calendar. The day, observed on March 21, draws attention to those with Down Syndrome.

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Jacklyn's Encounter with Vodou Priest Mondezi

How One Ordinary Woman Overcame the Murderous Threats of Vodou Priests
Ministry Today, March 20, 2018
When I was a senior in high school, the superlative I received was, "Most Likely to Punch a Vodou (Haitian Voodoo) Priest." While not the most flattering accolade—and I by no means resort to violence—it turned out to be quite foreshadowing of what was ahead for me.

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(reposted by Charisma News here)

How to Know for Sure God is Calling You to the Mission Field

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Written by Jacklyn Vanderpool
Ministry Today Magazine, February 26, 2018
I'm coming up on my two-year anniversary of living full-time in Haiti, and I frequently get asked this question: "How did you know you were called to the mission field?" And it is almost always followed up with, "How did you prepare to go?"

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To the Called:

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By: Jacklyn Vanderpool, LiveBeyond's Spiritual Life Coordinator, Team Coordinator
Reposted from her blog Hands and Feet to the Nations

I’m coming up on my two year anniversary of living full time in Haiti , and I frequently get asked this question: “How did you know you were called to the mission field?” And it is almost always followed up with, “How did you prepare to go?”

I was reading Exodus 31 a few days ago, and I felt like the Lord was teaching me something really powerful in response to those questions. Before I had almost always just answered, “I felt like the Lord called me, and over a series of several years, the Lord prepared me to go.” Every word of that is truth, but I could sometimes see in the eyes of those that had asked me that it wasn’t the answer that they had wanted. I know so many people that feel like they have been called to the mission field but don’t feel like they are equipped or have the gifts and talents to be effective.

Exodus 31:1-4

“The Lord spoke to Moses: Look I have appointed by name, Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft to design artistic works in gold, silver, and bronze.”

Let’s break this down real fast.

First off, God knows your name. The Creator of the universe, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords knows your name. You are such a delight to Him that He not only took the time to perfectly form you but to know you too!

Second, He has APPOINTED you!  In Ephesians 2:10 it says, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time, so that we should walk in them.” As Christians, we have work to do. God has called us to something great, something that gives all Glory to God the Father, and we get to be a part of that.

Lastly, God equips us! He gives us His Holy Spirit. When Jesus ascended, He said He would be with us always. As a Spirit-filled believer, you are equipped. Sometimes that looks like having to be trained over a series of weeks, months, or even years, but the timing of the Lord is always perfect. I knew when I was 11 that I wanted to be a missionary. It wasn’t until I was 21 that I knew that the Lord was calling me to Evangelism. I experienced an agonizing two years of waiting on the Lord before He started to train me in sharing the Gospel. And it was over a year before I was finally moving to Haiti full time. The Lord was preparing, equipping, and refining me over a period of 11 years (and still is), in such a way that will bring Him the most glory.

If you feel like the Lord has called you to missions but don’t see any doors that are opening, then take this opportunity to go before the Father and ask Him what you can learn, be refined in, and be challenged in that will bring Him the most glory. Please don’t listen to the lie that you are not good enough, don’t have the right gifts, or aren’t holy enough to be a missionary. If the Lord has put missions on your heart, trust Him in His timing and be willing to be refined and prepared. I’ll be the first to say, missions is a challenge and a sacrifice, but working alongside the Lord in the capacity that He created me for has been such a joy and a privilege.