LiveBeyond In the News

Christians, Let's Step It Up
Crosswalk, October 18, 2017
No one would disagree that the United States has faced its share of difficulty this year in the face of natural disaster. Hurricane Harvey brought devastation to the Texas coast; Hurricane Irma destroyed parts of Florida; Puerto Rico is reeling after Hurricane Maria.
Estimated costs of hurricane damage have reached into the trillions. So how are programs like FEMA supposed to cover these costs? The short answer: they can’t. I work with a non-profit called LiveBeyond, part of our mission is to provide aid to those suffering from natural disasters. During our recent relief work in the Houston area, we have already encountered families rejected by FEMA. Apparently, the feet of water in their houses did not merit any financial aid.
And what about undocumented immigrants? What kind of assistance could they ever hope to see? Less than 20% of those affected by Hurricane Harvey had flood insurance. How will Texas, Florida or Puerto Rico recover from such terrible odds?

Read more
This article is also featured on a Philidelphia Christian radio station, WFIL AM560's website here and a Pittsburg Christian radio station, WPIT 96.5FM/730AM's website here.

My Haitian Journey

By: Taylor Westbrook

Hello everyone, I can’t believe how fast this summer has flown by! In just a few short weeks, I will be heading back to the states for a month.  I am already anxious at the thought of leaving.  I have grown very accustomed to being here and have loved being a part of the work God is doing in Haiti.   

First, thanks to everyone who prayed for Haiti during these recent hurricanes.  We planned for the worst and received the best!  Here in Thomazeau, we only experienced some moderate rain that was very welcomed.  Again, the Haitians showed me true heart for God and man.   When presented with the flooding in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, many stepped us to donate money to LiveBeyond’s disaster relief work there.  Their efforts remind me of my experience watching the members of the Kay Soda church tithe.  So often we give out of our riches, but I saw them giving, once again, out of their poverty.   

The most rewarding part of this past month has been getting Chenielo enrolled in school.   He was so excited when I told him he was going to go to school for the first time. On the day we gave backpacks filled with school supplies and personal grooming items, he looked up at me and said, “Taylor, mwen kontan anpil,” Taylor, I am very happy!   

Chinielo and his backpack!

Chinielo and his backpack!

Last month I talked about watching the pain of Haiti intimately close.  The experience continues.  I led daily trips to the homes of Johnny’s Kids with the last team.  I wasn’t ready for Daphne’s mother.  She clearly loves Daphne and gushed over her, but that is only part of her reality.  After telling me Daphne was a good child who rarely caused her any problems, she asked me to take her.  Having to tell her no was hard.  You see, she really doesn’t want to give her daughter away, but LiveBeyond is one of the few resources she has.  Raising a child with special needs is no easy feat, especially in Haiti.  The following day her dad, whom I had never met, was there and had a few questions for me.  I was already preparing for the worst.  He then went on to tell me how grateful he was for LiveBeyond and all we provided for Daphne.  He smiled at me and told me I was a good friend to his daughter!  

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This month I have been working with a young boy, Matino.  Matino has an infection that has kept him from walking.  From sitting for so long, his body has tightened and contorted in such a way that he cannot stand straight or lie down with his back flat.  The infection started presenting just above his right knee, and his knee has lost much of its ability to bend.  Our doctor prescribed antibiotics for him, and I have been working with him several times a week doing physical therapy.  Matino has progressed leaps and bounds since the first day I started working with him.  He can stand unassisted and take a few labored steps, he can lie on his back without wincing, he can apply pressure all the way through his right leg, and he has grown exponentially in his trust of me.  As good as all this is, he still has so far to go. We have been trying to get him in for an x-ray but he has been turned away by two hospitals in Port Au Prince.  The original hospital he went to months ago took as much money as they could and finally sent his mother home and saying there was nothing wrong with him to be causing his condition.  This past Wednesday was particularly heart-wrenching.  Matino was not having a good day in therapy; he was being very uncooperative, and after a little rebuking from his mother, she began to cry.  She was crying because she wanted him to walk again, she was crying because hospitals refused to even look at him, she was crying because she has very little money and spends 150 Gourdes per week to bring him by motorcycle, she was crying because she then walks hours back to their home because she must save money for the motorcycle to the base, she was crying because she is tired.  Yet, she keeps coming because LiveBeyond is all she has.  She has loved seeing his progression but desires so much more for him as do I!

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Here are a few things I would ask you all to pray about:

  • Continue to pray as I navigate the language.  It has been wonderful being able to have real conversations.
  • For meetings - I am arranging with other NGO’s to visit their bases and learn what has helped to make their special needs programs successful.
  • For the upcoming construction of Johnny’s House and the completion of the school.  The school is moving along very well.
  • For Akanj, a new believer who came to us because Jesus told him in a dream to visit our pastor.  He was a slave of the head Voodoo priest that died suddenly last year.  He has not missed a Sunday or a daily bible study since he was baptized a few weeks ago and most days is at our morning church service for the staff.
  • For my attentiveness in sharing the gospel with the men I have formed some great friendships with.

Random Pics for Your Viewing Enjoyment!

I gave myself a haircut! Pretty good, if I do say so myself.

I gave myself a haircut! Pretty good, if I do say so myself.

The cactus tree!

The cactus tree!

Are you my daddy? He's so pale!

Are you my daddy? He's so pale!

Love my confused look during a Creole lesson.

Love my confused look during a Creole lesson.

Quick trip to the market.

Quick trip to the market.

Hiking up to the prayer house.

Hiking up to the prayer house.

None are worthless,

Taylor Westbrook

Birmingham Event - October 12, 2017

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Coach Gene Stallings, Pat Dye Team Up for Johnny's House
Alabama Living, October 12, 2017
Former Alabama football coach Gene Stallings teamed up with former Auburn football coach Pat Dye today to raise money for LiveBeyond, a ministry that focuses on assistance to Haiti.
"You can't imagine how poor people are in Haiti," said Stallings, who has been to Haiti twice.
Despite two recent strokes followed by a heart attack, Stallings insisted on speaking at the fundraising luncheon today at The Bright Star in Bessemer. Dye insisted on being there with him.

Read more

LiveBeyond In the News

LiveBeyond continues to make news for disaster relief efforts:

Yes, There's Still Something You Can Do For Hurricane Victims
Faithwire, October 7, 2017
All across the Southern United States and in Puerto Rico, communities are dealing with the devastating loss caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Since Hurricane Harvey hit, my team and I at LiveBeyond have been traveling to the Houston area delivering food, supplies and helping with construction. Every time I come back home, I get the same question from others who also want to help: what can do when I am so far away?  
Here are three ways you can help hurricane victims, from someone who has seen the need firsthand.

Read more
 

Have You Turned A Blind Eye One Year After This Storm Made Headlines?
Charisma News, October 4, 2017
One year ago today, on Oct. 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, resulting in almost $2 billion U.S. worth of damage and the deaths of an estimated 546 people. This year, America has seen the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma along our coast. Then, Hurricane Maria devastated multiple Caribbean Island nations, including Puerto Rico. Lives have been lost, homes destroyed, plans ruined. But how much harder is it for people just an hour and a half flight off of our border to prepare for a hurricane like Matthew? Here's a look at how a Haitian family might prepare for a hurricane or a similar natural disaster and what the effects of that storm might be in the short and long term.

Read more


TV Interview with Dr. David Vanderpool
KTAB/KRBC, September 27, 2017

Watch the Interview Here or Here

One Spark Can Ignite A Country

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By: David Johnston, LiveBeyond's Base Manager
Reposted from his blog on September 28, 2017

I have always been fascinated by the stories about secret churches in China gathering in secret in someone's house to study the Bible. They spend hours pouring over scripture at great risk just to learn about Jesus.

In my mind I imagine many of them crammed into one small room as they share copies of the Bible and devour every word.

I've always wanted to be a part of something like that.

I firmly believe the same thing can happen in Haiti through teaching and discipleship multiplication.

While Bibles are certainly not banned in Haiti, followers of Christ are directly persecuted in their communities if they're actively and aggressively making disciples. 

However, all it takes is one little spark to ignite a movement and set everyone on fire for the Gospel.

Let me introduce you to Gerald. 

Gerald

Gerald is always present at my daily Bible study. Even if he is slightly late, he can be seen sprinting up to the church pavilion to get a seat and not miss too much. 

Even though he is a new believer, Gerald is constantly asking about how to teach scripture through words and actions in his community of Jacasse, a community that has two very active voodoo peristyles among the homes. 

The other day before Bible study I was sitting with Gerald. As we sat there together you could hear the metal pavilion roof heat up from the hot sun.

"We don't get enough time to study during the week," he said (in Kreyol of course). "Can we start coming on Saturdays so we can have a lot more time?"

Okay, to understand his desire fully you have to know that it would take him at least an hour to get to our base from his house and then at least another hour to get back home going up the mountain, not to mention coming back to where he works on his day off. 

In Gerald I see a strong spirit of a pastor, a teacher, and a servant. He quietly and humbly helps whoever has the smallest need.

I pray and hope that Gerald is the spark needed to set the area of Thomazeau on fire for the Gospel. I pray and hope that in the future he is responsible for many more bible studies that have been multiplied and spread out all over the mountains. I pray and hope that through Gerald the Gospel reaches un-reached communities all over the globe.

I pray and hope that God will use more people like Gerald to build His Kingdom here.

To all nations.

From Death to Life...Literally

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By: David Johnston, LiveBeyond's Base Manager
Reposted from his personal blog on September 17, 2017

You never know what to expect on any day in Haiti. 

To say that no day is the same is definitely the understatement of all time. 

September 17, 2017, was no different. 

Sure, it seemed like a normal Sunday morning until we arrived at the church pavilion, and there was a man sitting five rows back on the far right side of the bench. 

He looked like he had either been awake for 48 hours, drunk, or on drugs. 

There was very little eye contact made, he was lethargic, and his eyes were extremely yellow.

His name is Akanj Renee, and he was a zombie. 

zombie

I don't mean that he was acting like a zombie (even though he was, minus the whole brain-eating thing), but he is actually considered a zombie in Haiti.

To make a long story short, Voodoo priests will poison some people and bury them alive. They will either make the dirt very shallow or they will go back and dig their grave up to make the impression that the people were dead and are now the walking dead. The Voodoo priests will them make them into slaves.

This particular zombie slave was one of a very prominent Voodoo priest who is now dead (read that story here).

As he gave his testimony and why he wanted to be baptized, he revealed that he was getting baptized because Jesus came to him in a revelation. 

Wait, doesn't that only happen in those far away Middle East countries?

Oh no? Well, then it must happen only in the book of Acts, right?

No?

No.

Jesus gives us revelations. This man's revelation was that Jesus told him he must be baptized and serve Jesus ONLY. No more Voodoo.

So, there he was. In church. He was both the walking dead and dead in his sins. Now he has been given life. 

Amen. 

To all nations.

LiveBeyond In the News: Texas Strong

Over the past month, LiveBeyond has responded in several different ways to the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey. Here is an article from The Christian Post, written by Devin Vanderpool, LiveBeyond's Director of Communications about how people have responded to the disaster. 

Read more here

Rene, the (Ex) Voodoo Priest

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By: Jacklyn Vanderpool, Spiritual Life Director for LiveBeyond
Reposted from her blog on September 18, 2017

Over the last five months, I have been amazed by the ways the Lord has used the “Beans and Rice Evangelism” to meet physical hunger but more importantly spiritual hunger. Every day we are able to give out over a hundred plates of rice and share the gospel. And while this has been a delight and a joy, I do not want to become complacent. Several weeks ago, I began praying about the opportunity to go back to the peristyles and share the gospel. Even with all the evil that voodoo priests partake in, killing children, cursing people, encouraging the rape of special needs girls and boys, they are children of God. They have been lied to by Satan, and they are so incredibly lost. But while I have been praying for this opportunity, the Lord has already been at work! On Sunday, we had a man named Rene come to church to say he wanted to be baptized. As he was giving his testimony, he said that he worked in the largest peristyle in Thomazeau and had been a slave. He said that the Lord came to him and gave him a revelation. Afterward, he sought out one of the men in his dream, Pastor Sargesse. When Pastor shared the gospel with him, he accepted, renounced voodoo, and was ready for baptism! I can’t help but see how much the Lord loves His children! Romans 5:8 says, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no distance that God is unwilling to go to bring one of His children home, even for voodoo priests. What a great, loving, and wonderful God we serve!

Please be praying for Rene, that the lies and strongholds the enemy has over him will break in the name of Jesus. That Rene will be a shining example to Voodoo priests all over Thomazeau and Haiti. And that all will see the goodness, hope, and gift of eternal life that is found only in Christ!

Yesterday, one more soul was taken from the pits of hell and added to Heaven!

Plunder hell and populate Heaven!

Jacklyn

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LiveBeyond In the News: Hurricane Harvey

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Over the past few weeks, LiveBeyond has responded to Hurricane Harvey in several ways. We have sent three shipments of supplies to various churches in the area. We have organized clean up crews to help muck houses. We have raised over $35,000 for disaster relief. This outreach has led to some news coverage. Here is the most recent news content for LiveBeyond:
 

Radio Interview with David Vanderpool of LiveBeyond
Missions Radio, with Kenneth Mitchell, September 6, 2017
On LiveBeyond's relief response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Haiti.

Listen to the interview
 

Congregation in Haiti Raises $600 for Texas Disaster Relief
The World View, August 31, 2017
THE ESTIMATE OF 400,000 people needing some kind of relief in the Houston area is staggering, but Houston residents have not been left alone. The World View spoke to Devin Vanderpool, Director of Communications for LiveBeyond, a Christian disaster relief ministry, about what they are doing to help.

Read more

(Story update: Haitian congregation has raised over $1,000 for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief.)

If you would like to donate to our disaster relief fund to support our response to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, click the button below.

What Does a Missionary Look Like?

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By: Taylor Westbrook, Johnny's Kids Coordinator

I had just escorted one of our kids up to the front gate and was coming back to the guest house when this view stopped me. The view is better in the picture than it was with the sun shining brightly in my eyes. I had seen it enough times to know what I was looking at. Thomazeau is beyond the wall, beyond the valley, and up to the foothills. I felt completely alone. It seemed that I was alone.

I took note of the juxtaposition of the high walls with razor wire and the beautiful landscape beyond them. I thought back to the dusty dirt roads I grew up on and looked down at the rocky one crunching with each step beneath me. I laughed at the openness beyond the walls because of the absolute concrete jungle I've grown accustomed to these past 18 years. I stopped and asked, “what am I doing here?” 

It has lead me to think about who a missionary is, what a missionary looks like. Does he look like a 40-year old widower who is more comfortable designing million-dollar homes? Does he look like a former drug addict that was always looking for his next high? Does he look like a high school sports star who landed in rehab? Does she look like an accomplished Harvard graduate who can lead an entire state in setting new standards in education? Does she look like a successful lawyer with her own firm? Does she look like a mother of 2 that juggles marriage, parenting, work, and the PTA? Does she look like a child in grade school?

You see, I didn’t think so. None of those images are people that fit the mold of who I imagined as a missionary. I never imagined myself leading a special needs program in the third world. That ex-addict is desperate to take the love of Christ to some of the most hated people on the planet. The sports star has used his experiences to help countless Asian men find Christ as they come off highly addictive drugs…cold turkey. The Harvard graduate uses all her spare time to teach ESL to the Haitians. She strategically uses scripture and worship songs to do so. The lawyer lives modestly and is showing her two sons that investment in people is far more valuable than things. She frequents Haiti, Africa, and multiple causes that arise close to home. The wife and mother uses every platform she has at her disposal to encourage more people to join the call. She tirelessly champions the cause of the Haitians and returns as often as she can. The child successfully headed a campaign to collect shoes for kids here in Haiti. She cares for kids she has never met because she is too young to travel to meet them.

What am I doing here? Can you see the awe in the statement rather than the what in the question? I was struck yesterday by the thought we are all missionaries. The statement is cliché because we don’t believe it. We are never alone. Just beyond the wall that towered over me there are thousands of people crowding the valley and foothills. I could have turned in any direction and there would not have been any fewer. No fewer starving children, no fewer homeless women, no fewer sick people, no fewer souls needing to be rescued from the tyranny of Voodoo. I am not alone, nor are you. 

I encourage you to stop living in the questions. I encourage you to start living in the awe. Go into all the world is a journey that can lead to another land or your neighbor's yard. All we must do is be willing to change our perspective on who a missionary is.

None are worthless,

Taylor