Scott Hempy, Senior Economics & Business Major
“So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything, and followed Him,” Luke 5:11.
Today was inspiring to see God work in such powerful ways. We started the morning with a devotional in which Professor Ifland expressed his concern that our partners in Haiti were not on the same page as our group from Westmont. The language barrier, cultural misunderstandings, and differences in expectations had brought us to a point where we were unsure about our plans for the program. We didn’t know if translators had been lined up for the week, we didn’t know if the entrepreneurs knew to come to our banquet that evening. We though that some sort of formalized training for the entrepreneurs had taken place: it hadn’t. Needless to say, our morning devotional left us with a pretty grim outlook for the day and week ahead, or at least, not the outlook we expected.
In Luke 5, you have to think that Simon Peter, James, and John thought their day was going to turn out differently. No doubt they expected a hard days work, ready to cast their nets into the Lake of Gennesaret and try to earn a modest day’s wage. When Jesus showed up and told them to put down their nets and follow Him, not only did their day change but their lives changed as well. They left everything and set out to follow Him, COMPLETELY trusting in Christ, a man they had just met.
As we finished our devotional time three Haitian men cast their nets into the ocean behind us. During our prayer, these men pulled their net behind their rickety wooden row boat, hoping that their catch might be fruitful. Their catch was meager, but the image was powerful. In hindsight it is easy to see God was using that image as a reminder to our group. We needed to leave everything and trust Him.
God began to work from the moment we closed our time in prayer.
The group of translators showed up (though there were less of them than we thought there would be) along with Handson, Simone, and Maxim. The morning consisted of Professor Ifland describing to the translators the purpose and idea of microfinance loans. The group instantly seemed to understand the magnitude of the impact these loans could make. Guy (pronounced G-E-E), one of the Haitian translators, walked over to Professor Ifland after the meeting and said: “I think this could really work. It’s a great idea!”. God was providing translators who understood our mission.
We spent the morning in our respective groups learning via the translators about the businesses, finding our about the business owners’ lives, and building relationships.
In the late afternoon the entrepreneurs and their families came to the hotel. We had a large feast of food and spent time in conversation, continuing to get to know the entrepreneurs. Smiles were present on both sides of the table and relationships began to be formed. Following dinner was a ceremony to congratulate the entrepreneurs and to explain the task set before them. Again, as Professor Ifland talked, the entrepreneurs seemed to catch the vision. Loans are given instead of handouts in order to create a long-term, sustainable program. Once the loan is paid back, another Haitian can receive the loan. The entrepreneurs began to understand this system. The ceremony concluded with the giving of “Honorary Entrepreneur” certificates, given from Westmont College to each of the entrepreneurs. Tears flowed and smiles were everywhere as the entrepreneurs and their families celebrated with each other and bonded together in their ventures and hope for the future.
One of the entrepreneurs approached Professor Ifland after the ceremony and (via translator) told him: “this was a miracle from God”. We were in the midst of God answering 7 Haitian’s prayers; prayed for years and years. We were in the midst of God performing a miracle.
Handson, Simone and Maxim understood what our purpose was, and knew that a celebration would be the best way to kick off the program. And were they ever right.
The night ended with a sunset over the ocean, hugs, and joy. God had showed up and blown our expectations away.
Simon Peter, James, and John knew when they left their boats there was still work to be done. But they trusted Jesus and left their plans for their day and for their lives to follow Him. There is still work to be done this week and for many years to come. Haiti is still impoverished; 7 jobs didn’t change that fact. But by admitting personal defeat, giving up our plans, and letting God show up, He showed us that bigger things are possible through Him.