I have witnessed the droves of people who come back from mission trips with Coreluv and how upon their return, the call to defend the orphan is stamped into the core of their being. I see the t-shirts and the souvenirs and the contagious Haiti zeal that permeates this community and the local church. I had to know why and how it is that many of these short-term missions infuse a lifetime of devotion for many of its visitors.
I finally got my opportunity to visit with Mike and Mandy Reiszner and several of the Coreluv staff in Haiti. I was there for less than 24 hours but it was enough time for me to get my answers to the Haiti Hype. Beside the obvious answer that this endeavor can only be authored and sustained by a sovereign Father who cares for the littlest of these. I dare to offer two words about the contagious zeal: Pastor Mike. It isn’t because he is the Founder and Executive Director of this hugely favored NGO. I wouldn’t even say that he is the backbone of their operations as he has orchestrated it to where the ship sails whether he is at the helm or not. But for me, the deal was sealed when I stepped into one of the dormitories at their Mayan orphanage, I wanted to yell out, “Holy Sheets! They’re matching!”
I’ve been to other orphanages in other developing countries, but this was the first time that I had seen coordinating sheet sets with matching curtains and décor. I was dumbfounded by the staff’s ability to coordinate linens in spite of the more urgent demands of running an orphanage. Perhaps my domestic abilities are lacking, but even I sometimes skimp on matching pillowcases in my one-family household. So while the idea of matching sheets may seem superfluous in the context of meeting basic needs, this is a reflection on how well this organization is run. It goes back to my theory that the little matters MATTER. So the sheets were holy and I mean the good kind, not the kind that you can run your fingers through but the kind of holy that runs through you. In fact, the entire place settled over me and made me feel…well, a little closer to holy.
Now I know that Pastor Mike and Mandy would play down their role here and that they would be quick to point out the handiwork of God. Yet, it was more than matching sheets. The people that both serve and live there further substantiate this couple’s divine appointment to this place. Clearly, God magnifies their gifts so that He can draw others to this place.
Like most people, I love a good story. From the moment I got in the Coreluv vehicle, Mike enchanted his small audience with tales of how God had called he and Mandy to this work and how other great people of faith have been appointed and weaved into the same story. As a listener, I can’t help but wonder how I too can be grafted into this great tale that reveals God’s multifaceted grace that resounds throughout the universe. Yet, the story is authentic and there is an underlying tone that says, “See, I am small but I get to be part of this unfolding plot that is Big and Eternal.”
My father-in-law is a visionary. He is able to share a giddy, secret hope for the future and the receiver of that little vision walks out of his office believing she can take hold of that hope and grow it into reality. A vision caster not only throws out future plans. He prays over his thoughts and asks for the Spirit’s discernment to sift out his own agenda and when he thinks he is in the cradle of God’s will, he takes what is left and lays it before the eyes and ears of others. The word “inspire” comes from the Latin word, “inspirare”, which means “to blow into” or “to breathe into.” Mike and Mandy breathe and live out the Haiti zeal that I mentioned before onto its leaders and by the looks of it….the vision has gone viral.
Even though my time in Gonaives was very short, I was embraced with authentic welcomes and warm smiles (and bodies) everywhere. It was great hanging out with Mike and Mandy and even though there is much to be accomplished in their short span on the ground. I never felt like my visit was intrusive, though it was, or like they were inconvenienced, which they were, by my time there. They could be your neighbors, your local small-church Pastors, your family. From Mandy, I sensed a quiet wisdom and steady hand that perhaps provides the perfect temperance to their ministry as a couple. She is beautiful inside and out and I left feeling like I would love a chance to visit with her one on one. There was nothing manufactured and nothing to present; it was just a genuine introduction to their labor of love and I enjoyed every bit of it. I walked away from my visit with a desire to worship the God of Coreluv. I wanted to remain under their blessed canopy of protection and must admit that I let my heart get carried away by their work, but I knew that my work was not here in this holy place where my fellow Americans serve with bright smiles. My call is to fulfill what they list as Basic need #5: Job Skills.
The truth is, I, too have been appointed to defend the orphan, but my path leads to a different city. It is the story of 8 young men in Port-au-Prince that gripped my heart and drew this mother-of-five to travel to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I am so grateful that these leaders were able to share their vision through the gift of story and friendship. You mix their contagious zeal with getting to love on sweet children with a little bit of Creole chicken and you’ve got yourself a concoction for God’s explosive work. This is what it means to advance the Kingdom of Heaven; this is what it means to live out your faith in fear and trembling so that God’s good purpose is achieved throughout the world (Philippians 2:12,13).
I am waiting and listening and praying for God’s direction. But in the meantime, I got my answer to all the Coreluv buzz and next time I see the local defenders of orphans, I am going to give a knowing nod that I finally discovered their secret sauce.