Four years ago, I found myself burdened by the number of orphaned children in the world. Even though our family had adopted and fostered and become active members in the orphan care community—the burden for me grew heavier.
Until one day, my husband came back from a trip to Haiti and gifted me with a handful of bracelets. He told me that orphaned young men made these colorful street bracelets and how they had just aged out of a Haitian orphanage and were struggling to survive. “Survival bracelets” I called them.
The burden I had carried for so long changed into a God-sized dream to stop children from ever having to become orphans in the first place. By equipping these young men with Jesus first and jobs second, they would stop perpetuating the problem of poverty and orphans and lead their spheres of influence for the glory of God. And that is exactly what happened.
These young artisans are earning a fair wage, receiving spiritual discipleship and the best part is they are giving back to their communities. Max, one of our original 8, lost both his parents at a young age, he knows what it feels like to be homeless and hungry. For this reason, as soon as he started earning a salary, he began feeding children in Canaan, a village close to his heart. In the last three years, he has started a foundation and now houses and provides for 12 boys.
He uses the same principles he learned with HandUp and applies them to his own ministry in Canaan. In fact, I am happy to announce that we recently launched Max to lead his own artisan cooperative in Canaan. Why is this so significant?
Because he has chosen to employ several of the mamas in Canaan so they can keep their babies out of orphanages. This is orphan prevention through job creation. Jesus first and jobs second. The HandUp model is working!!!
What started out as survival bracelets has flourished into the HUGG Mission Market concept. The items you buy are tokens of success for the makers with whom we partner, but they are also reminders to all of us that everyone deserves the chance to earn a dignified wage.
The Mission Market is a powerful way to do missions as 100% of the proceeds go back to our mission to equip young men who’ve aged out of orphan care in Haiti with Jesus first and jobs second. For 2019, HandUp aims to:
- Hire an on-the-ground Program Director to oversee all program-related initiatives
- Develop a 6-month character-based development program (LeKol HandUp) targeting young Haitian men
- Formalize our Christ-centered business training workshops for program participants to launch their own businesses
- Extend our HandUp House lease for another two years to provide a safe working environment for our artisans
So it turns out that this burden I had in my heart had a purpose. God planted it there to answer the prayers of 8 orphaned young men in Haiti and of course—in true God-sized fashion, He turned it into something so much bigger and beautiful than any of us could have imagined. All it took was a “yes” and one small step of obedience on my part……and countless other “yesses” from family, friends, supporters and shoppers!
We have learned that it takes local community to make a global difference and I am asking that you take a moment to ask God what your “yes” looks like today.
May His name continue to be made famous among the nations. To God be the glory….always.