Thanking God through difficult days—why we rejoice for 2019

A good friend told me, “Once you have Haiti sand on your shoes, you are never the same.”

This is true, and also true is the difficulty of describing to someone who has never visited Haiti the strong draw that the country has on so many.

Nearly 12 years have passed since I first went to Haiti with my family to spend Christmas there, and a lot has changed during this time, both for the country and for JiHM.

What has not changed, though, has been your faithful support of the ministry, and we want to thank you again for that. JiHM could certainly not do what we do without all of you.

Your visits are so encouraging. We pray we can resume hosting teams in 2020.

Haitians and JiHM have experienced many difficulties in 2019. Commerce has slowed, and the inflation rate—combined with a weak currency—has continued to make life difficult for all Haitians. Crime, property destruction, and murders have increased. All of the political and civil unrest has led to school closings across the country. For JiHM, school has only been in session 10 days since the beginning of the school year. Furthermore, we have had to cancel trips for people who had planned to visit Haiti and JiHM in 2019.

Dwelling on all the bad news about Haiti would be easy. However, as we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, I am choosing to focus on all the positive news about JiHM.

Packing cornmeal for Backpack Buddies.
  • In 2019, we established the weekend “Backpack Buddy” program. The staff has been packing backpacks with food and supplies for our students who are most in need.
  • Our school nurse, who oversees our medical program, has worked to take health care to the next level. She is formally tracking the health and nutrition of the students and providing care above and beyond their daily needs.
  • Relatedly, we started this school year off with a breakfast program, which is in a pilot stage and very simple at this time. Our hope is to provide a nutritious breakfast meal every weekday of school in 2020. Our staff observed that children were coming to school hungry, which was preventing students from having the best learning experience possible.
  • The Lighthouse children continue to mature into older teens, all passing their school grades this past year.
  • The students at GES have some of the highest scores in the district, and we had our third graduating class this year at GES. Among the graduates was one student who had attended GES since kindergarten.
  • We currently are sending four graduates of GES to college. In a few years, we will have our first college graduates.
  • This past May, Derson graduated from seminary—with top honors in his class—after four years in Jacmel. He will become the full time lead pastor for Victory Bible Church in January 2020.
  • For almost two years JiHM’s operations in Haiti have been led by a staff comprised 100% of nationals. We are proud to provide employment for more than 90 people, and JiHM is blessed to have staff members who care about each other, the students, the children, the church members, and their community.
Derson with his colleagues and friends, Pastor Evald and Pastor Dieuvert
Members of our national leadership team

As I reflect about all these things, I give God thanks that He is moving during a time of so much unrest in Haiti. We will remain optimistic about the future in Haiti and pray that political leaders can come together in unity for the good of the country. Join us in praying to this end.

I want to wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas season. If you have any questions about JiHM, please reach out to us.

Dan Neal served as chair person of JiHM’s Board of Directors from 2017-2019. He went on his first trip to Haiti in December 2007, one month after his wife, Linda, and daughter, Lauren, visited JiHM for the first time and quickly began investing their lives into growing this ministry. Dan lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.