Part of the mission of the church is to provide support for those who are serving in mission fields around the world, and Cornerstone Christian Church in Redwood Falls takes that role seriously.
Among the missions it supports is a program known as Schools 4 Haiti, which, according to Marcus Kendall, Cornerstone Church senior pastor, is one mission the congregation has been supporting for about one year. Members of the congregation have made trips to Haiti to work with Schools 4 Haiti, and Kendall joined that list earlier this year.
“This was my first time in Haiti,” said Kendall, adding the trip he took was a last minute opportunity, as a spot opened up shortly before the trip was to take place.
Kendall was familiar with members of the family who have been part of Schools 4 Haiti, and this gave him the opportunity to see for himself the work that is being done by a mission the church supports and to personally put into practice the mission of service to others.
Schools 4 Haiti was established to provide an education for children who are kept out of the system in that nation due to poverty. Those who attend get a tuition free education.
Started by Len Demert, the vision of Schools 4 Haiti came about after he saw the plight of so many children who joined the cycle of poverty in that country.
Their opportunities for a better life are limited. Without an education, they would remain in their situation, and so Demert began working with Haitian pastors to develop a school in Salt d’ Eau.
That school was constructed in 2007, and since then three other schools have been established providing education for hundreds of children.
“Each year Schools 4 Haiti offers at least one medical trip and two education-based trips,” said Kendall, adding his recent trip focused on the schools in three of the locations.
Kendall was part of a six-person team who traveled to Haiti in late February to work in the school buildings themselves offering a number of improvements, from electrical upgrades to adding paint where it was needed.
“What makes Schools 4 Haiti different is that it supports the people of Haiti in the roles of teachers in the schools,” said Kendall. “The work at the schools is being done by Haitian people.”
Kendall said he sees a lot of value in missions that provide that type of framework, as they help to provide jobs for the people in Haiti, but, more importantly, they help create an environment where the people of the country are taking ownership of what is happening rather than just relying on outsiders to do the work.
“Schools 4 Haiti is helping create a culture of change through providing a Christian-based education to children who probably would not have received an education any other way,” said Kendall.
So many missions enter a country like Haiti and just step in to do the work for the people, added Kendall. Schools 4 Haiti is breaking that pattern and helping the people learn to do things for themselves.
Through Schools 4 Haiti, funding is provided to pay for the staff, as well as the books and school furnishings. It also helps pay for the training of the teachers who work at the school.
It is also supporting pastors who have taken on the role of caring for orphaned children and for those children whose parents can’t provide adequate care. There are 90 children who are being helped through Schools 4 Haiti efforts in this area.
There are opportunities through Schools 4 Haiti for people to help sponsor those children who are being cared for through this mission.
“I’m excited for opportunities our congregation will have in the future to work with Schools 4 Haiti,” said Kendall.
The church is looking at participating in a trip to Haiti this November, with another trip also tentatively set for February 2018.
“I knew the people of Haiti were poor,” said Kendall, “but I didn’t really know what that meant until I stared it in the face. There is no way you can really comprehend what poverty is until you see it firsthand in a place like Haiti.”
Kendall said he was impressed with what he observed, adding he is hoping to find more ways to send resources to help with the mission of Schools 4 Haiti.
Find out more at www.schools4haiti.com.