I recently returned to my home base at Cross International’s South Florida office after a whirlwind trip to Gonaives, Haiti. There, I was visiting our partners living and working in the slum community of Jubilee, an area home to 12,000 people known for its’ complete and oppressive poverty.
Garbage lines the streets; stagnant pools of polluted water attract rodents and insects; and children run around barefoot and without clothes, nearly covered in white dust and skin rashes.
Jubilee is a place so poor and desolate that it is not uncommon to hear stories of children eating dirt cookies, a mixture of salt and mud, just to fill their rumbling bellies. Many other problems accompany this serious lack of food, ranging from a dearth of economic opportunities to a relentless barrage of storms and resultant flooding, which have left many of the area’s residents homeless.
That’s why Cross International has partnered with MUCH Ministries, a team of missionaries committed to meeting the various physical and spiritual needs of the people of Jubilee. Together, we are building houses and water and sanitation stations for some of the poorest of the poor. And during my recent visit I had the privilege to spend time with a few of the proud new homeowners.
I had one particularly memorable conversation with Mary Luce, a single mother of four. She said the new house has done more than improve her circumstances—it helped save her life.
“Before this, my life was no life at all,” she said.
Ever since her husband died in the 2010 earthquake, she has been bouncing between the cramped homes of her mother, relatives and friends, sharing porches and portions of floor with her four young children. She struggled to provide, but earned little selling goods at the market. She worried her children were growing up without any chance of a future beyond poverty.
But now she has hope.
“With this new house I am very happy,” she said with a beaming smile and one hand in the air, praising the Lord for his faithfulness. “And when I have hope, my kids are happy.”
It was encouraging to see this deep-seeded hope, despite the dirt, depression and disease so visibly apparent in Jubilee. It further reminded me that God is moving and working small miracles in even the most remote and desperate places—and what a privilege it is to play even a small role in his great and wonderful plan.