When I returned from Honduras in July, I wrote a blog post (Honduras Recap) to summarize my experiences and reflect on what I’d learned. I wrote that one of the most important lessons I learned was actually about myself:
“This experience reinforced the call in my life to continue living out my passion for children, my passion for human beings with disabilities, and my passion for orphans.”
Therefore, it is no surprise that when Mike Wilson, the man who would later lead the mission I took to Haiti, shared with me what he and his wife are working on, my heart started pounding out of my chest.
I had called the office of Brent Gambrell Ministries from Knoxville, TN in August during a break from a modalities certification course I was taking to further my therapy career. I had been sitting in a classroom for hours and days and couldn’t get my mind off Haiti. I knew no one in the ministry I’d be traveling with and had many questions, so I took the opportunity of the break to call.
Mike answered the phone, which he stated was unusual because he was just filling in for someone. This, I believe was the first little God moment. As it turned out, Mike would actually be the one leading my group to Haiti. After we talked for a bit, Mike asked me what I do for a living and I told him I’m an occupational therapist. That opened the door for a whole new world of opportunities as Mike shared what he and his wife are working towards in Haiti. God moment number two. Get excited. 🙂
Mike and his wife Missy founded myLIFEspeaks, with a heart first and foremost for God’s glory. The way that God has orchestrated this ministry has been through a series of events in their lives, one of which was the birth of their son, Lane. Lane was born 17 weeks early and has severe disabilities including cerebral palsy and blindness. Through Lane’s disabilities, they realized what an impact a life can have… how a life speaks even if there are no words.
Mike and Missy have been working in Haiti since 2003 and founded myLIFEspeaks in 2006. In January of 2009, they began the process of adopting their daughter, Tia, from Haiti. And of course, as we know, the horrifying earthquake occurred on January 12, 2010. The Wilson family has some amazing stories of how God has provided time after time that absolutely blow my mind, including how He rescued their three daughters from Haiti after the earthquake.
(As a side note… an NBC news crew filmed us working in Haiti and interviewed Mike about myLIFEspeaks and as a follow-up to his family’s story that unfolded during and after the earthquake… it should air sometime in January. I’ll keep everyone posted.)
They state on their website that “What they saw happen between their 3 biological sons, Dyllan, Lane, and Eli, and their adopted daughters, Katie, Tia, and Naika, convinced them they could help children in Haiti grow up to be different from previous generations. Children with special needs like Lane are often considered cursed by the VooDoo culture of Haiti, and many Haitian children with special needs are abandoned or placed out of sight of the community for fear of ridicule.”
1 in 7 children die before their 5th birthday
1 in 5 are born with special needs
There nearly 500,000 orphans
Clearly, there is a big problem here. And for someone like me, who has a passion for both children with disabilities and orphans, this is unacceptable. Not only are there a half a million orphans in Haiti, many have special needs and are given no value in society. It breaks my heart. And I know that God made me this way so that I’d have the desire to do something about it.
MyLIFEspeaks is already working to do something about it.
Their vision is to see orphans living on a campus with five houses with five sets of parents and orphans, creating a family environment of a mom, dad, and 8 children, those both typically developing and with special needs. These children would receive the love and attention that all children deserve, as well as access to medical services, therapy services, an education, sports, and most importantly, the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is.
Please watch this moving video about myLIFEspeaks in Haiti.
I was blessed last week to be among the first to see the brand new myLIFEspeaks campus in a building that is being rented until a permanent facility is built.
I was so excited for Mike to see the facility for the first time in person, and to begin working on making it a home for orphans that will hopefully begin moving in March 2012. How exciting!! These orphans will have a place to call home, people to love them, and opportunities that most children in Haiti do not get. The children with disabilities will be treated with dignity and given value in a place where they otherwise are discarded and forgotten.
What an amazing way to life out and share the gospel.
Since I began doing missions, I have had many people say to me, “I’d love to do something like that sometime…” And every time, I tell them, “GO!”
Why not?? Let God use you in ways that you’re not even aware of yet. Let Him take you on an adventure and see how He uses you.
The role that I will personally play in the myLIFEspeaks ministry is yet to be determined. Right now, I know that it is to support this awesome work being done to the glory of God, to return to Haiti to work as often as I can, and to spread the word so that others might realize God’s call on their life.
My long-term role is yet to be determined, but I’m asking God to reveal His will for me. It may be working with myLIFEspeaks in a part-time capacity or even a full-time capacity. It may not even be in Haiti at all.
But right now, I have seen people in need, I have experienced others with the same passion for orphans and children with disabilities, and I know that together, we can truly change lives.
Lives of innocent children.
Please pray for this ministry… consider how God would have you support their work in Haiti in the lives of those who can’t speak for themselves. Consider God’s call on your life… what will your life say?
**The following pictures are from our two days in the village of Neply in Leogane, Haiti.**
We spent our time getting the campus ready to take in the orphans that myLIFEspeaks will serve.
If you are interested in learning more about myLIFEspeaks, please go to http://www.mylifespeaks.com!
Thanks for reading! More Haiti stories and photos to come soon. 😉