ICYouth: Notes from Haiti (Makenna)

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! 

A team of 30 high school students and leaders traveled to Haiti July 15-22; this week our student bloggers are sharing their experiences with us.  

By Makenna Nahorniak

“Do not wok for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him, God the Father has placed His deal of approval.” John 6:27

Day One

I can’t believe that I’m actual here, and I actually have the energy to write right now. Today has been the longest day, but God is the Great Life Breather- and He hasn’t stopped filling me up. It all started with an airplane. We took flight over the bluest ocean you ever did see. This was new for me. Every shade of blue that I saw during that flight amazed me. This was my first glimpse of God’s presence in Haiti, and even more than that- His glory in all of the earth. He is here- working in hearts and minds, loving on His people.

MakenneHait1Once the plane began to descend, I quickly realized that the capital of Haiti isn’t quite like the capital of America – no skyscrapers, no fancy business men with bulky briefcases and no McDonald’s. It wasn’t glamorous by definition, but it was beautiful. I saw hundreds of shacks as the plane prepared for landing, and it was then that I was fully aware of the fact that I was far away from home. I was wandering outside of what I know and moving into a foreign land where things are much different. In the midst of all of this shock, however, there is a God who is unchanging- He’s not phased by diversity. In fact, He embraces it.

Then we hopped into the bus and drove for hours. I nestled my head against a metal bar and slept.
All of a sudden, we weren’t moving. We had stopped twice before only to start driving again, so naturally, I assumed that this would be another quick 10 minute stop … but it wasn’t. It kept getting darker outside. That’s when I honestly felt like crying. I was tired and weary. I’d been traveling all day, and it was past my bedtime. The bus had broken down. Even then, in the midst of a breakdown, Jesus was there. We lifted our songs to the Lord and glorified His name. He always receives the highest praise.

My team and I recognized that we could be stuck on the side of a Haitian mountain for our whole lives … and we would be okay.

And like valiant heros, our new Haitian friends drove up in three vans, strapped our luggage to the tops of the cars, and stuffed us into the vehicles. I thought about how inconvenient it was for them to drop everything and drive an hour from their homes to come get us. They did it anyways. Not only did they do it, but they did it with glad hearts. God is good. I slept like a rock under that mosquito net last night. Praise the Lord for bringing a new day.

Day Two

Today, I’m thinking about the fact that these people living in this little village are people with passions and dreams just like me. But they happen to be born here- in the midst of poverty. Maybe some feel stuck by their situations. The wonderful thing, however, is that God is present in every moment- In these people’s deepest longings and greatest needs. They aren’t invisible to Him. He sees them, and treasures them. They are valued. I am valued. We are valued. I see that truth more clearly than ever right here in this place where roads are not paved and water is served in ziplock bags. God is hope for every nation.

Day Three

MakennaHaiti2Atito is his name. I met him and his dad yesterday while visiting the park, and friendship grew on the spot. The sweet four year old grabbed my pinky so tight and wouldn’t let go. They walked me all the way to Pastor Jepthe’s compound, and we were able to communicate. After a long while of no verbal communication with the beautiful people of Haiti, Atito and his father spoke Spanish. So we talked, and we enjoyed it. We enjoyed the fellowship, and the togetherness. Those moments will stick with me forever. Jesus is here, and His love knows no bounds.

Day Four

“With less of you- there is more of God and His rule.” Yesterday, my body was achy and tired. I woke up in the morning not sure how I was going to dance and play and sing with the kids at VBS- I needed more energy and joy. I needed The Lord to renew me by His steadfastness and faithfulness. After a quick nap, I proceeded to jump just like it was the first day of the trip all over again. The Lord is good to provide every single thing that I could ever need. When I am losing, He is winning- and He welcomes me to share in His victory.

Day Five

Yesterday was lovely. It was a slower day filled with fellowship. There were so many opportunities to just be with the children around the compound. The little girls are so fun. Their sweet spirits speak much louder than words ever could. They love piggy back rides, basketballs, and clapping games- and I’m delighted to share those things with them. Tonight, I share my faith story during the Sunday night church service across the street. I’m feeling so excited and so privileged to share the great things that The Lord has done in my life.

Day Six

MakennaHaiti3We left Pignon this morning, and now we’re unwinding at Wahoo Bay. It was so hard to say goodbye. While it’s lovely to be by the ocean to process the last few days, I want to hold Atito’s hand. I want to laugh with the sweet girls on the compound again. Even now, in this moment- in all the confusion and all of the thoughts- God is still at work in hearts and minds. He’s moving just like He was in Pignon.

Day Seven

I’m thrilled to go home and see my family and pour my heart out to my friends back in Midwest, America. More than anything, I feel that The Lord has moved in my heart. He’s been showing me how deeply He loves each person, and how as His follower, I’m called to relay that love to others. He’s calling me to walk in His ways; to be a living example of hope and new life. I’m overwhelmed by Him at this point in our journey, and I return home with an expectant heart for what The Lord wills the future to hold. Praise be to The Lord for protecting our team and letting us experience life outside of our comfort zones. I am thankful for a God who is not stagnant but very much alive.

Makenna Nahorniak is a junior at Christian Life School. She enjoys leading worship, singing, reading, writing and using her words to encourage others’ hearts. 

ICYouth: Notes from Haiti (Grant)

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! 

A team of 30 high school students and leaders traveled to Haiti July 15-22; this week our student bloggers are sharing their experiences with us.  

By Grant Everly

Day One

“God, you reign, God, you reign. Forever and ever, God, you reign”

These were the praises that echoed in the mountains of Haiti from a dark school bus broken down on the side of the road tonight around 9:30 p.m. In light of the entire day’s happenings, the words couldn’t be more true.

From the 2:30 a.m. wakeup call to embarking from the church at 3 a.m., God, you reign.

From a 6:40 a.m. departure from O’Hare, to touching down and having a two-hour layover in Fort Lauderdale, to later touching down in Port Au Prince around 3 p.m., God, you reign.

Through customs at the airport, and later, while boarding an American made, and, by American standards, ancient school bus, God, you reign.

While frequently stopping throughout the first 3 hours of paved-road-travelling so that water could be poured into the radiator of our ailing and overheating school bus, God, you Reign.

From the poverty of 8’x8’ shacks, starving children, and struggling people, to the grandeur and beauty of Haitian mountains and lakes, God, you reign.

While sitting roadside on a broken-down school bus in a random village in the dark for nearly three hours, hoping and praying that our bus would be able to start back up, God, you reign.

While jostling and jolting for two hours along a pothole ridden, dirt road in the rental vans that picked us up and got us to Pastor Jephthe’s in time for a 12 a.m. arrival and dinner, God, you reign.

Amidst the frustration and befuddlement that only trying to put a mosquito net up at 1 a.m. can cause, God, you reign.

In going to bed at 2 a.m., marking almost 24 hours without sleep, God, you reign.

Forever and ever, God, you reign.

Day Three

Granthaiti1In coming into the trip my prayer has been that I would be clay in God’s hands. I had been under the impression I would be preaching at some point, and this was something that both excited me and worried me.  I asked that if given the opportunity to preach, it would be God speaking through me and supplying me with the courage to say whatever he pleases; I asked that I would be clay in the hands of The Potter. However, today, God taught me what exactly it looks like to be clay in His hands. This afternoon I realized I was not going to be a part of our teaching team for the youth rally. I was initially quite disappointed; however, I was reminded of my prayer for this entire week: I am called to be clay in God’s hands, and that means doing whatever The Potter desires me to do.

Furthermore, God is showing me He knows far better than I do. Those who will be preaching at the youth rally have powerful testimonies, and their stories will be perfect for the topic of the night: The global church. So while God is saying no to me, he’s saying yes to others who will be able to far more effectively execute His plans.

Day Four

Throughout these past few days, and today especially, God has taught me much about what it looks like to truly live each day for Him. Part of what has made this trip so special is the intensity with which we’ve served; from the opening of our eyes to the closing, we’re solely fixated on serving Christ. The neat thing is that this is not something that is unique to Haiti; an attitude of submitting each day to God, can, and ought to be the mentality we assume each day. In looking toward home, this is an attitude I want to be very proactive in instilling in my own life.

Day Six

GrantHaiti2We depart from Jepthe’s compound early tomorrow morning, experiences brimming. I’ll certainly tell stories of the copious amounts of soccer played. Haitians love their soccer and play it every chance they get — anywhere they can find a ball. The soccer players from our team of 33 had an absolute blast playing a whole lot of street soccer with the locals and losing on penalty kicks to team Haiti when we played our interpreters in a Haiti v. America game. On top of all the fun had and relationships nurtured, I feel that God has taught me 3 clear things:

  1. I must retain an attitude that submits each day to God. I want my American days to be as dedicated as my Haitian Days.
  2. I need to find practical ways to fight world poverty. I feel compelled to sacrifice my luxury for a Haitian’s survival. I don’t know exactly what this will look like. Prayer is paramount.
  3. Being clay in the hands of The Potter doesn’t mean being obedient when courage is required; it means letting God have all of you in all circumstances even if he takes you somewhere that’s not necessarily what you envisioned.

Day Seven

GrantHaiti3Today was spent on the beautiful Haitian coastline at Wahoo Bay. The beauty of God’s creation here in Haiti has been a subtle reminder that despite the poverty and strife of this struggling nation, His hand remains on this tiny island.

Tomorrow we head home, and to be honest, I’m ready. Although I’ll miss many of the relationships forged and experiences gained, I’m excited to take all that I’ve learned here back home. Our goal in taking this trip was twofold: To affect Haiti, and be affected. The former has been completed, and now it’s time to take all that has occurred in the latter and radically affect America. So with that being said, I’m excited, not to leave Haiti, but to change lives back home. Gurnee, get ready.

Parting thoughts: Thank you for letting me share Haiti with you. I can assure you that there is a team of 33 that are ready and eager to impact Gurnee and Lake county just as much, if not more than Haiti was impacted by this trip. One week spent in Haiti amounts to about 2 percent of an entire year, and as pastor David Platt puts it in his book Radical:

 “We have discovered that 2 percent of our time living out the gospel in other contexts has a radical effect on the other 98 percent of our time living out the gospel in our own context.”

In speaking on behalf of the rest of the team, we’re excited to see how God uses our one week in Haiti to affect 51 weeks at home.

Grant Everly is a junior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

ICYouth: Notes from Haiti {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! 

A team of 30 high school students and leaders traveled to Haiti July 15-22; this week our student bloggers are sharing their experiences with us.  

by Trever Carter

Day 1

After a 2 a.m. start to the morning and some restless hours of anxious, suspended consciousness—you could hardly call it sleep—I awoke with the most excitement and eagerness I have had about anything … ever. My heart has always been drawn to missions, and after we climbed onto a beat up, stick-shift bus, with the cushions falling off and the metal rusting, all while sweating in the 100-degree heat with humidity unlike I’ve ever felt before, my mission was now real. Haiti to me had seemed like something you would only see in a movie, and I couldn’t even necessarily believe it was real. It’s just not something you can comprehend—and if you have never been to a third-world country, you would have a hard time believing it if I explained it to you. It’s almost like you have taken a time machine and traveled hundreds of years into the past. We were driving for quite some time, stopping so our Haitian guides could do something to the bus to keep it running … until they couldn’t anymore. Eventually, we were found on the side of the mountain for fifteen minutes, then an hour, then eventually 3 and a half or four (I truly don’t even know how long exactly). The only thing that kept our bus from rolling down the mountain was a rock that one of the Haitians placed under the wheel. And it began to get dark. And the clouds rolled in and it started to lightning and eventually rain. Haitians were coming out of the forest to see what was going on. It was pitch black. Our leaders were waving flashlights behind us so cars wouldn’t hit us if they whipped around the curve. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park, really. And I was scared. Scared because I was uncertain, never had been outside the country, it was the first day of our trip and it was not starting well. But some members of our team decided to bust out their guitars, and we just started to worship. And I began to notice Haitians listening to us sing praises to our God. Then, as we were singing God You Reign, it hit me that He truly does. His plan is greater than mine, and He is using everything in my life now to pave the way for my future. So after 23 hours of travel and hanging mosquito nets to avoid malaria and chickamonga, we fell asleep, quite easily for the circumstances I might add, ready to attack our first full Haitian day.

Day 2

Each night during the week we would go to a park in the center of Pignon, which to my knowledge was not opened often at all in fear of the people ruining one of the jewels of Pignon. It was beautiful. A basketball court with a volleyball net in the middle, concrete bleachers on either side, two bridges on opposite ends, grass and trees … but the most beautiful part was the people there. We played soccer and basketball, hand games, and just laughed with these kids all afternoon. And the amazing part was we couldn’t talk to them. Despite not knowing creole, I felt like I could communicate with them on another level because love is transcendent of those things. In two minutes, someone would be your best friend. And this is where I met my two best friends for the week (beside the kids on the compound, we all had the biggest and most special bonds with them). Abidal and Bebatu, ages 9 and 13. Every day they would come back to the park to see me, and Bebatu even began to attend church with me. I continually pray for them because I left my heart with them.

TreverinHaitiDay 3

My favorite part about this day was certainly the VBS. There were just so many moving components of it. The first day, the worship team attempted to sing songs in English, but by day two they were translated into Creole. Imagine the happiness of more than 150 Haitian kids singing Your Everlasting Love in their native language, dancing and loving the three right to left hops. I also saw a kid who I was told was the witch doctor’s son but has come to VBS for a few years now. When he was in crafts with me, he was reading all the Bible verses without even looking at the paper. He was singing. It was so moving for me to see a child whose parents are of totally different faith living out what he thought was the right way to live his life. We also fed them each a plate full of beans and rice, for some of them their only meal for the day, or a few days. Small children were putting down entire plates of beans and rice, and it was just really intense and powerful for me to see. In America, we glorify eating food. We post pictures of it, eat more than we have to or probably should, anticipate our next meal or pair it with our emotions. Kids here literally eat to survive, no more than that. I can never get the image of these kids eating out of my head. For the rest of the week at the compound when we would eat meals, I learned to eat slow, be thankful for it and eat just enough so that I would be alright and the people behind me could eat as well.

Day 4

TreverinHaiti2After VBS, we partnered with the team of Haitian youth that had been helping us all week at VBS. We grew so close to them too, it was awesome to see youth of the same faith live it out in a totally different circumstance. We were preparing for a youth rally (a Haitian impact if you will) that we were doing the next day. We started by worshipping under the big tree on the compound, and it was the first time I got emotional and cried over the trip. We sang Shout to the Lord and Here I am to Worship, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. We were singing the same songs, to the same God, but in a completely different language. Erik would say “Just the Haitians now!” and they would sing loud, proud, unashamedly to our God in Creole, and then we would take over, then sing together. God is so much bigger than me, than Gurnee, than the Midwest. He has world-sized view for all of us, and it hit me so hard that God’s plans are so big and for His Glory.

Day 5

The Youth Rally went off without a hitch. My favorite part was the ice breaker games that we played before more powerful worship and an awesome message. We played a circle game to learn a everyone’s names, and then improvised and played one of their games … hot potato, also known as tock tock tock boom. I’ve never seen more laughter and cheering and yelling and just sheer happiness, another testament of the transcendent power of love.

Day 6

treverinhaiti3There are two favorite stories from today. The first is that I got to lead a team to a couple micro-loan families and interview them to see if the micro-loans they are receiving are benefitting their families and moving them toward self-sustainability. One of the women we met was named Isman. After talking for a while, we found out that she sells rice and charcoal, and only can still feed her family once a day. After that, while talking to her, we found out she sells a lot more than just rice and charcoal, and had a very good, multi-faceted business. And the micro-loan was benefitting her. She not only sends her 7 kids to school, but pays for 10 other kids to go to school and also pays for immediate need medication for sick kids in their village. She saw that her family’s needs were being met and didn’t need anymore, so she naturally wanted to give back and help others. She thought it was something she needed to. That was incredible—she was incredible. The second story was when I got to share my testimony in front of a bunch of Haitians and my team as well. It was awesome for me just to be able to rearticulate my faith in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know. After, someone I had gotten close with throughout the week (his name was Waldy) came up to me and told me he was praying for me and my family. Someone in Haiti who has literally nothing was praying for me. Tell me that’s not incredible.

Day 7

Day seven was the most rough for me. The whole week, as well as the whole next year hit me at once. Just with youth group changing a little over the next year, I think we all got a little emotional. I won’t really elaborate on this, but just know that God left me charged to come home and make where I am my mission field. I realize that I can’t be in Haiti all the time like I would like to be. But God charged me up so that I can come home and make this place my mission field, because in reality the people here need me just as much.

God moved in my heart and in my life throughout the trip. He encouraged me, empowered me, charged me up. I can’t wait to go back, but I am also happy to be here. I know for sure that I am supposed to be going to other places that need my help to help them.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a junior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

World Outreach: Anti-Human Trafficking Update from Bright Hope: Neeta

Update from Bright Hope via World Outreach Team

Thank you Immanuel Church for your support of Bright Hope’s Anti-Human trafficking work in Northern India. Because of your investment in the program, the Bright Hope safe house was able to take in two additional young women this April who were part of a group of five women the Indian government rescued during a raid in Mumbai. The local government approached the Bright Hope safe house to take in these girls because of the great favor and reputation the Lord has brought to the safe house and its leadership. Without our partnership with Immanuel Church, Bright Hope may not have been able to financially assume responsibility for these young women. Please join with us in praying for their rehabilitation and receptivity to the Gospel of Hope as they are presented with the love of Jesus Christ each day.

Please note that when new girls come to the safe house it takes them a while to warm up and trust the staff. Slowly over time we learn their “real” stories. Until then the information we have is the statement they make upon rescue about their situation. Often this is lacking detail.

Please read Neeta’s story and pray for her by name.

Name: Neeta
Date entered the Safe house: 05/05/2014
Age: 17 years old
NeetaNeeta is 17 years old and she has one older sister, two younger sisters and a younger brother. She is uneducated and was not being taken care of by her family.

It was discovered that Neeta’s grandfather and her aunt were trafficking her into the sex trade. The family lacked steady income so this lead to them selling Neeta into prostitution.

It was also found that other family members were connected to trafficking, possibly brothel keepers, in another area. Neeta was rescued in the April RAID in Mumbai. After the RAID Neeta’s grandfather tried to bribe the police to return her to his custody.

 

For more information about our strategic partnership with Bright Hope in effort to combat human trafficking in India, head over to our newly revamped World Outreach page and look at our partnership with Bright Hope under Strategic Partners. 

The Monday After: The “S” Word (Anita)

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling.

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} carries the Sunday message into Monday mornings by sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, July 20, 2014: The “S” Word {Listen Here}

By Anita Everly

How many times have we willingly walked right into sin?
We know it’s not right, but we chose it.  “I don’t care. Just this one time. Okay, this is the last time.”
As Pastor Joe pointed out at its Biblical root, sin is a deliberate refusal to submit and outright rebellion to God.  He also mentioned it was active opposition to God.
That doesn’t make sin sound so seductive anymore.
Yet, it’s far too difficult to say, “I won’t do it anymore” and really follow through.
Sin and God cannot coexist, so we must become filled and saturated with God.
First, we must confess our sin to God. 1 John 1:9 says,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
What a gift!  He will forgive us and purify us from our sins. Rather than being suffocated by the guilt and shame, He promises restoration. With that guarantee, we can begin to climb out of the pit to see the hope He has for us. Darkness has no power over us when we place it all in the hands of God in whom there is no darkness.” (1 John 1:5)
When the temptation to sin rears its ugly head, we must turn away and flee in the other direction. Sin does not play nice, and it requires a full-on assault.
We continue combating sin through the power of the Word of God. It is called the sword for a reason. It does battle.  Hebrews 4:12 says,
“For the Word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
God’s Word hidden in our heart, written on note cards, emblazoned on our mirrors — whatever it takes to be in the Word — is the key to demolishing the strongholds of sin.
In addition to confession and God’s Word, we must pray.  Jesus said to his disciples on the Mount of Olives, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  (Luke 22:40)
We have to be proactive and prepared for the devil who prowls looking for someone to devour.
When we belong to Christ, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us enabling us to conquer our sin. Galatians 5:16 promises,
“So I say, live the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Jesus has already won the victory and taken the punishment for our sins and left us with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  I heard it once said that we don’t work for victory over our sins, but we work from victory. Christ has already won.
It’s crazy, but the sin that can most easily destroy and separate us from God, when given over to Him in complete surrender, can be the very thing that brings us closer to Him in ways we could never imagine.
When we are filled with God’s Word, prayer, the Holy Spirit, there is no room for Satan, his lies, or his temptations.
Remember, the battle is already won; let’s live like it.

Anita Everly is the wife of David and mom to their three sons.  She can be found watching the lives of her men unfold, creating a home, and encouraging other women in life and motherhood.  She is striving to live life on purpose because she is crazy in love with the One who is crazy in love with her.