Haiti (MNN) — Haiti is full of difficult problems. It’s the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, and according to the CIA, 80% of Haitians live below the poverty line. Over half of the population lives in “abject poverty.”
La Gonave is where most of Haiti’s poor reside, which makes the island’s residents arguably the poorest people in the Western hemisphere. But Starfysh founder Dr. Steve Edmondson says they’re running into a good problem on La Gonave.
“Our ability to field teams is pretty tapped out right now,” he says. “We’re working a good six months [out] and trying to field the requests to come.”
Starfysh works alongside the Wesleyan church on La Gonave to bring holistic care and the Gospel to island families. Work teams help Starfysh achieve their project goals, but it always turns into a two-fold ministry.
“While we benefit from the work they do, the much-greater benefit is what…happens in the human heart of the people that come,” says Edmondson.
When people come to La Gonave as part of a Starfysh work team, they get to live out the command of Jesus in Matthew 28. They build friendships with islanders of all ages, demonstrating the tangible love of Christ. Teams also get to share the Gospel in word and deed, through translated prayer time and meeting physical needs, like the Bauer team did in February.
By putting faith into action, Starfysh work teams walk away with a greater understanding of both the Great Commission and La Gonave’s challenges.
“Until people see firsthand, and feel firsthand, and see and smell and experience firsthand what it means to ‘go into all the world,’ then it’s very hard…to understand,” Edmondson notes.
When work teams head home, they provide yet another benefit to the ministry of Starfysh.
“We couldn’t purchase that type of advertising…when you go back and show your pictures to your friends, and put it on Facebook and Twitter, and all those sorts of things,” said Starfysh Work Team Director Freddy Williams in a previous article.
But what about the people of La Gonave? Sure, work teams provide manpower for Starfysh projects. But are they of any personal benefit to the islanders?
“They love the fact that people would take out of their time and expense…to come down and spend [time] with them. It’s very affirming,” Edmondson explains.
“You have to understand that many people in Haiti, especially in the remoter parts, have this thing in the back of their minds, I believe, that nobody really knows they’re there. They feel rather forgotten. The fact that someone would show up in their reality, at their home and at their doorstep, is deeply meaningful to them.”
Edmondson adds that Starfysh loves having teams join their work; it just might be a while before you can go. In the meantime, you can find plenty of ways to help the people of La Gonave here.
Pray that the families Starfysh is helping will come to know Christ as their Savior. Pray for wisdom and discernment for ministry leadership as they seek better ways to mobilize work teams.