Saying Yes to Helping Haitians in the Dominican Republic

 

Have you ever thought about your citizenship?

If you were born in the United States of America, you are automatically granted American citizenship. The Latin legal term is jus soli which means “right of soil.” Personally, I never really thought about any other system, or that my citizenship could disappear. That is until I met Cody and Emily Van Pelt.

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Cody, Emily, Tatum, and Evan Van Pelt

In 2013 The Dominican Republic Constitutional Court ruled that they would no longer observe jus soli. In fact, they went so far as to revoke birthright citizenship dating back to 1929. Cody shared the type of impact this decision had, “If you have kids and your mom couldn’t prove she was born from a documented Dominican citizen then she would lose her citizenship, you would lose your citizenship, and your kids would lose their citizenship.” The result of losing citizenship was no longer being able to work, attend school, or receive other government support. After the citizenship law was changed as many as 200,000 Haitians lost their citizenship.

A First Encounter

Cody and Emily have seen firsthand how these Haitians struggle to survive after losing the right to work or attend school. When they had the opportunity in March of 2018 to go on a short-term mission trip to help they said, “Yes.”

Haitians are black and speak Haitian Creole while Dominicans are Hispanic and speak Spanish. Consequently, Haitians in the Dominican Republic have dealt with a long history of racism, violence, and hardship, but life there is still better than in Haiti. Cody expected his kids, Evan who is now 13 and currently in seventh grade and Tatum who is an 11 year-old fifth grader, to be shocked by the level of poverty, but even though he thought he knew what to expect, even he was overwhelmed by the conditions the Haitians were living in.

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The family helped pass out lunch to the local Haitian children, which was one boiled egg and one piece of bread. Later when they were back in their hotel they saw small buildings across a loud busy street which appeared to be filled with junk. When they looked closer they noticed a woman and two little girls living in one of those tiny buildings which was roughly the size of a master bathroom in the US.

Cody was heavily impacted by this and he explained, “I went to bed thinking about the boiled egg and piece of bread and then thinking about the little tiny house with the mom and little girls in there and the mattress on the dirt floor and it just broke me up. I started balling and cried myself to sleep that night asking God why is any of this fair? Why do I have so much more? Why do I deserve so much more? Why do my kids deserve so much more? God quickly interrupted me and said, ‘No Cody, you do not deserve more, you have more and so you need to do more.’”

“No Cody, you do not deserve more, you have more and so you need to do more.”

The organization the Van Pelts are working with, Assemblies of God World Missions, runs 14 schools for the Haitian children. Emily described the situation, “Families work in the rice fields there and the kids really had no place to go. The missionaries we are working with saw this need for the Haitian kids who had nowhere to go during the day, so they started to take on the communities and help facilitate schools for them.”

The schools provide a safe place for the children during the day, but they are more than schools, they double as churches. Cody explained, “The main focus is getting a Christian education, and on top of it, building a church community for the Haitian community.”

Saying Yes a Second Time

The Van Pelts said, “Yes” a second time when they returned in March of 2019 to lead a short-term mission trip. During their two trips they have spent time helping at primarily two locations, Limoncito and Cutupu, and they have witnessed God’s grace.

The original school at Cutupu, which served 130 children, was the size of one large American classroom and had no bathroom. Emily shared how God has stepped in, “It was a rented property and they needed something that they owned, Assembly of God World Missions, through donors from Timberline, were able to purchase a property for them. Not only will they have a place with bathrooms and a little bit of a kitchen, so they can cook meals for them, but it is also a bigger property so there is room for a battered women’s shelter. That will be the next phase for them.”

After their second trip to help the Haitians the Van Pelts knew they wanted to do more but wanted God to direct them as they searched for the next step. Emily shared what was on their hearts, “About a year ago we started really praying if there was more that God wanted us to do. You get this feeling that God wants you to do more and after a lot of prayer they invited us to come out there and stay for a longer term. That was a direct invitation we were looking for that made it clear cut what we should do.”

With that invitation the Van Pelts have once again said, “Yes,” and will be returning to the Dominican Republic for a long-term mission of two years. In August they will leave for Costa Rica where they will learn Spanish and from there it is on to the Dominican Republic where they will continue to work with Mitch and Debbie Martinez, who are also supported by Timberline.

What can you do to help?

  1. First and foremost, the Van Pelts covet your prayers. Prayer for the Holy Spirit to work there. “With the Haitian community there is only so much we can do, we need the Holy Spirit’s help to break through with them,” said Emily. “Voodoo still has a little bit of a foot hold there and so we absolutely can’t do any of this without the Holy Spirit’s help, that is the biggest part of this.”
    1. They also ask for prayer for the ongoing projects of improving the facilities, reaching the Haitian community, and prayer that they can raise the required financial support.
  2. Second, they are still raising financial support. If you feel lead to give, you can donate on their page through the link below.
  3. Third, you can connect with them by following the Van Pelts on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/vanpeltfamily, or you can sign up for their newsletter on their website through the link below.

Click here to view the Van Pelt’s website to learn more about their mission, sign up for their newsletter, and/or donate to support their mission.

 

Project 1.27: Fostering & Adopting in Faith

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Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this…that we look after orphans in their distress—James 1:27

Every day, 14 kids in Colorado are removed from their families and placed into foster care. A local organization founded on the verse above, Project 1.27 acts as a bridge between kids in foster care in need of families and the church community. With over a decade of experience, Project 1.27 hopes to inspire, recruit and resource churches and families to foster and adopt the kids in their own backyard.

What do they do?

Project 1.27 offers Biblically-based training and trauma-informed resources that help build relationships not only between foster families and their children but also between these foster families and their churches and communities.

Project 1.27

Project 1.27 also trains churches to become “Foster Adoption Friendly” by providing information, support for the development of foster-adoption ministries, and training and encouragement to ministry leaders and their families.

Here’s the process for individual families interested in foster or adoption using Project 1.27 ministries:

  1. Anyone who is interested in potentially fostering or adopting a child in the Colorado foster care system attends an informational night in which they can learn about the foster care system and Project 1.27. “Info Night” fulfills the first two hours of state-mandated training, yet it is offered from a Christian perspective.
  2. After attending Info Night, families can complete commitment forms and pay the $100 fee that allows access to forms, training and case manager support through Project 1.27.
  3. Once the family has committed to the process, there at least 6 training courses totaling around 40 hours of coursework over such things as CPR/First Aid and Core training that deals with situations many foster families encounter.
  4. Finally, after all of the training and further paperwork is complete and the family has found not only a great kid in need of love but also a great support group through Project 1.27, the family will be able to receive a foster or adoptive child in their home.

It’s certainly not an easy process. But since these children have had trauma “hijack” their stories and God’s purpose for their lives, it makes sense for us to be extremely intentional and wise in taking the next steps in their healing processes. After completing all necessary Project 1.27 training and finally welcoming foster children into their home, Chris and Liz Brodzinski said, “Project 1.27 had prepared us for [the trauma our child had experienced]. It didn’t make it necessarily any easier, but we realized we just wouldn’t solve it all at once…. We had to give [love] to her one moment at a time, over and over again to prove to her she was worthy of love.” Because of Project 1.27, the Brodzinskis have given their kids a chance to get back on God’s destination for their lives.

Are you interested in changing young lives in Colorado, too? To find out more about Project 1.27, please visit: https://www.project127.com

Check out this 5-minute video of Chris and Liz Brodzinski sharing their experience:

 

Global Family Care Network: Preventing Child Trafficking

 “Why does the phone box need to be so well illuminated?” she thought, nervously shifting her weight from one foot to another, scanning the square, making sure he wasn’t there. A light fog was beginning to move in from the river, ghosting the call box. “This is a good sign,” she said to herself, she too could become a ghost to her nightmare. She pressed the buttons on the dial pad. Each tone chimed like an alarm clock, waking her from the night terror that had become her life. She lived every minute afraid, afraid of the man who took care of her and fearful of the men who she serviced. Tonight would be the night she would stop living in fear. A warm voice, answered, “Hello.”

Global PartnersWhat would be the next step in her life? The shrapnel from enslavement requires emotional, spiritual, and maybe even physical triage. Global Family Care Network is a non-profit organization that works to prevent and intercept child trafficking and systematic abuse, and provide long-term and family-based care for children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse. Their mission is to preserve the family and protect at-risk children with the assistance of community organizations, volunteer caregivers, and donors. Their vision is to help as many children as possible who are victims of poverty, exploitation, and abuse by modelling and sharing the principled method that represents the best possible outcome. Collectively, their model projects are active in nine countries with 304 global team members.

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If being part of this team and its mission excites you, Global Family UK is looking for interns for 2020. Interns lead and contribute to research, program development, communications, and media projects, and are provided with free room and board in Scotland and/or the overseas country in which they work.

Interns can apply for the following work periods:

  • March – August 2020
  • June – August 2020 (summer)
  • September 2020 – February 2021

The internships include opportunities in the following areas: project management, evaluation, grant writing, intervention research, recruitment, video production, graphic design, social media coordination, and more.

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Interning isn’t the only way you can support this ministry:

  1. Attend a Training
    • Global Family’s training center is based just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland and offers trainings in human trafficking prevention, shelter and aftercare systems, and community development
    • Trainings are offered on-site (where room and board is provided) and online
  2. Donate
    • 100% of donations go directly to Global Family’s UK and international projects
  3. Pray
    • Pray for the children trapped in modern slavery. Pray for the Global Family Care Network team in their efforts to rescue those in bondage, restore those freed from it, and to protect those who are at risk to become part of it.

Learn more about this organization and their incredible mission at their website here. You can learn more about the internship opportunities by clicking on the “Get Involved” tab on the top menu.

 

A Friend 4U: A Pregnancy Resource

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“Every woman experiencing unplanned pregnancy needs the same thing…. She needs a friend!” –Rebecca, volunteer friend for A Friend 4U

What is A Friend 4U?

A Friend 4U is a local, faith-based organization committed to listen, help and support women who walk through unplanned pregnancy or unplanned circumstances while pregnant. No matter the background, religion, age or race, A Friend 4U will help connect individuals with both community resources and a mentoring-type friend to walk through the entire process alongside her, no strings attached. As a matter of fact, many of these friend relationships carry on well after the pregnancy.

A Friend 4U also collaborates with and refers women to other local organizations and government programs which provide material and professional resources to better help their clients.

How does A Friend 4U work?

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When a pregnant woman calls A Friend 4U, a caring person will confidentially discuss her needs. Then, within 24 hours, A Friend 4U will match that new client with a trained and trustworthy Christian woman who offers friendship and guidance without judgment. From there, it will be up to the client and the A Friend 4U volunteer to decide the best way to proceed with their relationship. Some meet in coffee shops; others go to doctor visits together.

Also, with their Care 4U program, A Friend 4U volunteers offer practical help after pregnancy with housekeeping, meals and a gift bag. Although A Friend 4U only refers women to parenting and adoption resource options within the area, they will offer assistance regardless of the path the client chooses for her pregnancy—including if she suffers a miscarriage.

What does A Friend 4U need?

  • Prayers—Pray to increase A Friend 4U’s footprint within the local community and beyond.
  • Volunteers—Since mentors must have a personal faith in Jesus, A Friend 4U only seeks volunteers within local churches.
  • Givers—In order to better serve their clients and volunteers, and in order to deepen their relationships with outside organizations, A Friend 4U needs to expand their pool of monthly and one-time donors.

How can I connect with A Friend 4U?

If you, too, have a heart to help pregnant women in our community through a faith-based organization, connect with A Friend 4U today.

Let There Be Light: UCOUNT Spotlight

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Living in northern Colorado, there’s a part of the year where I leave for work in the morning in the dark and I come home in the evening in the dark. It’s not a long period of the year where I experience this, but even so after a while it can feel a little depressing, like I’m living in a tunnel. It’s such a wonderful feeling then, when the days begin to grow longer, and I have that first morning when I get a peek of the sunrise. Or when I come home and realize I don’t need a flashlight to unlock my front door. The excitement and joy I feel thinking, soon, soon I can get outside again and enjoy this beautiful state I’m blessed to live in.

UCOUNT logoI was thinking about that feeling this past weekend, as Timberline had its annual UCOUNT spotlight on the fight against human trafficking with the theme, “Let There Be Light.” We heard the story of a young woman named Sumi who was born in a brothel and spent years in a space that was both literally and spiritually dark. Until one day when a man from Project Rescue came and in his “moving house” (she’d never experienced a car) he brought her out of the darkness and to a home. With other rescued girls she found family and support to graduate from school and thrive in a career. She went from a life in a tunnel with only one direction, to a world where many paths and choices were illuminated and opened to her.

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It’s a beautiful story. It’s a hard story. It’s one that I have trouble just sitting on. And that’s because we also learned that this darkness pervades our own communities in Colorado as well. That there’s an average of 2,000 homeless youth in the state at any given time, and that 30% of runaways will be recruited to trade sex for food and other necessities within 48 hours of their leaving home. Since 2012, 612 minors have been recovered from domestic trafficking situations along the Front Range.  The median age for these victims is fifteen, the same age at which another Colorado teen might be excited to get their driving permit.

Thirteen years ago, the UCOUNT Campaign began its mission to disrupt the human trafficking industry, bring hope and aid to those impacted by it, and to ultimately fight for an end to this modern-day slavery. As we learned this past weekend, they do not wage this fight alone, but with partners at global and local levels.

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So what can we do about this? How can we be light bearers to this terrible darkness? How do we do more than just sit with these stories and statistics?

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5

  1. PRAY: Right now, wherever you are, say a prayer for our sisters and brothers who are caught up in the terrible web of human trafficking. Pray for the efforts of the those in law enforcement and NGO groups who are trying to bring an end to the trafficking and to support those rescued. Commit to praying on a regular basis, and follow UCOUNT’s Prayer Blog.
  2. SHOP IN UCOUNT’S MARKETPLACE: UCOUNT partners with front-line organizations to provide sustainable and alternative income to women in the sex industry by selling their handcrafted products thru direct trade. See products at the Marketplace website.
  3. VOLUNTEER: Join the campaign or just come learn more at UCOUNT New Volunteer Training on February 9, 2020 from 10am-12:30pm at Timberline Church Fort Collins. RSVP or find out more by emailing at info@ucountcampaign.org
  4. LEARN: Take five minutes and learn more about one of the local or global partners highlighted below (or click on the section titles to see even more partner organizations).
    1. LOCAL Partners
      1. Free Our Girls
      2. Street’s Hope
      3. Sarah’s Home
    2. GLOBAL Partners
      1. Project Rescue – Spain
      2. Lum – Guatamala
      3. Stop the Traffik

 

Join Timberline Storytellers!

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Do you have an interest in foreign and local missions, but you don’t feel like you’re the one who will always place feet on the ground? Do you like to hear the great stories people have about their faith walks? Do you find yourself sharing stories as a reflex? Or maybe you like to be behind the scenes, taking pictures or videos that help tell stories. Or maybe you just find social media interesting and have gotten good at punchy posts that pique interest.

If any of these sound like you, you might be interested in joining us on the Timberline Missions Storytellers team. Timberline Missions Storytellers exists to share, promote, and inspire others through the work and stories of our local, national, and global missions’ efforts. We are a volunteer team supporting the work of Timberline Missions through our creativity, writing, story-crafting, and marketing skills. While the Lead positions require a greater time commitment, writers and content creators can contribute on a more flexible schedule – receiving assignments once a month if preferred.

Let’s hear about the job from one of our writers:

“When I was a kid, I always thought I’d be a missionary, but I soon learned my heart aches for my own community—not necessarily for people across the ocean. As I grew up, I finally learned that, indeed, we are all missionaries wherever we reside. With that knowledge guiding me, I always want to encourage each Christ-follower in his or her individual mission field. So, I became a writer for Timberline Missions Storytellers.

“As a writer on the team, I generally give a couple of hours a month. But what I get in return is a unique position where I see God in action all over the world through Timberline Church. When I get an assignment, I am in charge of interviewing local and global missionaries in whatever way works best for the interviewee. Then I produce a quick, concise story to give other people the joy of seeing God’s work throughout the world. It’s a simple process that, when joined with everything else the Storytellers team does, can make a big impact.” –Tiffany

Here are the available positions on the team:

  • Team Lead
  • Assistant Team Lead
  • Facebook Lead
  • Facebook Content Creator
  • Writer
  • Video Creator
  • Photographer

As mentioned earlier, the time commitment varies in these positions depending on the job and the number of people on the team. Also, many tasks can be completed at your own home. Of course, if you have the interest but not necessarily the skills, we can find someone to train you as needed.

If any of this brings a spark to your mind, making your fingers tingle just a bit with the thought of getting these stories told, please contact us at wego@timberlinechurch.org

Mercy Ships: Hope in Sight

In sub-Saharan Africa, there are approximately 2 physicians per 10,000 people. In the U.S., there are 26 physicians per 10,000. This disparity is where the Mercy Ships ministry and their floating hospitals come in. With their ships, like the Africa Mercy – which is the world’s largest civilian hospital – Mercy Ships provides high level care to those in desperate need, and it offers it free of charge.

mercy ships africa mercyWhy a ship? More than 50% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of the coast, and a ship is the most efficient platform to deliver a state-of-the-art hospital to regions where clean water, electricity, medical facilities, and personnel are limited or nonexistent. Since the ministry started in 1978, more than 100,000 surgeries have been performed on board their floating hospitals. Tumors have been removed, sight given to the blind, clefts corrected, legs straightened, and so much more.

Who staffs these ships? While each ship has a dedicated crew, these floating hospitals rely on volunteers to help it carry out its mission. Volunteer needs come in all areas – nurses, trained medical personnel, teachers, accountants, seamen, human resource specialists, AV technicians, bakers, carpenters, and electricians are just a few of the positions open currently. These volunteers can apply to serve for varying lengths of time – from one week to two years depending on the needs of the ship.

mercy ships logoThis Sunday, November 17th, 2019 Timberline Windsor will be hosting an information meeting with representatives from Mercy Ships. Come learn more about this incredible ministry and the opportunities to get involved. More information on the meeting is available on Timberline Windsor’s event page: https://www.timberlinewindsor.org/events/

You can also learn more about Mercy Ships, including learning more about their mission, volunteer opportunities, or how to donate, at their main website here: https://www.mercyships.org/

As with any ministry, one of the most important things you can do to support this important work is to pray. Mercy Ships asks that you pray for the countries they serve, the patients seeking healing, and the volunteers coming onboard to serve.

You can see their specific prayer needs on their website here: https://www.mercyships.org/pray/

You can also read some of the stories that have come from this ministry here: https://www.mercyships.org/stories/

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