Local shopping centers in Fort Collins, Colorado and surrounding areas were replete with consumers carefully selecting their weekly wares and provisions so as to successfully quell another challenging week and stave economical anxieties from what some have labeled as the weakest economy since the great depression. Life seemed to be returning to a quasi state of tolerance for many of us when the unexpected wailing echo of a young Haitian woman's proclamation of world's-end crashed upon the shores of our humanity. Haiti was once again violently thrust onto the world stage. Life was hard, at best, before the event of that fateful day. Now, with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people displaced, dismembered, dead or dying in the streets of the most densely populated country in the western hemisphere, those left behind in the wake of the 7.0 earthquake are devastatingly desperate in their struggle to survive! Any hardships we may endure along our beloved front range are seemingly non-existent in comparison. Indeed, they are merely inconveniences to endure and overcome.
Marcel Destine, an indigenous missionary to the small island country of Haiti is truly a Godsend to the populace there. With 70 percent of the residents surviving on less than two dollars a day; 50 percent on one dollar, Marcel treks over thirteen miles on foot to minister to the congregation of two mountain churches unreachable by vehicle, largely due to the lacking infrastructure most of us take for granted. "Nobody wants to minister to these people, it's too hard to walk up there" says Robin Parker, Missions Pastor for Good Shepherd Church located in Loveland, Colorado. Marcel has responsibility for eight churches altogether, six with schools. Robin and Good Shepherd Church have been supporting Marcel for several years and have sent numerous missions teams to help him minister to the Haitian people, learning their culture and sharing the love of Jesus. What do they learn? "Haitian people have a spirit about them that is so contagious, so warm! They don't have anything [materially] blocking the way between them and God. When they grab on to the Lord, they really do grab on."
When asked how the difference in culture affected her teams upon arrival to the island her response, filled with emotion, was moving. "Oftentimes people have a harder time coming home. They can handle the differences there, but get assaulted by the frivolousness of their own society upon returning. We have stores dedicated to our pets where there are 100 varieties of dog food. They [referring to Haitians] don't even have bread! Why do you place me here [in America]?" She tearfully asks of God, "I have so much!" Robin doesn't take her gift lightly, but with open hands and an open heart filled with responsibility shows compassion through what God has given, knowing it is for the greater good of man. Her compassion is an echo from the God she serves and the congregation of which she is a part. Aside from the regular tithes and offerings, Good Shepherd collected $10,000.00 for Haiti relief. This, in the midst of near record unemployment rates and other economic distresses is a testament to their leadership in a hurting world; an extension from the One who leads them; none other than Jesus Himself. After the devastating hurricane they collected $20,000.00 for the country.
Good Shepherd Church not only has compassion for Haiti and cultures abroad, but also for the community in which they live. They currently have partnered with Mary Blair Elementary School. The congregation, led by Lead Pastor Kent Hummel, work on the grounds, paint book shelves and have an overall love for the students and staff. Kent's vision is to recruit every church in Loveland to adopt a school and a neighborhood. Last year three churches adopted four schools. His goal this year is to see ten.
Although I am not a member of Good Shepherd Church the words of Jesus reverberate through my soul as I reflect on my time with Robin: "I am the Good Shepherd and know my sheep and my sheep know Me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep (Jn 10:14-15). The Good Shepherd? When it comes to the church located at 3429 N. Monroe Ave. in Loveland . . . He is the Good Shepherd indeed!
If you would like more information on the Haiti relief effort, have questions about the church or would like to speak with Robin, or anyone on the staff you can find them on the web at www.gschurch.tv.