In the ever-evolving landscape of missionary efforts and community development, organizations are continuously seeking innovative ways to create a lasting impact. Hands & Feet Project has taken a bold step in this direction with its new initiative: Partnering with Communities. This project marks a shift in our approach, focusing on collaboration and support for local churches and pastors in the communities we serve in Haiti. Hands & Feet Project has found a strong ally in Upstream International, an organization with a shared vision for empowering local leaders and spreading the message of hope.
A Promising Partnership: How It Came to Fruition
One of the highlights of this new venture is the partnership with a church in Jacmel. The journey with Pastor Carlos began on Upstream International’s exploratory trip to Jacmel. This initial visit was a chance to lay the foundation for future collaborations and partnerships, and it marked the inception of a remarkable journey.
Leading up to the trip, Upstream International reached out to pastors in the area who were affiliated with individuals already associated with the organization. It was a phone call from one of these pastors that set the stage for Pastor Carlos’s involvement. What truly stood out during this initial interaction was the spirit of altruism demonstrated by pastors within the community. They selflessly reached out to their fellow pastors, extending an invitation for other pastors to be part of a collective vision. This act of camaraderie set the tone for the collaboration that was about to unfold. Gathered at the Hands & Feet Project’s Children’s Village amidst a group of 10 to 12 pastors, the story of Pastor Carlos’s journey resonated deeply. The authenticity and sincerity with which he shared his testimony left an indelible mark on everyone present. The significance of establishing a spiritual place for the Hands & Feet Project children, where they could nurture relationships and prepare for life beyond the Children’s Village, was passionately communicated. Clearly, Pastor Carlos was passionate about this vision, as he facilitates a school at his church. His dedication was apparent as he expressed his willingness to lead Bible studies, mentor the children, and engage them in evangelistic work.
The subsequent encounter with Pastor Carlos took place at Ikondo in Grand Goave during a pastors’ conference organized by Upstream International. A gathering of around 50 pastors, each with their own history and relationships, bore testament to the dynamic network that had been established. Amidst this camaraderie, Pastor Carlos’s leadership qualities shone brilliantly. His ease in connecting with fellow pastors and the zeal with which he participated in the conference painted a portrait of a true leader among his peers.
A few months later, a visit to Pastor Carlos’s church offered a deeper insight into his world. His hospitality was heartwarming as he welcomed the Upstream team with open arms. Introductions were made, stories were shared, and the atmosphere was one of genuine camaraderie. Walking through the church, meeting his wife, interacting with the worship team, and getting to know the students of the school attached to the church provided a holistic view of his commitment to his community. Perhaps one of the most telling aspects of Pastor Carlos’s impact was witnessed beyond the church walls. Observing the way people in the community greeted him, the respect they held for him, and the excitement they displayed upon encountering him was a testament to his influence. His presence radiated far beyond the church, impacting lives on a personal level. Pastor Carlos’s dedication to education and spiritual growth, zeal for evangelism, and profound presence within the community align seamlessly with Upstream International and Hands & Feet Projects objectives.
Upstream International’s Methodology
In the process of choosing this church, Upstream International adopts a unique approach when it comes to identifying partners. They seek out individuals and organizations that are already making a significant impact, individuals who are committed to serving the needs of their communities and spreading the gospel. Once identified, these leaders are rigorously interviewed and evaluated, ensuring they align with Upstream’s values of biblical soundness, teamwork, and autonomy within a supportive council structure.
The Upstream Approach: Building, Collaborating, Empowering
1. Building: The core vision of Upstream is to work alongside local pastors and evangelists to fortify the body of Christ. Through strategic collaboration, they provide essential training, financial support, and accountability, enabling these leaders to make a lasting impact within their communities. The belief that unity breeds strength is fundamental, drawing inspiration from the biblical verse in 1 Corinthians 12:14.
2. Collaborating: The essence of Upstream’s mission is efficiency in reaching the maximum number of people with the message of Christ. This efficiency is achieved by partnering with indigenous individuals who are intimately connected to their communities. This collaboration generates synergy, magnifying the efforts of all involved, and aligns with the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 4:9 that “two are better than one.”
3. Empowering: Central to Upstream’s philosophy is the notion of “helping people who are helping people.” Recognizing that communities thrive when their local leaders are empowered, Upstream invests in equipping Haitian leaders to become the driving force of change. By doing so, they have touched thousands of lives with the gospel and catalyzed a cycle of leadership empowerment, as inspired by Hebrews 10:24-25.
Answering the Call: Spreading the Gospel Where It’s Needed
At the heart of Upstream International’s mission lies the commitment to fulfill the Great Commission, as detailed in Matthew 28:19-20. They aim to make disciples of all nations, a mission they approach with strategic determination. By partnering with Haitian pastors, Upstream is not only spreading the gospel but also empowering local leaders to launch biblically-rooted churches that have the potential to multiply and create an enduring impact. This approach aligns perfectly with their vision of reaching the most challenging and unreached areas.
Hands & Feet Project’s new initiative, Partnering with Communities, is a testament to the power of collaboration, empowerment, and strategic vision. Through our partnership with Upstream International, we are redefining how community development is approached, placing local leaders at the forefront of change. As we continue to build, collaborate, and empower, the impact of this initiative promises to be transformative, both for the communities in Haiti and for the hearts of all those involved. Upstream International’s commitment to unity, synergy, and the spreading of the gospel is a shining example of what can be achieved when organizations and communities work hand in hand.