Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Gospel Comes to Life: Claude Fanor on Transformation in Haiti

Lake Zurich, Ill. — Claude Fanor of Pignon, Haiti is an eyewitness: transformation is happening in his country. 

On Claude’s last visit to the United States, he met with Bright Hope staff and shared his excitement about the ongoing work in the Haitian villages of Beganabe and Colladere, where Bright Hope’s JELLY program (standing for Jesus, Education, Livelihoods, Love, and You) is making an impact. As part of the initiative, a church community in America partners with a community living in poverty through educational activities, relationship building, and the support of clean water and microenterprise programs.

But in Haiti, where billions of dollars in aid has flowed in the six years since the devastating earthquake, how could one small program have such an impact upon a ministry “veteran” like Claude?

The JELLY Difference

“I have worked in many communities,” Claude shared, “but JELLY brings true community. Haitians in poverty have been praying for years. They see this as God bringing Hope to them. So they begin to work together in everything they are doing.”

Claude recognizes where this Hope is coming from. He said, “They have energy because we are created by God to do and work. Every day God has given us a new day… so each day is a new day to serve. Through [JELLY], God brings community – meeting regularly to talk and care for each other in loans, praying for each other, carrying each other’s burdens, and considering others above yourselves.”

Claude’s excitement continued to grow. ”Three years after Beganabe was started,” he beamed, “you see a church that is growing, even in the last year. Families are profiting from their businesses, and they are investing, saving, and purchasing animals. Old women who are taking care of family orphans are feeding them all. This is their way of saving, and I am so encouraged!”

Yet the transformation in Haiti runs deeper than families simply working together – people’s minds are also being transformed.

“I see leaders rising up!” Claude exclaimed. “One wants to start a mutual fund where a small group all save money, and each month it’s given to someone in need of a loan. These are ideas coming from people that never thought this way before, and I have never seen other communities outside of JELLY think this way and work this way.”

Claude Fanor of Haiti speaks his heart with Dave Mudd and the congregation of Alpine Chapel, Lake Zurich

Claude Fanor, left, shares his heart with Pastor Dave Mudd and the congregation of Alpine Chapel in Lake Zurich, Illinois.

Two Congregations Connected

During Bright Hope's discussion with Claude, he reflected on one of his favorite passages of scripture, Mark 8:22-26, in which Jesus heals a blind man. A few days later, just before appearing on the platform at Alpine Chapel in Lake Zurich, Illinois, the church’s pastor, Dave Mudd, casually mentioned to Claude that Alpine was moving through a series on the book of Mark. There was a glimmer in Claude’s eyes, and he smiled broadly.

When Claude stepped to the platform, and seized the opportunity with his audience.

“One of my favorite passages is Mark 8:22-26 because Jesus heals a man who is blind,” Claude shared, “but after the first time, the man says that the people are still unclear, ‘like walking trees,’ so Jesus touches him a second time, and he sees people clearly.”

He went further, relating the scriptures to the growing bonds of love between Colladere and Alpine. “Colladere needed a second touch. Alpine needed a second touch. JELLY is God’s second touch because we couldn’t see each other clearly. Now… we do! And, we have community in our own, and with each other... with Alpine.”

Claude went on to encourage Alpine that though they may not feel the impact of their partnership, the people of Colladere certainly are being transformed.

“You are such a blessing to them, and they love you so much. I can see in you a heart of love. You did not realize it before, but I know that God is choosing you, and the members of Alpine, to do something special in Haiti.”

Recently, another shipping container has arrived on Alpine’s Lake Zurich campus, which will be lovingly painted and packed for the people of Colladere, where this fall, it will be built out into a church and school building. And through the JELLY program, the hearts of those in Beganabe, Colladere, and at Alpine Chapel have all changed… for they have now seen with their eyes, and heard with their ears, that through the work of their hands…

The Gospel has come to life.

Read more stories from Bright Hope's Ally Connection newsletter.