Hearts + Hands for Haiti (Neal)
Little did I realize that the events of January 12, 2010 would change my life. That day a massive 7.0 earthquake hit the island nation of Haiti. I remember watching CNN with a heavy heart that day and in the weeks to come as the totality of the devastation became more apparent. Seven weeks later I found myself on the ground there helping a Haitian relief organization mitigate the aftermath of this disaster.
Shortly before I left for this trip my church family prayed for me and the trip. During this time of prayer, one of the church leaders had an image come into his mind of a sculpture of a priest on the Lincoln Park campus of DePaul University. The sculpture of the priest had extremely oversized hands in comparison to the scale of the rest of the body. With the image in mind, I was told that as a result of this trip, God would give me big hands and an enlarged heart.
In the 2 ½ years since the earthquake, God has led me to return to Haiti 4 times to do further work. The fruit of the short term teams that I participated with includes medical clinics, dental clinic, clean water projects, construction of a school building, orphan care, vacation bible school ministry, pastor training and working with at risk young men through a new Haiti Teen Challenge program. My wife and I have also been compelled to care for two kids in Haiti by initiating mentoring relationships and providing funding for education and English language training.
Most recently, I have been working on planning and hosting a fundraising event for the benefit of an orphanage in Haiti. The orphanage is being forced to relocate nearly 130 children to another location that requires complete infrastructure development. As I was prayerfully contemplating the idea, I had a talk with God about this need. I told God that if I was going to plan and host this event, I would need a really awesome space that would have little expense. After all, it would be a complete waste of time and money to host an event that would raise little money over the cost of throwing the party! Shortly after my conversation with God, a co-worker introduced me to a space that has incredible views of the Chicago River and buildings in the Chicago Loop. The space meets every need that one could imagine to host a charitable event. The cost…. a mere $100.00! I took this as a green light from God to move forward with the event!
In the meantime, I have been amazed at the generosity of people as I communicate the needs of these Haitian orphans. I have had donations of food, beverage, musical entertainment, graphic design services, audio video expertise, an emcee and volunteers to help make the event a success. My employer even stepped up with a financial sponsorship!
About a month ago I reminded this church leader of the word he had for me a week prior to my first trip to Haiti. God really did give me big hands and enlarged my heart for this country and its people. When I told my wife Kathy about this conversation, she exclaimed “Neal….what is the name of your fundraiser?” It is H3 – Hearts + Hands For Haiti! The ironic thing is that one of my volunteers came up with the name and it wasn’t until my wife pointed it out that I realized the connection to the word I received 2 ½ years earlier. I felt the smile of God that day on the work that He has purposed for me in Haiti.
For more info on the Hearts + Hands for Haiti fundraiser (happening in just 2 weeks!) visit www.tix4cause.com/donations/tickets/1621
For more info on Hope Outreach International visit www.reachwithhope.org