By John Leininger, Cliff Hawley and Stephanie Cone of Mercy International
Without Him, We Can Do Nothing
Mercy International’s base is on a ranch in the hills of Texas, but our mission work is done in the mountains and cities of Haiti. Our goals are simple: we desire to give Gospel truth and sustainable help to the poorest of the poor in Haiti.
For many years, those serving with Mercy International have had numerous opportunities to experience the power of prayer—especially our founder, Dr. John Leininger, who has been doing mission work in Haiti for 40 years.
From witnessing the new birth of a soul to surviving a national coup to watching God turn dirty well water crystal clear, He has continued to remind us of this fact:
God is the One behind this ministry, and if it weren’t for Him answering prayers and working on our behalf, we could do nothing.
A Little-Bitty Island with a Whole Lot of Needs
Haiti is a naturally beautiful country, located on the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with the Dominican Republic occupying the remaining two-thirds. The spiritual climate in Haiti is bleak, and many locals either practice voodoo or mix parts of voodoo into a misguided belief system. Yet God is very evidently at work in this small country. A number of Christian ministries are dotted throughout the land, demonstrating that nothing can stop the work of God.
With a population of around 10 million people, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In fact, it is estimated that over half of the citizens live on less than $1 every day. Children are too frequently afflicted with severe malnutrition and premature death. Parents often send their children to other homes in hopes of a better life. However, many children are then used as child slaves (called Restaveks), exploited or abused.
How a Broken Down Truck Taught a Lesson in Prayer
Throughout the years, God has used various circumstances – including a broken down truck – to teach us the value and power of prayer.
Many years ago, a team of six was traveling in a very remote part of Haiti on a dusty dirt road when their vehicle broke down. They tried to get it going for about half an hour knowing that there was no help in such a remote part of Haiti. In fact, they had not seen another vehicle for hours and had never heard of any missionaries working in the area. And worse yet, they were hours out of Port-au-Prince, where their flight left the very next morning. After a while it became obvious that they couldn’t repair their vehicle.
They sat down and discussed the hopeless situation. One of the team members suggested that they pray for the Lord’s help. As the heat of the midday sun sapped their remaining energy, they knelt down by the vehicle to pray.
To their surprise, a vehicle drove up. It was full of American missionaries who asked if they could help. They even had a compound nearby that wasn’t visible from the road where they invited them for lunch.
After lunch, a missionary they had not met yet walked into the lunchroom and asked if there was anyone that would be willing to take a vehicle to Port-au-Prince for him. The team was only too happy to oblige!
God used their broken down vehicle to teach them a powerful lesson on prayer!
The Privilege of Prayer
In ministry – and indeed in all of life – prayer is vital.
In the ministry of Mercy International, at times we relate to the persistent widow in the parable Jesus gave us, recorded in Luke 18. Jesus gave us that story to help us “always to pray and not lose heart” as the widow did not give up asking the judge for justice until it was finally granted. Though the answers to our prayers may seem delayed, God’s Word is clear that He desires for us to pray always, without ceasing, giving thanks and interceding for the needs of others. Therefore, as we keep praying, and trusting that God’s timing and answers are best, He receives the glory for all.
Other times we relate to Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 6, when He explained that our heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, who toil not. Sometimes, as we go along our merry way, God provides for a need before we even realize we are in need!
God Saved Their Lives
Soon after the earthquake of 2010, God provided His protection while our team was completely unaware of their need.
The 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, which is the capital of Haiti and one of its most populated areas. Over 300,000 people were killed in a matter of minutes and approximately 1.5 million people were left without homes, without food, without running water, or a toilet, and without a properly functioning government.
With cries to God for help for our friends in Haiti, team members got there as soon as they could.
Sadly, crime and looting sky-rocketed. Over 1 million Haitians – all grieving the loss of family or friends – ended up in “tent cities” where there was little protection from rape and pillaging.
Jean Claudy Ménes lived with his wife and daughter in the terrible conditions of a tent city. He knew of the rampant crime, and even grew to expect something would happen to him one day.
Not long after the earthquake, Jean Claudy was hired as the driver for our founder, Dr. John Leininger, and the other missionaries with him as they were ministering in Haiti. They had just pulled into a gas station where Jean Claudy walked in to pay ahead, when two men pulled him into an alley, robbed him and threatened him at gun point.
The thieves had seen the missionaries in the truck and demanded he turn them over. Bravely, Jean Claudy refused and actually tried to persuade the thieves to let them go. He pleaded with them, explaining that they were there to help the Haitian people.
Miraculously, the men relented. Jean Claudy went quickly back to the truck and drove away. The missionaries, startled by their driver’s rush, had not been able to see the ordeal and were surprised as Jean Claudy shared the harrowing events.
God had protected Jean Claudy and the missionaries – without them even knowing they needed protection! Even when we are unaware, God is at work around us!
Jean Claudy and his family now live in the peace and safety of a home in the Merci’ de Dieu (“Thanks to God”) Village, a recent (and ongoing) ministry of Mercy International.
Experts Say No, God Says Yes
God decided to use the ministry of Mercy International to build a village in the hills of the Haitian province of Gressier. Today, 63 colorful homes surrounded by gardens and filled with life, scatter the hillside. Close to 400 people are grateful to live in the safety of their own home with running water, in a village that has a church, medical clinic, store and two team houses for ongoing discipleship.
Early on, the time had come to drill for water in the Merci’ de Dieu (“Thanks to God”) Village. When the drillers discovered water in abundance, joy came in abundance as well. But just as quickly the joy faded when the team learned the water was solid grey and smelled of sulfur. Surely it would clear up, they thought.
They were wrong. All day long the water ran gray.
The expert drillers determined there was no hope and they would have to drill another well. Not only did this mean more trouble, it meant more expense.
Prayers went up to the throne, asking God to do a miracle…even though the team didn’t have much faith that the water would clear up. The next morning, after running the water all night long, Ti Coude, one of the village workers, came to the bunk house carrying a jug of water. Glory Hallelujah, it was clear! Not only that, but soon after all the pipes were connected, the houses were receiving water and the thousand-gallon tank was even overflowing! In what the team assumed was a perfectly hopeless situation, God came through in a powerful way! Truly, He makes our cups to run over!
The Dugout Canoe and an Open Ocean
Our last testimony is a dramatic one of God’s provision of prayer and His answers through prayer as God protected Dr. John and his mission team from a national uprising.
Years ago, as Dr. John and the team were on a medical mission trip to Haiti, they were stunned to hear that the popular Haitian president had been overthrown in a military coup. They were far from the city and didn’t see the initial uprisings. Surely this would be quelled quickly and it would not affect them. The team continued their long days serving rural Haitians but kept up on the uprisings via their small radio.
Only a few short days later, the team was wrapping up their mission work. The water and food they had brought with them was almost used up when they were once again surprised – the radio station that kept them apprised of the outside world was being shut down and taken over by the military.
They knew they needed to get out of the area as quickly as possible. They packed up and began driving towards the airport but ran into the biggest, burning road block they’d ever seen, and it was accompanied by armed Haitians. The tensions were rising in Haiti.
They were allowed to pass, but only to find out there were numerous road blocks following every two or so miles! The extreme danger began to set in and their prayers grew stronger. Reports of the overthrown government had made it back to their families in America, and as family and friends awaited to hear from the “missing” missionaries, many prayers were lifted up to God.
In an answer to prayer, God directed them to a different road and made a way for them to safely pass machete-wielding locals and finally arrive at a small port.
It was there that a local Haitian literally rowed up to them in his dugout canoe and asked them to take a short trip to a “resort” right off the coast. With no other options, they actually took him up on it! Still, they had no idea how they were ever going to get out of Haiti. Even the airports were shut down.
Sure enough, there was a small “resort” off the coast . . . and three sail boats, all in bad shape. Yet the team knew God was in their circumstances. He was answering their prayers and the prayers of those back home in America. Perhaps the sail boats were their way out of the increasingly dangerous climate of Haiti!
Just a few days – and multiple repairs – later they began to sail 120 miles across open ocean to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in three 30-foot sailboats in questionable states of repair. Two of the boats were captained by people who had never sailed before.
Over 30 hours and almost one crash later, they made it to Cuba.
Their mission trip had turned into a trial like they never expected, yet their faith had been strengthened in an unexplainable way. They attested to having a much better understanding of the power of prayer and the deep feeling that they were touched by God’s hand so that they knew Him more personally.
Dr. John and his team powerfully experienced first-hand how prayer is more than just a time to ask for our needs, it also serves as a time to draw near to God and to witness His work in our lives.
Again and again, the Lord delights us and brings Himself glory through answered prayer. And many times, He meets needs and works on our behalf before we even take a moment to ask Him for help. What a privilege to go directly to our King, casting our praise, worship and cares before His throne!
If you would like to read more stories about how God has answered prayers, visit our blog: www.MercyIntl.org. We’d love for you to join us in this work – the needs are great!
For information on upcoming trips, prayer needs, and ways to help, check our website or contact Stephanie Cone at email@example.com.