2 Haiti 4 Him

The Heckman family serving the Lord in Haiti at Emmaus Biblical Seminary

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Seeking God's Face

The last two weekends have been truly amazing and eye opening for us.  First, the end of October we had the opportunity to go to Harrisburg and be a part of the One Mission Society Northeast Conference.

There we spent the weekend hearing from OMS missionaries about all that God was doing through their ministries.  We heard from missionaries serving with OMS from Mexico to the Ukraine, from new missionaries to those who have been serving for 50+ years, and spoke with those in the funding process just like we are! We also spent time in worship throughout the weekend, praising God for who He is and all that He has done.  We took time to pray for missionaries all over the world, for the persecuted church and for God to raise up more missionaries to reach the lost!

It was a blessing to us and to our children.  Ethan and Haylie quickly became friends with other missionary kids whose families serve all around the world!

They are excited to stay connected via email and to see each other again!  Not sure of how soon that will happen, but as parents who know that transition is not always easy, we were grateful for these kids who serve alongside of their parents and who LOVE being "MKs"!  I have to admit that I was quite emotional as we left the conference.  As many of you know, this has been difficult for Ethan and we praise God for every little step that he takes!  This was a HUGE step :)   Thank you all for your continued prayers for him and for us in this area!  (Haylie is still ready to jump on a plane whenever we say we are leaving- and for that we are so thankful too!!)

Following that amazing experience,  I had the awesome privilege this past weekend, of taking three young ladies from Sharptown Church to OMS World Headquarters for OneWeekend.   We packed ourselves in a tiny little rental car and headed out on the 12 hour journey!  Despite the tight quarters... we had a blast!

OneWeekend is a conference that OMS does each year that is designed to raise awareness about missions and to encourage participants to seek God to find out what He is calling them to do.  When I arranged for these girls to go, I had in my head that this opportunity was really for them and that my job was just to get them to Indiana and back home safely and to maybe help out and serve where needed for the weekend. Well... God had other plans!!!

To sum it up: We spent the weekend seeking God's face.

Hours of our time were spent in prayer, reflection, worship, journaling and alone time with God.  From the moment we arrived (and really in the months leading up to this!) to the final moments before we left (and beyond!), prayer was the driving force.  I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for this experience.  OMS had no intention of spending a weekend trying to convince those in attendance to come and serve with OMS or to become missionaries for that matter.

Their main goal was to create space for God to speak to each one of us and for us to listen to His voice.

Did we spend some time hearing about OMS and missions around the world? YES!

Did they help us to understand the ways that God calls us and the different opportunities that we have to use our gifts in missions? YES!

But first and foremost, they wanted us to leave with a clear sense of God's call and with a stronger connection to our Savior- and I can tell you that I have never felt more connected to God and to His mission for the world and for our family than I do now.  One Weekend was a blessing beyond words for me, and I know that many others, including the girls who went with me, were also blessed!  Thanks to OMS for giving God the weekend and for focusing all of their energy and efforts on helping to create space for us to spend time in His Presence!

So here are a few things that God spoke to me about this weekend:

1) Everything that He has given me- gifts, talents, time, experiences... He wants to use for His glory and I am often not willing to let Him have it all.  This weekend I was really convicted in this area. I know that God will bless me when I am obedient and that I have to trust Him with everything.  My prayer is that I will be continually obedient to His call and follow Him no matter what the cost!

2) We spent time learning about all of the different ways that God calls us (for example: through needs around us, music and worship, Scripture, prayer, dreams, other people, etc.).  We had to think of a time when God called us to do something and share about it... as I spent time thinking about our call to Haiti I could see how God spoke in ALL of these ways and it was so comforting to know that He provided such clarity!  But then I realized something.... God wants to speak to us EVERYDAY in these ways... and I truly believe He calls us EVERYDAY to serve Him.  No matter what we are doing during our day- whether we are home with our children, in the workplace, on the road, at the grocery store, wherever- God is calling us!  If we would just listen to His voice every day and ask Him to speak- He will.  We just get so busy in our days that we don't take the time to ask.  I want to wake up every morning and spend an extended time with God- asking Him to reveal to me His call for me every day.  What an exciting thing to think about isn't it?  God desires for us to simply BE WITH HIM and He speaks to us if we are willing to listen.

3) I have recently been feeling led to explore the possibilities of serving God in another capacity, different than what we originally intended to do in Haiti.  After going to OMS Headquarters and hearing more about the ministry of HOPE61, the anti-human trafficking division of OMS, we are feeling that God may be leading us to get involved and to be trained to work within the community surrounding Emmaus, and with the pastors at the seminary- to begin prevention ministry through evangelism and education.  Prostitution is rampant in Haiti and it breaks my heart...  If we can educate middle school and high school age students... if we can share the Gospel with them and help them to see that this is NOT what God wants for them... we can begin to break the cycle and to bring about change in that community... but we only want to do this if it is what God wants for us. We just want to follow His will in this. Would you pray with us about this?

We are so grateful for God's continued direction and provision as we prepare to go to Haiti.  The recent opportunities, as you can tell, have reignited an excitement for us to continually follow Him and His plan for us!  We are over 55% funded at this point and are praying that God would provide the additional 45% needed so that we can get on the field and begin to serve Him there! Would you also pray for our funding needs?

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support and for journeying with us...

2 Haiti 4 Him!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fishers of Men

Back in August, a team of 18 of us from Sharptown Church, went to Emmaus to serve.  

We spent three days working around the seminary grounds- pulling weeds, mowing, cleaning up leaves and palm branches, painting hallways and doors and cleaning up classrooms in preparation for the students to return for the upcoming semester.  

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to go to a church service (a 4 hour church service, by the way!) 

... And then sit down to a nice meal at the Hotel Christophe


On Friday, we took a trip to the Citadel (a hike that is NOT for the faint!). 


But the most powerful part of the trip, at least for me and I'm sure many others, was the day we spent sharing the Gospel on the streets.  We rode for over an hour in the back of the truck (how we ride everywhere in Haiti when in large groups!) 

We were broken up into three teams to do door-to-door ministry, women's ministry on the street and at homes, and Vacation Bible School with the kids in the church building in the community.  What an amazing experience... 

to sing and share stories with children who desire to be loved and held... 

to walk the streets and share of Jesus' love and to pray over the sick- both mentally and physically... 

to speak truth to women as they sell charcoal or fried goods on the dusty streets.

Later in the week, we took a walk down to the bay.  We had heard how beautiful it was (Phil had gone there when he went down to Haiti to work with Don in March) and I wanted to make sure I (and our group!) had the opportunity to see it...
 it's about a 20-30 minute walk from the seminary...

When we arrived, and took it in, we all concluded that it was WELL worth the walk. (And now.. in hindsight.. I can say that at a much deeper level... explanation coming soon!)

As we stood there, on the shore, Matt (the president of Emmaus and a fellow Sharptownian!) told me that the size of the bay is very similar to that of the Sea of Galilee.
And that's when it hit me...

At that moment, surrounded by old fishing boats that looked like they were taken from the pages of Scripture, I imagined what it must have been like to watch as Jesus crossed the sea and went up to the mountainside to pray, or for the disciples to pull up fishing nets only to see that they were so full they were breaking because Jesus provided a miraculous catch of fish... or to be on that shore and listen as Jesus spoke of truth and light and love.

Looking back, I know that God wanted me to see that, to experience that moment, because He had something He wanted to teach me. Recently, while doing devotions, I was drawn to read the accounts of Jesus calling His first disciples. When He first called Peter and Andrew, He came to them at the water, while they were working as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee... he provided a miraculous catch of fish for them and then spoke three distinct statements to them:
Don't be afraid.
Follow me.
I will make you fishers of men.

During this journey, I have to tell you that fear has definitely been one of many emotions that we have felt.  The question of how will we sell our house? How will our children adjust? Can we raise the money? What will life be like in a 5th world country that doesn't have the same laws, language, freedoms, advances, foods, safety, etc? How can we leave familiarity of home, family, church, friends?...

And yet He says to us... Don't be afraid.

And then there is the reality that God has called us, God has opened doors, God is at work in our hearts and our lives and He has been preparing us to do this work (for years!).  He will help us to learn the language, sell our house, adjust to the culture, raise the funds needed to go...

We just have to continue to... Follow Him.

And why?
Because He has called us to be fishers of men. 
The reason my heart was overwhelmed with joy that day as we shared the Gospel on the streets of Haiti is because that is what God has called us to do! And just like He said to the disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, I can hear Him telling us that we have nothing to fear if we follow Him.

And do you know what the disciples did when Jesus called them that day?

"... they left everything and followed Him."  Luke 5:11b

2 Haiti 4 Him.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Looking Through the Rearview Mirror...

It’s amazing how much clearer things are when you look through the rearview mirror... how obvious it is in hindsight that God has been leading us to the mission field to serve in Haiti. God has been equipping us for this very task.  We have been training for this race all along… even though we didn’t see it clearly until now!

When we started this journey and we answered the call to GO, we began to realize that all of the experience that God has given us in the areas of youth and college ministry, worship leading and Vacation Bible school, mission trip planning and hospitality… ALL of it, God wants to use in Haiti.  The job that He has for us at Emmaus Biblical Seminary will be to do those very things! 

Not only does God use our skill set and our talents, but He also uses the bumps in the road and the difficult times in our lives to help others... and He can even use our past mistakes to shape us and turn them into opportunities to show His grace and mercy to people who are lost.

We can’t help but think of the apostle Paul when we think about being prepared and equipped for a task, and using someone's past to help someone's future...

When you read the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Galatians, it is clearly evident that God was using Paul and his background to reach this group of people… that God wanted to use his life experiences and his past mistakes in order to speak to the problem in their church, and to help them fix what was broken. 

" For you have heard of my previous way of life... I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers." Galatians 1:12-13

Before he came to know Christ, when it came to following Jewish traditions and knowing Jewish law, Paul was the best of the best.  What was happening in the Galatian church surrounding Jewish traditions and law was extremely problematic.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ." Galatians 1:6-7

The people of this church had once been faithfully following Christ, but a group of people were trying to add adherence to the law as a means of salvation.  He questions them in Galatians 3:1-2 saying,

"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?... Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?"

Why could Paul say these things to the Galatian Church? Why would these people even listen to Paul's words?  Because he had this in common with them:

"We ourselves are Jews by birth..." Galatians 2:15

If anyone had a reason to push for following the Jewish law it was Paul!  He knew it like the back of his hand!  Paul's knowledge of the Scriptures, and his life experiences, his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road and his connection to the Jewish people made him a credible source and a vessel that God could use to reach His people with the TRUE gospel!

Not only did God use Paul's background and Jewish upbringing, but He also used Paul's sinful past to point others to Himself.  Paul persecuted Christians before his conversion and tried to destroy the church!!! God doesn't waste our pain or our mistakes... He redeems us from the pit and can use our messy lives to lead others to salvation!

And this is how the churches responded to Paul's conversion-

"He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." 

And Paul tells us in Galatians 1:24- "And they glorified God because of me.'

The bottom line is this:  God wants to use US to further His Kingdom...  and that means our past, our present and our future! It is so good to know that God can use EVERY aspect of our lives to expand the Gospel... whether it be our gifts and our talents, or our past mistakes and failures.

Why not take some time to look back through the rearview mirror of your life and ask God to reveal to you how He has equipped you for His purposes, how He has redeemed you from your past, and how He wants to use ALL of you for His glory!

2 Haiti 4 Him! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On the road to Emmaus...

This week, we will be speaking at West Park Church, the church that I (Emily) grew up in.  The church that Phil and I served in together for the first 10 years of our marriage.  The church where our children's faith journeys were nurtured through Sunday school classes and VBS lessons taught there.  Today, in preparation for speaking, we have been reminiscing about all of the life experiences and lessons that we have picked up from our West Park family along the way… the opportunities that have led us to the point where we are right now... on the road to Emmaus. 

It's amazing what looking back on the path of your life can do to help make sense of what is up ahead.  The doors that God has opened, the skills that He developed, the experiences that He used... God doesn't waste a second of our lives.  He wants to use it all for His glory… if we would only let Him.

The story of the disciples walking the road to Emmaus (found in Luke 24) may not be the most told story in Scripture, but for where we are right now, it is quite relevant.  The first reason is quite simple- we can relate to this story because we are preparing to go to a place with the same name (Emmaus Biblical Seminary) and we are on a journey of preparation and support raising in order to get there. (Hence the title of this post- “on the road to Emmaus”…)   

The second reason is a bit more complex and can really be summed up in this:
On this life journey that we all walk, we push and we strive to find God and to discover our purpose in His plans.  Often times we feel alone or unsure, discouraged and tired, and much of that is because we try to draw from our own strength or trust in our own, limited understanding. But if we pause to see things as they really are, if we stop and reflect on our walk, we will see that He has been there all along… that He has been shaping and molding us so that we are able to handle the next hurdle in the road up ahead, so that we can stay the course despite the trials.  Proverbs 3:5 and 6 says it well, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean NOT on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”  

As we walk the road to Emmaus and look ahead toward what God has called us to do in Haiti, we are reminded that we also need to continually look back and reflect on what God has already been doing. From the very beginning, He has been preparing us for this work and fitting us for His purposes… and He wants to use every experience along the way as we go... 2 Haiti 4 Him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Let the blogging begin...

So here we are.... blogging for the very first time, stumbling through what to say that will captivate our readers and keep you coming back for more...

yeah we got nothing.  :)

perhaps our next post will be more informative, interesting, thought provoking... but now that it is 10:30pm and we have been choosing fonts, backgrounds, colors, styles for the last 3 hours, our brains are unable to put together much of anything!

But seriously... we are truly excited to begin this journey with you and are looking forward to sharing all that God is doing in our lives as we transition out of the U.S. and GO...

2 Haiti 4 Him.

Talk to you soon.