Dear church community,
I had the pleasure yesterday to send a check for $ 14,500 to Food for the Poor, earmarked for a specific project. This will be the seed money for a farm operation attached to the Marie du Ciel orphanage near Cape Haitian in the north of the island. As you probably already know, Haiti has consistently been one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, and that for decades. Many people there live on next to nothing. When I visited the place on 2015 with a group of pastors from various denominations traveling in a FFP bus, we saw unspeakable poverty, people living in shacks made of garbage, often without access to drinking water, literally in the dirt. It felt odd to return every night to a pretty nice hotel in Port au Prince, which was probably necessary because of safety and security issues. On our return trip every night I was looking up the hillside filled with shacks, a web of shanty towns with poverty written all over it. Some of the most hopeful places in the country are the schools and orphanages run by religious orders. The government is usually not to be trusted. As is the case in many notoriously troubled countries, corruption plays a role in the cycle of poverty. Our Global Ministry Team at St. Peter’s decided early on to invest in projects related to education and agriculture and to work with a trusted partner. This particular project covers both education and agriculture. It will help the orphanage/school to thrive and who knows, maybe some of these children will have a better future because of it. In February we received a generous gift of $ 10,000 with the intention to match it. The COVID 19 pause button to church activities and all the uncertainties that came with it halted our fundraising after a few short weeks. By then we had raised almost half of our goal. After conversations with Food For the Poor and explaining the delay and uncertainty, they promised to find the additional funds if we could send the money now, and they will start and probably also complete the project this year. Hope for the orphanage and its children and students! We will keep you up-to date as we receive progress reports from Food For the Poor.
It is easy at any time to focus on your own community and your own problems. It is even easier to do that during a pandemic when people in our own community are hurting. And while I am sensitive to the needs of our immediate neighbors, I have always felt it important for our churches to develop awareness of global issues and poverty that reaches a whole different level compared to anything we know from experience. Early on in the pandemic I always included in the Sunday prayers that draw our awareness to our distressed neighbors in not so far away countries. Here is one of those prayers. It is from April 19:
“Dear Lord, on this Sunday in Easter we pray for the poor of the world who are vulnerable to disease at any time, for whom the uncertainty of life is a permanent reality, who feel exposed in their own feeble homes. Walk with the people on the streets of Port au’ Prince. Be a neighbor to those who live in the slums of Mumbai; a beacon of hope in the bad neighborhoods of Mexico City; a compassionate friend to the people in Kensington, Philadelphia. Bring us the kingdom that you taught and lived and proclaimed, risen Lord!”
Thank you to all who contributed. It is good to do good!
I received this nice note from Jamie Nouri on Sunday afternoon, and I will pass on the praise to our entire staff and worship team:
“I know you must spend a lot of time organizing the services for taping, and I think you’re doing a terrific job. This Youth Service was really special, the kids were great (though someone should tell Jaden not to do the filming outside the wind was very distracting) and Sam is an excellent reader – wonderful tone of voice, and he still looks like Art Garfunkel, which makes me smile. James Miller’s message was touching and relateable – I hope the young people were watching and listening this morning = even an oldie like me thought it spot on in message. and Kenny & Emily’s duet at the end had me in tears – they sing together so very beautifully. I miss our church gatherings very much.Thank you for keeping the spirit of St. Peter’s alive and well and continually growing in spirit and possibility.
see you on Wed. Jamie”
Please don’t forget the food drive tomorrow between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Be blessed and be safe!
Pastor Andreas Wagner