The Joshua House in Haiti! Why Haiti? Why serving an orphanage?
– by Craig Schweiger
In the summer of 1977, two young ladies from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Alice Wise and Kathy Gouker, went on a “short term mission trip” to serve at the EBAC Orphanage in Cap Haitien, Haiti. Their short term mission trip turned into a life mission and they are still raising orphans in a loving Christ centered way at EBAC.
Fast forward to today and many of those orphans are now in their 40s and like any strong believer, they felt called to “give back”. This group of now adults that were raised, educated and shown the love of Jesus by Alice and Kathy at EBAC is referred to as the “Haitian Team”. The staggering number of orphans and the Haitian Team’s desire to give back by helping these children fueled their passion to build a new orphanage. The vision of the Haitian Team, the IDADEE Orphanage opened its doors to orphans in 2011 and now takes care of about thirty 4 and 5 year old orphans. The IDADEE Orphanage, with its spectacular view of the mountains, sits on a large piece of property overlooking the bay where Christopher Columbus landed on the island and the Citadel.
For many years, Brad Henderson with the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation has been doing a tremendous amount of work at EBAC, IDADEE and in the Cap Haitian community. The Joshua Foundation was blessed to be invited by Brad to join in his efforts to help Alice and Kathy at EBAC and the Haitian Team at IDADEE. The first project the Foundation assisted in was the building of the Billings Chapel on the property at IDADEE. The Foundation partnered with Brad and Beth Henderson and their Pittsburgh Kids Foundation (PKF) to help raise the final funds needed to build the chapel which is currently used as a church and as a center for children and community events. The incredible thing about the Billings Chapel is that when it opened in 2012, the very first service welcomed over 500 people from the community to hear the Gospel!
So, even though IDADEE was in place caring for the orphans and the chapel was open and serving the community, the dream of the Haitian Team was not complete. During the years they were growing up at EBAC, The Haitian Team saw missionaries travel to Cap Haitian to stay and serve at EBAC and they knew that their next vision should be to build a place to host mission teams on the property at IDADEE. The Board of Directors of the Joshua Foundation prayerfully considered an invitation to back the Haitian Team in its dream to build a missionary lodge then joyfully and overwhelmingly decide to move forward with a commitment to invest in the building of the Joshua House Missionary Lodge. In Haiti, where unemployment rates exceed 80% it also made sense to have engineering, architecture, design and construction all handled by Haitians and supervised by the Haitian Team. The Joshua House opened its doors in July 2013. The Joshua House is a place for Christian believers to stay in Haiti to continue the work started so many years ago – to feed, teach, love and care for orphans in EBAC and IDADEE as well as the countless other poor in the Cap Haitian communities surrounding these orphanages.
All of these efforts have been bolstered by a partnership with five other organizations that have a laser focus on the orphanages and the communities that surround them for Christ centered ministry for the area and a plan of promoting empowerment to this indigenous Christ centered team of leaders, the Haitian Team. That is the key to sustainability! The Haitian Team who were once orphans from EBAC have distinct abilities and the trust of the community to make a significant impact ultimately in the country for good through Jesus Christ.
It is imperative that we think very creatively about providing assistance that is not just a handout but for the purpose of building disciples in this land. EBAC, IDADEE and their communities need Christians motivated by their love for God and humanity mobilized to be engaged in multi-dimensional services to HIM by serving others spiritually, mentally, and physically….not simply for the well-being of others but an act of true evangelism based on love so that souls are saved and disciples are made.
We hope you will stay at The Joshua House Missionary Lodge at IDADEE. Come see where the Haitians themselves built the building and planted corn, beans; mango trees and plantain trees. Come see and learn about the Moringa Trees whose leave have enough nutritional value to sustain a person for a day. Come see Haitians teaching in the school house and caring for the kids. Learn about some of the commerce opportunities like their recycling project with Thread. We invite you to visit, see, serve and love!