Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Having lived in Haiti for twenty-seven years, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen the damage caused by several tropical storms; I’ve seen the destruction caused by coup d’états and numerous manifestations, and I’ve seen the incomprehensible damage caused by the 2010 earthquake, that ravaged much of Port au Prince and nearby cities. Some estimate that up to 250 thousand lost their lives, perhaps just as many were injured, tens of thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed or damaged, and thousands upon thousands were left homeless. It was unimaginable.

And then on October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais in southwestern Haiti, as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130–156 mph. This seemingly demonic force uprooted untold thousands of fruit trees, damaged many more and wiped off the face of the earth tens of thousands of gardens belonging to people that depended on them for food and for income from selling their produce in local outdoor markets. Goats, cows, pigs, horses, donkeys, chickens and turkeys were swept to their deaths. And some houses and buildings were simply smashed to pieces as if made of toothpicks. Other sustained damage by falling trees and having roofs blown off. Vehicles and houses were washed away by flooded rivers and perhaps up to one thousand people lost their lives.

To get a more in depth view of the carnage caused by Matthew, click here and here

This week I, with a team of people, traveled to the mountains above Port Salut, on Haiti’s southern peninsula, to bring 100 water filters, bread from our bakery, tarps and water treatment tablets to those impacted by the hurricane.  I’ve been on the road to Port Salut several times, but struggled to absorb what I was seeing: Destroyed and damaged homes, telephone poles down and hundreds and hundreds of tree damaged and down.




Once we made the turn to go up the mountain to the village of Nan Campêche, it was as if we were entering another dimension.  Those in the truck got very quiet as what we were seeing drifted from the surreal to something that really did happen. We entered a land where in one day the lush gardens, the trees brimming with fruit, and the small houses typical in the mountains had been damaged, destroyed, blown away, uprooted, slammed to the debris ridden-churned up land, and where animals and people had lost there lives. It had been clear that a powerful, bent on destruction, force had preceded us there. The evidence was all around us. 

In this place and thousands of villages like it,  people depend on their gardens, fruit trees and animals to survive. They eat from the gardens and trees, raise the animals for meat and then sell the excess in outdoor markets to buy staples like rice, beans, cooking oil, fish, spaghetti… and to pay for school for their children, health care,  clothes and life’s necessities. Where now will they find food to eat? Where now will they find money to buy the necessities? Where now will they find the money needed to rebuild, to replant? How many years will it take to again have mature shade and fruit bearing trees? Where will the money come from to buy more animals? Where will people live?  Many live in remote, extremely difficult to get to places. Will help reach them? Will they be remembered or is this, for them, the new normal?


Hurricane altered road to the mountain village of Nan Campêche: It was rocky, wet and slippery due to rain, and in some places we had to inch forward as we drove over and around large rocks and holes in the road, and at times we were only a couple of feet from the edge of the road and a several hundred foot drop


Some type of structure once stood here, but now it’s completely gone. The houses built out of cement certainly fared better



A church once stood here


Heartline didn’t travel to Nan Campêche alone. Kelly Crowdis of Christian Veterinary Mission coordinated the trip through young adults that she works with in the area and missionary Ernie Rice provided 100 water filters donated by the Texas Baptists Men’s Disaster Relief.  We brought with us 100 water filters, 1400 pieces of bread from the Heartline/Beltis bakey, tarps and water treatment tablets. It was in some respects a trip to access the needs of the people and to see if we can help.


A crowd met us upon our arrival. As word spread the crowd easily tripled in size


We made sure that this beautiful lady received a water filter and a bag of bread


The people were thrilled to receive the bread that we brought

It’s the remote locations of many of those that have suffered such loss, that hinders aid from reaching them. Even among the Heartline workers there are at least 30 whose families have suffered loss and who need emergency and more permanent help such as helping to rebuild homes, purchasing animals and seeds for their gardens.  


The destroyed family home of three brothers that work for Heartline

Heartline can’t help everyone, but we can help some as we collaborate with others that are working to help.  It was Mother Teresa that said,

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

By clicking here you can donate and help Heartline help those that have suffered such horrible loss. The math is simple, the more that is given, the more we can help. You and your help matters.

Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  16 In the same way, let your light shine before others,  that they may see your good deedsand glorifyyour Father in heaven.

Endeavoring to be the Hands of Jesus,

John McHoul


Posted: October 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

In Port-au-Prince the rain was heavy and some rivers overflowed.  We ate soup with Heartline friends, John checked on the animals at the OKAY, and we prayed through the night as we listened to the wind and rain.  Port-au-Prince was protected by surrounding mountains, not so the countryside in the south.

eq-blog-1The currency of rural Haiti is gardens, fruit trees and animals.  Folks live day to day and depend on the mercy of their gardens to survive.  One bad thing can push them over the edge.  Sickness, a funeral or an animal dying can mean ruin.  Life is fragile enough without earthquakes or hurricanes.  When Matthew blew through, it uprooted or broke off trees, wiped out gardens, killed cows, goats and pigs and left people staring at the sky when it took their roof in a blast of wind.  Gone.  Many died and those who are left have to look out for cholera or they will die too.  Life is full of peril in rural Haiti, all are at risk.

eq-blog-2I went down south yesterday with some of my fellow Heartline folks.  We loaded up the truck with supplies and headed out at 4 A.M.  I took a thousand photos or more but only two need tell the story.  Flattened fields and houses without a roof.  Like a broken reel of film showing the same scene over and over I saw countless downed trees and houses gaping open, bare to the sun and rain.  Over and over and over and over.


Where Once There Stood Trees

Trees are wealth, living long lives nourishing the generations with their fruit and shade.  Gardens keep families fed and give them something to sell at market.  Mangoes, avocados and bananas turn into money for children’s school or medicine or cement to build a house.  It’s hard to comprehend what losing all this means for a rural Haitian community  Hurricane Matthew has thrown them off a cliff.  Trees take time, starving people don’t have any.  Gardens are lost.  People are hungry. 

Matthew’s destruction made some areas unreachable.  Many are not getting the aid that is trying to reach them.  Heartline is reaching some.  We are helping families of our employees that have had huge losses.  We are also teaming up with other missions on the ground with emergency supplies.  Kelly Crowdis, our close friend who is a veterinarian, is making trips down south and helping people and animals.  No one knows like Kelly that when you save an animal you help a family.  She is heroic. 


He is 94 and she is 96. Their gardens are completely gone as well as most of their fruit and shade trees. Their home has been damaged, but they’re alive. Victims perhaps; survivors for sure. The look of dignity on his face says so much: ‘We will get through this; we will not give up. We are survivors.’

The needs are gigantic and long term.  The loss is catastrophic and more will be lost if they can’t be reached with aid.  Heartline will continue to be part of the relief effort.  Times like this are two fold, rescue and development.  First, aid and medical help is given so people stay alive then development starts when we give longer term help as in agriculture and education.  Normally Heartline is helping long term by strengthening families but when disaster strikes relief is needed.  Please consider helping Heartline with relief and then helping Heartline with development.  Haiti needs a future and a hope!  Haiti needs your help!

Click  here to help Heartline help people impacted by Hurricane Matthew

Beth McHoul

For a more in-depth understanding of the damaged caused by Hurricane Matthew please click here to read a powerful article that came out today in The Daily Beast. 

This blog has been written by our son Sam and, I believe, worth sharing and worth    reading.

butler mcpherson

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Time is of premier interest to me.  I do not mean to say that I am not a time waster and I have not made myself a disciple of Rudyard Kipling who said, “Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.”  It might have become clear with these blogs that I am against obsession of any kind.

It is how time moves and how we interact with it that interests me.  Time seems to move like a two way conveyor belt; it slowly moves towards you and slowly moves away but it never stops.  I think about things that we once valued and now have forgotten.  Think about styles or songs or movies that were the most popular in their day and now have faded away.  Authors who were the most important of…

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Posted: June 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

On the morning that 50 souls died in Orlando another man went into eternity in a hospital in rural Haiti.  His second wife, Rosena, works for Heartline at the maternity center.  She lives a quiet life under the radar, ever worried that she might do something to lose her job.  She lives week to week and month to month and needs her salary to survive.  She cares for her husband’s children, her own children and some extended relatives. 

haiti_building300Her first husband was a police officer and he died when the police station collapsed to the ground in the earthquake.  His body wasn’t located for a month.  She later married a man who had also lost his first spouse.  Together they made a family.  Then he got sick.  He went from being a large man to a skeleton, he went from eating a lot to eating nothing.  He couldn’t keep anything down.  He checked into General Hospital but they went on strike -the hospital closed down.  He went to the new hospital run by Partners in Health.  He didn’t like their diagnosis so he moved on.  He tried voodoo.  He tried another hospital.  Then, on Sunday, he died.

Rosena is from a country family and they sent her to school a year or two when they could, but she says she couldn’t learn well and did not stick with it. Unfortunately Rosena never learned to read or write.  The microwave is a mystery to her and because she was not afforded everything all of us reading this have had, she cannot tell the difference between 3 minutes and 3 hours when she heats up food for a postpartum Momma.  Oh the simple chores that are denied a person who never had a chance for an education.  Most illiterate folks I know have incredible memories committing lists in their heads because a pencil or a phone would do them no good. 

School is an incredible gift – a gift Rosena missed out on. 

Life is so unfair.

While we were celebrating Troy’s birthday Rosena started her mourning.  She just got the news that her husband had died.  Through tears she asked Tara and I for rent money.  Confused, Tara asked why she needed rent money rather than funeral money.  The needs are one in the same.  She can pay rent or put the money towards a funeral which culturally is more important.  She cannot do both.  Do you pay for the living or the dead?  Here in Haiti the dead usually win hands down.  You get first priority and dibs at the cash once you die.

This dear, soft spoken, timid lady lives on the edge.  If she falls off, lots of people fall with her.  She quietly does the post-birth laundry, the dishes for all the ladies in the program, mops the floor and goes home to take care of children.  Life has never been easy for Rosena. 

Rosena cares for a lot of people who depend on her.

She is a key person at our maternity center and we appreciate her.  I think she’s too timid to believe us – or maybe it feels too risky to believe that we really truly care about her – it could just be another thing in her life she might lose.

Heartline employs lots of people like Rosena.  Precious people trying to keep a job and keep their family afloat, keep the kids fed.  If kids can go to school it’s like hitting the lottery.  They know education is invaluable.

Now Rosena has to do it alone so the kids who live in her house can have what she never got.  A book, a pencil and a classroom to sit in.

When you support Heartline Ministries and choose to send a donation each month, you support a lot of folks like Rosena. 

Please “Join the Family” by supporting us at $25 per month and help us continue to employ wonderful women like Rosena.

Beth McHoul

Join the Family

I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36

Their scrubs/jumpsuits are red or blue labeling them according to the crimes they were suspected of. Red states that the wearer is a violent offender, a murderer or a kidnapper. The blue wearers are the fighters, the thieves, common crimes in any culture. They all just looked like women to me. Doing hair, sitting in the cell staring, hands up for the bread and butter we passed through the bars.

Bread and Butter

Putting butter on the 400 pieces of bread to be given to the ladies in the prison

I have long wanted to visit the women’s prison here in Haiti. The Beltis Bakery opened that door for us. Everyone loves bread, and the overburdened prison system welcomes Heartline folks each week, bearing hundreds of pieces of bread. The Bread of Life comes too. No, wait, He was already there waiting for us to make His presence known.

We passed through the thin corridor of cells littered with water jugs and the stuff of life for the barely living. So much stuff. Makeshift clothes lines with clothes, bras, undies hanging across the crowded space. Thin mats lined the floor without room to walk. 9-10-11 women in a cell created for two. I kept focusing on counting bread and handing it through the bars while fighting a sense of claustrophobia. So many ladies in such a small space. I expected the atmosphere to be hostile, the prisoners angry but it seemed to me like most were resigned and bored. My mind went to the heat of summer and how unbearable this place must be. Panic and suffocation would surely be a constant companion.

I would like to sit with each woman and hear her story. What were the events that brought them here to this miserable place? Did a desperate event bring them here? An injustice? A lifetime of bad choices where right choices were never an option? A fight? A jealousy? A wrong place at the wrong time? Or a lifetime of prison both in and out of jail. Stories need to be heard. The hands that reach through the bars for bread are hurting, lonely, and not heard. This corridor of cells was so loud but is anyone being heard? Days could be filled just holding those hands that grasped the bars and respectfully listening. Would some ladies lie? For sure. But truth always shines forth when love and acceptance are there. When hands are held in a quest for listening.

I sat with an 8 month along pregnant girl and her small belly. She worked as a domestic and was accused of stealing money and thus landed here. The inspector told me pregnant women keep their babies with them for 6 months for breastfeeding once they are born. Born into prison, surrounded by bars and sadness. I’m thankful for the bliss of mother’s milk and the closeness with mom that gives not a care where they are.

The Heartline team is allowed to have a meeting with 20 women a week for a month. Then next month a different group of 20 will break the boredom and join in on a service. Red and blue sat on folding chairs, singing with us and praying with us. One blue gal wiped her face as tears flowed, my heart ached for her. Our team, led by Moise and Vanessa is so respectful and kind. The music was loud with clapping and waving. For a few minutes we were transported from a corner meeting room in a prison to a worship service. For a few minutes we were all free.

I asked how many were mothers. Several raised their hands and we talked about kids with aunties and grandmas. We talked about the love of Jesus and how He is there in their overcrowded cells. The justice system, like everything else in Haiti, is broken and many aren’t getting due process. But we can bring the Savior into the cell, into the misery, into the resignation. He is so very willing to go to prison and He asks His followers to show up there too. Bread is real and fills the belly, hope is real and fills the soul. I saw Jesus in prison yesterday. He’s called the Bread of Life.

Beth McHoul

Heartline is working to Strengthen Families through job training and job creation. Click here to see how a gift of $25.00 a month can have a powerful impact on lives here in Haiti. Together we can make a difference!



Posted: May 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

Living in Haiti has given me opportunities to walk shoulder to shoulder with people that I would consider heroes. I’ve seen their lives and heard their words and watched when they found themselves in places that seem more nightmarish than reality. I’ve seen Haitians, especially due to the 2010 earthquake, suffer unimaginable tragedy but refuse to give up or give in to what had happened to them.

These heroes are  just ordinary folks.  They aren’t superstars but rather folks that daily make decisions to do the right thing, even when it could be the hardest thing.

There is a Haitian lady that I have known for about 10 years, who for some undiagnosed reason has not been able to walk since 2002.  Life in Haiti, especially for the poor, often has more questions than answers. It isn’t unusual for me to hear of someone I know or know of that has died, and when I ask the reason for the death, I am told something like,”The person had a bellyache or headache, went to the hospital and died.”

When I asked this lady why she can’t walk, she told me that she started having cramps and then after a few months couldn’t walk. And that is that, except for this lady it isn’t. She says that she was born in 1955 and that she’s 69 year old. So she really isn’t sure which is not unusual here in Haiti.  She lives with her daughter who is in her 30s and that, of course, is a story in itself.

This lady, although not able to walk, is quite active and productive.  She has a garden where she grows vegetables.  She does this by scooting along on the ground, tilling the soil with a machete and planting and watering the seeds, all by getting around by dragging herself along by her hands.

ropes2 Recently we had a group with us comprised of college instructors and students. We had this lady teach the group how to take apart flour sacks strand by strand and then make ropes from the strands. She does all this while sitting on the ground.  She will spends hours a day doing this and then she sells the 10 foot or so rope for about 50 cents USD.

We have a heart for her and others that against great odds don’t give up.  She isn’t interested in living off of charity. She wants to work and be productive.  It may be what keeps her alive.

We can help her best by placing orders for ropes and by buying the produce from her garden and the peanut butter she makes.  Experience has taught us that long-term handouts don’t work and if anything makes for more dependence.

We are committed to strengthening families by helping with education, by providing jobs and job training, by purchasing from those like the rope making lady, by teaching biblical principles by which to live and by showing the love of Jesus in word and in deed.

Help us help others. Help us by strengthening families. Help us provide jobs so people can  be independent.  Self sufficiency leads to a better community.  A family where mother, father, and children live together help make a culture strong.   Help from Heartline can be a springboard for a family to be successful. When parents keep their children and can provide for them the country will start to take a different shape.  So in that sense, when you give monthly to help Heartline strengthen families, you help make Haiti a stronger, better country.  What difference can $25 a month make?  All the difference in the world.  Let’s change Haiti for the better, together! Click here to help Heartline Strengthen Families!

As our rope making friend knows “A cord of three strands is not easily broken”.  Families, Heartline and You!

John McHoul





Posted: April 25, 2016 in Uncategorized
How terrible it will be for anyone who argues with their Maker! They are like a broken piece of pottery lying on the ground. Does clay say to a potter, “What are you making?” Does a pot say, “The potter doesn’t have any skill”? Isaiah 45:9
flour2Imagine being in a market, specifically in the isle where the flour is displayed and while looking over the selections, you hear this coming from one of the bags of flour. ‘This is what I am, take it or leave it, like it or not. I am what I am, and I’m not changing to please you.’
Probably the most difficult part of change is first seeing the need to change. This must be the work of God, who illuminates our lives through his word and allows us to see that which before hand we were blind to.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12
Simply put, we won’t desire change until we see the need to change. Sounds simple and perhaps it can be, but usually it isn’t.
Helping the mouthy bag of flour see what it could be by showing it delicious items made with flour (cake, desserts, bread, pizza…) you’d think would prompt change.  But it usually doesn’t.
Change usually comes about through struggles and trials.
Dear brothers and sisters,  when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
Once we understand that it is God that desires change in us, and that he is the potter and we are the clay, we then are able by his grace to face whatever God allows into our lives to effect change. It’s a whole lot easier when we see the big picture: God is the Potter and we are the clay.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23,24

John McHoul


Posted: April 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

Untie Your Rope and Run Free

March 9th usually comes and goes around here with lots of arguments. It’s John’s birthday. Every year I buy things he won’t wear or won’t use. Birkenstock sandals sit on the bottom of his closet still in the box. Yankee’s tee shirts, Sriracha sauce tee shirts, Boston tee shirts; all hang in the closet unworn. He doesn’t even like cake. He’s a birthday Grinch but I can’t let it go. It’s not in me, so the fight continues.

Then came Yolanda! This year I had a stroke of genius! You might have noticed that the OK (Heartline property) is filling up with animals as well as people. Students have to walk around ducklings, run from a nasty turkey, avoid sheep droppings, and put up with wandering goats as they come and go from school. The city boy has turned farmer in his old age!

I called Kelly, the world’s most fascinating veterinarian, and asked if she could find John a donkey for his birthday. Within an hour she had a just weaned female donkey and was bringing her home. On the big day Kelly arrived with Yolanda sporting a giant birthday bow! Yolanda became the gift of all birthday gifts and John loves her.

FullSizeRender(4) Every day I get the Yolanda report. She brays when she sees his truck. She nuzzles up to him, she shows affection. She gives him the cold shoulder for whatever it was that hurt her donkey feelings. This beast of burden carries none. She’s all joy and spends her days eating grass and mangoes. She turns down carrot peels and whatever else doesn’t suit her fancy.

Maxeau, the animal guy around the OK, tied Yolanda up when she arrived allowing her several feet to move and graze. He would periodically move her around. John put up with this for several weeks but then on Saturday he decided to cut her loose and see what would happen. As soon as she realized she was free, Yolanda ran in circles, ran up and down the length of the property using atrophied muscles, she kicked up her heels and sprinted free. The beast of burden was doing what she was born to do. Freedom! She exhausted herself with the joy of chase and ran and ran and ran.  Had she never run before? Once free she did what we all do when set free – run for joy!

What are the ropes that bind us? What strangles us and keeps us from going only so far? What holds us back? Are we tied to a tree with fear, lack of faith, lack of confidence, lack of knowing who we are? Don’t we know that Jesus untied the rope and set us free to run? Are our muscles atrophied from lack of use?

God spoke through a donkey once, maybe he’s doing it again. Cut your rope and let your faith run wild. Who knows where you might go!

Beth McHoul


Posted: March 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

One of life’s biggest challenges, especially if you are in leadership or involved in helping others is being able to see what someone or something can be and not just what he or it is at that moment.

The other day, I took a break from the office and took a little stroll on the Heartline property where we have a number of animals: goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and a newly added birthday gift for me, a donkey. I was sitting watching some of the animals when I saw something that in my 27 years in Haiti, I had never seen before, at least in the same way I was seeing it then.

Looking at it excited me as I began to realize the potential it had, if put together with a few other things that I was seeing for the fist time, at least like I was seeing them then.

I want you to see what I saw.  Here it is:


It’s a washbasin and in Haiti it has a lot of uses. including being used for bathing, washing clothes, putting produce or other items in it that are for sale.  Often vendors carry it filled with their products on their heads and walk the streets selling their wares; and they also place them on tables for passersby to see and hopefully purchase what they are selling. Honestly, I see washbasins everyday and have probably purchased a couple dozen throughout the years.  But this time I saw it with new eyes or new understanding.  I saw its potential.

Then I saw something else that excited me.  Ready?

Yes these are pieces of wood and screws.  But now I was seeing more than that.  I was seeing what these pieces could become and not just what they were at that time. Get ready to be excited.

Next I saw in the yard…


A table made out of pieces of wood and screws.  Now, in the three mile ride from the Heartline property to my house, I can see perhaps 200 similar tables.  But this was the first time that I saw the potential of the several pieces of wood, that this table once was, and when I looked at the table my excitement increased.

Then I took the washbasin and put it on the table.



And then I got some bread from our bakery and put it in the washbasin

Bread in kevet

And then…


I went outside the gate and there on the side of the street was a former Heartline discipleship student that was selling  bread out of a washbasin that was on a table.

I no longer saw just a table and washbasin. I saw hope, I saw a reason to get up in the morning, I saw food on the table, I saw kids being sent to school. I saw a man that could care for his family.  I saw a man that didn’t have to beg or steal. I saw what a few pieces of wood, a washbasin and a table could become.

Our theme for the  year 2016 is Strengthening Families and one of the most effective ways to do that is to help men and women provide for themselves and for their families.  I encourage you wherever you are, to see not only what is, but to see what can be with persistence, patience and God’s help.

We have made 10 tables and with 10 washbasins and with a credit for 140 pieces of bread for each vendor, we are seeing what can be as we endeavor to strengthen families.


Lets not see just what is, but lets see WHAT CAN BE!

John McHoul




Posted: March 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

Restavek is a form of modern-day slavery that persists in Haiti, affecting one in every 15 children. Typically born into poor rural families, restavek children are often given to relatives or strangers. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay.

On January 28th Sheila Lynch wrote about a 12 year old restavek, named Alexandra, who is in our literacy program (Click here to read that blog). I, in this blog, want to update you on Alexandra and on the changes we are seeing in her life.

This 12 year old girl came to the Heartline literacy program and said, “I want to learn to read and write.” She also said that she wants to be a nurse. Well,  let me tell you that she said this to the right people, because we are encouraging her, the older women are showing their love and concern to her and the results can be seen.  She no longer walks head down, not making eye contact. She now walks with her head up and with a beautiful, toothy smile on her face.  She laughs easily and comes to the office regularly to visit where one of the office workers sits with her, loves on her and tells her about Jesus and his love for her.


Alexandra with her stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and carrying bag. We aren’t showing her face as she is only 12 years old and feel it wouldn’t be appropriate.

Last week we had a group here from New Hampshire and they brought Alexandra a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff  and a personalized bag to carry them in. No one here  is going to say, “Alexandra, don’t be silly, you will never become a nurse” or “No way, won’t happen.” No, never, never!

Perhaps this is the first time she’s found adults that don’t treat her like a servant. We are giving her something to hold onto, to strengthen her, to encourage her. She can hold onto the love and patience shown by the literacy teacher. She can hold onto the acceptance and respect that she is given whenever she comes to Heartline. She can hold onto the affirmation and encouragement she receives. She can hold onto her dream because people are believing in her.  And, she can hold onto God, as his love and word are shared with her.

Will Alexandra become a nurse? I don’t know. I’m shooting for a doctor and my name for her is now ‘Doc.’ I do know this, that God in his wisdom has allowed her to become a part of our lives and we recognize the honor and privilege that God has bestowed on us by being a part of her life.

As I see people enter onto the Heartline property, often, I feel a surge of deep thankfulness to God that we can be a place for them where they can experience the love of God in word and in action.

Your prayers for Alexandra are very much appreciated. Against strong odds she is learning to read, write and dream.

My prayer is: Father, help us to be quick to recognize those that you bring to us that are in need of healing words, acceptance, extra attention and, of course,  your love and grace. Help us to recognize our own weaknesses and failures and to reach across and not down to those that you bring to us.  Help us, as well, to share about your great love shown to us by Jesus Christ.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. Matthew 19: 14,15

Want to help us help others like Alexandra? Click here to donate. Thank you for helping us make a difference here in Haiti!

John McHoul


Finding Esther

Posted: February 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

This blog, minus the photo, was posted in 2012. Esther is now here in Haiti with a group from New Hampshire and so we thought it would be a good time to repost this blog.   The impact that she had on Beth some 44 years ago continues to bear fruit.

Face Book is a way to shamelessly promote our programs and almost daily I post pictures of adorable babies, ladies in labor and breast feeding.  Grandchildren and puppies also make appearances in all their cuteness.


L-Esther R-Beth

Last week an unfamiliar name and a vaguely familiar face “friended” me and it took me a minute to recognize that beautiful face.   Tears flooded immediately – Esther!  My maid of honor from 37 years ago.   Esther was one of three women who mentored me as a new Christian.  She went the extra mile, no, many extra miles in forming my new found Christianity.  Esther would drive two towns away to pick me up for church and then return me home and act like she enjoyed it.  I was a young and silly teenager – it never occurred to me that this woman worked all day and was probably really tired.  She never acted like she was.

Then I landed in the hospital for six months after back surgery for scoliosis.  It was a hospital for crippled children and I attended school from my bed so visitors weren’t allowed all week.  Except for clergy and  Esther was a youth pastor.  Faithfully she visited me during the week when no one else could and she sweetly forced me to memorize scripture that I still know today.  Scripture that formed my new Christian identity.  Scripture that became my mindset.

Altar call was the norm at our church after the sermon.  I ran to the altar many, many times pouring out a confused, new believer soul.   It was a beautiful ritual, old time Pentecost and I miss it still.  The front of the church would be lined with hunched over backs, weeping in repentance or praising in thanks.  Esther would slip behind me and pray with me.   I could count on her.  She would often pray “God give me a tender heart”.  I barely knew what that meant but I prayed it too and God answered.  I have one.  I cry at the drop of a hat.  It’s embarrassing and I can’t control it – I lack many gifts, but I do have the gift of a tender heart and God gave it to me through the example of Esther.

I was telling John about reconnecting with Esther and he said “Did you tell her you are here because of her?”  Even he knew the impact Esther made on me and the Christian I have become because of her example.  I was a young sponge and drank in what Esther had to offer and it has borne fruit.  Who I am today is because of the examples I had many years ago.   Women that took time to mold me and invest in me.

Years later when our daughter Morgan was born she needed a regal middle name to go with her unisex first name.  John named Morgan and she is so like her dad.  I chose Esther for the middle.  Queen Esther after my darling friend who I hadn’t seen in years but stayed in my heart.  Queen Esther who found herself in terrible circumstances and rose to the occasion.   Who wouldn’t want their daughter named after a queen and after a beautiful, tender youth pastor who impacted the life of a lost teenager.

The famous quote from the book of Esther reads “for such a time as this”.  Esther had me in her sphere of influence for but a moment of my life at time when I was teachable, new and vulnerable.  She impacted my life when I didn’t even know what was happening.  I just followed her loving example of a Christian who gave to the youth around her and took an interest and went the second mile.

We lost touch.  Many years and complicated lives have separated us.  We’ve rejoiced at meeting again.  But Esther’s influence was here all the time helping to make the foundation of who I am as a Christian.

Some of us are fortunate enough to have mentors that mold us and shape us in ways that make us able to impact those around us later.  It was a window of time when I was clay to be molded and Esther stepped in for that moment.  Such a time as this.

Beth McHoul


Posted: February 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

This blog was published in the February 2016 issue of the Heartline e Letter. Click here to sign up to receive the next e letter

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

Helping is easy, except when it isn’t, and often it isn’t. Helping is easy from a distance, but not so easy close up.

We just left a meeting with two guys from the slum, Cite Soleil. They’ve come to us several times, asking if we could start a literacy class for people in their area, except it can’t be in their area, and it can’t be in Cite Soleil. It can’t be in their zone in Cite Soleil because it isn’t safe and because people from other zones can’t just freely go into a different zone.

Heartline Literacy ClassThey came to tell us that they have found a place, outside of Cite Soleil, but close enough so the people can walk to it and not have to spend money on transportation. But they have no money for the rent. This class would be to teach adults, to read and write. Imagine not being able to read a book or write a few lines or even sign your name. Imagine going through life placing an ‘X’ as your signature because you can’t write your name.

The needs here seem never ending: Housing, School, Medical, Work, Food…Heartline has been here for 26 years, not just walking alongside those in need, but fighting for them.

I believe that if we love God, then it should matter if people can read or write. It should matter if people live in abject poverty. It should matter if people can’t get quality heath care. It should matter if people can’t find work and provide for their families. It should matter if people go hungry and not by choice. It should matter that kids can’t go to school. It should matter that people don’t know Jesus.

Heartline is here because we love God, and are fighting to make a difference in the lives of people that God loves, and for whom Christ gave His life.

Your prayers, your support, your encouragement, your giving helps us help others.

Thank you for caring! Thank you for making a difference!

John McHoul





Posted: February 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

photo(52)This week, at Heartline, we hosted some of our sponsored students for a field day. The kids sang, listened to Bible stories, drew pictures for their sponsors, played games, toured the Heartline facility, jumped on the trampoline, played on the swing set and, of course, kicked the soccer ball around.  Oh, and they ate, ate and ate some more.

These students are in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade. They’re young, three to six years old. Watching them throughout the day, I was thankful to God for the opportunity of helping send them to school.  It is safe to say that most of them wouldn’t be in school if they weren’t sponsored.  I am thankful for the privilege that we have to invest in their lives, in the lives of these kids that will still be here after I’m gone.

I’m sixty-two years old. Most of my life here on earth has already been lived. It is likely that I  won’t see many of these students through high school or college.  Such thoughts don’t discourage me, but rather they spur me on to invest in lives that will still be here after I’m gone.  It gives a resolve to speak into the lives of others who will, I pray, then show the love of Christ to others, who will continue the thread.

I became a Christian at the age of eighteen. I spent a year in a drug rehab program and then returned home to the Boston area. There, I attended a church where the people were very  different than me. They were church people, I wasn’t.  I dressed differently, had wild messy hair (still do), and eventually I started to  bring people to this church that were different as well. They would come high on drugs, some having not bathed for days (yup that’s still me), their clothes would be tattered and torn and, of course,some would put their bare dirty feet up on the back of the pews in front of them.  The pastor and wife, the youth pastor and wife and the people of that church were largely amazingly patient and accepting of me and the others who weren’t like them, but who needed God.

Many of those church folks are gone now, having died; but I am still here. Beth is still here. Others that were loved by the people of that church are still here. I can’t really understand the challenges that we may have been for many of them, yet their love for Christ outweighed those challenges and so did their love for us. These folk left behind an example and legacy that is being propagated through those of us still here.

I think of the words of C.T. Studd

Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.

Am I passing on the example, the message, the legacy that was shown to me?  Am I investing in the lives of others, that they may have the opportunity to know our God, and then tell others?  Am I using resources that I have to help others be equipped for life? Am I investing in things eternal?

I read of a reporter that, in India, came to a leper colony, where he found a catholic nun, caring for the lepers.  He said to her, “I wouldn’t do what you’re doing for all the money in the world.” And she replied, “Neither would I.”

I encourage you to take some time, some quiet time and ask yourself “What will be left behind after you’re gone?” What are you doing for others? What are you doing for Christ?


John McHoul





nap_dv21094When making decisions, we’ll generally try to arrive at answers or solutions that are to our advantage. In the decision making process, we’ll probably have several questions, such as: Is this good for me? How does it help me? Is this a step forward? Is this a step up? Will I make more money? Will this make my life easier? What will others think? Does it make sense?

The issue though, for the believer, is that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, (Isaiah 55:8) and so what, in our minds, seems like a good idea or a good decision may not be what God wants.

In Joshua chapter 9, we read that the Gibeonites came to Israel, lied to the leaders and asked for a treaty because they were afraid that Israel would conquer them in battle. It seemed that the Gibeonites were being truthful and so Joshua made a treaty with them. It seemed like the right thing to do. It made sense. But we read in Joshua 9:14 that Israel did not consult God (ask His direction, seek His counsel, inquire of Him) to see if it was the right decision. If they had asked God, He could have told them that the Gibeonites were lying, were being deceptive, but it seemed like a good idea, so God wasn’t asked.

Am I suggesting that what may be a good idea isn’t what God may have in mind?  No, not at all, but I am saying that He should be consulted first to find out if it’s a God idea.

Have you ever found yourself on cruise-control and not even known it? Days turn into weeks and week into months and you haven’t really sought God with all of your heart and looked to Him for His will for your life.  Perhaps major decisions have been made without consulting God, because they just seemed like something God would want. Maybe but maybe not.

Perhaps a challenge or an opportunity presented itself that would move you way out of your comfort zone. And you fluffed it off as too far out there, or something you could never do, and something that God certainly would never ask of you.  Let me just ask, “Did you consult with Him before making your decision?”

If you haven’t already, put to memory in your heart and mind Proverbs 3:5,6, and make it your default mode in all of your ways.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5,6

John McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti

Restavek is a form of modern-day slavery that persists in Haiti, affecting one in every 15 children. Typically born into poor rural families, restavek children are often given to relatives or strangers. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay.



Alexandra is twelve, she is a restavek. She gets up at 6:00 AM each morning to cook, clean, wash dishes, do laundry by hand, and do chores for the family that she lives with. They’re her extended family, but she doesn’t know how they’re related, “They’re just cousins,” she says. Her mother died, but she isn’t sure when and of what. Her father lives out in the village; he has a few animals and a parcel of land that he farms with her two brothers. She has a sister somewhere in Port au Prince who she says does the same work that she does but for another family. She thinks that it has been about a year since she left her father and brothers, although she isn’t really sure. She doesn’t think that she’ll ever see them or her sister again. She isn’t all that animated when talking about her family, it’s more like, ‘Here I am, and this is my life.’

Alexandra has found her way to the literacy class at the Heartline Women’s Education Center. When asked how she heard about the class or who brought her, she says, “A lady told me about the program and brought me, but I don’t remember her name.” The other students are adult women, twelve-year old Alexandra certainly sticks out. Still she comes each day.

When asked what she would like to be when she grows up she says that she would like to be a nurse. This twelve-year old girl, who has never been to school, and who is a restavek wants to be a nurse.

Is it possible? Can this happen? Can she become a nurse? She will need help, she will need advocates, she will need those that believe in her.  The seed to move forward is there.  It can be seen in her face, in her determination to learn. I know this because this twelve-year girl, who has never been to school, who couldn’t read or write is here at Heartline doing what she can to begin the journey to reach her goal.

Each lady in that class has a story.  A story of being told that she will never learn to read or write. A story of being told that she’s too stupid. A story of being told that there’s not enough money to send her to school.

We are working to change these stories to:

I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Yes, that means even becoming a nurse.

Click  hereto help us help others, like Alexandra, to reach their dreams.


Sheila Lynch

Guest Blogger





Broken Bags

Posted: January 25, 2016 in Uncategorized


images (1).jpegWe for months had eagerly been waiting for the grand opening of a new supermarket in our area. It appeared that it would be bigger than most of the other markets, and there would actually be parking for more than seven vehicles.

Now while the supermarkets in Haiti don’t compare in size to the ones in the States, (perhaps they could be called ‘baby supermarkets’) still there is much that we can get that reminds me of American supermarkets. I, of course, am thinking mainly of staples like chips, cookies, candy, soda… good old American junk food.

Grand Opening Day finally arrived. There was ample parking, the store was shiny nice and images6lots of products were ready to find their way into our cart. Now I don’t recall what we bought, but I do remember that it filled several of those plastic bags that stores use these days. And then it got interesting. We checked out, lifted up the plastic bags to leave the store and the bottoms of the bags simply gave way, split open, with all the contents, the groceries that we had just purchased, spilling onto the floor. The cashier and man that bagged the groceries apologized, the owner of the store apologized profusely and then I saw that other customers were having the same problem.

Imagine, opening day, you want to make a good, lasting impression. You want everything just right. You have sweated out hundreds of details and now the bags, purchased for this special day, are defective. They can’t hold what’s put in them.

A couple of days later as I was thinking about this little adventure, it occurred to me that I am like those bags that couldn’t hold their contents. God puts stuff in and somehow it doesn’t stay, when I need it, its not there. Instead of being full, I can be half full or almost empty.

I got thinking about several of the things that God wants us to be filled with:

  • Spirit of wisdom – Deuteronomy 34:9
  • Light and joy – Proverbs 13:9
  • Spirit and wisdom – Acts 6:3
  • Faith and the Holy Spirit – Acts 6:5
  • God’s grace and power – Acts 6:8
  • Joy and the Holy Spirit – Acts 13:52
  • Joy in the Lord – Philippians 4:4
  • Mercy and the fruit of good deeds – James 3:17

How I act, think, and the words that I say are good indicators of how full I am. For example: When patience is needed, but can’t be found. When words and thoughts that are hurtful and destructive don’t seem wrong. When fear rules. When cynicism pushes out compassion. When my desire for God, His word and time with Him has waned. When what is, is more real, than what can be. When grace is something I sing about but don’t show. When I forget in scripture that it says, “In Him we live, move and exist.” Acts 17:28. When I am joyless.

There are a couple of things that we can do to help prevent losing what we have received and often worked hard to obtain (to keep our bag from losing its contents). We can follow the example of King David and pray his prayers. Let’s be sure to be as intentional as possible. If you’re asking God to search, test and try you, then don’t run out before hearing what He has to say.  Don’t be in a rush. Psalm 139:23,24

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 26:2

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; test my heart and my mind.


Psalm 51: 10-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.What can a Bag Man do when finally he sees, what others have seen all along. How can the emptied be refilled? How can the broken be fixed? How can the hole be repaired? I know of no other way than to go to the source, God. 

We must, as well, follow the example of Jesus found in Luke 5:16

But Jesus often went away to be by himself and pray.


Charles Stanley said it well,

Your life is going to be determined by your prayer life.


Pay attention to the signs, if your desire to pray, and be in His word and presence has dwindled, then you can be sure that you will find it impossible to ‘walk in the Spirit’ as we are told to do.  Your thoughts and actions will have changed and you most likely won’t see and know it. It is in the place of prayer, the quiet place, the daily time, that the Holy Spirit illuminates our lives and we see. And for most, that is what it takes to begin restoration, and renewal, to be refilled. Once we see, we know, and once we know, we begin the process of reclaiming what we once had and adding even more of God’s goodies (graces and disciplines) as well.

John (broken bag but working on it) McHoul








Quotes That Will Challenge You

Posted: January 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

John McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti


God calls us first… not to a platform, but to an altar. John Greear

Moses immediately threw himself to the ground and worshiped. Exodus 34:8

The callings of God never leave you where they find you. Allistair Begg

Choosing to let my emotions drive my decisions is recipe for a hopeless and fruitless life. Today I am deciding to love, not hate.  Davey Blackburn (Indiana pastor whose pregnant wife was shot dead during a home invasion on November 10, 2015)

Lord, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am. David Brainerd

Fatigue is the price of leadership. Mediocrity is the price of never getting tired. J. Oswald Chambers

Worship begins in holy expectation, it ends in holy obedience. Richard J. Foster

If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn more about prayer. Philip Yancy

We cannot be too careful about the words we use; we start out using them and then they end up using us. Eugene H. Peterson

As I make goals for this year…Jesus, let your thoughts become my thoughts and bend my will to Your will.  Lysa TerKeurst

Mediocrity is always invisible until passion shows up and exposes it. Graham Cooke









Get Moving

Posted: January 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

Moses was in a precarious position.  The Red Sea in front, and bearing down behind was the Egyptian Pharaoh with his army, looking for blood. Specifically the blood of Moses and his followers. The departure of Israel from Egypt hadn’t gone well.  Pharaoh finally relented to let them go, after the first born of men and animals died, as Moses had said would happen if Pharaoh wouldn’t let Israel go.

In Exodus 14: 5-7 we read

When word reached the king of Egypt that the Israelites had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked.  So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops.  He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander.

Now God had told Moses that He would be with them. They simply had to follow and obey.  But the children of Israel just couldn’t believe  and they wanted back to Egypt where they lived as slaves. Moses told them in Exodus 14:13,14

 Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

And then God says to Moses in Exodus 14:15

Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!

And this is the place where perhaps you’re at now. You’ve been seeking God, committing your life to Him, crying out to Him, trying to be obedient and you sense God leading you to make some significant changes. Could be He’s leading you to speak publicly which causes you to sweat just thinking about it?  Perhaps He’s leading you to leave your home and to move to a place where people are working hard to get away from not come to. Maybe an inner city location where you can show the love of Jesus to those that live there. How about changing your job to a place with less pay and less benefits but where people need to see Jesus lived out and not just talked about?  Possibly, He is asking you to give a sizable gift of money to a person, family, mission, church, or organization and it’s the money that you’ve been putting away for that special thing  you’ve been wanting.  Maybe, He’s asking you to leave the secure place that you now enjoy and to move to another country.

You’re experiencing a basket full of emotions. You fear that you can’t do what God is asking. You feel insecure and wonder why God couldn’t choose someone smarter, braver, more talented. You ask yourself how you will care for yourself and for your family. Where will the money come from? You look around like Moses did and think that there is no way you can do what God is asking. But God made it clear to Moses; the time to call out was over, now it’s time to Get Moving.

Now the sea didn’t part instantly. We read in Exodus 14:21,22

Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land.  So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!


Now I not suggesting that you impulsively take off, or change job or move to another country, but what I am saying is, “Get Moving.” Make preparations, pursue studies that will prepare you for God’s call. Start talking about it, share it with others. Read biographies of men and women that have followed God and stepped out in faith. Spend more time in God’s presence in prayer, worship, meditation and become a student of His word in preparation for what God has for you.  Connect with others that you see already doing what you believe God is telling you.

It’s okay to feel weak, to feel afraid, to question your abilities. Remember what the Lord said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

“The Christian experience, from start to finish, is a journey of faith.” Watchman Nee

“God is constantly on the move. I cannot stay where I am and follow God at the same time: responding requires movement.” Margaret Feinberg

John McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti

Jacob has good reasons to suppose that Esau, his older twin brother, would not be happy to see him, and could even kill him. It has been over twenty years since he had seen Esau, and they had not parted on the best of terms. Perhaps Esau would remember the day that he came in from the field, famished, and he asked Jacob for some red stew. Jacob agreed to give him stew if Esau would give up his birthright to Jacob. Esau figuring that he would die without the stew agreed, and so he gave to Jacob his right to be recognized as the firstborn son, and being the head of the family. Not a good exchange, and certainly Esau hadn’t forgotten it.

Another time Jacob, with the help of Rebecca his mother, deceived Jacob and Esau’s father Isaac into giving Jacob his blessing and his inheritance. Esau, when he found out what had happened vowed to kill Jacob (Genesis 27:41). Soon after, Jacob fled for his life, and now here it is over 20 years since they had seen one another.

Jacob had reasons to fear. He had lied, deceived, cheated and there before him was his brother Esau, the recipient of Jacob’s deceptions. Jacob had sent men to tell Esau that he was coming and the men came back and said, “We met your brother Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you-with an army of 400 men!” Jacob was terrified at the news (Genesis 32:6,7). Jacob then sent gifts to hopefully appease Esau. Esau had twenty years to nurse a grudge, to stew over Jacob’s betrayal, to plan what he would do if he ever saw his scoundrel brother again. Would he kill Jacob and take his possessions and family? Would he kill them all? Jacob’s mind must have been swirling, and his stomach churning. He had probably run dozens of scenarios of how this could go down, and not one of them was good for him.   The tension must have been oppressive- Today will I die; today will my family be taken from me?

ejThen Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept (Genesis 33:3, 4)

Who could have predicted such an encounter? Most would have said that Esau had every right to retribution, but that isn’t what he chooses. We read much about Jacob in scripture, but not so much about Esau.  Here in this meeting of the estranged brothers, Esau receives, forgives and embraces Jacob. We see no hint of him seeking revenge for past hurts.

There is one more thing that I want to mention and that is the smile. Jacob in Genesis 33:10 says to Esau, “And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God.” I’m thinking that every church greeter and usher should have this scripture firmly fixed in their hearts, on their hands, in their voices, in their eyes and, of course, on their faces. Esau didn’t just pretend. His happiness in seeing Jacob, after all these years, showed on his face. Our faces can reveal the meanings of the words that flow from our hearts. To Jacob, the smiling friendly face of Esau told him that Esau words and actions were genuine.

Jacob knew what he had done. While away for all those years, he was the one who was lied to, deceived and abused by his father-in-law. He knew what it was like and perhaps even thought that he deserved whatever punishment Esau had for him.

Esau, though, did not raise a sword, or spear, or an angry fist toward Jacob.  He met him with a hug, a kiss, tears and with a friendly smile. An example that still stands today.

Lord, illuminate our lives by Your Spirit and Word and reveal to us areas in which we are acting how we want and not how You want. Open our eyes that we may see times when we have treated others with harshness and not grace. Forgive us.  And Lord, help us to understand the power of a friendly smile.

John McHoul

Port au Prince, Haiti





Clipped Wings

Posted: January 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

ducksHeartline’s compound, in Haiti, is on three acres of land.  We, in addition to our programs, have a number of animals on the property.  We have tilapia, chickens, goats, rabbits, turkeys, sheep, a couple of the neighbor’s dogs, and two newly arrived ducks.

A couple of days after getting the ducks we clipped their wings so that they wouldn’t be able to fly.  I must admit that I have had ongoing second thoughts about clipping their wings and feel bad that they now can’t fly.  It doesn’t seem that duck are made to just waddle along, especially when they are being chased by the turkey, who wants them to know that he is the boss of the yard. Yet, clipping their wings does mean that they will stay in a safe environment where there is food, water, security and where they won’t be eaten by predators. It largely is for their own protection.

Often, it is difficult for us to see that the restrictions God has for our lives, are for our benefit, for our safeguard.  They serve as a protection from that which can be harmful and a deterrent against doing something or pursuing something that God knows will bring us trouble.

This can be seen in God’s instructions to Adam in Genesis 2:15-17

15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

We know that Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and a world of trouble has ensued.

Some years ago I heard a youth pastor say that one of the best reasons to memorize scripture is that it gives you God’s thoughts. With that in mind, perhaps we can better understand and appreciate David’s words in Psalm 119:9-16 

How can a young person stay pure?
    By obeying your word.
10 I have tried hard to find you—
    don’t let me wander from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
12 I praise you, O Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
13 I have recited aloud
    all the regulations you have given us.
14 I have rejoiced in your laws
    as much as in riches.
15 I will study your commandments
    and reflect on your ways.
16 I will delight in your decrees
    and not forget your word.

Notice that David writes of hiding God’s word in his heart. It isn’t enough to have it on paper or on a plaque and having to go search for it. If in the heart, then God’s word is there when you need it, when confronted with opportunities to compromise, when sin seems too easy to choose, when strength and wisdom is needed, and to keep us out of trouble.

As we clipped the wings of the ducks for their own protection and security, God’s word is there to guide, protect and serve as a deterrent as we live out our lives.

Psalm 19:7-14

7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
    reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
    bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
    giving insight for living.
Reverence for the Lord is pure,
    lasting forever.
The laws of the Lord are true;
    each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold,
    even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
    even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to your servant,
    a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
    Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
    Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
    and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth
    and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

John McHoul