Lehman learns many lessons during trip to Haiti
South Adams High School principal Trent Lehman had visited 13 countries through various mission trips prior to his trip to Haiti this past summer with the Dots in Blue Water project. While he had seen many things in different cultures, Lehman admitted that he had never seen poverty like he saw in Haiti.
"In terms of infrastructure, it's the worst I've been to," said Lehman. "India rivals it, especially in poverty, but in India we saw fast food places. There was nothing like that in Haiti, nothing like American civilization type things, no McDonalds, no Pizza Huts, no American type of influence with fast food restaurants.
"One day they took us to see a resort; that was supposed to represent the best possibilities of what Haiti could become," continued Lehman. "That was just one spot and so different from the rest of the country."
Lehman noted that Christopher Columbus came to Haiti and found French and Spanish people living there. Eventually, there was a peace treaty with the Spanish element forming the Dominican Republic and the French element settling on the other side of the island.
In time, a slave revolt overtook the French government and a group of voodoo priests led by a former slave made a pact with the devil. All present vowed to exterminate all of the white Frenchmen on the island.
The former slave, named Boukmam, and the voodoo priests offered to give the country for 200 years and swore to serve Satan. Finally, on Jan. 1, 1804, the nation of Haiti was born to form a new demonic tyranny.
"They had a leader that chopped down and destroyed 90 percent of the rain forest," said Lehman. "It ruined the landscape and all the natural beauty of the land. There is a big difference in the appearance between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. That action has caused all types of environment problems for Haiti to this day.
"Because they didn't serve the one true God, they were not blessed as a nation," continued Lehman. "They have had no established infrastructure, no occupational trades like we do, no opportunity for anyone to contribute to society out of a basic education."
Lehman said that he learned that Haiti is a land of terrible poverty. While we have poverty of spirit, our cities treat water and we have health; we don't have to worry about the things that they do. They have to worry about all of that.
"Contrast the difference of a country built on God and His principles; it's no wonder that our country thrives and their country doesn't," observed Lehman.
"Because we are so blessed by all of this, we can't lord it overhead for ourselves; we have an obligation to teach these countries to try to do things more efficiently," continued Lehman. "We need to first teach them about God and then Biblical principles how to run their nation. We need to use our talents, wealth, skills and share with them."
Lehman referred to the work of Nehemiah Vision Ministries, the main mission of contact that the Dots in Blue Water program had worked with on its Haiti excursion.
Nehemiah Vision Ministries is an international organization focused on transforming the lives of all people through education, health and spiritual development. The main mission is to help train and equip young Haitians to become involved in rebuilding the foundation of Haiti in much the same way that Nehemiah led in rebuilding Jerusalem and removing reproach in biblical times (Nehemiah 2:17-18).
"Nehemiah Vision Ministries has been working hard to give kids a good education; now they are working on building a hospital," said Lehman.
"People in Haiti are not trained or taught to use gifts and talents as we do; they are in a survival mood," emphasized Lehman. "They just are not taught on dealing with life's problems."
Lehman said that the foundation of a strong nation starts fundamentally with serving God and trying to follow the Biblical mandate. It is helping people realize the use of the fundamental skills they were created to do.
"In all of this, it struck me, the importance of emphasizing to our kids the importance of getting a good education, developing the skills and talents that God gave us and serving God," said Lehman. "Serving God, serving our fellow man, developing our jobs and helping serve our country well are the most important fundamentals of life."
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