Stephanie and Friend[/caption] Hi! I’m Stephanie Huebner, I am 23 years old and I married my husband, Will, at Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City two and a half years ago. God gave Will and myself each two very distinct passions: youth ministry, and mission work. While we worked as youth interns at a church in OKC, Will was sending his resume out to churches across the country to become a full time Associate/Youth Minister. After two years of interning in youth ministry and one year of being married, he accepted a position as an Associate Pastor at a church in Western Pennsylvania. Somewhere between Oklahoma City and Pennsylvania, a piece of my heart seemed to have become hardened towards ministry in America. I came from a place where teens got whatever sports car they wanted and had top notch everything. While I am thankful (and half jealous) that these teens are starting out with such fortunate lives, all I could think was “how is there room for God when you think you have everything you want and need?” Soon, I became almost depressed and felt hopeless. My husbands and my current life is sold out to youth ministry, and here I am not even really wanting to witness because I felt like no one knew they needed God. All I wanted to do was get away to a place where people needed God and desired Him. Which is why excitement grew in my heart when I met Richard and Debi and learned what HHIM was all about. Will has known the Fields’ for many years because they are family friends, and Will’s father is on the board of HHIM. Will has been blessed to go on two trips to India with Richard, as well as trip to Haiti. As I began thinking of what Haiti would be like, I began thinking about how much I would like to live there. Besides the new (near perfect) position at the church, Will and I are newly weds with no kids, no pets, no house, no nothing! After taking all of this into quick consideration, I declared this chapter of our lives prime time missionary time! In my mind, American teens didn’t need me or Will because they have everything! Their lives are consumed with the things they “need”. In my mind, Haitians needed me! Haitians are the ones who needed to hear the Good News from me! So, if we’re being honest, I expected to want to stay (long term) in Haiti as a missionary. Since I had never being out of the country, Haiti was quite the shock to me. I certainly did not expect it to be New York City, but I did not know of such poverty. I got a massive, throbbing, headache within the first 15 minutes of getting off the plane in Port-Au-Prince. My chest hurt from the heavy pollution and raw sewage. I saw tent cities with kids taking baths in tubs in the wide open. Previously I naively thought these things were staged, or photo-shopped in American commercials and magazines, so we would give more money towards efforts. It was sickening! I was sickened that I was born in such financial wealth when people an ocean away were and still are barely surviving. As we traveled up the mountain from the airport to the House of Blessings Orphanage, Haiti’s beauty became very apparent. The air was crisp the higher and higher we went… and the mountains were breath taking. The very first day at the HOB, our group went on what Haitians call a “hike”. Some Americans would probably refer to it as rock climbing. We “hiked” down a very steep, rocky mountain. I’m not sure how long it took us, but my body remembered the trip for days. The rest of the week was filled with building houses and working on an outreach building at the HOB. There are so many big – and little – things you experience on a trip such as this, that finding words to describe how you are affected is a difficult task. My heart was blessed in so many ways during this trip. From the children who saw our group walking down trails and ran to us just to hold our hands and walk with us, to the man who sang “How Great Is Our God” while walking us back to the HOB after building his family a stable new home. From the kids at the HOB singing during devotions, to watching the team you came with encouraging each other when the day is almost over. It is impossible for your core being to be left untouched. I had such mixed feelings about leaving everything Haiti, the kids at the HOB, and the team I came with. On one side, I was so sad to leave the new family I made in that quick week. I was sad to leave a place that God is needed. On the other side, a fresh desire was sparked in my heart. I had a desire to share God’s love with the youth in our home church and community. God made it very clear to me that while the youth in God’s ministry at our home church may not be in need the way Haitians are in need, they are, in fact, in need. My trip to Haiti fanned the passions in my soul. I understood more clearly that my responsibility as a Christian and in this chapter of my life is to show our teens that the material items we are suffocated with will never fulfill us. No sports car, no shoes, no grades or job will ever satisfy our hunger for fulfillment. The only One mighty enough to wholly fill the hole in our hearts is Jesus Christ! While this revelation had a great impact on my life and got me excited to head home, my heart still longed to help the HOB. One thing I will never forget is when Richard asked our group to not make any promises to any Haitians while we were there. He said something like, “I know you all have good intentions in the promises you make, but Americans tend to get back to the states and forget their promise. The problem is that Haitians never will.” I was heart broken at the truth in his words. I held my tongue the whole week, catching myself every time I was tempted to make a promise. I left them feeling like they gave me more than I gave them. I left feeling determined that I would not be the American that got caught up with life and forgot about my family-like friends. I started planning how I would financially help the HOB through HHIM. I considered all small things, like sewing and selling dresses, and giving the profit to HHIM. This plan quickly shriveled when I realized the dresses weren’t coming out of the sewing machine the way I had created them in my head. Thank God He had other plans! One early morning months after our trip to Haiti, I woke up to what I am confident was a God given vision: a walk-a-thon. (One thing to know about me is that I am a dreamer, not a realist, and I have never, ever, been one to carry out a dream. In other words, I rarely stick with something that takes longer than a week to see results.) That very morning I googled “How to plan a walk-a-thon”. The first site I clicked gave me five quick steps to plan a successful walk-a-thon. For someone who isn’t good at committing to long term projects, five steps was probably the best thing I could have read. After considering this, I emailed Richard to see what the top three needs were at the House of Blessings. He responded with my requested top three needs but noted importance on the water crisis. He said he was having to make frequent trips down into Port-Au-Prince to get 1500 gallons of water that cost $200+ per trip. Between these water runs, the kids had to “hike” down that mountain I previously spoke about with buckets to get water for the day. He estimated the price of the water well to be $15,000. I jotted down some ideas and took it to my neighbor lady, who at the time, I did not realize was on our church’s mission board. I told her what God planted on my heart and showed her the 5 quick and easy steps it would take to make the walk-a-thon happen and she said “Great! I’ll arrange a meeting for the missions board. You can present it this Sunday!” “This Sunday!?”, I was thinking. This was not quite the answer I was looking for, but it certainly got me moving! I began praying about different people I could ask to be on my planning team. In the end, I had one friend, Brittany, who felt called to help. As time went on I learned there is significantly more to planning an event such as a walk-a-thon than the deceiving google article claimed. I had never related with the saying “the blind leading the blind” so much in my life. The closest thing I have done to a fundraiser such as a walk-a-thon, was a church youth car wash. Both require sponsors. So this is the first actual task I attempted. Between Brittany and myself, we were able to raise around $2,000 in sponsorships from local businesses to make the walk-a-thon happen. From there I was busy speaking at different churches, researching, recruiting team leaders and members, typing, printing, and sending several different forms to all the teams, getting a website up and running, contacting local radio stations and newspapers, getting a day reserved at our local High school track, getting event insurance, the list goes on and on! In the early stages of the planning process, the devil attacked me with doubt. I sometimes felt foolish for thinking God could use me, and the small town I live in, to raise the $15,000. Did I mention the population of the town I live in is 3,000? (I think they added that number up on a high year, too.) I anticipated how I would react if I fell short of my financial goal. I would no doubt feel humiliated. One night during devotions I read 2 Corinthians 9:10 which says, “For God is the one who provides seeds for the farmer and then bread to eat.” I felt as if God was speaking directly to me about the walk-a-thon through Paul’s words. I thought, “Why would God give me a vision, and not fulfill His purpose?” God is faithful! What a relief that this weight was no longer on my shoulders, that God would provide! I was also reminded of God’s faithfulness through a friend, Linda, who I met on my trip to Haiti. During the months of walk-a-thon planning, I found out Linda was the one searching for someone to drill the water well. After realizing this, we emailed each other back and forth trying to encourage each other to just keep on going. In one email she said, “Stephanie, do you realize how many years the HOB has had mission teams visit to work?” I am happy to say in the end, 20 teams registered to participate in the walk-a-thon with many “walk-in” participants the day of. The grand total raised $22,887.95. I learned a lot of do’s and a lot more don’ts through the months of organizing. I learned:
- God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.
- His timing is much better than my timing.
- Most importantly, He will provide!