Haiti (MNN) — The guests came in laughing and shaking the water off their clothes from the downpour outside. They weren’t going to let the weather dampen their mood or keep them from coming.
The event is called Christmas in August. It’s an annual dinner and auction put on by For Haiti with Love to raise money for another Christmas party on Christmas day. Christmas in August took place on Monday.
We spoke with Eva DeHart of For Haiti with Love about the results of the dinner. She said local merchants had donated gifts for door prizes. They auctioned off wood carvings, jewelry, paintings, and other items from Haiti. Some people donated quilts they had made.
“It was an interesting start to the evening, but everything else just went off like clockwork. It was a fun evening, it was productive evening,” DeHart says, “[We] netted about 50% less than last year which simply means that we’ll have a smaller party in Haiti on Christmas Day.”
In the same way the crowd shook off the rain from their shoulders, For Haiti keeps a positive outlook about this year’s Christmas party despite the decline in financial support.
“The whole purpose of the evening is gifts and food and sharing the Gospel with the children in Haiti on December 25th,” DeHart says.
While many of the kids will come because they know they’ll get a hot meal and they know they’ll get presents, there is something much more important to be shared with them.
“You’re sharing the real purpose of Christmas Day. You’re celebrating Messiah’s birthday.”
The children will receive coloring books of the Christmas story in their language. Christmas hymns in their language are printed in the back of the coloring books.
When these children are hungry, often sick, and living in families with no prospect to provide for themselves, you might be wondering, “Why is a party so important? Shouldn’t you be focusing on their food?”
Aside from the fact that For Haiti does address these needs on a regular basis, Christmas is a significant time to remind the children–and often their parents–of the hope in Christ despite their hardships.
The reminder is good. DeHart explains that when her husband first started working in Haiti, the country was 80% Catholic, 20% protestant, 100% voodoo. That means that despite learning about Christ, the people held on to their old beliefs, creating a synthetic religion.
“In the early days, they didn’t ask people to make a choice between their voodoo-following and their Christ-following. Modern day Christians do ask them to make that choice.”
DeHart says that they pray for the Haitians to accept the whole truth of the Gospel and to surrender their old beliefs.
But, she explains, with the constant health problems, it becomes difficult.
She says, “Voodoo has a medicinal side to it. And when their children get really sick, no matter how much they believe and have accepted the Gospel, they’re still apt to grab their pigeons and go to the voodoo priest if the medical situation is really, really bad.”
DeHart says until they have proper medical care, it is likely there will be entwining of religions.
Pray that Haitians will learn to lean fully on God and His eternal promises.
DeHart explains her favorite part of the Christmas party: “No matter how poor they are, no matter how little they have, their goal is to come to that party making their very best presentation of themselves. So if they don’t have any clothing that doesn’t have holes in it, they will have relatives that they can borrow things from. People ask us for pictures of the poor little kids that we serve at the Christmas party. Well, none of the children look poor at the Christmas party.”
The kids have their neighbors do their hair, and they borrow dresses and shoes.
“They want to make their very best presentation to God and to For Haiti with Love for that party. It’s just a joy to watch the preparation that they go through and the enthusiasm that they reflect for what Americans would consider a pretty basic, simple party.”
The decrease in funding from this year’s auction echoes the type of year For Haiti has had. In February, they had to temporarily shut down their food program because they were not getting food.
Now things are up and running again, and they’ve had two containers delivered. But to keep it open, they need at least one more container to be delivered by the end of the year.
It costs $10,000 to transport this food to their distribution center in Haiti. To contribute, click here (donate tab on upper left of page. Purpose: transportation for food program).
The donated items for the Christmas party also need to be transported. If you’d like to support that financially, click here (donate tab on upper left of page. Purpose: transportation of Christmas Party goods).
Or you can send a check to this address if you prefer to do it offline:
For Haiti with Love
PO Box 1017
Palm Harbor, FL 34682-1017
Please pray for protection and perseverance for the minitry. Pray that they would be a light of truth for these people still look to old religions during times of uncertainty. Keep DeHart’s daughter in your prayers, as well, as she is addressing health issues in the States and longs to get back to work in Haiti.