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Blog

The Jasper House Haiti blog is designed to share stories, updates and testimonies that raise awareness, create dialogue and bring enlightenment to those seeking to become more involved in the advocacy and abolition of injustice. 

 

Standing united.

Maria Atkinson

I met Maria, founder and director of Jasper House Haiti, two years ago in a little, rural, fishing village called Belle Anse, Haiti. My first experience in Haiti was adventurous and extreme. I had no idea at the time that Maria would become a good friend of mine and I would watch her follow the calling that God placed on her heart with one courageous leap of faith at a time. 

I've seen many organizations, but I have never seen someone be as sensitive to and completely immersed into the culture as Maria lives. I've watched her go from knowing bits and phrases of the language to learning and being able to have full on staff meetings completely in Creole. I've watched her struggle through parts of life as a single woman in Haiti and a new mother to a teenage daughter only to continue full force into her calling. I've watched this visionary woman map out things to the most minute detail and speak passionately about the future plans of Jasper House...all while thinking of not what would benefit her, but what would benefit the Haitian community she loves to serve. I've seen her cry for these people she is so fervent about. It is convicting to see someone so passionate about what God has called them to do.

But here is what I know: Not all of us are called to start an organization or live in a third world country. If that were the case, nothing would get done and we would all be competing for glory when the goal is to work together for His glory. We are called to be the body of Christ. We are called to work in unity, each with our own gifts, lifting each other up. For some that is starting an organization and living abroad. For others, it is cooking meals, working with your hands, praying, counseling, encouraging, teaching a trait or skill, or donating money. 

We CANNOT compare the value of our calling to someone else's.

I've heard Maria say it in staff meetings that each position is equally important. Jasper House cannot continue to grow without people willing to give their time, talents, or donations.

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
— Romans 12:5
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
— 1 Corinthians 12:15-20

I have been at Jasper House for almost a month now and these are just a few of the amazing people that keep Jasper House going daily:

There is Joseline- a woman dear to my heart that I have had the privilege of working alongside, tending the gardens and she graciously cooks our meals everyday.

There is Mama Nadine- This is a woman anyone would want as a mother. She is warm, fun and feisty, truthful, and a pillar of strength. With the same bare hands she uses to kill chickens to feed us, she holds and nurtures her children and granddaughter. 

Then there is Mirlene- she's a leader through and through. She knows where every dime for Jasper House goes and her gift is management. She's learning daily how to be the best leader she can be while always looking out for others. 

Reginald- he is our moto driver. He's the sweetest kind of guy you always want to say "Hi" to because his smile is contagious. I've seen him stay up multiple nights to guard Maria's house after a man was caught trying to intrude. After sleepless nights I've seen him still show up to church early Sunday morning, dressed to a T- suit, tie, and all, not showing any sign of fatigue.

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There's Darline- she has always dreamed of being a teacher. Because of Jasper House, this amazing mother is realizing her dream and providing for her own small family.

And there's Ruth- she is the psychologist on staff. She currently comes twice a month to Jasper House, but when she finishes school she will start full time. This woman is strong, independent, and someone you could sit and talk you for hours. 

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There are artisans within the community who partner with Jasper House.

There are coffee farmers in the mountains of Haiti that will profit from a partnership with Jasper House.

There are countless stories of the real lives that not only make up who Jasper House is, but also thrive because of this organization. I have been blown away to watch God build this "body" with not only individuals in Haiti and America, but connections across the world.

And this body of Christ is coming together and standing united to be a voice for those who desperately need it. We are here to serve these women who need empowerment, who need an opportunity, and need to know their value. That is why Jasper House exists.

I don't know what your part might be, but I do know that we are NOT supposed to stand idly by. 

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother [or sister] in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
— 1 John 3:17-18

I'm not sure what leap you may need to make, but I have learned from experience over this month, that if you take the leap, trusting God, I promise you will not regret it.

So, let's each play our own part in this big picture we are painting together and use the resources we each have to do what we are all called to do: stand as one body to further His kingdom.


Photo by: Michelle McGee

Photo by: Michelle McGee

Written by: Amanda Wilson - summer intern for Jasper House Haiti