Experiencing Haiti in Denver and Milwaukee

By   •   August 25, 2011

Nine-year-old Aleka picked up a purple marker and furrowed her brow slightly, pondering just the right words to scrawl on the canvas before her. She wanted to write something that would encourage the Haitian person who will read the message in a few weeks.

After a moment, she decided to share her favorite Bible verse, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

“I want the people who were hurt in the earthquake to know that Jesus loves them too,” Aleka said as she transcribed the words from memory.

Aleka’s message was one of hundreds that were written across graffiti walls in the Haiti Experience tent at Rock the Lakes, Aug. 20-21, in Milwaukee. The interactive display will be also featured at Rock the Range this weekend in Denver.

Along with Scripture references, people penned personal notes of encouragement and expressed their artistic leanings by drawing rainbows, hearts, crosses, stars, flowers and faces. The walls—rolls of white canvas—will be sent to churches across Haiti after Rock the Range concludes.

“The Haiti Experience showcases how the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, working alongside Samaritan’s Purse, ministered in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake,” said Chad Miller, director of Dare to Be a Daniel for BGEA. “It tells the story of how each ministry continues to work there, side by side.”

On the Samaritan’s Purse side of the tent, visitors can walk through smaller representations of a cholera clinic and a shelter the ministry erected after the earthquake, and see how a water filtration system works.

On the BGEA side, people meet two of the Rapid Response Team chaplains who have served in Haiti, visit a Haitian home that hosted a My Hope broadcast, learn about The Greatest Journey, then “take part” in the 2011 Festival of Hope in Haiti.

“The Haiti Experience is a way to show people attending Rock the Lakes and Rock the Range how God is moving through our other ministries,” said Miller, “and they are discovering that BGEA works all around the world.

“People come into the tent expecting a story and they are not disappointed,” he added. “I have seen people moved to tears by the messages of hope. People are touched by seeing the power of the Gospel displayed on any continent.”

A Haitian in Milwaukee

Visitors at Rock the Lakes also experienced Haiti in Milwaukee—literally—in the person of Holgen Guerisma, a young man from Haiti who is now attending school in the United States, courtesy of Rapid Response Team chaplains Brian and Enid Johnson.

The couple from Frederic, Wisconsin, standing alongside Holgen in the tent, eagerly shared with listeners the story of how God brought them together.

“Holgen was our translator and driver during our first deployment to Haiti,” said Enid. “He was with us during the difficult first days after the earthquake, when death was all around us. He showed such a remarkable spirit of Christ’s love.”

One night, Brian asked Holgen about his hopes for the future. Holgen wistfully spoke of attending school in the United States, but emphasized it was only a dream. “I would never ask or beg for anything,” he told Brian. “This is just what is on my heart.

“I am only telling you because you asked me about it,” he reiterated.

Something was on Brian’s heart too—a God-birthed desire to make Holgren’s dream come true. After an 18-month process, Brian and Enid brought Holgen to Wisconsin to attend technical college for two years, and into their home. Holgen will return to Haiti when he completes his degree in telecommunications.

Holgen, who never stepped foot outside of Haiti before, had no clue what to expect in the United States. His village in Haiti had no electricity or running water, so the modern conveniences he is now experiencing have set off a bit of culture shock.

Visitors to the Haiti Experience in Milwaukee gathered around Holgen as he spoke of the devastating earthquake that took the lives of two cousins. “I learned that there is nothing more important than helping people, than being a servant of God,” he said. “It is important to pay attention to others.”

He described himself as “more wise” after living though sorrow. “I have become more sensitive to those who are suffering and grieving,” he said. “I hope to bring that part of Haiti here, to my brothers and sisters in Christ living here—and to those who need Jesus.”

Rock the Range, which will be held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Co., includes two full days of high-energy music along with messages from Franklin Graham. Rock, hip-hop and popular Christian music artists performing at the event include Skillet, Lecrae, The Almost and The Afters, Lacey Sturm from Flyleaf and Michael W. Smith. There will also be a KidzFest program Saturday morning for children featuring God Rocks!

Watch all of the excitement LIVE from Rock the Range! Log on to billygraham.org/rocktherange on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 6 to 11:30 p.m. (ET), 4 to 9:30 p.m. in Denver  for web streaming. Watch on Sunday, Aug. 28, 6 to 9:30 p.m. (ET), 4 to 7:30 p.m. in Denver.

Follow Rock the Lakes on Facebook or on Twitter.

Denver-Area Families are hungering for the hope of the Gospel. You can help bring them the love of Christ by donating online today.

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