We Shake

January 15, 2010 | 19 comments

I cradle the phone between my ear and shoulder as I wash the supper dishes and wait for Ruth to answer. She picks up on the second ring.

“Hey Ruth. It’s Jennifer. How are you?”

“I’m fine,” she says. “Doin’ fine.”

“Yeah, me, too.”

Then the truth comes quickly: “No, not really. I’m not fine at all.”

“Me neither,” I say. “I’m not the least bit fine at all.”

For the Earth shook, and we’re both shaking, too. Because our hearts beat like this: Haiti. Haiti. Haiti.

She’s talking through the pain, and I keep washing pots and pans. Gallons of fresh water run free and fast over my clean dishes that were heaped with steaming food minutes ago in this house that is warm and sturdy and full and safe.

the people of Haiti shake
and ache.

“When you’ve touched them and you’ve held them, it’s so hard,” Ruth says, and I can hear the lump in her throat.

I can hear her urgency, too: “I’ve got to get back there. We need to give those kids hope.”

Our little corner of Iowa is woven into the fabric of Haiti. We’ve touched toes to their dirt, held their babies, prayed for their orphans, sent our secondhand shoes to their growing babies. In our little country church — right now — we have two half-filled suitcases that our neighbors were planning to take to Haiti when they left early next month. I have sacks upon sacks of their socks and Band-aids and toothpaste in my garage.

But then the buildings tumbled, and the people cried out.

The Earth shook.

We shook, too.

And we need to shake. The whole world needs to shake. We need a bit of a spiritual earthquake to move us.

But what do we do?
What does God expect from us?

He says: MOVE.

Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out;
yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.
— Saint Teresa of Avila

Ruth’s son knows what it means to act on faith. His name is Levi. He’s 9.

Last year, he sent letters to people all over northwest Iowa asking us to donate. He wanted to build a homeless shelter for the poorest of the poor. He’s raised $24,836 of the $30,000 that he needs. And he planned to go to Haiti in February to watch them break ground.

Did I mention that he’s 9 years old?

Now, he won’t be able to go. But already, Levi has plans to raise $54,000 to raise enough money to provide meals for a whole month for a village leveled near the epicenter.

He can do it.

So can I.
So can you.
So can we.

This is the Multiplication of Giving: One + one + one + one.

And these are the agencies and the people that we know and trust and support. Each of these agencies has received our financial contributions and/or prayer through the years.

And they’ve also earned our trust.

Mission-Haiti — These friends in Christ from South Dakota have been the hands and feet of Jesus for many years in Haiti. Right now, they are trying to raise $12,000 to send a container of food and supplies to Haiti immediately. They are also raising funds to assist in rebuilding their orphanage in Ti-Rivier.

Mission of Hope — See that sweet photo of Matthew at the top of the post? He lives at the Mission of Hope. He is the adopted son of some very dear friends here in northwest Iowa. They found him in November covered in gnats on a dirty blanket in an orphanage. Matthew is doing fine, but the Mission where he resides needs our help. You can donate to Mission of Hope by clicking here.

Saving Ministries — Our friends, Jeaneen and Herlan, have helped found this organization with their Haitian “son” Claude, who lives with them and attends Dordt College (where I teach). Right now, Claude is on his way from Iowa to Haiti to check on his family and his village, which was leveled in the earthquake.

Other sites we support:
Compassion International
Feed My Starving Children
World Vision
Samaritan’s Purse
Kids Against Hunger (We are packing food for Haiti here next Thursday in Sioux Falls!)

This is not a mission for this day alone, but for the days, weeks, months and years ahead. Will we answer the call?

Haiti President Rene Preval said of his country two years ago: ”Once this first wave of humanitarian compassion is exhausted, we will be left as always, truly alone, to face new catastrophes and see restarted, as if in a ritual, the same exercises of mobilization.”

Let us not leave them alone.

Photo: Contributed graciously by the parents of sweet Matthew.

by | January 15, 2010 | 19 comments


  1. patty

    thank you for posting, Jennifer. I've been able to think of little else since Tuesday. We've worked with "Feed my starving children" and it's amazing. We also have friends we support: their missions name is United Christians International. They live on the plateau and did not suffer damage to their home & compound so are beginning to welcome and care for the huge numbers of refugees. Overwhelming…
    again, thank you…

  2. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    "He says: Move"! Jennifer, my heart still doesn't feel right and I'm praying why. Our sponsor children are there and something about my world feels thrown.

    I remain quiet and in prayer. Thanks for this post.
    ~ Wendy

  3. HisFireFly

    I shake with you Jennifer, and know that God needs that shaking.

    My mission experience was in Uganda, and I have never set foot on Haitian ground, yet I hear their cries in the spirit and my spirit responds.

    I pray with you that we will not shout out the sound of God's call to action, His call to love.

  4. Rose

    God will shake us one way or another. I am not implying that he "shook" Haiti as some on TV have done. Sometimes it is when we see that the earth has literally shaken and we see the loss and devastation that we are shaken to our core. God uses that to move us into action.
    Jennifer you have so beautifully expressed what should be on the hearts of everyone. "What can I do." This ONE person, plus ONE more. Praise God for the Levi's of the world who are "movers and shakers".
    Our thoughts and prayers are with all those in Haiti and the ones going there to help in whatever way they can.
    Thank you for the trusted list of organizations!

  5. Chris Godfredsen

    I continue to wrestle with what am I to do. What is my responsibility here? When God calls in Ruth form, what is one to do?

    Praying without ceasing, discerning what it is God wants from us in this tragedy!

    We will not leave them alone – that is the beauty of community! Long after the TV cameras leave, people like Dell and Renae, Jason and Ruth will continue to work there. Will we?

  6. Chris Godfredsen

    I continue to wrestle with what am I to do. What is my responsibility here? When God calls in Ruth form, what is one to do?

    Praying without ceasing, discerning what it is God wants from us in this tragedy!

    We will not leave them alone – that is the beauty of community! Long after the TV cameras leave, people like Dell and Renae, Jason and Ruth will continue to work there. Will we?

  7. Beth.. One Blessed Nana


    Thank you for this amazing post. My heart also just hurts for all those in Haiti. So many hurting, so many with no where to go. No food. No water.

    Lord, help us to be compassionate! And giving. Help us to love them like You do.

  8. A Simple Country Girl

    Oh Jennifer, you put words everything in my heart. I gently told my tender warrior son (barely 6 years old) of the news. Later we heard the World Vision president give an update. I said I was giving all of my Christmas gifted money to them. My son said, "Me too, mamma, me too. And can I send some crayons and my coloring books?" I don't need a new book when this is happening. I don't need a fancy coffee when water is lacking…

    Lord, this is so much to bear. Help us. Show us!

    Thank you for the links and encouragement. And the tears.


  9. ~*Michelle*~

    Thanks for this amazing post, Jennifer…I, too am shaking at the devastation of it all.

    In this moment of feeling intense helplessness…..I need to regroup, gather my emotions and focus on what I can do.

    thank you for this great list of resources!

  10. alicia

    Thanks for posting… amazing how a child can do so much!
    Thank you also for the last update on Pam and KiKi— I hadn't seen that one! Praise God for all of the miracles that have been coming from this tragedy!

  11. Laura

    Oh, Jennifer. Yes. We need shaken, don't we? This certainly does. Thanks for this…all these wonderful inspiring ideas, people…

    So devastating. But He is God still.

  12. S. Etole

    this was so powerful … thank you

  13. Missy

    What a powerful post.
    I have been praying for Haiti.

  14. elaine @ peace for the journey

    Amazing words, Jennifer, spoken from a heart that shakes and aches for Jesus. So much need; so many of us. Together, we can leave God's footprint in Haiti. Then again, I imagine his footprints are already there. His hands and tears as well.

    Thank you for allowing your pen to prick my heart.


  15. Deb

    You walk out your faith with passion and intensity.

    And you encourage me to do the same.

    As He shapes me into His image, I think He's going to have to shake me loose as well.

    Praying for Haiti.

    Sweet dreams.

  16. Lyla Lindquist



  17. Stacy

    So much has been said about Haiti and the needs these dear ones have but your words truly pierced my heart. Thank you for posting your heart through words and for allowing God to use in such a way to encourage me (and I'm sure many others) to MOVE. God Bless, Stacy

  18. grey like snuffie

    I don't have a clue how I found you…but I am in awe of the sheer number of people God has given a HUGE heart for that tiny little country. One of our daughters spent time there working in an orphanage….her heart is breaking right now…her ten little men all survived yet she remembers the country and how poverty in this country comes NO WHERE NEAR poverty there…we need to be shaken to the core…praying, giving, going…. May God reveal Himself to those lost, hurting souls…that little country needs God sized miracles…works of Love.

  19. lynnrush

    Thanks for this


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