THE INVITATION TO FOLLOW CHRIST
by Doug Isch, LSM President
Did you know Jesus said “Follow me” thirteen times in the Gospels? With these two simple words, Jesus was calling His disciples (and us) to a totally new way of doing things – His way. By following Jesus, our lives display something unique that sets us apart: Christlike love. We are called to love people deeply, including those who seem unlovable. After all, Jesus told us, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35). But following Jesus in the way He loved is incredibly difficult. It does not happen by itself. It takes intense discipleship.
Discipleship has always been at the heart of Loving Shepherd Ministries. Our mission is to help the world’s most vulnerable children reach their God-given potential. This is an ambitious goal for those we serve. Why? Because the God-given potential of every vulnerable child in our care is only realized insofar as they ultimately end up looking like Jesus – including how He loved. And this requires discipleship. It is not just about clothing, food, and education. It must be more than that. Yes, it is first about ministering to the broken and fragile hearts of those in our care and working to bring healing to their traumatic pasts. But the next natural step for those who find redemption in Jesus is to begin living as He lived. For the children we serve, indeed for each of us, Jesus continues to call out every day, “Follow me!”
Because LSM seeks to follow Jesus’ example, we are compelled to pursue deep discipleship in all areas of our ministry – from the children and families in our care to the workers in our schools and for-profit businesses. Seeds of faith are being planted, and we continue to cultivate and encourage fruit. Across all our programs in Haiti, Ethiopia, and the U.S., we proclaim the words of Jesus, Son of the one true and living God: Come, follow me! Thank you for partnering with us in making disciples of Christ.
A CAMPUS FOR CHRIST
In January, we welcomed a set of new students to LSM Tech. Currently, 17 Home of Hope young adults are living on campus, growing academically and vocationally, and deepening their walk with Christ. But our vision for LSM Tech goes beyond just our Home of Hope children. We recently expanded enrollment to include 30 non-HOH young people living in the same neighborhood as LSM Tech! While these community young adults have never lived in our Homes, our desire is for them to benefit from the quality education and Christ-centered discipleship that we offer at LSM Tech. By expanding beyond just our Home of Hope young adults, we can significantly multiply our Kingdom impact in Haiti and cultivate seeds of faith in young hearts and minds!
“LSM knows the importance of teaching our students life skills and a trade. But we know it’s even more important for them to follow Jesus and make disciples – just like he did.”
DISCIPLESHIP AT LSM TECH
First things first. Although our HOH students are eager to earn an academic degree or learn a skill, discipleship takes priority at LSM Tech. That is why a student’s first 2 years at Tech are focused on learning how to live as an active disciple of Jesus and defending their faith to others. Jean Wesly Alcin (LSM Tech Director) and Rony Appoleon (Director of Discipleship) provide Biblical Training and Spiritual Leadership classes to our students. As each student is being prepared to enter adulthood, they are encouraged as Christian leaders to teach the biblical truth of God’s Word and proclaim Jesus Christ to those they encounter. Jean Wesly sums it up well, “Raising a generation of students who actively display their walk with Christ not only impacts the current community but shines a light for generations to come!”
FACING THE DARKNESS
Orientation week for new LSM Tech students concluded with the students gathering for an evening of praising God. However, on the same evening, just down the road, another gathering was taking place in the community. Around a fire, a voodoo ceremony was occurring. During these frightening ceremonies, a person may sometimes become possessed and eat glass or walk across fire. Sometimes people are injured or even killed. As our staff left the praise gathering and drove past the site of the voodoo ceremony, there was heaviness in their hearts for the people participating. Feeling prompted by the Holy Spirit, they stopped to talk to a young couple with their two children at the site. The wife was one of the leaders of the ceremony. She shared that her deeply rooted beliefs of voodoo went back generations in her family. Now a prominent voodoo leader, she claimed many evil spirits reside within her and give her power. These spiritual powers, she said, bring prosperity through money, healing, or justice. Our staff asked if they could share about Jesus’ saving grace and eternity in Heaven.
Unfortunately, the woman did not waver in her beliefs, stating the spirits within her are more powerful. Her belief is not unique. Tragically, many Haitians acknowledge God but see Him as distant and not active in their daily life. As a result, the tradition of voodoo fills this void, allowing it to have strong influence in Haiti.
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
In stark contrast to the darkness occurring just outside the gates of LSM Tech, a light was shining brightly inside!
LSM students were singing praises and sharing the testimony of their faith in Jesus! This is even more remarkable because a few Home of Hope students remember having to participate in voodoo ceremonies when they were little. As John 8:12 says, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” We praise God that these students were graciously rescued by a loving Father, who is active in their daily lives. This stark contrast between light and darkness brings full circle the importance of our work in Haiti. It is our mission and our passion to declare the one true God, who sent His Son to die on the cross! Thanks to your prayers and support, our students are living as lights to those who are lost in the darkness!
BRIGHT FUTURES IN ETHIOPIA
Our innovative Ethiopia Business Training program gives single mothers dignity and empowers them to live a life free of poverty and despair. These mothers are often looked down on by society because they do not have a husband. But despite this stigma, their futures are bright! Currently, 32 mothers have completed business training and an additional 34 mothers will complete training later this year. These new entrepreneurs will have the skills to manage their own businesses – from selling produce and Ethiopian spices to raising poultry and cattle. This opportunity is a huge blessing, as it leads to independence and a better future for their children. As one mother shared, “God has shined a light in my life. Through business training I have learned the importance of persistence, time management, budgeting, and skills to operate my business.” Thanks to your support, these 66 single mothers who were once struggling are now empowered as role models for their children and community – all for God’s glory!
The goal of our BrickHouse Structured Foster Care Program is to provide at-risk teens in foster care with the stability to reach their full potential and positively impact their community. Because it is critically important to ensure that our program is a good fit for each young person we serve, we have implemented a 2-month “on-boarding” process that includes counselor assessment, visitation with house parents and understanding goals and family expectations. Will you pray with us that God would bring us teens who are a great fit for this life-changing program?
LEAVING A LEGACY OF FAITH
Sometimes even the best laid plans fall apart. You make it to the airport on time, only to realize your passport is at home. Or you meticulously wrap all the gifts but forget to label who they are for. Details matter! This is especially true when it comes to estate planning. By creating a Will, you have the power to protect what God has entrusted to you and leave your estate in a way that preserves your values.
Through a new partnership between LSM and GiftWise, our supporters now have access to an online platform where you can conveniently make a legally binding Will. It often takes less than 20 minutes and is at no cost to you. To access this valuable service, please visit www.giftwise.com/lovingshepherd to get started.
It is our great privilege to help our supporters leave a legacy of faith and family. Thank you for your support of LSM and for your Christ-like compassion for vulnerable children.
PRAY FOR LSM
Praise God for PRESERVING FAMILIES IN ETHIOPIA. These families experience healing and restoration in Christ.
Praise God for SPREADING THE GOSPEL in Haiti and the ripple effect it will have for generations to come.
Pray for the BRICKHOUSE USA program and the safe haven being provided for teen girls so they can grow into thriving adults.