March 01, 2019

Faith to Chart a New Territory – by Sandi Somers

“Boldly enter the landscape of the unfamiliar... Seek the completion of God's work in your journey.” Author unknown

My latest life course involved a mission trip to Haiti, where I led a healing prayer ministry and prayer walk, and where events brought me into a new territory.  

It all began with a small decision several years ago.
Some time after the Life Group of which I was a part ended, God prompted me to again participate in one. It was led by Ola and Yvonne, a couple who loved the Lord and whose prayers reached deeply into our spirits, and whose vibrant faith gave energy to mine.
Little did I know what that small decision would lead to.
A year later, Ola accepted a job in the oil patch in Fort McMurray, and so I took on the group leadership. Our numbers were now four, and then down to three when our youngest member left for Bible College. Our meetings included a ministry of counselling as well as Bible study and healing prayer.
I took a seminary course in Trauma Counselling to equip me further to assist my group members. (Trauma counselling had been an interest of mine ever since teaching English to refugees and helping them process their war experiences.)
From there it was only a small step to join the healing prayer ministry in our church, Centre Street Church in Calgary, where we saw people healed, relationships restored, and seekers meeting Christ or finding peace in the midst of turmoil.
All this led to an adventure this winter that I had not expected—going on a mission trip. Four years ago I thought I was finished with demanding mission trips, but God had different ideas.

Part 1
Me, Judy and Carol, our team organizer
My friend Judy invited me to participate on a mission trip to Haiti ARISE with her Mennonite Conference team of 24, where the Canadian men would tile the floor and complete electrical work for an orphan's cottage. The women would host a women’s conference for the local Christians. As Judy described the teaching and then afternoon activities of the conference, I volunteered, “I could do prayer.”
Prayer training. I'm in front of the tree wearing brown.
I did “do prayer.” I was given the role of leading eighteen women in healing prayer training and ministry, using our church’s ministry as a model. God encouraged me with His words to Joshua:“Be strong and courageous… for the Lord your God will be with you ” (Joshua 1:6,9)? 

There came a time in my preparation when I recognized that prayer training was a two-way process. While I would be teaching the Haitian women principles of healing prayer and guidelines for group prayer, I knew that they could teach me a lot from their experiences.
And they did.
Their absolute trust in God’s faithfulness amazed me. "God knows", they said about their needs. Their prayers were vigorous and fervent, and in each of our five teams, women asked for physical healing, pregnancy after several years of marriage (children are so important in Haiti), strength during persecution, faith for their children, return to God for wayward husbands, and spiritual growth for themselves.
Perhaps the most dramatic story of healing came from a woman who was healed as one of our prayer team touched her forehead. The next day while meditating with her eyes closed, she saw a Man in white. As he touched each sore spot, the pain disappeared. It was so real.  But when she opened her eyes, he wasn't there. 
While our prayer ministry focused on the hundred or so women in the conference, I wondered how we could minister to our own team’s needs. During our daily debriefing, members shared life and spiritual experiences, sometimes including difficulties, both personally and in their families. The prayer ministry to each person was a memory I will never forget, as God brought healing and a promise of victory.
The newest "family"
We also explored the various ministries of Haiti ARISE. One of my most touching experiences came from visiting the Children's Village. Haiti ARISE's concept is not to build conventional orphanages, but cottages with carefully selected young couples as foster parents, with up to eight orphans, giving children a secure home and family.

         Our group visited the newest cottage, with three small sisters. Their mother had recently died in childbirth, and the baby died later. The father had also passed away, leaving fourteen children. These three young girls were rescued, and the other eleven distributed to relatives--or perhaps sold to be child slaves, working long hours, with no opportunity for education or friendship. (There are approximately 300,000-400,000 child slaves in Haiti--one in ten children).

          As our days in Haiti progressed, "God knows" became the informal motto of our Canadian mission. 
But then our trip took an unexpected turn.

Part 2
Unrest in Haiti had been growing, due to rising fuel prices, as well as from government corruption. People wanted the president to step down, which he refused to do. In protest, rioters set up road blocks along the major highways, throwing rocks and setting fire. Fortunately, the unrest didn’t seep into the communities and we were safe in the mission. However, everything was shut down—schools, hospitals, banks, the market, and people were advised to stay in their communities.
As days passed, the local Haitians began running out of food. It broke my heart to know that we would eventually be evacuated, while the Haitians had to live through and suffer the shortages and violence. The church at Haiti ARISE called for a week of prayer and fasting for the situation.
But how could we return home? God gave me peace that He would make a way where there was no way, and that we would arrive home safely. I was reminded of the Israelites fleeing Egypt, hemmed in by the desert on one side, the Red Sea on another, and the Egyptian army pursuing them. There was no way of escape. And God put them there to show His miraculous deliverance (Exodus 14:1-4). Somehow, He would do the same for us. (Lisa Honorat, co-founder of Haiti ARISE with her Haitian husband Marc, wrote a compelling blog summary of our experiences.) 

         We were in limbo for several days. During that time, God gave me another opportunity to explore new territory. Our team leader Carol asked me to lead our team on a prayer walk through the Haiti Arise mission, praying for all its areas of ministry and services. It was an honour to do so. I've gone on individual prayer walks, but leading one was a highlight for me.
The first group of nine ready to be evacuated
After planned-for evacuations didn’t materialize due to travel restrictions, we were finally airlifted, nine at a time, by helicopter to the airport in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, February 16. From there we flew to Miami and on to Calgary on Sunday the 17th.
While we in Haiti were praying about our situation, I was unaware of the other side of the story—the scope of what was happening in the media, and in our circles of friends and family.  

Part 3
At our arrival at the Calgary airport, we were surrounded by a contingent of reporters, all wanting to know about our evacuation. You may have seen some of these news reports
Once home,  My next-door neighbour, who had looked after my house while I was gone, brought over dinner for me. She burst into tears and hugged me when I met her at the door. “I’m so glad you’re home and safe,” she cried.
I spent the rest of the day phoning family and friends, updating them on details I had given in brief in phone calls from Haiti to my sister Elaine (my emergency contact). I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, concern and prayers made on our behalf.

Two weeks later I’m still processing the events and discoveries while in Haiti—and there were many. 
I’m also asking, “Where does God want to lead me from here?”
…as we said in Haiti, “God knows”.

Afterword: Now It’s Your Turn…
Where have you needed faith to chart a new territory in the past, or where is God challenging you now? Is God calling you, like Abraham, to, “Go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1)? Or to, “walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you” (Genesis 13:17)”?
Do you need God to speak to your fears, as He did to Joshua? “Be strong and courageous…Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6,9)?
Tell us your story.

(Photos by Ayva Kauffman, Judy Harder and Sandi Somers)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What a wonderful illustration of how being obedient to that first step starts to weave a thread through unexpected places and events where He also demonstrates His faithfulness!

  3. For sure, Lynn! I'm so glad for all my experiences in Haiti. I was just reading now a comment that fits this month's theme: "Are you willing to enter in to where you've never been before?"

  4. Thanks for this report of your amazing experiences in Haiti, Sandi. You certainly went through a life experience that speaks well to this month's theme about needing (and having) the faith to chart new territory. We praise God for your safe return to Canada. We must also pray for changes to the government in countries like Haiti or Venezuela where aid money and supplies are not reaching those in need. Thanks for sharing your story, Sandi.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks for your prayers for me, Sharon, and contacting Connie to alert InScribe members to pray for me--and the situation in Haiti. You've been such an encouragement to me.

    1. You are most welcome for the prayers, Sandi, and for what encouragement I can offer. Thank you also for your support and encouragement for me, my friend. I praise God for the work you accomplished in Haiti and for the safe return of you and the rest of the team working with Haiti Arise.

  6. Oh Sandi, What an amazing experience! From a writing prompt to walking it out in real life. We are so grateful to the Lord for your safe return to Canada and for his faithfulness through it all.

    1. Thanks, Brenda. Yes, it was an amazing experience. I had planned this month's blog theme to follow my Haiti trip, but had no idea of the scope and effects of God working in our/my situation. .

  7. Thanks for what you shared. I was one of the people praying while you were awaiting evacuation in Haiti. Praise the Lord that prayers were answered.

    1. Thank you for your prayers, Janet (and everyone who prayed for us)! As I mentioned in my blog, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, concern and prayers on our behalf. God is so faithful.

  8. Wonderful testimony to the power of prayer in times of trouble.

  9. For sure, Carol. Thanks for your encouragement


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.