My first response: ‘No way!’
How I became a Presbyterian World Mission co-worker living and serving in Haiti
December 31, 2015
Hundreds of people bustled into the sanctuary to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Staunton, Virginia. It was a chilly January evening in 2012. I was eager to celebrate King’s life and hopes for a better world, but honestly, my mind was miles away.
I was searching for confirmation that I had heard God call me to Haiti. I was hoping I’d misheard. It must have been a fluke. Imagination overdrive.
If in fact it had happened, then it was late on a Tuesday evening in early January 2012. A mission co-worker serving in Haiti had sent me an email announcing the job opening for another mission co-worker to live in Haiti. I’d already fallen hard for the country and its people. I’d traveled there several times and worked to raise money and awareness after the January 2010 earthquake there. But live there?
Oh, no. Not me. No way could I be a mission co-worker living and working in Haiti. No. Way.
Meanwhile, back at the MLK commemoration, a prominent local African American pastor stood in the pulpit reading from King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. King wrote this letter in April 1963 after being jailed in Alabama for nonviolent protests of racial injustice.
Pastor Edward Scott bellowed King’s words from the pulpit, jostling me: “We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability,” he roared. “It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God . . . .”
Co-workers? Did he say “co-workers”? As in mission co-worker? I jumped up so straight in the pew that the little boy sitting on my lap turned to see what had happened.
That was it! I had heard the call! And here it was again!
Unaware of this great revelation that would change my life, Scott recited on: “And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.”
Those forces have crippled the people of Haiti for so long, and what I heard God tell me was that Haiti needed storytellers.
A few weeks later, I sent in my formal application, and by the next January, I began this great adventure.
I moved to Port-au-Prince in May 2013, fitting into the sometimes uncomfortable, often awkward—but always joyful—post as a mission co-worker to Haiti as if I was born for it. I relish my work of partnering with Haitians in farmer organizations across this small country.
There is a Haitian proverb that says: “Bondye di ou: Ou fè pati ou, e m pral fè pati m.” It means “God says to you, you do your part, and I will do mine.”
I am humbled to be in Haiti.
I am delighted to serve as a co-worker of God.
Cindy Corell is a PC(USA) mission co-worker in Haiti and a former journalist.
To find mission co-workers and learn more about their work, visit pcusa.org/missionconnections.
To support mission co-workers with a donation, visit pcusa.org/give/E132192.
To explore your own call to mission, visit pcusa.org/msr.