God’s grace, protection and divine intervention

Hello friends, family & supporters

I write to you today as I sit at home with my family in the US. The series of events that have led to this moment are surrounded by God’s grace, protection and divine intervention. Friday of last week, myself and our summer intern were in Port Au Prince picking up a wire when we were caught in one of the worst parts of a protest. We were inside a grocery store when the tires began to be burned. Within 15 minutes the sky burned black from several other zones in the capitol. What first began as burning tires and blockades quickly turned into looting and destruction of many businesses all over Port Au Prince. Hours later we managed to escape after two failed attempts. The first attempt was by vehicle and we were surrounded by angry protesters with rocks. The second attempt we traveled by foot and were surrounded by over 50 men who argued over whether or not to let us go. Minutes after they forced us back inside the gates, rounds of gunfire went off for 15 minutes straight. We hid behind a wall and took cover while the shots rang out. The business across the street was being attacked. Today that business has no merchandise left and was stripped bare and destroyed. Our third attempt, we were led to safety in between gunfire by a protester and two friends that risked their lives to rescue us. While we ran there were many men threatening to end our lives. One specifically stopped me in a trench and told me he would kill me. By the grace of God, my Haitian friend stepped in between us and replied, “Then you will kill me first”. We managed to escape, but these moments were the most terrifying moments I have ever experienced. BUT GOD, in His faithfulness, took care of His children and put a hedge of protection around us as we went directly through a mob of angry protesters and several barricades. 

 

There may be many headlines you will read about the destruction and violence of Haiti, but I am here to tell you that without the loyal bravery, the generosity and the unmeasured amounts of love from Haitians, things most certainly could have had a different ending. There is a small percentage of people who are causing these protests out of 10 million people in Haiti. What you don’t see in headlines is how many people were protected by their Haitian community and the people that went directly into danger to save those they loved. My neighbors, two other American missionaries, were stuck 3 villages away when the riots began. They made a call and within minutes, 6 men came to aid them. Three men sat on the front bumper of the truck with machetes while three were clinging to the back. They were “hemmed in behind and before…” by Haitians that God used to save them. I read a story from a fellow missionary who works in emergencies on an ambulance. She was stuck in a mob outside of hotel where cars were being burned. Her MAID and GROUNDSKEEPER stepped into the middle of the mob to protect her and make sure she was okay. Our head of maintenance, Awoyo, made it through 15+ barricades to my house in the middle of the riots when he heard I was stuck in the capitol. Simply because he wanted to make sure my house was okay and my dogs had food and water. And last but not least, when I was stuck inside a grocery store parking lot while men began to make threats and get violent, my two friends Kensley and Amos were a half a mile away and they ran through barricades, bartered with protestors and shielded me while we ran for cover through trenches and riverbeds. John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. I experienced that specific love over the last week and it has completely changed me and my perspective of bravery. If anything it pushes me to be braver and more self-sacrificing. More than anything, I fell more in love with the country that stole my heart over four years ago.

Many of you have reached out with how you can help and support us in this difficult time. I am overwhelmed by the amount of encouraging messages and emails. THANK YOU. You’re prayers and love have been felt. On a practical side, this emergency situation did not pass without taking an emotional, physical and monetary toll on myself, our summer intern and our staff. Below are some ways you can help meet needs and support us in this time:

  • Will you pray for Haiti, our staff, & our ministry to be safe during the weeks ahead?
  • Will you pray for the political unrest to be resolved quickly and peacefully?
  • Will you consider bridging the gap for the expenses caused by the emergency situation? 
  • Will you consider donating to my return home so that I can rest without worry of living, self care, and counseling expenses? 

If so, click DONATE and our partners at Storehouse Mission Support can help you do just that. It would certainly help ease the stress as we move forward.

I truly believe God is continuing to breathe NEW LIFE into the darkest situations and I anxiously wait to see what beauty will spring up from the ashes. I am already seeing the ways that He is using traumatic moments for His glory. As I remain in the states, I will be taking some time to process and recuperate from the events of this past week. They have most definitely taken a toll and my heart is broken for the destruction that has taken place and the people it will ultimately effect. My time is NOT over in Haiti. I do not know when I will return, but I can promise you I will return stronger and more passionate than before. This experience will allow me to be able to look in the eyes of women that trauma has touched, and be able to say, “FEAR is a LIAR and has no place here. I am living proof that it is possible to rise up out of fear and walk with strength and confidence again”.  And with time and the love of the community around me, that is EXACTLY what I will do.

Our Haitian staff are keeping this moving on the ground for now and I am so proud of their willingness to take ownership of the ministry we are passionate about. And as always, as a team, we will continue the fight for restoration, freedom & NEW LIFE in broken, abused & sexually exploited women in Haiti. 

(All photos were taken by other people stuck within the capitol. We do not take credit for them)

With gratefulness,

Salem Ann Hicks

Founder & Executive Director

March 3, 2018 Update

God has been at work & have some exciting new programs and things to share with you!!

Our founder and executive director Salem will be in the states for the next two months fundraising, vision casting & working on a film to raise more support. Our Haitian staff are already killing it at running the center & continuing to pour their hearts into women and each other.

We have two women who will graduate from our residential program in the next few months and will move into our new transition program. They are the first ladies to enter this program and we are praising God for how He has continued to grow and heal them. Please continue to pray for them as they wrap up their last months. Pray for more breakthroughs, life change & encounters with Jesus.

We are also happy to announce that we have partnered with the UN for Women and will be creating aftercare programs for women who have experienced sexual or gender based violence as well as working with women who have been incarcerated & will be reintegrating back into their communities. Our staff will be growing and we will be hiring 5 more counselors as well as support staff so these programs will be successful. God is showing Himself & that He has big plans for how He wants to use our ministry.

Please be in prayer for us as we transition & move towards the doors He is opening for us. And be praying for the women we will encounter & that they would step into a New Life

How Did This Country End Up Here?

I’ve been asking God lately “How did this country end up here?” And it’s not just the poverty or the injustice or the amount of orphans or rubble from natural disasters. It’s more specifically how did women end up this way here in Haiti? Why is it, that they are so oppressed & shut down? Where did this animosity come from and why would the enemy attack women in this way? 

Let me paint a picture for you of what that looks like. Not too long ago, I met a woman living in a blue tarp tent. She had several unclothed dusty babies running around with snot hanging from their noses. One little one, no more than 6 months old, sat in the dirt, entertaining himself out of necessity, probably due to habitual neglect. I spoke with the children’s mother and immediately out of no where, a man showed up. He stepped in front of her and became the ‘head figure” of the conversation. He began to answer for her and he described a wild sob story about how he needed money. I quickly realized our time there would not be productive and so I decided to make a surprise visit the next day. That visit led to her sitting in my office, wringing out her hands with her eyes fixed on the ground. She shared with me the absolute misery that was her past. Her family sold her and sent her to become a child slave where she was abused and treated poorly. She eventually ran away at the age of 13 and met a 55 year old man who told her he could save her. By 14 she was pregnant with her first child from him. He took care of her and she provided sex in return. She said she loved him and that it was never forced, but at 13, was she not in a very vulnerable position? How would she truly know what love is? Especially when considering that her previous circumstances reflected an even worse alternative.   She then shared that her current husband had been beating her and she wasn’t sure if she could leave without serious ramifications. I offered her a place to live, and a week later she turned me down and said she just couldn’t leave her old life.

A couple weeks ago, 31 girls between the ages of 13-16 were rescued by local authorities from a child sex trafficking ring bound for the Dominican only 30 minutes from our New Life Center. A short time after that rescue, we got word that a 16 girl was lured to a location and assaulted by 4 men with guns but somehow got away. More than likely, this was the traffic ring trying to start up again now that their “product” was depleted from the recent raid.

I’ve watched woman after woman who live in broken down brothels and who subject themselves to wearing tiny shorts & flirty smiles all for the sake of feeding their children. Reduced to nothing more than a warm body and $1.75 plate of food. I know of children who have been sexually abused by family members.  I’ve met women who pitch their tent on another person’s land and pay rent by giving the landowner sex whenever he wants. 

I know this is hard to hear and talk about, but that heart break and disgust you feel now, it’s HEALTHY. It has a PURPOSE. It’s made to move us into ACTION!

Some of you may think I’m a bit crazy in deciding to live in a place that is surrounded with such injustice and heartbreak. I don’t blame you. You may be right. After all, I am living in the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. But there was something inside of me that COMPELLED me to move here. There was something inside me that broke at the things I saw. And that something inside me, it MOVED me to action.

I’ve always had this extreme compassion for people. Even at a very young age, my mother said I was drawn to the kid who didn’t have friends and I always sat with them. But around the age of 5, I was sexually abused by a young girl. And that was the day my heart began to shut down and shut out. I remember my mom asking me years later. “What happened to my compassionate little girl?..” The truth is, I didn’t know what to tell her. Now, I understand what happened to her. She was silenced and cutoff at the knees. And all this happened in the hopes of crushing what God is using me for today in Haiti.  I could have easily stayed broken and closed off. But fortunately, the light always wins and God saw fit to heal that little girl and give her New Life again. 

Through my own pain, God has shown me what He has made me for and why women are so oppressed here. It’s LOVE. Love is what us women, no matter what country we live in, have in common.  LOVE is what moved me to Haiti. And it is why you feel the way you do now after hearing about the brokenness in Haitian women. I believe God gave women a unique gifting to LOVE. I think men absolutely love, but there is something so very powerful and relentless about a mother’s love or the compassion and heart of a woman. It’s also why the enemy has done his best to crush women, keep them wounded, and chain them to bitterness, lack of forgiveness and hurt. Because if the enemy can take away that LOVE; the very LOVE that sent Jesus to the cross, then the chances of the world around us changing are very slim.

If you made it to the end of this and you feel that tension in your chest and ache in your heart… It may just be God trying to MOVE you to ACTION. Maybe He wants you to come visit Haiti to serve and see with your own eyes the tragic assault on the value of women. Or perhaps he is speaking to you to contribute financially to New Life Campaign.  Maybe it’s time to feel the heart ache and do something purposeful with it. I did! And it was the hardest most worthwhile decision I have ever made. I’m beginning to see light drive out darkness in a way that only God can be responsible for. God uses regular people like you and me to do that. He loves us so much that He allows us to be part of what He's doing in the world and in in our case, in Haiti.

This is a call to do more than push aside or sit on the compassion, heart ache and disgust. It’s a call to ACTION. 

For more information on how YOU can be a part of what God is doing trough New Life Campaign in Haiti, please visit our website at www.newlifecampaign.org or send a quick email to newlifecampaignhaiti@gmail.com and ask us how you can join us in the fight against abuse & exploitation in Haiti.

Blessings in Jesus Name,

Salem Hicks

Laicia's Story

Laicia's Story

I watched a young man come into the brothel gates, signal to her & the look in her eyes as she nodded back. She gently passed her freshly born baby to another woman, walked towards the entrance to her room, lifted the curtain & went inside...