Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We're Home From Haiti!

I'll be posting an expanded recap of the trip soon, but I thought that I would just say a few things to wrap up the core of the trip.

On all my trips to Haiti I've come back just blown away at the ability the Haitians have, to live life from a place of joy.  I think joy transcends happiness because joy is a mindset.  These people love to sing, dance and experience life with one another.  I learn so much from them.

Our service while there included a medley of efforts.  Firstly, connecting with education strategies in the private sector, inclusive with values of sustainability and empowerment amongst the people there.  Spending time with the children in the orphanage is always amazing.  We had a rap battle in Creole (kreyol) with the boys... there's a video coming! They are so fun... The conference was amazing.  In partnership with Sounds Of The Nations, our workshops included topics like: Running Live sound, recording, band rehearsal strategies, native song writing, worship in music (Dan lit it up!),  Music dept. ethics and more!  We were also able to deliver 40 sponsorships for school tuition.  This will allow 40 children to go to school for the next year.  AWESOME!

We have over 60 GB of video and photos to get through that will be posted soon as well. Thank you for your continued support.  Creativity and the next Generation are a powerful combination.  Haiti will rise!  I believe that...

Drew Neal

Friday, March 18, 2011

International Expanse...

We have our sights on China, Germany, Guatemala and Peru as destinations to reach to.  We will be making connections and visits to these countries in the next 10 months.  If you have contacts on the ground in the primary or secondary education sectors as well as networks of church's having an impact with the next generation in these countries that are in need of support, please forward them to us.  We would love to connect with as many responsible and effective organizations as possible.  

Next Trip Coming UP!

So with great expectation we are preparing to go to Haiti.  We will be leaving March 30th.  I'm taking a small strategy team with me.  The group is talented musically and also technically skilled in all things creative.  Dan McCollam (founder of Sounds Of The Nations) will also be accompanying and working alongside us.

This trip will have a few different efforts in place to accomplish while on the ground.  The greatest priority in everything we are doing is to infuse hope and empower the next generation, that they can see their future as bright and full of life.

#1.  We will be connecting with numerous schools and orphanages to assess implementation of the creative arts programs/education we are putting together.  We will be looking to solidify where we will add this new concept and/or support current programs already in place.  Curriculum, Gear and technology is needed.  (video of info) While visiting the orphanages, we'll be following up on the mattresses that were donated and see how the boys are enjoying them! :)

#2. We will be dispersing the one year school tuition sponsorships (video of info) of $25 we have collected from you! You can give here.

#3. Along with bolstering the creative arts at primary and secondary education institutions, we are also partnering with local churches.  Pastor Gerald Bataille's church Eglise de Diieu des Premiers Chretiens will be hosting a two day conference that will provide training in worship as it relates to music, worship leading, technical training on running live sound, live sound rigging and setup, guitar and piano lessons plus more!  Dan McCollam and I will be speaking as the rest of the team will be running the intensive technical trainings and lessons.

#4. We are also building strategy to help with implementing a massive upgrade to the telecommunications of as they are looking to upgrade their quality and also expand into local television.  One of their desires is raise up a new breed of Haitians that will begin to bring life to their country.  Expanse of this message is something I fully believe in and support. We hope to have this strategy implemented by the first of 2012.

There is a great chance to have a part in changing someone's life through The Frame Project.  If you share the same desire to infuse hope and empower the next generation, drop us a line here or donate. Thank you for your continued support.

Drew Neal

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creative Education needs for Haiti- March 30th.

Origins and Inspirations

What if we could get all the dusty guitars and keyboards in the basements of America into the hands of children in orphanages across the globe and breath life into their imagination? What could happen? The writer David in Psalms said that hope deferred makes the heart sick. The absence of hope is what drives generation after generation into tailspins of survival and ultimately desensitizes them to the thought of their future being different than what is currently known. Creativity and the imagination being cultivated at a young age allows our mind to begin the foundation building of what it takes to have hope and generally think bigger. If third world nations are going to see change, it's going to be because a generation of leaders were raised up to think differently. To think their life and even greater, their nations CAN be different...

Creativity expressed is the right we all have to say that our world can be bigger, brighter, smaller or louder than what we currently see. It's taking the invisible realm and making it visible. This is the basis for all their greatest dreams. To see dreams realized, it's going to take able bodied people to draw it out of them. They've never seen dreams come true. It's time for that to change... You and FRAME are going to help.

Spurring creativity in a young generation could be the tipping point for the revolutions these nations are looking for. With technology and creative exposure at a minimum, FRAME will be a channel of hope thru these realms. Exposing children to creative experiences that let their imaginations soar. Partnering with private education institutions, orphanages and churches already established, FRAME will empower them with the resources to train and empower youth in all things creative. Music, Media and the arts as a whole will be our vehicle.

There will be many needs communicated soon that will bring great support to this global effort of empowered and creative thinking. We will need educators, musicians, all sorts of technology, finances and pure volunteer muscle on many levels. Please email me with interest.

By faith we understand that the worlds were FRAMED by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. - Hebrews 11:3

SITE COMING SOON.!/theframeproject

My Second Trip to Haiti.

I took another trip to follow up on what I had experienced and felt inspired by my first trip to Haiti.  This trip was significant to begin to birth what has now become The Frame Project.

Pastor Gerald Bataille and Myself
Well it's been a good couple weeks being home and seeing the continued layers of God's unfailing plan come together.  I recently spent a week in Haiti, and I'd love to share some of the highlights of the trip as well as some back story as to the friendships that I have there.

The intent of the trip was three fold.  First of all, we love our Haitian family- The Bataille's.  They are all so near and dear to our heart.  We love just spending time with them and supporting them in the endeavors that God has placed in their hearts, which is leading culturally and spiritually in the midst of what is many years and generations of brokenness.  (Let's remember that Haiti was in need before the earthquake.  The earthquake has just been a reminder to the world that their need still exists.)  The Bataille's and Pastor Gerald more specifically, have been meeting the needs of Haiti formally for over 40 years.   It's phenomenal to witness the example they are of life in the midst of so much poverty, mourning and mass chaos.

Junior and Joycelyn Bataille,  Myself
Some back story: We met Pastor Gerald Bataille and his family in the late 80's.  My parents were pastoring in KY at the time and after meeting Pastor Gerald through Dr. Nicholas Driever from Cincinnatti, OH, our hearts immediately connected.   Pastor Gerald's influence and favor with many people was growing so rapidly in Port-Au-Prince, that the current dictator oriented government felt that he and his church were a threat to their sovereignty,  (Any government established through force is always looking for those who would do the same to them) so after a few months of his seven children and his wife Keke, separating and living on the move at different safe locations for two days at a time, he decided to move them to the states.  There is a great and powerful story of God getting them miraculously through security with the favor of an employee at the airport they had never met before.  Long story short, they arrived in KY and we graciously accepted the chance to keep some of the children with us till the family was found a home of their own.  My parents were constantly giving myself and my siblings as children the chance to see the giving love of God in action.  This was one of those examples.  Little did we know, that the Bataille family would impact us greater than what we could ever give.  Their heart, strength and belief in the faithfulness of God in the midst of their distress would impact us for the rest of our lives.

              (main church in Port-Au-Prince)
Now 20+ years later, with Pastor Gerald not being able to leave the country, he has only recently been able to reunite with his children who spent the rest of their upbringing without him in their lives in the states.  Even while being separated from his family and suffering the tragic loss of his wife to a car accident in the states,  he did not waver from following after the things in his heart for Haiti. God has used him tremendously to be a voice to people who are hurting and literally needing  miracles on a regular basis to survive.  While obviously being a spiritual guide to many, his message of hope and direction has been focused on empowering the Haitian people to pursue their dreams and being willing to follow through on every detail of life no matter the resistance.  Whether in business, agriculture, education, or even government realms, Pastor Gerald's influence has been lifted to places of great inspiration.   He is a present example of believe that a new breed of Haitians are rising.  A new people who will not be oppressed and not held back whatever and wherever their lives lead them.  God's principles always work and living the gospel message should  take us to levels of influence in all realms.  Pastor Gerald's life is this and he compels others to believe in the same life.

Rose Bataille (center) with kids
You can't walk away from a conversation with this man about his journey and not feel like with God, you're invincible.  :)  it's truly inspiring.  From having numerous failed assassinations (these undercover military men have handed over their guns while weeping and asking for Gerald to lead them to the God that he serves as they had come to services and said some force wouldn't let them draw their guns) against his life, to the resurrection of his dead son, he has seen God do the unthinkable!    So considering the nature of man he is and family they are, its amazing to just spend time while visiting there and soak in that faith forward lifestyle and be inspired.

Secondly, my trip to Haiti was rallied around being able to meet some immediate needs within Pastor Gerald's numerous efforts in place to give to the people.  He has been apart of planting nearly 30 efforts inclusive of churches, schools and orphanages.  Creekside Ministries (my parent's church in Indy), myself, as well as a few others, all raised money to purchase and deliver new mattresses to one of the orphanages.  According to American culture, their sleeping conditions were outrageous and it was amazing to see their faces light up as they began to see the mattresses unload and be placed in their room.  They were going to have the most comfortable sleeping arrangement they had ever known.  Not foam, not rolled up blankets, not the floor and nothing make shift.  A real mattress.  It's amazing how the simplest thing can be so powerful.  What a blessed nation we are that a majority of us will never know a life that doesn't include a bed to sleep on.  We were also able to help provide finances towards the completion of their kitchen that was being developed.  Their current kitchen was the ground outside in cooperation with an open fire.  Not the most ideal when cooking for dozens of children everyday.  It was a couple of extraordinary days spent with kids that will change the way you look at life... forever.

While there, our time overlapped with another team from TEXAS that was partnering with the foundation.  Apparently everything in TEXAS is bigger, thus the all caps.  :)  Their organization represented is called R U 4 Children.  Great org, even greater people. It was pleasure meeting Michael, Philip, Meagan, Gina and Jenna!  Of their numerous efforts while there, one of them was overseeing the digging of a fresh water well for one of Gerald Bataille Foundation's  orphanages.  We had a blast connecting and serving together.   Texas is in my crosshairs.  We'll see if 2011 allows for it.

Thirdly, this trip was all about gaining heart for the need that makes the most sense to fill and not just be repetition of what is currently in place.  As this time of transition has been in place, Melissa and I have been allowing it to be defined one step at a time.  So we've been asking the question of whether we're to get involved or just let the nature of this Haiti connection be a couple of occasional trips and continued support to the Bataille family.  As a result it seems that there is more.  Once again it's a slow process and thoughts are being developed of what that looks like, but I'm very excited to see what could be.  In my two trips in the last four months, I've recognized the lack of hope that is engrained in their DNA passed from generation to generation.  Within that thought,  I've come to realize that the foundation of creativity is hope, so where there is no hope there is no place for the mind to imagine or express what could be bigger, brighter, softer or louder than the world they currently know.  With music being something that I love and have personally found a powerful connection with, I know the great things that happen within music.  You can get swept away to a whole new world by a great song or even experiencing the feeling of creating music that communicates something from your heart that no other outlet would allow.  Those who think in creative terms have to have this outlet or life just seems incomplete.  My conversations with Pastor Gerald are surrounded with thoughts about music education in his private schools, classes for adults at the churches and the possibility of sponsoring gatherings that teach song writing and creative expression as a whole.  Wouldn't it be cool to get all the dusty guitars and keyboards in America into the hands of children across Haiti and breath life into their creative minds and see new hope in a generation be birthed?  The orphanages are filled with children who are willing to be molded into whatever influence comes into their life.  Music could be an amazing bridge to their future.

All in all, I just want to share of the life that was just handed to me because of the country I was born in.  Significance is waiting to be encountered... and it lies waiting for all of us.  Will we just live our lives for our own good or will we surrender to a greater cause that produces something that will mark the generation after us?

I'll be communicating soon about how you can continue to be apart.  March should bring my next visit.

My First Trip To Haiti

I went to Haiti for the first time in October of 2010.  Here's a posting from my first trip:

First of all... words are very limiting. 85% of all communication is non verbal and I think it was God's dirty trick on the technology, but here's a 15% valued effort at some of my experience in Haiti.

Dominic Russo Ministries and World Missions Evangelism were the primary sponsors of the effort and the purpose of the trip was two fold: Medical Relief and Evangelism. Both were accomplished dynamically and beyond that, the personal impact will mark me for life. While there, I was also able to reconnect with Gerald Bataille, a long time friend of my family.  He is a native haitian pastor and culture changer. Him and his family have been friends with us most of my life, so it kinda felt like I had been there before through their stories. My parents had also visited twice on missions trips bringing back haitian art, memento machetes for my brother and I, and of course pictures/video. So I've had lots of exposure to the language, thoughts on culture etc. prior to going.  With all this in mind, I was still blown away at what i saw, heard, felt and encountered.

Haiti's current state: Complete anarchy. Whatever governing state is in place is not seen or heard. It's non existent. It's reflected in simple things like their roads and driving conditions. There are no road lines. No stop signs. No traffic signals. It's literally survival at it's greatest. This is a great picture into everyone's mentality. You do whatever it takes to survive and there are no guidelines given to help you along. Majorities rule. Mobs push. Perception of the mob dictates. This boils their lives into either sitting and watching or jumping into the mosh pit of life and hope you don't get trampled under feet while doing so.  It's life or death. There's limited thinking at work with the common man as instincts are the greatest tool of motivation. It drives the whole population to be self conscious and as a result it lends them to tearing down the success of others as to keep things socially "fair". It's very sad. Haiti does not need to be given more food and water. They don't need more of our money. They don't need more organizations on the ground (10,000 Registered ORGS are there now and yet Haiti hasn't changed). They need leadership. They're a generation of leadership away from pulling out of what has been years of misery, but that leadership needs to be the haitians themselves. The challenge is finding the strength to not have your spirit broken by the age of 25. I could type years of thoughts here on these specific topics. The need for education, ethics, engineering, family, honor, business are endless. God help Haiti. Send them ONE man who will lead.

Medical Relief:
We had a tremendous medical team with us. Armed with as many medical supplies that we could get on the plane, we had three clinical efforts prepared. These three efforts where each day long free clinics, setup in different places while in Carrefour. The medical team was led by Dr. Karl Bandlien. A talented Physician with a tremendous heart for people. Crowds of people waited each day and the numbers never went away. It seemed like no matter if you had seen 100 people that you hadn't put a dent into it. The hard part was turning those away at the end that we just weren't able to get to. It really breaks your heart.   Infection seemed to the number one need. Over 80% of people were dealing with infection.

While the medical team was in place (sidenote: It was amazing meeting the medical team in the midst of our traveling, which was outside of their function and then watching them come to life the moment we hit the grounds of the clinic. It was like they were the medical Autobots transforming. :)) during the day, we had numerous missionary teams setup to work as well. We would rotate between praying over each person in the clinic for healing and also sharing the gospel message with them along with going out into the streets. Out in the streets we were driving people to the clinic who were in need and then as opportunities presented themselves, we would minister the gospel. One person at a time we were able to share the love of God. Numerous times I felt like Peter who when he encountered the cripple man told him that he didn't have any silver or gold to give him (the cripple was begging) but what he did have (the power of Christ!) he would freely give. We also would stop at each school or orphanage and ask if we could come in and connect with the kids. Skits and stories were prepared to offer and the kids responded with so much laughter. I pray that I'll always be able laugh no matter where my life is. Truly inspiring to watch. Many were touched in the streets and encountered the love of God for the first time as we took the message of the kingdom to those that were hurting and broken right to their doorstep.

Larger Format Evangelism:
Crusades were prepared for five nights and the city of Carrefour was literally rocked with the power of God. We setup in a huge field alongside the ocean. Stage. Halogens. BIG speakers for all of Carrefour to hear. The gospel was given each night followed by personal prayer for healings and some of the greatest celebration was seen. They love to sing and dance. They did that with all their heart every night. It's so funny how in America, we have boiled our musical experience in church down to observation. Not what God intended. These people sing and you'd think a host of angels had surrounded you and overwhelmed you with their voices. Nope. It's just the poorest people in the world still declaring the God is faithful, merciful and loving. They do it with great joy. Mindblowing.

Each night of crusades produced stories of God's miraculous power. I personally observed God heal the blind, visibly diseased, the lame, the deaf, and the oppressed. The details of the stories could run forever, but the short of it is this: we laid hands on these people in faith and God instantly was doing things. I remember one mother pushing her way thru the crowd that would have brought shame to Charles Barkley boxing out for a rebound. She was carrying her two year old daughter. This child could not see... until God touched her. I pulled the woman and daughter out of the crowd and numerous staff did series of test with the child. She could see! Praise God! There are so many encounters to share. Some are still soaking and needing perspective gained on, but nonetheless it extremely evident that if you are willing to put yourself in a place to be used of God, simply be willing with faith, there is nothing God can't do. Nothing. With the masses numbering close to 20,000 on the final night, it's undoubtedly known that those people all witnessed the goodness of God to do things no other god could do. Not voodoo, not medicine, not housing relief. Only the one true God. Other opportunities to minister included a women's and pastor's conference along with our team breaking up and speaking at numerous churches during their regular services.

Our efforts may have paled in comparison to the overall need. The first thought I had while driving from the airport and seeing the devastation was: "why are we here? and what can do that will actually have an impact that will last?". Our entire bus full of missionaries were emotionally and spiritually overwhelmed by the heaviness of their oppressive state. I felt like a speck of dust in the sand. How could we truly have an impact on a nation so full of need? We were there to deliver something so simple. Good News. I've had numerous experiences in my life that were acts of God in their timing and the people or circumstances related were never apart of my life again, yet they shifted my path and thinking. The power of what God can do in a minute far exceeds what we could plan to do during our lifetime. I pray the thousands of people who we encountered experienced just that. I know they were that for me. I'll never be the same.