Many Hands for Haiti has our roots in individuals making radical decisions for Christ to make a difference for the people of Haiti. In 1998, a recently graduated high school kid from Pella, IA, took his first trip to Haiti. Tim Brand joined a group of 12 others from nearby churches to visit Christian Mission of Pignon and put a roof on a recently built school. This trip changed Tim’s perspective on God’s global heart, but he did not think God would continue to use him in Haiti.
God had different plans. Through a series of calls and life-events, God continued to reveal Himself and His plans for Haiti. From an immediate answer to prayer about leading a mission trip to a reverse offering where $100 turned into over $15,000 to build a school in Haiti, God was at work. He continued to show His amazing providence by making Himself real to all those who walked by faith. Tim and many others continued to go to Haiti, actively seeking God’s will for the country and His plan for redemption.
Then in 2006 through 2008, Tim formed a loose association of Iowa churches all doing work in the same area of Haiti. Being a business person by nature, Tim continued to see churches and NGOs not working together, replicating efforts instead of building upon them for the greater good. Best practices were needed to start and finish projects, create life-changing short-term mission trips, and improve stewardship of money.
At the same time, God placed a radical call on Stacey and Jared Nikkel, Christ-followers from Killduff, IA. They felt called to be the hands and feet of Christ in Haiti, selling all they had and moving their family of four to Pignon, Haiti, for a two year commitment. After exploring many different options, Tim and the Nikkels felt it was best to form a 501(c)3, as God’s call was to be a different type of organization, one that brings people together and partners with those already doing work on the ground. In 2008, Many Hands for Haiti (MH4H) formed as an organization, with Virginia-based Community Coalition for Haiti allowing money to be run through them until we officially had our paperwork completed. In May of 2009, Many Hands for Haiti became an official 501(c)3 organization.
Since this time, many other individuals have made radical decisions to help further our mission to “Make God Real for the People of Haiti.” We’ve had a college student delay going to school for a year to work in country. We’ve had several people quit their full-time, well-paying jobs to serve the country of Haiti. We’ve had people take one month leaves-of-absence from work to serve for an extended period of time. We’ve had many wonderful donors give from sacrifice to advance our mission. God has been faithful to our organization in leading us to walk by faith and answer His call when asked.
In 2011, Many Hands for Haiti’s path crossed with Silentor Esthil-Henderson, a Haitian born, U.S. citizen that recently graduated from Iowa State and worked for Teach for America. Silentor had moved back to Haiti to help his people, running after school programs in Gonaives, Haiti. After much discernment, Silentor came on board to run all our projects in Gonaives, Haiti, and be the steward of the vision for where God is leading in this urban region.
Many Hands for Haiti continues to focus on two areas of Haiti – the rural area of Pignon and the urban area of Gonaives – doing work in Youth Development, Ethical Feedings, Economic Development, Clean Water, and Health Care. Now, more than ever, we feel God has given us stewardship over His vision to make Himself real to all those involved. All He asks is we continue to take steps of faith as He reveals, even the radical ones!