Former SBTS student ministers amid “enormous suffering and confusion” in Haiti

Communications Staff — February 16, 2010

For Spencer Nix, it is a virtual certainty that the biblical story of the rescue of baby Moses from the Nile River by a Hebrew woman will never be the same after his recent trip to Haiti.

Nix, a former student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, traveled to Port-au Prince just three days after a massive earthquake splintered the island country’s most densely populated area. Nix serves as a preaching elder at Isaac’s Keep, a small home church in his native Canton, Ga., out of which he founded Grace to the Nations, a mercy ministry that partners with local churches to execute Gospel-centered mission to those most desperately in need.

It was after he had been there a few days that Nix came face to face with Moses outside an orphanage where 56 children had died in the rubble and the 75 that remained alive stood in desperate need of help. His encounter provided Nix with much-needed Gospel encouragement in the midst of the utter wreckage.

“I remember burying my face into my hands and thinking of the cross,” he said. ” I was thinking of Christ and what He accomplished through suffering and the cross. How sin has had devastating effects upon our world but even still Christ gives us hope even in the midst of this reality. The Gospel was so real to me in those brief moments of realizing what had occurred here. And that reality gave me strength to carry on.

“A woman brought our doctor a 19-day-old baby whose mother had died in the earthquake. His name was Moses. Baby Moses was virtually untouched by the earthquake, just a small scratch on his forehead, and seemed to be thriving in the midst of the devastation. The doctor told the woman what a wonderful job she was doing caring for him and then prayed over Moses, that, like his namesake he would one day grow up and lead his people to God.”

The pictures are not enough

Nix said the scene in Haiti cannot be understood through mere words or pictures. So unconscionable is the damage and suffering, Nix said he found it difficult to even wrap his mind around the situation.

“At times it felt like I was on a movie set, not in a real place. I saw an enormous amount of suffering and confusion while I was there, but I also saw hope.

“The small groups and individuals I was able to work with (from the Dominican Republic, Germany, the U.S. and Haiti) were so motivated and passionate about the work they were doing. When we arrived at one hospital after having obtained several thousands of dollars worth of supplies, one German relief worker was overjoyed. She said it was the best day she’d had in Haiti so far. Being able to bring that kind of excitement with just some simple medical supplies was humbling.”

Redeem Haiti

Haiti was on Nix’s radar long before the tectonic plates beneath Port-au Prince began to pull apart; Grace to the Nations began a formal outreach to Haiti last year through its initiative called “Redeem Haiti,” and Nix has made three visits to the poorest country in the West. He visited Haiti in December, a few weeks before the quake struck, teaching in conjunction with Oasis Church in the Dominican Republic. Following the quake, Nix stayed for nine days and assisted with emergency response work.

“My goal with Redeem Haiti was to devise a strategy for both the churches in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to work together for sustainable, long term ministry in Haiti,” he said. “That has to address their physical needs, but it must simultaneously address their spiritual needs.

“But I also know there are those in Haiti dedicated to the Gospel and biblical ministry. Our goal is to find those people and connect with them, to raise up spiritual leaders in Haiti and to do ministry there for years to come in order to see the Gospel bring real and lasting change – redemption.”

So pervasive was the suffering, Nix said there were times when it was difficult to press on. But those who worked alongside him to minister to the acute needs of thousands provided desperately-needed reminders of redemption, he said.

“I’m not sure I can put that into words at this point,” Nix said. “So much there made me want to weep, and I did when I could find a quiet spot. Death, destruction, hunger, frustration- there was so much tragedy.

“But then I saw volunteers hugging those waiting for care and Haitians weeping at the kindness of strangers. I saw individuals from all over the world working together for these people, who were formally known to us as ‘the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere.’ They now had names and faces for so many whose hearts went out to them, and seeing those people respond with grace and love was powerful.”

Nix and his wife Paula have two young daughters, a fact that made the suffering especially difficult for him. He urged believers to continue praying for Haiti – both for physical and spiritual renewal. Believers should also pray that God would raise up godly men to lead biblically faithful churches that will be able to meet the people of Haiti’s deepest need – a new heart, he said.

“We can pray that those working would share not only physical supplies and care but also the grace and truth of the Gospel,” he said. “We can pray that God’s glory would be seen among the Haitian people in the midst of disaster and that God would continue to use suffering for the purposes of redemption.

“Long-term, I think we pray that the Gospel would take firm root in communities in Haiti, that God would raise up biblical leaders and biblical churches in the country to impact them with the truth of His word for decades to come. And we can all pray that God shows us how He wants us to be a part of that.

“When I look back on these last few days and my involvement in Haiti, I am blown away by the providence of God. It is a great thought to know that God was preparing me for these past few days of ministry over the last 10 years of education and ministry. I am thankful that The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is part of this providence. To God be the glory!”

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For more information on Nix’s Grace to the Nations, visit www.gracetothenations.com. Grace to the Nations is located in Canton, Ga., and exists to spread the glory of God to all peoples and nations by connecting the community of believers into the community of need, according to the ministry’s website.

For more on Nix’s “Redeem Haiti” initiative, visit www.redeemhaiti.org. There you will find information on how you can give through Redeem Haiti and video updates from Haiti.

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