Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Man With Hope For The Future

I was particularly touched by this encouraging story of Jessner and his family in Haiti that appeared in the Summer issue of The Sower newsletter. After the hardships and trauma that many experienced in that country, there is always a glimmer of hope and forward-thinkers shining brightly amidst the rubble. Enjoy ...

Jessner’s Corner

By Scott Sabin, Executive Director
For as long as I have been here we have had a section in The Sower called “The Director’s Corner.” Sometimes it has my picture next to it, and sometimes I make our editor leave it off. I realize that it is my job to represent the organization—to be the face of the organization, if you will. However, all of the really great things we are doing are being accomplished not by me but by the people we work with, the people who are empowered by your support and prayer. They are the ones who have planted the 6.3 million trees that we talk about. They are the ones operating the savings and loan groups, and they are the ones restoring fertility and abundance to the land. They are the heroes of the Plant With Purpose story. So today I would like this to be Jessner’s Corner.
Jessner is a Haitian farmer with almost no formal education. I took this picture of him last spring, shortly after the earthquake. This picture of him with his son offers a great window on his character and personality. It was a time when smiles were the last thing one would expect to see. Yet Jessner is a man with hope for the future and he is a man who has discovered his vocation.
As it turns out, he has an enormous talent for agricultural innovation and experimentation. He lives not far from our office in southern Haiti where he runs our research farm. His own farm is filled with experiments he has devised to test the interactions between various plants and trees. When I last visited, he proudly showed me the work he had done, work that had begun to restore and return fruitfulness to a steep rocky plot of land where he and his family draw sustenance.
The media rarely talks about the poor except to portray them as victims, helplessly awaiting rescue. Poor people, sadly, often buy into the same story. They believe the lie that they have nothing to offer, no talent that is valuable to anyone. This lie is even stronger among subsistence farmers, the rural poor. In most countries they are looked upon as backwards, an impediment to development, despite the fact they often produce much of the wealth of the country.
Since the earthquake there has been much speculation in the media about who, from the outside, should “fix” Haiti. There has been an expectation that the disaster relief and associated aid would rescue the country and set it in the right direction. This has been followed by disappointment when the relief work did nothing to correct the deeper problems that face the country. Today most articles tend to lack hope. But I think Jessner, and a million more like him, are the hope of Haiti.
One of the most important things we do at Plant With Purpose is help people discover and utilize their talents. I believe an important and sometimes neglected part of the Gospel is the good news that Jesus calls us all to contribute to the kingdom. All of us have talents, and all of us have something to offer. All of us have a vocation. Jessner is a man who has discovered his.

Scott Sabin
Executive Director
Visit our website,, for the most recent update on our work in Haiti and to donate toward these efforts.

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