“I never envisioned myself being on a long-term mission overseas” said Amber Epley. “In February, 2011, about a year after the earthquake, I went to Haiti to serve with Mission of Hope. That organization provides orphan care, education, healthcare and other services to children and adults in Haiti. When I came back to Texas, the excitement I experienced through serving in Haiti was not short-lived. I knew God had something more for me to do. I’d been given certain skills that could be used in Haiti. It was a season where I could not only use my skills, but God could use that time to grow me as well.
“The next June, I was accepted to teach at a school in Haiti, and I moved there in August of 2011. The school where I worked is different from most of the country’s schools. The students are from the wealthier part of Haiti (which represents the top 5% of the populace). The goal is to teach students about the Lord and raise them in a Christ-centered environment so that Haiti could have a new generation of moral leaders. The hope is that strong Christian leaders can change the country over the long term.
“Working at that school in Haiti was like living in two worlds. One world was the school serving Haiti’s elite; the other was walking through impoverished areas and experiencing the poorest of the poor. At school, we had armed guards for our compound. No one got Malaria. We weren’t really affected by hurricanes. We were protected from the outside world. Yet we needed God to be at work.
“There was one student who was very antagonistic, and she was into the occult. Last fall, she had a conversation about the Lord with one of her teachers, and later came to know Christ. I didn’t necessarily expect to make a difference with her, but she did a complete turn-around. It was one of those moments when I knew God was at work.
“Living in Haiti really opened my eyes to the needs of the world and how God is working. I often met people who truly had nothing in this world but their faith. I heard incredible stories of how God was meeting their needs time and time again. Seeing how God’s provision strengthened their faith was challenging to my western, entitled mindset. I had everything, and felt like I needed more. I met people who weren’t sure where their next meal was coming from, yet they never doubted God’s provision or goodness.
“I returned to Texas a few months ago. My time in Haiti was great, but I am excited to be back home. Right here in our area, we have one of the top-five poorest neighborhoods in the country. The needs here are very great.
“Right now, I teach 6th grade at a low-income public school. I also co-lead a group of Watermark high school girls whom I served for a year before moving to Haiti. At school, the students are mostly from immigrant families. Many live in single parent homes, and when they get home they are faced with drugs and gang activity every night. The girls that I work with in Shoreline come from very different homes, but they face similar challenges that all kids face: peer pressure, trying to figure out who they are and what they think about the Lord. God is showing me that the external challenges that people face may be different, but the internal, spiritual struggles are the same, no matter the country or zip code.
“Right now God continues to teach me that I must rely on Him and nothing else. Anything else I put my hope in other than Christ is going to fail. I’m so thankful that God showed me where He had equipped me, and how I could leverage those gifts, talents and passions to serve others. I know I don’t need to go abroad to serve the Lord effectively. There are so many opportunities right here in this community to serve and further God’s kingdom. Everyone − rich, poor, Haitian or American − needs Jesus.”