By Melissa McLaughlin
“That’s wonderful!” people exclaimed when they heard we were taking a short-term family mission trip to Haiti.
“What will you do there?” people asked with great enthusiasm. “Help with food, water, medical care, building homes?”
“No, we are helping at a Music Camp that is held at North Haiti Christian University (UCNH).”
“A what? A Music Camp did you say?” they asked again.
“Yes, we are helping at a Music Camp,” we repeated.
“Music ministry in Haiti? Really? Why?”
Music Ministry in Haiti
Music ministry in Haiti? Why? That is a good question and one we had to answer for ourselves before embarking on our family volunteer trip to help at the Music Camp held at North Haiti Christian University (UCNH) this summer. Yes, there are many obstacles to be overcome in Haiti – lack of jobs, lack of food and clean water, lack of adequate homes and clothing, lack of educational opportunities, lack of medical care.
Indeed, there are many, many needs in Haiti, but perhaps among the greatest is the need for hope; hope in something more than you can see with the human eye. True hope that can only be found in God. That is where the ministry of music becomes a formidable force.
The Power of Music
Music has been a great reformer, great comforter, great communicator in all ages, in all cultures. Haiti is no exception. Music has a far reaching and sweeping impact on the people there, just as it does here in the United States. Music can be heard when working, when relaxing, when playing, when worshiping.
Have you ever felt a tear come to your eye upon hearing the first few notes of a nostalgic or special song? Have you ever felt joy rise within your chest at a song that lifts you higher? This is the power of music. Music, a creative gift given by a creative God. Music, a tool to express the deepest emotions within our hearts – joy, love, sorrow, pain. Music can speak when words cannot. That is the power of music.
Haiti Music Camp
The Music Camp at UCNH was started by Laurel Casseus, a Professor and Dean of Fine Arts at the University. Laurel was born in Haiti, the daughter of missionaries and founders of UCNH. Laurel could not help but notice how much music was integrally woven into the lives, culture and hearts of the people of Haiti. She realized that God could use this tool to reach and inspire people who might have no other chance of being touched through other means. And so she started the Music Camp.
When the Music Camp first began 37 years ago, there were just five choral directors who attended. Laurel and the early campers invited others to come, and come they did! The camp was a great success and has continued to operate successfully ever since.
The Music Camp at UCNH offers many life-giving gifts. To begin, students are provided with a safe and nurturing environment on the campus of UCNH, where the University facilities are well maintained and cared for with great pride. Students have clean water to drink, water for bathing and clean dormitory housing, including a soft bed for resting and sleeping. The campus also has modern buildings where classes are held for teaching and learning, bathrooms with toilets and running water, an outdoor amphitheater for large group meetings and a chapel for worship. Students receive three nutritious and delicious meals each day in a clean cafeteria. Many of the students are not able to count on these basic benefits at home, so a visit to the Music Camp is a welcomed retreat for the body. Clearly, the first ministry offered by the Music Camp is attending to the physical needs of the students.
Next, the Music Camp provides nourishment for the Christian spirit. Students are given Christian guidelines for how to conduct themselves before even beginning camp. This helps to set high standards for Christ-like behavior and attitude. Each morning, students start the day with Christian devotions lasting 30-45 minutes, where a message is shared by camp staff. Prayer is offered before each activity, meal and outing, showing how God is invited into each part of the day. Small group reflection and prayer time are also included in the daily activities. All of the music and talent that is shared is Christ-centered and sung or played to the glory of God. In this way, the Music Camp is a ministry designed to meet the spiritual needs of Christian young people.
Finally, the Music Camp offers extensive opportunities for musical growth and development. Students are invited to participate in a wide array of musical options. Daily music instruction begins with theory classes where students learn how to read and understand musical symbols and foundations. This is followed by a variety of choices for personal growth, including instrumental and voice lessons on a variety of instruments designed to encourage progress on every level. The afternoon concludes with large group combined choir practice where the voices of all participants are raised on high in praise of God! To end the evening, students share what they have learned that day at an evening concert. This is a gift to the musician, to the listener and most of all to God, the giver of the musical talents! These musical talents are then taken back to be shared in home communities and churches. Many of these students have gone on to study music at the University level and are now leaders in music ministries at their home churches. A testament to the work of this Spirit-led Music Camp!
Sometimes We Need a Song
The Music Camp at UCNH is a remarkable Christian ministry, as it brings together and provides for three great needs: physical needs, spiritual needs and musical desires of young people in Haiti. Through this program, students and faculty are treated with the utmost dignity by lifting up the whole person; body, mind and soul.
Make no mistake about it, the people of Haiti need jobs, food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care, education. But the people of Haiti also need hope. Sometimes this hope can be found in a song, a song that echoes deep within your own heart, that lifts you up from where you are and helps you to see and feel the presence of God. Sometimes, it is a song that renews your mind in Jesus and carries you through your darkest hour. Sometimes it is a song that helps you rise again and take that next wobbly step. Sometimes, the rhythm of the song is the only thing that keeps your feet moving forward. Sometimes, the people need a song.
Music ministry in Haiti? Yes, this is my song.
Where might you share a song of hope?
Psalm 6:1 NIV – Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Photo ©Melissa McLaughlin
When a Hungry Child Feeds You – Uncommon Love By Melissa McLaughlin
UCNH – North Haiti Christian University
Music in Haiti By the Crudem Foundation
This was a blessing to read! Music is almost a necessity for life. Every culture on earth has it’s own music! Pretty interesting when you think about it.
Praise God! It was a blessing to share in the incredible music ministry in Haiti! Music is a powerful force, to be sure.
Music has kinda went on a very far back burner for a while. But here lately, it’s returning. I’m interested in playing the bass. Not sure why I want to but I want one and I want to be better than proficient playing it. I know there’s good reason why I’m craving this. Thank you for sharing!
Our Creator gifted each person with unique gifts, strengths and needs. We desire to use our God-given gift to glorify the One who gave you the gift! Just like the oceans roar for Him! The birds sing for Him! The mountains rejoice for Him! Go for it! Play the bass! To the glory of God, the giver of all good gifts!
Thank you for the encouragement!
I mean every word!
How wonderful for you to be a part of His kingdom work in Haiti! God uses music as He uses other things. Early in my faith, I sat in the front pews wanting to be so close to the music that was stirring my heart. Have a blessed day, Missy. Posting soon my announcement of my blogging and Twitter break. I will still read blogs as time allows 🙂
You are right, Julie! Music does stir the heart to higher praise of our Lord than words alone can. Another way He draws us. Please be refreshed in Him in your break. Not by might, not by power but by my Spirit says the Lord! Zech. 4:6. If we don’t take the time for Him to fill us, so He can flow through, we really have nothing to say. In doing this, even your silence speaks a powerful message. God bless you!
This is so great! What an awesome opportunity to serve the Lord!
God knows the power of music to bring hope and comfort to the hearts of those who are hurting. Praise the Lord that you and many others have heard and followed His call to bring this hope to the people of Haiti!
It has been a great privilege and honor to sing God’s praises with my dear brothers and sisters in Haiti! You are right, music is a powerful tool in the hands of God, whether here in the U.S. or around the world. How about you? Are you a singer or musician? How has God called you?
Yes, singer and musician. I’m part of the choir at church, and I play piano. I’m called to serve the Lord in whatever way He directs on a given day, whether music related, hospitality, writing, teaching, or other. I had never heard of the Haitian music ministry.
Wow, God has gifted and used you mightily! As for Haitian music ministry, are you feeling called?
I feel curious to know more about it. What the Lord wants me to do with that knowledge I don’t know at this time.
I will send information in an email. Too much here! May the Lord lead you.
Amen-Amein ❤ ❤ ❤
Thanks so very much Sweet Sister in Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua!!
GOD BLESS ALL my Sisters and Brothers in Christ Jesus-Yeshua and my Messianic Jewish Sisters and Brothers in Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua and Your Families and Friends!!
I am Pro-Israel-Yisrael / Pro-Christian and Jewish People who STAND with the Holy Land of Israel-Yisrael and our Judeo-Christian Nation United States of America / Pro-Zionism / PRO-LIFE!!
Please Pray for Israel-Yisrael / Christian Nation United States of America, and our Christian Earth Everyday “Pray Without Ceasing.” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV )!!
( Psalms 33:12 KJV ) “Blessed is the Nation whose GOD is the LORD; and the People whom HE hath Chosen for HIS Own Inheritance.”!!
Our ONE True GOD’S LOVE 💕💜 is ETERNAL THROUGH HIS SON Christ-MESSIAH Jesus-Yeshua for Today and Everyday Forevermore!!
I Love you all Everyone through Christ-MESSIAH Jesus-Yeshua, because HE LOVED 💜💕 EVERYONE FIRST!!
Love 💕 Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/
Music heals hurts. As a writer, God has given me songs of deliverance when I couldn’t voice the pain. But words flowed from heaven to paper. Love this idea!
This is such an original ministry idea and I am delighted by it. As you described it, I could feel my own heart relaxing. Has this missions trip already happened for you or are you preparing to embark?