“Why would anyone want to spend money to play with children in Haiti when they could do it for free (or even earn money) doing it back home?” was a question Craig Van Hill grappled with. Van Hill is pastor of First Christian Reformed Church of Waupun, Wisc. It was his love for orphaned children in one of the poorest communities in the western hemisphere that led him to get involved with and recently become president of Open Hands 4 the Fatherless, a nonprofit organization. “That is exactly why God calls us to go. He never says in the Bible to go and build something,” said Van Hill, “but says to ‘show love.’”
Twice a year Van Hill and members of First CRC travel to Gonaives, an area three hours north of capital city Port au Prince, right outside the village in Myan. There they show love to orphan children by holding them, playing games together, or doing simple crafts. In December 2013, Open Hands 4 the Fatherless, along with an organization called Coreluv International, established an orphanage in Myan.
On October 10, 2014, the organizations opened a school for 97 children from the orphanage and the community. Local Haitians built the facilities, work at the orphanage, and teach at the school. Local missionaries and short-term groups support their efforts at supporting local Haitian pastors, teachers, and caregivers. “We are not just taking care of orphans but also trying to find a way we can educate [them] and stop this poverty from repeating,” said Van Hill.
Van Hill said that the partnership with Open Hands 4 the Fatherless has sparked a passion within his congregation. “We have realized there is more out there than we considered—what are [we] called to do?”
Open Hands 4 the Fatherless was founded by Aron and Laura Mc Reynolds. Laura is the daughter of First CRC church members Don and Linda Pausma.