Around the world | Presbyterian World Mission
Ministry of transformation
Cindy Corell links US Presbyterians and Haitians to change lives in both countries.
When Presbyterian mission coworker Cindy Corell arrived in a remote Haitian community last fall, she could see that people were abuzz with excitement. Their enthusiasm extinguished the mild fear she felt during a bouncy two-hour trip to the mountain village above Marigot.
The people of the village hurriedly carried a table, a chair, and some benches into the lean-to structure that serves as the neighborhood school. They were eager to address chronic problems such as a lack of clean water, a nearly impassable road, soil erosion, and inaccessible health care.
For Corell, the village is a vastly different work environment from the Staunton (VA) News Leader, where she worked as the community conversations editor until her mission appointment in 2013. Her life took this drastic change after Corell, a member of Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church in Fishersville, Virginia, sensed God calling her “to dive deep into the sea of serving others.” She now works alongside the Haitian network FONDAMA (from the Creole name Fondasyon Men-lan-men Ayiti, meaning Hand in Hand Haiti Foundation).
In her meeting with the Haitian villagers, Corell offered no quick solutions, but she brought words of hope. With her Haitian driver, Lucson, translating, she told them: “I am not here to offer you anything right now. I do not have the things you need to make your work easier or your life better. All I have is the time to be with you, to listen to you, to hear you tell me what your challenges are. And I believe that . . . together we can find ways to make your life better. And it all comes from God.”
Her audience nodded with approval. One man shouted, “Amen!” Corell says her work is guided by her belief that God wants to bring US Presbyterians and Haitians together to change lives in both countries.
Corell serves as a companionship facilitator with Joining Hands, an initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program that links congregations and presbyteries with FONDAMA and similar organizations around the world. Joining Hands strives to alleviate poverty and suffering through community education, advocacy, economic activities, lifestyle changes, and spiritual grounding. By helping Haitians improve their physical and economic well-being, Corell says, US Presbyterians can grow in their faith and their understanding of justice.
“It is good work,” she says. “It is God work, and I am blessed to be in the middle of it all.”
Pat Cole is a communication specialist for the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
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