Leaving Agape – Returning to Haiti

By Nancy James – Steve and I had been invited to speak about the work in Haiti, at a gathering of Massachusetts Baptist Churches in Leominster during the month of October and took advantage of the opportunity to be a part of the Agape Community life. It was wonderful to be a part of the daily routine at Agape of early morning prayers, gardening, meal preparation (Nancy), splitting wood (Steve), and long, rich, and conversations with Agape folk. There were also times of silence and meditation–important as we seek God’s direction for our future, discerning our call to serve We were able to participate in sharing our experiences in Haiti with a group of students from Holy Cross’s Rural Immersion program as well as students from Assumption College in their discussions on racial issues that confront our society.  Both groups were very engaging and lively and we felt grateful to have been a small part of these retreats. (Editor’s Note: With Assumption students, Dr. Steve James, Nancy James and Dr. Ahmad al Hadidi of Iraq offered thoughts about race. Nancy and Steve pointed out that while growing up in Burma they felt the pangs of discrimination as one of the few whites in their village, often called “White Monkeys” by the other children. Ahmad, a physician from Iraqi, spoke of being too dark to be white, of his anguish over how to self-identify in this world of shifting racial stereotypes.) One of the highlights of the weeks we spent at Agape was attending St Francis Day celebration on caring for the earth.  Guest speakers were enlightening as well as challenging and the mood was upbeat in spite of a cold, rainy weekend. The decision to be grateful for Brother Rain seemed to lighten any dampened spirit. We could not keep from thinking of Haiti and the broken ecology of deforestation as we heard speakers and shared together. Francis Day brought folks from all over New England, sharing stories of our human-earth connection. We drank hot tea and coffee, huddled around a large outdoor campfire and sang, played guitar and beat on drums late into the evening. Today, we booked our flight to return to Haiti in December. We just successfully raised the remaining funds needed for another year in our beloved Island home. We leave feeling connected in a deeper way and inspired to make positive changes in our global story. We want to carry this message to Haiti as we head back for another two years of medical ministry there. Steve and Nancy James are Agape’s co-founders. Steve James is a MD who, together with Nancy, a nurse, has overseen clinic and hospital care in Haiti in many contexts. For more information about their work and to make a donation to their ongoing presence in Haiti, please consult American Baptist International Ministries, Valley Forge, PA.