Warren County man has heart for Haiti​

​Q&A with Rick J. Santa, board member, Harvest Field Ministries.

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

Rick Santa lives and works in Warren County, but Haiti also holds a special place in his heart.

The Mars Hill Academy advancement director regularly travels to the impoverished Caribbean country, hoping to improve the lives of those in Les Anglais, a remote mountainous area eight hours west of the capital, Port Au Prince. He also serves as a board member for Harvest Field Ministries (HFM), a Christian nonprofit committed to meeting the physical and spiritual needs of impoverished people in Haiti.

“Les Anglais is a very remote, extremely impoverished part of Haiti,” said Brian Lloyd, HFM executive director. “Harvest Field’s vision is to see future generations of healthy, educated, self-sustaining Haitian communities living with integrity and striving to make Jesus famous.”

The ministry focuses on caring for children, widows and the disabled by providing food, shelter, medical care and education for those with extreme needs. It also provides young adults with vocational skills like sewing, carpentry, construction and agriculture and job opportunities by establishing and funding small businesses. Another area of focus is improving local healthcare and sending medical, dental and eye teams. Finally, HFM trains and equips Haitian pastors.

Santa recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti and talked with the Today’s Pulse about the work.

Q: How did you become involved with HFM?

A: Shortly after the devastating 2010 earthquake, I was invited by a pastor in my church to accompany him on a short-term mission trip organized by HFM.

That first trip shook my soul. The amount of human suffering, physical devastation and pervasive poverty that I witnessed was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

I knew almost immediately that I would never be able to turn my back on Haiti and resume a “normal” life back in Cincinnati. I was compelled to do something more, so I began to serve regularly with HFM in Haiti and eventually began leading short-term construction trips. I joined the HFM Board of Directors in 2012.

Q: What was the focus of your trip this August?

A: This trip was focused on serving thirty of the several hundred neglected widows living in and around the Les Anglais region. Most of the ladies exhibited failing eyesight and hearing and were severely malnourished. Sadly, some were homeless, regularly shuttled between the huts of charitable souls and distant relatives.

Our blended Haitian-American team delivered necessary supplies (food, clothing and toiletries) to these dear ladies and spent lots of time listening to, loving on, singing with and sharing the hope of Jesus with them. We also connected most of them to our local sister church and HFM-supported medical clinic and for four of the dear ladies, built brand new homes.

Q: Why do you think it is important to serve?

A: It is important for me as a Christ-follower to serve in this way, because God has equipped me and called me to do so. I look back on my younger years and now see that God was preparing me all along for this type and season of service. I believe that using these gifts now for my own purposes and/or ignoring His call to serve in Haiti would be selfish and frankly, disobedient.

Q: How has your life been impacted by serving on these mission trips?

A: Life is different for me now. I have trouble spending money (e.g. eating out or buying new clothing), because I'm constantly comparing the cost to the cost of a medical clinic visit (30 cents), a life-saving bag of rice ($5) or school tuition for an orphan ($70).

I’m also much more alert and sensitive to the pain and suffering of other people, and I can no longer look the other way (as I often used to do). I now find people and relationships to be more important than money, possessions and personal aspirations.

I also find that I desire to give more than I take and strive to love others more than myself. I’m more grateful now for what I have and less concerned about what I don’t have. Serving in Haiti has been transformative for me, to say the least.

Q: How do you apply the lessons learned?

A: There are many lessons learned in Haiti that I apply every day as I lead my family, serve my church, nurture friendships and manage the Advancement process at Mars Hill Academy.

The big three that I think about every day are:

God’s strength is greater than my own. This lesson helps me and those close to me better navigate through difficulties knowing that we don’t have to carry the burden.

People are more important than things. This lesson helps me and those close to me set proper priorities as we invest precious time at home, church, work, etc.

Live today. The past is history and tomorrow might not come. This lesson helps me and those close to me live each and every day to the fullest — to the glory of God.

For more information about Harvest Field Ministries, go online to www.harvestfieldhaiti.org.

About the Author