How La’Wana Harris got Started as a Missionary in Haiti

La'Wana Harris is an author, a speaker, and a missionary to Haiti. She's led multiple trips to Haiti, focusing on education, health, orphanages, evangelism and more. Here's how she got started.

Name + Contact Info

Where and what people do you primarily serve?

How do you serve those people?
Children's Ministry, Medical Clinics, Teaching at Orphanages and Schools, Evangelism

When did you begin to realize that you had a heart for missions or ministry?
I began to realize that I had a heart for missions as a child. My grandmother and I would serve as domestic missionaries in our local community. I loved to serve the people of our community more than anything else. I remember my grandmother buying an empty cargo van and having my uncle go to the salvage yard to pull seats out of old school buses. He bolted the seats to the floor in the van and I painted the church name and address on the side of the van. I would make corn beef hash and egg salad sandwiches for the children.

That was the beginning of our youth ministry which included weekly bible study, vacation bible school and meals.

How and when did God lead you to this? How did you recognize His call?
God gave me a spirit of compassion at an early age. He allowed me to care deeply for the needs of others around me. His love also motivated me to action. I felt compelled to help those that were hurting, in need or without a relationship with Jesus Christ. He called me to Haiti during a church service. God had been speaking to my heart about going on a mission's trip for months.

One Sunday during praise and worship, God spoke to my heart letting me know that I should go serve in Haiti. Our church announced a short term mission's trip to Cabaret, Haiti the following week and the rest is history. I answered God's call and I know in my heart that I am serving in the way he created me to serve.

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for ministry?
Initially, I did not have a clear goal for ministry in Haiti. I just wanted to go serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in any capacity that I could. The needs in Haiti are so great, and it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

After the earthquake in 2010, there were thousands of orphans due to the tragic loss of life. Some children were placed in orphanages and no one even knew their names. God gave me a clear vision to help the children of Haiti. I started with a large scale project to build on orphanage in Leogane, Haiti, the epicenter of the earthquake.

I partnered Samaritan's Purse on a construction project for the Greta Home and Academy. Our team dug ditches, poured concrete and tied rebar. This was my first construction mission and it was very hard work in the tropical heat of summer.

The orphanage has been completed and the program is having a tremendous impact on the children in Leogane.

God has shifted my focus to sharing the gospel through children's books. The access to quality books is very limited in Haiti. And access to books in Haitian Creole is even less.

My goal is two fold: To fulfill the great commission by sharing the gospel with children's books and to help eradicate illiteracy to break the cycle of poverty for sustainable impact. The goal for 2017 is to provide 10,000 books to the orphanages and schools in Haiti. We officially launched our “10,000 Books for Haiti” campaign in February.

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
If I were starting today with the knowledge that I have gained over the years while serving in Haiti, I would take a different approach as to how we get items to the children. It has been painful and quite heartbreaking at times as we travelled to Haiti with supplies for the children. Unfortunately, there have been incidences of corruption that intercepted mission's teams at the airport and confiscated donated gifts or held them in customs for extremely high fees.

Most teams have now learned to work with 3rd party carriers to help ensure that the items go directly to the intended orphanage or school. The shipping and transportation process is quite expensive due to this complex dynamic. The extra effort required to get the items to Haiti is well worth it and often forgotten when we see those little faces light up with joy! Where God guides, He provides.

How do you connect with new partners or supporters and stay connected with your existing partners?
Staying connected with our partners and supporters has been made easier by the various social media platforms. We use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and other platforms to stay connected with our partners.

We also use more traditional approaches such as our monthly newsletter. That said, nothing beats getting face to face with our partners. I try to attend as many church services, conferences and sit down discussions as possible to share our progress and God's vision for our ministry.

What books, tools, or resources that are important to doing what you do?
My ultimate resource to guide our mission's ministry is the bible—God's instruction manual. There are also a number of books and ministry tools that help guide our path based on lessons from pioneer missionaries. Some of my favorite resources are from the Live Dead ministry lead by Dick Brogden. “To LIVE DEAD is to live life wholly for Jesus. To die to self, know God will do a greater work through you. To announce the life of God among those who are unreached.” I also enjoy reading and learning from Charles Spurgeon's writings.

How do you get ongoing training and coaching?
Ongoing training and coaching is extremely important for sustainable ministry that gives glory to God. I attend mission's conferences, participate in online trainings and spend time with seasoned missionaries to learn from their journeys. I am also a Rapid Response Chaplain with the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. BGEA offers excellent training programs and courses in collaboration with other Christian organizations. Lifelong learning is a vital part of lifelong ministry.

What first steps or training would you recommend that others just starting out?
I highly recommend the Live Dead 30 day journal for those that are starting out in their mission's ministry. I also recommend reading “Operation World” by Jason Mandyrk. I remember Pastor George Daniels of Hope Fellowship Church in Raleigh, NC giving that book to me as a gift when I was getting started in mission's ministry. It was such a timely blessing, and I am sure that it will be a blessing to others. The Live Dead journal helps us with our inward look and “Operation World” helps frame our outward look.

I also recommend that new missionaries connect with a seasoned ministry team or missionary couple for mentoring, prayer and accountability.

What is a critical mindset or perspective regarding listening, teachability, flexibility, grace, etc?
It is of utmost importance that we enter the mission's ministry with an open heart and a willing spirit. We must surrender our preconceived ways of thinking and working as we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We've all heard the expression, “Life happens.” Well that saying is greatly amplified on the mission field.

Many times we are serving in underdeveloped areas with non-existent or minimal infrastructure. Timeliness and structure may seem to be figments of our imagination. We must have a teachable spirit that yields to the spirit of God and the local leadership in the country where we serve.

Believe it or not, there are very different approaches to do just about everything in underdeveloped areas. Our ability to remain flexible, listen to understand and demonstrate limitless grace will enable our ministry to flourish in the face of unsurmountable challenges. We will see the hand of God perform miraculous deeds when we embrace the “Surrender all” mindset.

Knowing what you know now, would you do it all again?
Absolutely! Being a missionary is what I was created to do. My very existence is validated when I am surrendered to God, guided by the Holy Spirit and serving the children of Haiti.

La'Wana Harris

La'Wana Harris

Author, Speaker, Missionary

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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How Bryan Thompson Got Started in Missions

How Bryan Thompson got started in Missions

Bryan Thompson trains people to reach people who can't (or prefer not to) read with the Gospel. By focusing on personal interactions and telling stories rather than pointing to books, he's able to to share God's love in ways that people understand.

Name: Bryan Thompson
Where do you serve? Globally

Who are the primary people you serve?
Currently, there is no focused people group, though I have served several in the past

What do you do to serve those people?
Currently teaching all people with whom I come in contact about oral Bible storytelling/study

When did you start doing this?
Started the training side full-time in 2007

When did you realize you had a heart for missions? How did that develop?
I never had a heart for missions (as indicative of influencing my call!). 2 weeks before being saved I knew that if I was to believe this Gospel that I would need to give the rest of my life to proclaiming it. I was thus called to missions 2 weeks before I was saved! 🙂

What were you doing when God called you this direction?
I was in school (16 years old)

How did God call you? How did you recognize His call?
See 7 above. I had just a clear idea in my head that if following Christ was of worth it would mean I had to give my life to sharing the Message! I do have a specific UPG geographical calling that has not been recognised yet, but I will not be able to talk about that group by name or the country on radio or Internet

Did you have a clear and measurable goal for your ministry?
At 16, yes, it was simple. Give my life to Jesus, go where I could learn more about Him and then go where He was not known

What would you do differently if you were starting today?
I would have started with Bible storytelling in 1977!

Financial / Deputation

How are your financial needs taken care of?
God has promised to provide for me/us out of a “hidden treasury”. He has done for 40 years

How do you stay connected with your partners or supporters?
I have a monthly prayer letter (email only), a weekly brief email prayer/praise update, an almost daily email 1-prayer or praise point update, a WhatsApp prayer group where I write at least once daily. I also have a [Facebook] page that highlights what we are doing as a family and a few other things (but always avoids politics and controversial issues that would alienate some of my prayer supporters and friends – I see [Facebook] as a way to influence people to Jesus and to storytelling the Message. I use other social media to reach other prayer supporters.

How do you find new partners or supporters?
I meet them on my travels usually or people approach me through social media and occasional blogging and audio blogging (via Soundcloud)

Is there a book, tool, resource that has changed the way you stay connected?
Lots! Yikes! Tech books/screencasts on the use of tech, various titles that are missionary bios like George Müller of Bristol, etc.

Ministry / Administrative Tools

Name 2-3 tools that you couldn't live without.
Bible is what I couldn’t live without. If I think of being in prison or having everything lost in a fire, I would be sad but nothing else could be categorised as “I cannot live without”

Is there a book, tool, or resource
Tools are my Mac desktop, an iPad, and iPhone. I use various pieces of software to automate and run regular tasks and my ‘workflow’. A bit too detailed to mention here, but I would be happy to chat about how I manage life.

What do you do to be

Spiritually Healthy
3 times a day: Morning Watch, Noon Watch and Evening Watch. Bible meditation at night is a vital, healthy tool as well

Emotionally Healthy
Keeping short accounts. Don’t let sun go down on wrath. Investing in family as much as possible

Vision Driven
I don’t like “driven”, but the secret to vision is found by following #1 above under this paragraph. Also PTMTO – a series of five words the Lord gave me in the 70s. In everything I must have a life of Praise, Thanksgiving, Meditation (on the Word!), Trust & Obedience
Fully Funded Matthew vi 33. Nothing more. I obey; He supplies. Step out in obedience not when the funding allows you to! You can serve God or Mammon but not both!

Knowing what you know now, would you go again?
Duh! 🙂

  • How could your partners better serve you?
  • Spiritually: Prayer, prayer, prayer
  • Financially: Give sacrificially or hilariously
  • Otherwise: When I am out in the boonies, check to see if I would like stuff from home

What’s your advice for people just getting started?

What are some first or initial steps they could take?
Learn a life of PTMTO. Trust that God can be trusted (even if He kills you!). Don’t neglect the prayer closet and unhurried time in the Word DAILY (at least once)

What missions training did you take or could recommend before going?
The best training is the School of the Holy Spirit – trusting and obeying Him always and being in a place where you can follow that pattern and be encouraged in it. I went out for 4 years (doing a lot of kamikaze type outreach – and got arrested while at it several times) with Operation Mobilisation (OM) in Communist Europe. A friend of mine said if he had been God he would have two entry requirements for Heaven (salvation in Jesus and getting a passport). There is nothing like a good short-term missions trip as far from home as possible and outside your homeland to get you prepared for the long-term. If young, the rougher the better! The rest of my training I have continued as I go.

What do you do for ongoing training and coaching?
I take courses on the Internet, listen to podcasts, study books, attend conferences, webinars, watch screencasts and sign up for whatever I feel will help me in my missions focus and obeying Jesus better

What was/is your mindset?

A good listener (A KEY)?
Essential – listen to God/Holy Spirit. Listen to the Word. Listen to audience before preaching or telling the Message

Dangerous on the field and destructive, but every missionary needs to be entirely ruthless with themselves in obeying to the detail what God has called them to do. If He says, “Don’t drink coffee!”, and then sends you to a coffee-drinking nation you need to obey Him first and foremost: don’t drink coffee – ever!

More than flexible. You need to die to yourself. If you are used to an individualistic society of “your space” and you go to some relational culture where “your space” is not understood, guess who has to learn to adapt. I learned through a simple choice in 1989 how to rest with people all around me, even though my rest preference was to get alone and have ‘me time’. I can do both since 1989. I’m happy with crowds in my home all the time and I am happy alone on a deserted island for weeks alone. It was a choice in 1989, and just stepping out in belief. In YWAM they used to say that you had to be “fluid” (because flexible was not good enough). Follow the Cloud and that will make you fluid!

Are you a good example of what you are presenting?
I hope so

My thanks to Bryan Thompson for taking the time to do this. To learn more about Bryan, check out his website or listen to his powerfully engaging interview.

Bryan Thompson

Bryan Thompson


Our Fundraiser!

We're raising funds to help Global Initiative equip the Church to share God's love with Muslims. Visit our fundraiser page for more information about Global Initiative and how YOU can be involved.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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