Andrew Guerrier has always had a heart for missions, but up until seven years ago, he’d never taken offers to travel overseas to do just that. He had been invited to Kenya, Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico, and Italy, but to no avail. Those nations didn’t resonate with Guerrier. He didn’t feel a deep enough connection to make the leap.
In May of 2010, everything changed when he was invited on a trip to Haiti.
“My eyes got big,” he recalls. “My family is originally from Haiti. I speak the language. It was everything I wanted out of a mission trip.”
Andrew was born in Miami, Florida, to Haitian immigrants. He had been back to his ancestral homeland a few times as a child but only twice as an adult. This time back was very different. Five months earlier, a devastating earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and impacted over three million people. Over 100,000 lives were lost and an estimated 250,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.
As the campus director for FCA Atlanta in the Greater Cobb area, Andrew had an idea brewing even before the airplane left the runway.
“The devastation put so many children at risk,” he says. “Many of them had been abandoned or orphaned. Recreation was always important to me as a kid. To be removed from that, I didn’t think it would be healthy for any kid to grow up in that kind of environment. I felt like sports could bring back normalcy in a time of crisis and help them establish a new family.”
That first trip was mostly a fact-finding mission. True to his personality, Andrew walked into a messy situation and identified ways that FCA could help bring order to the lives of these kids.
“When you go into a country that’s experienced that kind of trauma and death, you’ve got people who don’t have a place to live much less a place to play,” he explains. “Logistically it was a nightmare to find a place where we could offer a sports program. The idea was easy, but the logistics were really hard.”
Andrew went back twice that year and began meeting with various organizations and churches. In 2011, FCA was given access to a multi-sport complex—Centre Sportive De Carrefour—that had been converted into a Red Cross hospital after the earthquake. Once a place for emergency surgeries and amputations, the building was now vacant and available to be used for its original purpose.
After a meeting with the Port-au-Prince mayor, FCA registered as an official outreach program within the city. It started with basketball and eventually expanded to include volleyball and tennis. Andrew also recruited, trained, and hired local staff that could run the ministry while he was away.
Since its inception, FCA Haiti has added nine to its team including coaches, equipment managers, a team cook, and a logistics coordinator. There are currently 121 kids in the program although that number does occasionally fluctuate. Finding willing participants is rarely a problem, but there are still many challenges that FCA Haiti must overcome on a daily basis.
“Things work very slow,” Andrew says. “You have to sift through the bureaucracy. Everyone assumes that if you’re in Haiti to do work that you’re rich and you have unlimited income. We give our kids the best. We give them great equipment, shoes, uniforms. We try to make them look really good as they’re competing against other teams. People assume we have all this money, so everyone wants to get paid. But we’re not handing out money. We’re offering jobs. We’re offering our leaders the chance to impact lives.”
One of Andrew’s favorite times of the year is in December when he and his staff organize an FCA Banquet. They rent two buses and transport the kids to the wealthier part of the city for a nice meal and an awards ceremony.
“You can imagine how that looks,” Andrew says. “We show up at a really nice restaurant with all of these ‘bougie’ (upper class) people that turn up their noses at the poor people. It’s awesome to see all of these kids come out of this bus and walk into this restaurant and everyone just stops and looks at you.”
After eating their meal in a special room reserved for the event, Andrew hands out the awards and gives each of the recipients a chance to share what FCA means to them.
“Listening to those kids brings you to tears,” he says. “They talk about what FCA has brought to their lives. These kids are ministering to their families. They’re leading their mothers and fathers to Christ. Those are the success stories that make me want to go harder for the people.”
Whenever possible, Andrew tries to get prospective supporters on a plane to experience FCA Haiti firsthand. It’s all about getting people to see it and touch it and feel it. And then, with resources in hand, he believes that there is no limit to what is possible.
Andrew says, “We have an awesome opportunity to share the gospel, put kids in organized sports clubs, sponsor these kids, and provide mentors and leaders to help them grow spiritually and to be productive in their community.”
LEARN MORE ABOUT FCA HAITI AT: WWW.FCA.ORG/HAITI
CLICK HERE TO GIVE A FINANCIAL GIFT FOR FCA HAITI.