Saturday, February 27, 2010

Music for orphan relief!

Chasing Canaan's new single "Deep" is now available for purchase at! 100% of each $0.99 purchase is going to Haiti orphan relief through the Global Orphan Project, and you come away with a new, jammin' tune. Sweet deal. You in?

This will also be available on iTunes within the week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Latest from Britney:

Dear Cite' Lespwa folk,

I had a conversation with Adrien and Joe from The Global Orphan project last week and a few emails this week. They are on site in Haiti working non-stop to find and aid new orphans that have been left after the quake. Along with the 18 other orphan villages that they support, they are functioning out of what they call the Transition Village. You can follow their blogs at (go to blog).

The day I talked to them, they had found 30 something new orphans the day before, 40 something that day, and had gotten a call that afternoon about 260 something new orphans just north of them that they "needed to come get." $10,000-$12,000 truckloads of food and supplies are coming across the DR line every day. And THIS is where our relief effort money is going, for those of you who appreciate the specifics and the connection. And THIS is why we sleep in tents. Some of these babies, the very few, are being reunited with their families, while others will have to be placed somewhere in the near future under the GOP's care.

The official first check for the GOP relief in Haiti was sent yesterday: $75,647!!! That can pay for 6 truckloads of food!!!

Donations and creative fund/awareness-raising and story-telling has certainly not ceased on our end. We breathe deep, we process (Lord willing), and we continue forward in this agreement of solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters in whatever way that looks like next for everyone.

Since so many new orphans will need a place to go, there is a large possibility that the specific orphanage we (FUMC) work with in Les Cayes will be asked to expand as to house 40 new kids. It is a blessing that we have the funding that has come in over the past six months to build the new dorms, however we will have to find around 28 more new sponsors to be able to provide the 3-meals-a-day and medical attention for the new beautiful faces. So, if you know anyone able and willing to sponsor at $35 a month, tell them to email me: Britney Winn,

Well done, Cite' Lespwa tent dwellers and faithful work crew, and thank you, THANK YOU generous givers.

Piti piti na rive,
Little by little, we will arive,

Britney Winn

Thursday, February 4, 2010


1. A check for $50 thousand has officially been written to the Global Orphan Project! Great job and thanks, thanks, and more thanks to you city-of-hopers :)

2. Due to the influx of new orphans from the quake into Les Cayes, we need to get 40 new sponsors @ $35/month for Bighouse (the orphanage we've had a relationship with and were helping to support before the earthquakes), as it looks like we're about to expand there. Can we do it before March 1st?? Tell anyone you think may be willing & interested!

3. Check out the Global Orphan Project blog for constant updates on the orphan rescues and relief work that's continuing every day!

4. Check out Together for Adoption's site for info on what's next for Cite' Lespwa.

"...[It's] not aid. It's relationship. Restoration is the promise! ... Individually, we're in way over our heads. Collectively, we're right on. That's faith ALIVE. Thank you!"
-Joe Knittig of the Global Orphan Project

Monday, February 1, 2010

Where the money is going:

Here's a link to the Global Orphan Project's blog from the ground in Haiti. This is the organization our funds go through to get to the kids!

Global Orphan Project

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Things we're excited about....

-The involvement and contributions of every single person who has been a part of this beautiful adventure into which we've been invited. Whether you showed up, camped out, prayed, fed us, played music, brought coffee, sold tshirts, tweeted, donated, honked your horn as you drove by, all of the above or anything else...THANK YOU thank you thank you from the deepest place possible!

- An approximate total of $50,000 dollars collected in our 7 days together. (Money is still flowing in and being counted; we'll post updates as they are available.)

- Together for Adoption will be partnering with Britney Winn with the goal of seeing Cité Lespwa duplicated all across the country. Their plan is to host the next tent city in Greenville, South Carolina the first Friday-Saturday (12 noon to 12 noon) in March, with other cities signing up for successive Friday-Saturday dates. We hope to see Cité Lespwas hosted by cities throughout the country well into the spring and summer months.

Every dollar raised through Cité Lespwa will go to support Haiti’s orphans through our Church-Centered Haitian Orphan Initiative. Details are forthcoming.

(Britney has been very confident that she and team were in Haiti during the earthquake for specific reasons and that our goal for Cite Lespwa was the huge $1 million for a reason...many of which I know we may not see or be aware of, at least any time soon, but so many have been amazingly obvious already! Like this connection. I can't wait to see more of it's fruit!)



I look forward to sharing more ASAP, I assure you! So many thoughts, emotions, stories, questions, etc. in response to all this are swimming around in me right now that I can't quite grab a hold of any one thing long enough to formulate cohesive statements just yet. Soon though, very soon I feel :)

Until then... may we both hope in Jesus and hope like Jesus hoped,


Sunday, January 24, 2010


If any emotion runs consistently through Cite' Lespwa, it is awe and wonder. God keeps showing us His face, again and again, sometimes in the form of a homeless man who walks off the street, sometimes in the shape of a man riding by on his bike stopping to pray with us, sometimes in the faces of children carrying stacks of cash, sometimes in the smiles of friends who stand by us with encouragement, and sometimes in our own reflections. I want to share some of these stories with you.

On Friday morning, I woke up to a group of people circled around me, holding hands and preparing to pray. I stood up to join them, groggy from sleep. Too little sleep combined with the emotional investment of what we are doing was beginning to wear on us. We were all prayed out. So as we bowed our heads, a black man riding by on his bike, a Wal-Mart bag flapping from the handlebars, stopped in front of our camp. He lowered his bike to the ground and stretched out his gentle voice.
"Are you'll about to pray?" He asked. "Is Sarah here?"
"No, she has gone to class, but we are about to pray," we replied. "Would you like to join us?"
He seemed to mull it over for a second, then nodded and moved into the circle of clasped hands. "Would you'll mind if I prayed?" This immediately seemed odd to me. This stranger was going to pray for us? I wasn't skeptical, more like expectant. God had been surprising us again and again, and this situation bore the fingerprint of the divine. And that is when it happened. This man, this stranger, articulated the most encouraging prayer I have ever heard. He blessed us from God for "standing in the gap between Haiti and the Lord." He lifted us up, praised God and shared dreams. He spoke as if he were someone with authority. And when he finished, I looked and realized all of us were weeping. Mark asked the man if he knew that God had sent him here to do that, to which the stranger replied, "You're getting that huh? You're smarter than you look." And he got back on his bike and rode off.
It is remarkable that even when we are expecting God's presence, even when we are expecting to be surprised, God can still do so much more.

From that moment on, we knew God had His finger on the day. And so I wasn't too surprised when I saw a group of elementary aged kids walking towards our camp. They paused to take pictures, so I unleashed the emissary of Cite' Lespwa, my dog Gypsy, and went to greet them. As I got closer, I saw they were holding up something for the picture. I was shocked to discover that in each hand, these children held up plastic bags FILLED with cash! Through a school-wide fundraiser at Apollo Elementary School in Bossier City, these children had raised over $1200 in 3 days! The power each of us holds, even in the minds of small children is simply remarkable.

One of the more remarkable stories to me was being introduced to a homeless man who stopped briefly at Cite' Lespwa. He hadn't planned on it, but he stayed with us for most of the morning as we talked about where he was from, why he was in Shreveport, and what we were raising money for, We shared our different paths in life, our ideas on faith. Our new friend stumbled over his words as he described his addictions, how he had been drinking that morning, how he wasn't blessed like us. We cried together and talked about how he felt God was blessing him through us. As were were packing up a bag filled with food and water, our friend - the stranger riding the bike - stopped by again to pray with us. We all circled and once again, I was in awe. He spoke of the blessings of God, how they are poured over all, how none of us deserve it, but how it is given in spite of that. It was remarkable that this was not only what we had just been discussing, but that it seemed to speak directly to our new friend.
Before he left, our new homeless friend gave us his last $6. He would not take no for an answer and to refuse would be to insult the gift that he was offering. Surely God is in this place.

There have been countless other stories, equally remarkable and worthy of retelling. A woman wrecked her car as she pulled into our camp. She was a bit shaken up, but after getting some water, sitting down for a bit, touring our camp and having a cookie, she wrote us a check.
A 12 year old boy, whose birthday was yesterday, asked his parents and all his friends to just give him cash. He then gave everything he received to help orphans in Haiti.
Countless others have stopped by to drop off food and snacks, an author set up a book table to sell book, donating 100% of the proceeds to Cite' Lespwa. I have been continually amazed at how this community has come together to support the impoverished nation of Haiti, how God is moving through us each and every day, hour by hour, and I know that the promise continues for tomorrow.

Come join us at 7pm for a candlelight service on Monday night at Cite' Lespwa led by independent recording artists, Chasing Canaan. And don't forget to bring some money...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Donate Online!

Hey guys!

Even if you are not able to come and take part of the events in Shreveport to raise money for Haiti orphans, you can still give and help us get the $1 million.

You can give online and all of the money goes directly to the cause. Just go to and click on the Haiti Orphan Earthquake Relief icon. Register and follow the instructions.

Help us exceed our goal, everyone can give something. There is no such thing as too small of a donation!

Let's do this!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 2: Fear

This morning, at about 1:30 AM, a man staggered out of Lil' Joe's Tavern. He swayed a little bit, righted himself, adjusted his trajectory for home, and suddenly realized that our tent city lay directly in his path. He hesitated, trying to decide what he was going to do. This was the moment of fear.

I sat by our diminishing fire, the textbook I had been reading turned timidly over in my lap. I immediately recognized a lack of security. This man could walk into our tent city and no one could stop him. Who was he? How much had he had to drink? Was he planning on just crawling in one of the inviting tents and spending the night? This was MY moment of fear. I imagine now that this stranger must have had a similar experience, with the insecurity of how to proceed looming briefly in his consciousness.

The thought of how vulnerable Haitian survivors must feel at being completely exposed, completely vulnerable flashed through my mind. How do they deal with it? Not just the presence of a stranger at the edge of their camp, but also not knowing when or if they will find food. And for those still trapped under rubble, not knowing if they will even see the light of day again.
It is in this crucial moment that I found my lesson for Day 2. Because it is in this instant of insecurity that we must make a choice. Choose faith, or choose fear. Fear would be to forget that we are under control. Fear would be to forget that we are always safe in the love of God. Fear would be to give in to the impulse to protect ourselves from the unknown. God reminded me in this moment that He is in control. Christ has calmed the storms and holds his hand out for us to take. I could not have done this on my own.

I called out to the man. I waved. He teetered a minute longer, then ambled over towards the fire. His name is Sam..."Sam I am." He is from just south of Alexandria, in town to take care of his mother who is in the hospital. We talked about his mother's situation and I told him about why we were sleeping in tents. Sam talked a little about his service in the marine core, how if he were still young enough to serve, he would relish the thought of being deployed to Haiti. Sam plays the french accordion! I invited him back to Cite' Lespwa any evening he wanted to play, and I offered to drive him home. After half an hour of conversation, Sam bid our tent city farewell and continued on his walk home. Though we didn't see Sam tonight for the Three Day Weekend show, I still cling to the hope that he returns...and brings his accordion.

In Haiti today, the battle rages against fear. The relief efforts have bottle-necked as supplies arrive efficiently to the airport, but sit on the tarmac instead of being delivered to where they are needed most. Inefficient planning and communication in relief efforts that can be explained in the initial days following the earthquake continue to bog down the relief process. Haitians grow more weary of being neglected. As Fredodupoux notes, "a hungry man is an angry man."

And so the fear of being unprovided for has led some Haitians to desperation. In the midst of this desperation, Haiti's orphanages are becoming a target. Many perceive these locations to have food, water, or medical supplies and so they are in jeopardy of being taken advantage of. "Who will stand up for the broken?" as Chasing Canaan's song goes. I pray for relief workers in Haiti. I pray for the men unloading equipment and supplies off cargo planes. I pray that they recognize what their inefficiency is causing. I pray that they face their fears, they take the hand of God and they let Him guide their supplies to His people. And I pray for Haiti and her children. That they feel God's comforting hand on them. That they remain calm and continue to show their fierce and gentle spirit.

And I pray for us, as witnesses to these events. I pray that we are not drawn into fear and judgment ourselves, but that we see the truth of the situation. Lindsay Branham notes her experience: “There have been a lot of media who are reporting that there's looting now, it's out of control, it's getting really violent. That might be happening in pockets. I haven't seen any of that. I've just seen people working really hard to figure out how to survive and helping each other do that.”

These are the people we are fighting so hard to help. These are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, we are one. Right now in Haiti there is a child that sleeps. There is a child that waits. And I hope life for this child.

Lespwa fe viv – Hope makes us live.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cite' Lespwa: Day 1

Haiti: Day 7: Here are some first hand accounts.
"Last night I went to bed wondering why I was still sleeping outside.This morning I found out why." (Richard Morse)
"It was a 6.1 earthquake. A man here fell from the balcony and was injured. Thankfully there is a team of doctors here who helped him." (Lindsey Branham)
"PIH & surgical teams temporarily evacuated patients from general hospital--All teams now back." (Partners in Health)

The situation in Haiti seems to be progressing. Several hospitals and operating rooms in Port Au Prince are up and running thanks to Partners in Health and other non-governmental organizations. Volunteer medical teams are beginning to rotate out, replaced by fresh teams. The main conerns seem to be infection and lack of supplies. “This is the biggest hospital in the city & we are within 24 hrs of running out of operating room supplies” (PIH). Antibiotics are in short supply.
Search and rescue teams continue to find survivors in the rubble 7 DAYS after the initial earthquake!!!

Most survivors are living in "tent cities" or displacement camps. Lindsey Branham describes "thousands living under sheets."
"The children @childhopeintl were thinking of sleeping inside tonight. Not now after the 6.1 quake this morning." (Jonathan Olinger)
"Haitian spirits high. In camps, children singing & flying kites. Wooden structures going up. Tin roofs where possible." (InternetHaiti)
"the haitian spirit. people waiting patiently for h2o under hot sun. no armed guards. no pushing. obvious respect" (Dr. Sanjay Gupta - CNN)

Cite' Lespwa: Day 1 So in solidarity with the Haitian Spirit, we created Cite' Lespwa.
Today, we set up our tents, registered about 15 people and went about making sure everyone was prepared for the coming rain. Local News Stations came out to interview participants. They always seemed to catch you when you were in or near a tent, so we began calling these "Tenterviews." But these were cut short as a heavy thunderstorm and tornado swept in, testing our tent city and our resolve. No one left. In fact, we continued to stand by the road and ask for donations in the rain.
Local business like Little Joes and PieWorks have been incredibly supportive. Dinner this evening was donated by PieWorks, who simply wouldn't take no for an answer. Tonight, we are gathered around a firepit, singing songs and talking about what tomorrow will bring.

Our first donation came before the event even started. As I was setting up my tent this afternoon, a woman walked up and handed me $20. She said she had heard about what we were doing and wanted to support. Incredible.
Though we have several things coming up this week, from painting a school bus like a tap tap to a benefit concert on Friday, it is important to remember what we're doing and why. Sleeping in tents may seem trivial to some, but it is our way of communicating to the people of Haiti that they are not alone, that they are not forgotten. So come out and join us if you can, stop by and just say hello, or donate online at:
And if anyone asks you why this is important, quote Carel Pedre: because the world is 1 big family. We're all Brothers & Sisters!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Facebook and other resources

If you haven't heard yet, Starting Wednesday 1/20, we are kicking off a HUGE fund-raiser for orphans in Haiti! The 7.3 earthquake that leveled Port Au Prince has killed thousands and crippled an already impoverished nation. 50% of Haiti's population is under the age of 18 and when the rubble clears, there will be an enormous need for these children! So in conjunction with First Methodist and the teams that recently returned from Les Cayes, Haiti, we are constructing a tent city in front of Centenary's Gold Dome. The purpose is to raise awareness and more importantly to RAISE MONEY! Our goal is $1 Million Dollars in 6 days to help reconstruct orphanages and provide ongoing care for those most effected by this disaster.

Join the Facebook group to learn more:

Read the notes about how this idea got's truly inspiring.

Watch videos from First Methodist's Haiti Mission in 2009:

Come out and support, stay the night if you can, but more importantly, pray, spread the word and trust that God is in control!
Justin Kirkes

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cite'Lespwa - Are You In?

Here it is...

Yesterday I woke up after sleeping 12 hours in a nice comfy bed after two days of evacuation from the indescribably broken and hurting Haiti. I woke up and got in the shower and broke down in heavy sobs, sickened and overwhelmed at how I slept in my bed while thousands, millions sleep on the chaotic, bloody, leveled streets of Haiti.

The only place I wanted to be was sleeping outside with them.

And that's when it hit. THAT was exactly what we're supposed to do. We'll sleep outside in solidarity with the Haitian people in an effort to raise money for Orphan Relief for the thousands and thousands of children who were already living in disgustingly appalling and unjust conditions, now heightened and added to by the initial destruction and continued suffering caused by the 7.0 earthquake from Tuesday.

With Port au Prince as the major distribution hub for the country, everyone will be effected. No one will go without experiencing the decreasing food, gas, and water supply as the outside cities become overpopulated with survivors and PAP continues to be overpopulated with bodies and rubble. As relief workers, search and rescue teams, doctors and troops pour into the country that has so inspirationally scraped for and stood on hope for so many generations, we must do what we can from where we are to help them.

This is why we're sleeping outside.

And this is what it will look like.

THIS Wednesday at 3pm on the lawn in front of Centenary's Gold Dome on Kings Highway, tents will begin to be put up and sleeping bags rolled out as we initiate the building of our own tent city, representative of the hundreds that have emerged throughout Haiti's countryside.

We will set up a table for donations and information and a table for water coolers. And we are asking two things:

1. For you to join us.
2. And for you to raise as much awareness and money as you can from your corner of the world in 6 days.

We will be living in Cite' Lespwa (the city of hope) Tent City from Wednesday afternoon to Tuesday night. And within that time, we have partnered with First Methodist Shreveport and Centenary and said that WE WANT TO RAISE A MILLION DOLLARS FOR ORPHAN RELIEF.

Do you know someone who would like to camp out with us (bringing their own tent, food, and water bottle)? Do you know someone with a tent to donate for 6 days? Do you know someone (or someones) with a check-book at hand? Do you have people you work with or go to school with that can make signs or spread the word or donate cash? Tell them, tell them all. Take it on as your personal responsibility to make this happen.

We can do it, but we can only do it if we're together.

The money can be given in three ways:

1. At the Cite' Lespwa site itself (in front of the gold dome)
2. Across the street at the CLC office in the Smith Building on Centenary's Campus
3. Or at First United Methodist Shreveport downtown on Common Street

All checks are made payable to First United Methodist Shreveport FOR orphan relief. This money will go directly to helping rebuild orphanages that have been leveled or supply orphanages with food, water, and medical attention that they will need to sustain those already there and the hundreds that have been left sense the earthquake.

One Million Dollars... 6 days... in solidarity with the Haitians, in love, in prayer, in tents.

Join us. Tell everyone. We need you.

"But I will restor you to health
and heal your would,' declares the Lord,
'because you are called an outcast,
Zion for whom no one cares.'
"This is what the Lord says:
'I will restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city will be rebuilt on her ruins,
and the palace will stand in its proper place.
From them will come songs of thanksgiving
and the sound of rejoicing.
I will add to their numbers,
and they will not be decreased;
I will bring them honor,
and they will not be disdained." -Jeremiah 30:17-19

Please take this note and post it on your walls. Also keep in mind that the Cite' Lespwa is not a locked-down project, you can come and go as you wish (not skipping school or work) but come. Please come.

For the love of those He loves, for their healing and restoration.

Are you in?