‘Forever Changed’: Central Baptist group does mission work in Haiti

A group of Central Baptist Church members took a mission trip to Haiti last month. Lance McMahen, far right, and Rick Vaughn, kneeling down holding Haitian boy, spoke of their experience Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of Lance McMahen

Charlie Denison

This summer, the McMahen family took their friends on a different kind of journey.

Lance, his wife, Jen, and two of their three children (Dylan and Megan) took a trip to Haiti last month with fellow members of Central Montana Baptist Church. They weren’t there to go to the beach or see the ruins; they were there to spread the word of the Lord and help the youth of Cap Rouge.

J.R. Spencer of Geraldine, Lily Leininger, Raedene Matthews, Jenae Butcher and Rick Vaughn, who is known to many as Fergus County Undersheriff, joined the McMahens, and, for many, it was their first time. On Tuesday, Vaughn – one of the first-timers – shared his experience with the News-Argus.

“It was amazing,” he said. “The people there have very little, yet they are happy. We are the ones complaining all the time, and we have all we need.”

This is something Lance knows all too well, and experiences time and time again. Whether working on orphanages, roads or just spending time with the people of the small, impoverished Cap Rouge community, the mission changes you. That’s what keeps him coming back.

“God has laid it on my heart to go and serve Him,” Lance said. “I took my first trip out there when I was interning at Ballardsville Baptist Church in Kentucky. We got connected with a program called ‘A Door to Hope’ through Brent Gambrell Ministries.”

“A Door to Hope” is a program committed to providing relief in Haiti, empowering the local people to “grow and sustain their own communities” through discipleship, homebuilding, education and church partnerships, according to adoortohope.com.

In the little agricultural town of Cap Rouge, Lance and his Central Baptist team worked hand-in-hand with families, getting to know them and quickly becoming a part of the town themselves.

Before they knew, Vaughn said, the people of Cap Rouge had become friends.

“They were good, Christian people and we really enjoyed spending time with them,” he said.

But it wasn’t all fun and games, as Vaughn volunteered to assist the boys in town with road construction.

“We had to take big rocks and make little rocks,” Vaughn said. “It was intense work, and they were doing it with a smile on their face. They all had wonderful attitudes.”

This work ethic was evident on the soccer fields, where Vaugh said he was unprepared, blown away by the intensity of the children. Their enthusiasm, he said, was remarkable.

“They had so little,” Vaughn said. “They didn’t even have water. Going there I realized how much I take for granted.”

Returning home, Vaughn said he is humbled. The trip was about more than the construction, more than painting and staining; it was about the people and serving the Lord.

Trying to recall all that happened Vaughn said the 10-day trip was full of unforgettable experiences, one of which was a remarkable spiritual sendoff.

“We went to a wake for the wife of the town’s pastor, who passed away while we were there,” Vaughn said. “It was very different from what we are used to. People were screaming and wailing, singing songs and chanting. Experiences like this help me realize what I’m here to do as a Christian. I would have stayed longer if not for my wife and kids waiting for me at home.”

Unlike Vaughn, Lance was able to bring his whole family to Haiti.

“It’s special to serve alongside your wife and kids,” Lance said. “I got to see my kids really live out what they’ve learned.”

In retrospect, Lance said that’s what he was doing, too. That’s what a mission trip is all about.

“When we read scripture, we get a head knowledge, but when you put yourself somewhere like Cap Rouge, that knowledge you have in your head goes right to your heart.”

Many moments of the trip were heartfelt. One particular highlight, Lance said, was presenting the community with dresses made by Mandy Eike’s junior high Family and Consumer Science class.

“It was wonderful to provide them with something more, something new,” he said. “We’re thankful to her class for making these dresses.”

Lance, Vaughn and the others who went on the trip are thankful for a lot of things, particularly the community, for making the adventure possible.

“I’d like to thank the community for supporting the church and our mission,” Vaughn said. “With all the fundraisers – the car wash, bake sale and Pizza Hut donating a share of their sales to us – we’ve been overwhelmed. It’s really encouraging.”

Lance also appreciates all the community support, and is glad to see Vaughn and other first-timers have such an inspirational visit. Although he’s been to Haiti many times, Lance knows he’ll be back, and he hopes he can take more first-timers with him when another opportunity arises.

“This is a great way to serve,” he said. “This is a great chance to be the light. If you have a heart for evangelism, if you have a heart for people, come be a disciple and share the gospel.”

“If you do, you may be forever changed,” Vaughn added.









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