After volunteering medical help to victims of the earthquake that rocked the small island of Haiti in 2010, Dr. David Vanderpool (‘82) and his wife Laurie (‘81) felt called to live in Haiti on a full-time basis. So in 2013, the Vanderpools sold their house and private medical practice in Tennessee and officially moved to Thomazeau, Haiti – a region outside capital city Port-au-Prince – to start a mission called LiveBeyond that provides medical and humanitarian aid.
In addition to standard medical care, the mission also provides maternal health, children’s programs, including orphan care, help for at-risk disabled people, community development, clean water and education. The mission strives to live beyond their culture and borders to impact the people of Haiti for the Kingdom of God.
Parker Southerland, senior biochemistry major from Burleson, has traveled to Haiti four different times since 2015, doing medical research and working for LiveBeyond’s children’s camp. He wanted to go because he knew there were people in need of God’s grace, he said.
“God is moving in Thomazeau,” Southerland said. “There is no doubt about that. When I first went to the mission you could see the hardness in the people. They were unable to accept the good news, they were unable to love, they were forever bound to their sin. But now, I go and I see bright faces filled with love and joy, and I can only think to contribute that to the spirit moving through Thomazeau, softening their hearts in the process.”
Southerland said he’s learned many things during his experiences at the mission, but two of the most important lessons were patience and the clear message of the gospel.
“When we come to [Jesus] as an act of obligation for our sin we are discounting, negating what He did on the cross for us,” Southerland said. “It blew my mind when I first thought about that. That we are sinless in the eyes of Christ and we have to act that way.”
Craig Fisher, who works in the Alumni Relations office, traveled to LiveBeyond in January with a group of 19 alumni from his class of 1992. The same group also went to Haiti on a spring break campaign when they were students and are planning to go again next year.
“Our week provided us the opportunity to put aside ourselves and to serve the people of Haiti,” Fisher said. “It gave us the opportunity to meet some amazing people that live in the poorest country in the western hemisphere and find ways to bless them with medical care, food and water, teaching, love and Jesus. It also gave our group of ACU alumni a chance to serve together and reconnect as friends with shared experiences of our connections at ACU.”
Fisher said they helped over 900 people who needed medical care, worked the children’s program to spend time with Haitian children, and visited villages that couldn’t come to the clinic. The Vanderpools also led a Bible study each day, and the group made sure to share about their lives and reminisce about their time as students, which strengthened their relationships, Fisher said.
“We are hopeful that more ACU alumni will decide to travel together and go and serve at LiveBeyond. It is an awesome way for our alumni to come together and spend time together serving and loving people that need Jesus,” Fisher said. “I am thankful for the Vanderpools and the work that they do in Haiti every day. I am thankful for those that go and serve and support the work that David and Laurie started to bless the people of Haiti…This is a great place for Wildcats to serve.”