Smyrna resident Breanna Haskins working with impoverished children of Haiti. She is pictured here with Chrisnae, Keshnara, Kettline, Estefanie, Estervencia. (Photo submitted)
At age 18, she’s a veteran international Christian missionary.
That’s old news since Smyrna High School senior Breanna Haskins achieved official foreign missionary status two years ago at the mere age 16.
What’s new is that come Aug. 2, Haskins is relocating to Haiti on more permanent status. She recalls her first brief mission trip to the impoverished nation.
“In March 2012, I was in Haiti for a week with a team of youths (led by Children’s Minister Beth Tucker of Smyrna Parkway Baptist Church) to share the love of Christ through our labor and witness,” she said.
There are potentially two young people going into full-time foreign country mission work as result of that fateful 2012 journey to Haiti, Haskins noted.
“Haiti is not for everyone,” Tucker said. “But Breanna has always had a special love for children, so it’s no surprise she’s willing to relocate to Haiti.
“And from the March 2012 mission trip, another young person with roots back to Parkway, Harley Mosley, (daughter to Paul Mosley and Kelly Ferrell, and granddaughter to Parkway members Harold and Sarah Ferrell) is attending college to become a nurse,” added Haskins. “She, too, is anxious to relocate to Haiti. The Haiti experience profoundly touched the lives of both Breanna and Harley.”
“In regard to Breanna and Harley, Biblical scripture Romans 10:15, comes to mind: ‘How beautiful are the feet that bring good news,’” added Tucker. “Breanna and Harley appear destined to take the good news of Christ to Haiti.”
The children’s minister has also been to Haiti multiple times. Tucker describes her first visit to Haiti, one of the poorest nations on earth.
“While there the first time, I didn’t realize I was giving my heart away,” shared Tucker, who is set to graduate from high school in May. “But when I got back home here in Smyrna in 2011, I realized the hurting children had stolen my heart — so much so, I began praying, seeking God’s will, and the more I prayed I realized my heart had been taken to minister to the little children, some of whom have never been hugged or had a full meal in their entire living years.”
And that was after only one week spent in Haiti. She described her second visit in the summer of 2012.
“I was back in Haiti as an intern for the Nashville-based ‘My Life Speaks’ ministry, working mainly with special needs children, and witnessing to a Haiti married couple willing to share their love, meager resources and home with that village’s special needs’ children,” Haskins said. “‘My Life Speaks’ ministry has a strong presence in Haiti.”
“We worked with the family with the adopted children, tutoring them all in multiple aspects of life, including communications. But most of all, the reality love of Christ, as evidenced by our being there, as volunteers in their behalf,” Haskins said. “We also helped in feeding the younger children, and helping the special needs’ children learn to feed themselves, among other new skills.”
Wasn’t that a lot of responsibility for a then 16-year-old?
“With the way God worked it out, it changed my life as much or more than it did the children we were sharing God’s love,” Haskins described. “It changed me from being a so-called care-free teen-aged girl, to do some serious soul searching about my approaching adult life.”
What’s the feeling of her parents about their daughter going to a third world nation known for poverty, starvation and poor medical care?
“Like any parents, we worry,” confirmed mother Nancy Haskins. “But, we feel confident in knowing she’s been safe in the locale where she’s returning to in Haiti, this time on a more permanent basis. David (the father) and I have prayed along with Breanna, and realized when she was much younger she’s always had that outgoing winning personality with a special love for children.
“We’re proud of her and our other daughter, Nicole,” added the parent. “We’re blessed to have such good daughters.”
Meanwhile, back in high school, Breanna has been taking classes for a possible culinary arts career.
“But, that’s not the path God is leading me on, although down the line I may be using my culinary talents as a way of presenting God’s love to our little brothers and sisters in Haiti,” Haskins said.
Thanksgiving Day 2013 may have been the datw her Smyrna family firmly recognized Haiti was in Breanna’s future.
“Instead of being in the comfort of my family’s home, with a feast of turkey and all the trimmings on the Thanksgiving table, God again opened the doors for me to go back to Haiti. For me, there was no choice,” Haskins said. “By this time it was clear I’m to do Christian ministry to as many sick and impoverished children as I can reach back in Haiti.”
It was the Thanksgiving Day trip that Haskins says “profoundly confirmed my decision to be a missionary on foreign soil.”
“In the summer 2013 mission trip back to Haiti, I established a very close loving relationship with a 5-year-old boy, Joanelson, sharing Christ in his life and that of his parents,” Haskins shared with obvious strong emotion. “It stunned us to learn last Thanksgiving that Joanelson, at age 5 1/2, died of a mystery fever that snuffed out his life so young.
“In our off-duty time on the Thanksgiving trip, me and another sister doing mission work would journey back to the village, laying Christ’s love on the line to Joanelson’s remaining hurting family,” Haskins said. “By this time, I knew what my life’s mission was to be.
“Upon returning to the states, I fasted and spent weeks in prayer, and I felt strongly that God was opening the doors for me to go and minister to all the hurting children that I can reach in Haiti,” she added. “When confirmation recently came that I had been chosen to move to Haiti permanently, that sealed the call on my life.”
And this young girl’s life is evidence what remains right and good among America’s youth of today.