Breanna Haskins, of Smyrna, Tenn., enjoys a moment of laughter with children in Haiti during a March 2012 trip to the country. Haskins is planning to move there this year. (Photo submitted)
SMYRNA, Tenn. -- At age 18, Breanna Haskins is a veteran international Christian missionary.
But that is old news because Smyrna High School senior Breanna Haskins achieved official foreign missionary status two years ago at the mere age 16.
“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 (Jesus) Christ through our labor and witness,” she said, as she recalled her first brief mission trip to the impoverished nation.
There are potentially two young people going into full-time foreign country mission work as result of that fateful 2012 journey to Haiti, Breanna Haskins said.
“Haiti is not for everyone,” Tucker said, “but Breanna (Haskins) 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 is attending college to become a nurse. She, too, is anxious to relocate to Haiti. The Haiti experience profoundly touched the lives of both Breanna (Haskins) and Harley (Mosley).”
In regard to the girls, biblical scripture Romans 10:15, comes to mind: "How beautiful are the feet that bring good news," Tucker said.
“Breanna (Haskins) and Harley (Mosley) appear destined to take the good news of Christ to Haiti,” she said.
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,” said Breanna Haskins, 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,” Breanna 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. 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,” Breanna Haskins said. “It changed me from being a so-called care-free teenage 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,” said her 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 (Haskins) 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,” Nancy Haskins said. “We’re blessed to have such good daughters.”
Meanwhile, back in high school, Breanna Haskins 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,” Breanna Haskins said.
Thanksgiving Day 2013 may have been the date her Smyrna family firmly recognized Haiti was in Breanna Haskin'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,” Breanna 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,” Breanna Haskins said with obvious strong emotion. “It stunned us to learn last Thanksgiving that Joanelson, at 5 1/2, died of a mysterious 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,” she 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.”