For Margie Van Meter, it is her life’s work to follow Jesus by taking care of people physically and spiritually.
Margie has spent her life taking care of people—first, as a nurse, where she began her career working in an Alaskan hospital. Then, she expanded her work in holistic care in Michigan, working at the Michigan Headpain and Neurological Institute, Chelsea Hospital, and the University of Michigan.
Throughout her 20-year career, Margie learned that caring for someone goes beyond healing just their physical pain—she prayed for her patients to be healed from their physical and emotional pain.
“Most of the patients we treated displayed real physical symptoms caused by something emotional or spiritual,” Margie said. “There could be something much deeper that, too, needed healing.”
When Margie retired, she was asked by a physician from her church to visit Haiti. He had volunteered in Haiti the year before and was rallying together a group of medical professionals from his church to go back.
“I wasn’t that interested in the beginning,” Margie said. “So I left it up to God—if it was His will, then He would make it happen!”
She visited Haiti for the first time in 2001, but it was not what she expected. Though Margie was never nervous or scared, the trip opened her eyes to the lack of professional level nursing care and the wide array of spiritual practices, including voodoo.
“I remember coming home from Haiti and thinking, ‘I’m never going back,’” Margie said.
But a year later, her church asked her to speak with a group of excited hopefuls about Haiti. Even though she had never planned on going back, something changed as she spoke to this group.
“I realized people need to be aware of what all God can do,” Margie said. “All of a sudden, I felt that I should go back to Haiti. It was a visceral response, God saying through my gut to me, ‘go!’”
This time, Margie made sure her team was prepared. Before their next visit, she brought a Haitian medical director to the U.S. to help with medical planning, and his father, an Episcopal priest in Haiti, to help with spiritual care.
Together, they attended a 6-seminar series called the Dunamis Project. The purpose of the series is to teach and equip local spiritual leaders about the Holy Spirit, and to go out and lead their people. After the seminar, the priest, his son, and Margie decided to bring the teaching to Haiti.
“Our heart’s desire is that Haitian Christians know the Holy Spirit in them is greater than any evil force in this world,” Margie said.
While Margie helped bring the Dunamis Project to Haiti, she was also working with professional nurses from her church to bring nursing education to Haiti. Through prayer, research, and consideration, this team started a 4-year nursing school in Haiti.
“I remember one humid night, meeting in a cramped hotel in Haiti,” Margie said. “We were taking on something so big, that we needed help. So I mustered courage and told everyone we need to pray for guidance for this decision, and we did.”
Margie’s passion for the people of Haiti is holistic—loving people through spiritual and medical education. The nursing school opened in 2005 as a part of the Episcopal University of Haiti and has enabled over 100 men and women to graduate with nursing degrees.
“It’s amazing how people learn and grow when they are taught by qualified professionals and blessed by God,” Margie said.
Likewise, the Dunamis Project is growing in Haiti: leaders are rising up through this program to organize and teach it. Last summer, they opened a second seminar location in Haiti. There were plans to initiate a third location in 2017 until, sadly, Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in early October 2016, killing over 1000 people and completely wiping out the third site.
“I’ve been to Haiti more times than I can remember now, and I’ve seen too many miracles and lives changed to deny that God is at work,” Margie said. “God is working in Haiti, and He is not giving up.”