Haiti or else — Service Spotlight withTate Williams

Service Spotlight / Thursday, February 20th, 2014


Tate Williams, field director for the Global Orphan Project, chuckles just enough to create tiny ripples in his cup of coffee. The laughs come from an attempt to articulate his experience of receiving a “clear, direct and urgent call from the Lord” to go to Haiti.

It happened in January 2010, right after an earthquake ravaged the country, which Williams couldn’t get out his mind. The young man described the sensation as an impression on his heart and mind — “Haiti or else.”

Shortly after, Williams ended up in the Dominican Republic helping with the supply chain set up by The Global Orphan Project. The GO Project concentrates on moving bulk quantities of rice, beans, and filtered water into Haiti, one of the first aid organizations to do so.

However, GO doesn’t just directly aid orphans, but rather enables the native communities that surround them. The operationalmodel is unique in that its focus is on the empowerment of local churches to take on the actual responsibility of care.

“Everyone must come to the place of realizing that we are not the savior, money is not the fix, and the community itself has to be the ones to care for themselves.”

GO provides resources, guidance and support, while local partners care for orphaned, abused and neglected children.

After a couple of weeks in the Dominican, Williams crossed the border into Haiti where he spent several more weeks as a volunteer. He was an unlikely choice for a first responder. In regular life, he was a custom carpenter and forest serviceman. He described his younger self as a nominal Christian, believing that, “the point of life was to bide your time till heaven.”

But in the months leading up to that trip in 2010, his safe little existence had been “wrecked” by a determined, older mentor in his church. Haiti sealed the deal, forever ruining his plans for complacency.

“What if the local church is the vehicle that God uses to build his kingdom here and now,” Williams said, “and what if my role is to help?”

Seeking the answer to that question wasn’t easy. Williams was hired full-time by GO Project in April 2010. Four years later and the man is one of the organization’s key orphan care managers, helping local churches in Kansas and Missouri care for orphans in their own communities.

Describing his current work, he smiles, but then gently pauses and speaks about the preceding years and early failures. His burnout in Haiti, his leadership transformation and how his pride had to die before his ideals could take over.

“It circled me back to that whole thing of ‘and whose kingdom is this again?’”


It’s a concept that extends beyond William’s personal story. It’s a concept that lies deep in the heart of the Global Orphan Project itself.

“We lived Toxic Charity, we lived When Helping Hurts,” Williams said. “We did it the wrong way first. Everyone must come to the place of realizing that we are not the savior, money is not the fix, and the community itself has to be the ones to care for themselves.”

To find out more about Williams and the Global Orphan Project, visit https://goproject.org.

– Written by Anna Spady, [email protected]