“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.” Isaiah 42:16
In preparing to go to Haiti for my sixth mission trip, I prayed that God would give me the compassion of Christ. Our team prayed that we would decrease and that God would increase in our lives, that He would get all the glory and praise for whatever He allowed us to do during the week. We relinquished the burdens on our hearts to Him and asked that He use us to share His love with the Haitian people. We asked that He use us to spread the light of His love into the darkness of voodoo and unbelief.
The people in Jacmel and Cap Rouge are such a loving and friendly people. They appreciate everything anyone does for them and always make a point of letting us know that. Our first ministry was with a pastor’s wife named Mierto, who works with a group of children every Saturday afternoon. JP and Bertrand, translators, led the children in singing songs in both Creole and English. Kelsey shared a Bible story, memory verse and craft with the children, which was about Daniel being in the lion’s den. We also served a meal that had been prepared for them. Some of the children gathered and took left-overs home with them, which was touching. Three children stood outside the gate wanting so much to come in; however, their father had not given permission for them to join the group.
It was a blessing to worship with Pastor Paul and his church on Sunday morning. JP shared with us as Pastor Paul brought the message on Zacchaeus. It is impressive to see and feel the passion these church members have for Jesus and how they share that in singing, praying, bringing their offerings to the altar, listening to the Word and, on this Sunday, partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Kevin, who sat in the front, noticed that the lady who led the music had concrete dust on her knees where she had been praying. Pastor Paul also was on his knees at various times during the service. It seems that we lack this level of passion for worship in our home churches, as we sit in our air-conditioned sanctuaries and enjoy ourselves on a weekly basis, without giving much thought to the world around us or the needs of others.
On Sunday afternoon, we spent time with the CH children and Martha shared a Bible story about Zacchaeus with a memory verse and coloring pages. There was singing and much “joyful noise”! These children are always a blessing and we especially enjoyed the worship time with them on Tuesday night.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings we made the trek by tap-tap up the mountain to Cap Rouge. Although I have been up other mountains before, none were as physically trying as this one! The two-hour ride was on roads that were very rough, with large holes, rocks of all sizes, drop-offs and ruts. Needless to say, we were bounced around a lot, even though our drivers (Junior and Silace) were very efficient at navigating the terrain and very careful with their cargo. It is amazing how focused they are on their driving and how skilled they are in doing so.
We worked with Pastor Nicolas and arrived to a large group of children already singing and waiting for VBS to start. Although we were told to expect 40 children, we had prepared for 60 but actually had 85 on that first day! Kelsey and Nick led the children with help from team members Cathy, Wendy, Donna, McKayla; and Allison. They were especially impressed with JP, our translator, who led the children in singing with such an outgoing and loving spirit. Fabienne also helped translate for VBS, along with her six-month-old son, Davidson.
We were surprised to find that there was a group of older teens/young adults and women who also came for a class. So Kevin shared our Bible stories prepared for ESL classes with this group; Martha, Don Reece and I shared our testimonies and the translators led the group in singing. They already knew some choruses in English and quickly recited the memory verses and other songs in both Creole and English. Mery translated for us on Monday and Larousse on Tuesday and Wednesday. Again, there was joy on each face and we felt welcomed and appreciated. In one activity, we asked the question, “What did you have for breakfast?” One older lady, whose son was also there and who said he had corn for breakfast, responded that she had “Nothing.” Yet she came, patiently listened and participated and praised God with the group. She had a very sweet demeanor.
On Wednesday morning, we did not have the adult class (although about half of them came anyway) but planned to do door-to-door evangelism while the children were in VBS. However, Nicolas shared that we would not have time because the people would ask too many questions and it would take too long. So we (Nicolas; Larousse – translator; Don Reece – 85 year old retired missionary to Nigeria who wanted to return to Haiti “one more time” after having already been 8 years before – and his son, Kevin; Martha; Wendy and myself) went down the road/path into the neighborhood, praying as we went. At the first place we stopped to pray aloud, Nicolas shared that a voodoo priest lived next door. Knowing that God is greater, we spent this time of prayer asking God to shine His light into this darkness and to use the church to boldly witness throughout this neighborhood about Jesus and His love. It was a special time of blessing as we prayed together, knowing that God was listening and would work through our prayers. Join us as we continue to pray for Pastor Nicolas and Hope Baptist Church that the members will boldly share the Truth in this area, that Christians will be strengthened, and that the lost will come to know Christ.
As part of a church planting team, Don Hayden, Preston and Joe spent the mornings on the mountain checking out the new property for Pastor Nicolas’ church. Our goal is to plant one church per year and provide water, which might be a well or cistern, depending on location.
After making the trek back down the mountain, we had our snack lunch at AL House and then walked over to Pastor Claudy’s church for ESL. There were 22 students on Monday and Tuesday and almost that many on Wednesday. Again, there was joy and laughter, singing and praying, listening to Kevin teach the Word, memorizing Scriptures and learning more words, all in English. At the end of class on Monday and Tuesday, the students wanted to have small-group conversations with the team members. This was a special time of getting to know these young men and women and sharing with them. On Wednesday, we had a fellowship circle and prayer, after which the Haitian teacher, Dalou, presented bracelets that a man from the church had made for all of our team and Allison. Several of the students shared words of appreciation, which was a blessing to our entire team.
Everything we shared with the children and adults included the Gospel presentation. We gave a specific invitation at the close of ESL and led them in prayer but did not ask for a show of hands. I have learned through the years to not be as concerned about numbers as about how God is working. So we leave the results in His hands and pray that whatever seeds we have sown and/or watered, He will bring a harvest in His time.
On Thursday morning, we held a two-hour pastor’s conference with about 25 pastors and leaders present. Kevin taught about church leadership, per Pastor Nicolas’ request, with Bertrand translating. It was good to see faces that we knew and loved from previous trips and also good to meet new people and the three ladies who were there. The team provided brunch for this group, which was mostly prepared by Malita and Allison, with a little help from the team!
Due to travel constraints, we had to leave to return to Port-au-Prince at 1:00 pm for an early flight the next morning. It was also a blessing to lead this team of 13 people from 5 different churches/towns in AL. Only five of us had been to Haiti before, although Don Reece (FBC Boaz) and Kevin (The Village Church in Huntsville) had extensive experience in Nigeria and other countries. Joe & Martha Watts from Hepzibah BC in Talladega had been on my team three other years. Unfortunately, Martha fell and broke her wrist, so we’re praying that she will heal before they go to Uganda on a three-week trip next month. Don & Donna Hayden and their teen grandchildren, Preston & McKayla Jackson are from East McFarland BC in Tuscaloosa. Don has been to Haiti previously and to other countries like Kenya working with Hydromissions and well-drilling. Donna has a very sensitive heart and was not prepared for all we saw and heard but is very strong in the Lord. Preston & McCayla were pleasant and involved, never complaining – even tho Preston was sick one day and unable to go with the team. Cathy Curlee, Nick & Kelsey Rodgers, Wendy Ryals and myself are from Central BC in Argo and this was the first international mission trip for them. Each was an integral part of the team and I’m thankful to be part of their church family. As is His custom, God pulled together this team from varied places and backgrounds to accomplish what He wanted done this year. We became family and I feel that, just as He keeps the people we meet in Haiti in our minds and hearts, He will keep this team together, at least in spirit and by social networking!
Our trip would not have been possible without the help of Ann Amster and Jared McCrory from FBC Montgomery, who helped us with all the arrangements. We were blessed to meet and work with Scott & Allison Payne from the AL House, as they served alongside us and took good care of us. It was good to see Ken Peters again, Sophia & Jesse (Isaiah was having fun on his motorcycle) and we’re praying that all goes well with Maria and the final adoption of Achli in the near-term. We also met Jonathan & Karen Mouer who oversee the work of the church schools. God has a large network of people serving with Children’s Hope, from the administrative staff at FBCM to the directors on site in Jacmel, the nannies, translators, drivers, guards, other workers, to the teams who go and minister in many ways.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20
Trip Dates: June 10-17, 2016
Compiled by Mary Ann Burttram