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A Glimpse of Haiti

November 1, 2013

Expectations are a funny thing.  We all have them.  Sometimes they are very broad, almost ambiguous in form, and hard to quantify.  Other times they are very pointed, explicit, and clearly discernable.  And we have to admit that there is always the possibility that our expectations fall somewhere in between.  As our team began preparing to travel to the Caribbean nation of Haiti, the most poverty-stricken country in the Western Hemisphere, my expectations fell more in first category than anywhere else.  It’s not that I didn’t care, or that I wasn’t engaged.  It was that I genuinely desired to go with as few assumptions and presuppositions as possible.  I wanted God to show me what I needed to see, and use me as He wanted to use me, and hopefully without me getting in the way.

We were given a very broad overview of many of the ministry efforts of El Shaddai Ministries International, and specifically Dony and Louis St. Germain.  Their four foundational principles, their primary objectives, are evangelism, education, empathy, and economy.  It is profound to see the way that they mobilize both indigenous Haitians and foreign Christian groups to work toward fulfilling their calling to reach the country of Haiti with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through these four areas.

In the city of Les Cayes, on the southern coast of Haiti, we met with Louis and traveled to several of the site locations where they have established a church.  In each of these locations, they also build and staff an orphanage, a primary school, and attempt to form a commercial enterprise in order to work toward reaching a level of self-sustainment for a long-term impact.  This Gospel-centric view of working for change in Haiti is somewhat unique among the mission agencies working on the island.  While other organizations will try to build a very westernized, American facility and business plan, the model of ESMI is to engage the local culture with the Gospel and mobilize those people to seek the welfare of the town or city in which they find themselves.  It is a very Jeremiah 29:7 view of global missions, and a redemptive view of God’s love for His elect “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev. 7:9).  To hear Dony or Louis discuss the modus operandi of ESMI is to hear a heart for the people of Haiti, rooted in a love for Christ and a desire to see many come to know Him.  It is not simply to improve the “quality of life” (though that is certainly a piece of it) but rather that “they may have life and have it abundantly.”  It’s an understanding that Jesus is not a means to something else, but that He is the End to which all the somethings ought to be pointing.

As we made our way from Les Cayes to Jeremie, we were blessed to see the beauty of the landscape, God’s creation, from ten thousand feet.  And upon landing in Jeremie, we were blessed to see the work that God is doing through the preaching and teaching of the Gospel in that city.  In less than three years, ESMI has built a church, a university, an administrative building to work toward oversight of all the church planting efforts and educational endeavors, as well as guest houses to accommodate foreign mission teams who come to serve in each of the four primary objective areas.

Our team conducted a pastor’s conference for two days teaching a Systematic Theology course on the Doctrine of Sin.  Over sixty pastors traveled from all over Haiti to come and be challenged with this important doctrine.  After all, if we don’t understand sin, and the effects and punishment of sin, how can we ever truly understand a Savior who has ransomed us from it?  Some of our team built shelving in the administrative building.  We visited some of the church and orphanage sites around Jeremie.  One is in a small village referred to as Lundy.  We also visited a small orphanage and distributed new clothes to those children living there.  A very special piece of that being that the clothes were made by members of our church who partnered with us, and ESMI, without ever having to get on a plane.

We spent the Lord’s Day worshiping with two different congregations.  It was a great blessing to me to be asked to preach at both of those worship services.  It’s a unique picture of one the expressed effects of sin, the confusion of languages, to preach through an interpreter.  But the universal refrain of “Amen” carries the ability to unify any body of believers in response to the Word of God.  In the end, we were able to join in song, in prayer, and in worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with brothers and sisters from a different nation, a different tribe, and a different tongue.  And we saw the glorious hope of the resurrection, and life in the world to come, when translators won’t be needed, when sound systems won’t be required, and the sun won’t cook us in our Sunday best because the Lord God Himself will be our light (Revelation 22:5).

As we worshiped, I was reminded of a song written by Andrew Peterson.  There are several short refrains in it that speak to the coming future, the vision of what is to come at the consummation.  He says, “And we dream in the night…of a city descending…with the sun in the center…and a peace unending.”  Again he sings, “And we dream in the night…of a King and a kingdom…where Joy writes the songs…and the innocent sing them.”  And finally…painting a picture of the glorious worship that we have to look forward to…he sings, “And we dream in the night…of a feast and a wedding…and the Groom in His glory…when the bride is made ready.”

That’s what’s happening in Haiti through ESMI.  The bride of Christ…the Church…is being made ready.  And there’s no doubt that we have an opportunity to carry the fire of the Gospel to that people…and see hearts transformed from death to life…and a redeeming of God’s people through the life, death, and resurrection of the Son.  Our challenge going forward is simply to prayerfully consider how we might best come along beside them and live out Christ’s Great Commission to His people, to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Intimidating…yes.  Vast and expansive…yes.  Impossible…not even close.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah Eremic permalink
    November 1, 2013 2:58 pm

    I was waiting for a report in response to the call for prayer to the “FB World.” Thank you Adam. But I had no idea of the kind of report I’d read. The emphasis of ESMI in Haiti is what I would long to hear – and I just did. So many (even people in churches jp here) see Haiti as needy but almost a “black hole” and wonder if the work is even worth it. Your report was not just clear, but a Spirit-filled account, giving us a clear picture of why we should NOT give up, when ministry has this emphasis. Blessings on all of you.

    • November 4, 2013 11:52 am

      Thanks Sarah. It really is a unique ministry in Haiti. Lord willing, Dony will be here at our Missions Conference this Spring.

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