I had the honor of attending the annual conference sessions for our Haiti Conference last week. It was such a blessing to get to be a part of the conference sessions and spend time with some of our Haitian leaders. I also got to spend some time with Project Help-Haiti leaders Mike and Dawn VanDervort. I’m so grateful for the excellent leadership they are giving to our work in Haiti.
Ministry in the developing world is typically a mix of encouraging signs and overwhelming challenges and such is true for Project Help and the Haitian Conference of the Churches of God, General Conference. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere but God is at work and His kingdom is advancing in Haiti and I’m so grateful that we get to be a part of what the Lord is doing in Haiti.
The Haitian Conference is now made up of forty-four churches and thirty-two schools as they continue to experience steady growth. Project Help has a significant presence with the Victor Binkley Hospital in Pierre Payen as well as a medical clinic there. Project Help also helps with several educational efforts – a vocational school as well as nursing and physical therapy schools. Throughout the year various teams from primarily the U.S. help provide medical care and other humanitarian ministry through the work of Project Help.
One of the most striking observations during this trip was the youth/young adult presence at the Haitian Conference sessions. It was very encouraging to see so many young people in attendance and participating in the times of worship, teaching and training. This is a stark contrast to what I typically experience in the states. I’m often one of the younger folks at our conferences in the U.S. (and I’m not really a spring chicken anymore). That definitely wasn’t the case in Borel last week as a significant percentage of the folks gathered were under the age of 35. There’s great potential for the future in Haiti.
Somewhat surprisingly, when we asked our Haiti leaders to share about some of their greatest concerns in Haiti, the chief concern was for their young people. One of the realities of living in the poorest country in the western hemisphere is that there are very limited economic opportunities for younger people and there’s a strong temptation to leave Haiti in search of a better life. Our Haitian leaders are committed to helping address the crippling effects of devastating poverty so that the young people growing up in their churches and communities will have the opportunity to continue to live and thrive in Haiti.
That’s why our partnership in Haiti is so vitally important. We have the privilege of being part of what the Lord is doing to transform individual lives and even the future of a nation. I long for the day when every single one of our congregations in the U.S. can demonstrate that they are invested deeply in reaching their own neighborhood or community as well as deeply invested in doing ministry somewhere else in the world: Haiti, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, the Dominican Republic or another door that the Lord will open in the years to come! It’s not a matter of one or the other, it’s both: around the corner and across the ocean.
We have opportunities right now for more sister church relationships. The Haiti Sister Church and School Program provides opportunities for U.S. based churches to connect to and support the CGGC churches in Haiti. This relationship exists to provide financial support to the Haitian churches and schools but also to develop familiarity and genuine sisterhood between two different cultures sharing a common faith in Jesus Christ. While I was in Haiti last week, I got to witness the great investment that the Columbia Church of God (ERC) is making through the sister church relationship with the Jerusalem Church in Borel. Diana Thomas of Columbia was in Borel (and has made several trips over the years) in order to build the relationship between these two congregations. While the funds given are important, this kind of investment goes beyond just dollars and cents. If you would like more information about how your church could get involved, reach out to Ben Tobias at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The work in Haiti isn’t done yet and it’s not without its challenges and frustrations. Remember to pray for our Haitian brothers and sisters as they faithfully serve the Lord. Remember to lift up Mike and Dawn VanDervort, Rod and Mila Ayers, and Steve and Amy Hosler as they serve with Project Help Haiti. Your prayers are vitally important as our brothers and sisters work faithfully to demonstrate and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Lastly, if your congregation isn’t invested in ministry somewhere else in the world, why? Don’t miss out on what God’s doing to bring His kingdom to every tribe and nation on earth.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 2