“… I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tabernacle.
Its ruins I will rebuild and I will restore
in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord
and all the Gentiles who bear My Name,
says the Lord, who does these things …”
A crane used to rebuild a 5-star hotel outside Port-au-Prince, and a beautiful
view of the Port-au-Prince harbor.
A memorial stone for the killer earthquake of January 12, 2010. At right,
Patt and I in the makeshift mass cemetery outside Port-au-Prince,
where untold thousands of Haitians were buried after the earthquake.
Dear Ministry Partners,
God is not only the God of redemption, He is the God of rebuilding and restoration. After times of destruction – whether through divine judgment or natural disaster – God called and commissioned His people to rebuild the temple … rebuild Jerusalem … rebuild the walls … and rebuild the ruined cities (Ezra 5:2; Neh. 2:17; Ps. 102:16; Dan. 9:25; Amos 9:14). And the physical rebuilding was always for the greater and higher purpose of spiritual rebuilding so that “… mankind may seek the Lord” – but especially “… the Gentiles who bear My Name.” And in this case, the “Gentiles” are the Haitians.
It has now been over 5 years since the killer earthquake devastated much of Port-au-Prince. Since then, several billion dollars in Foreign Aid have poured in for the rebuilding process. In addition, untold numbers of Christian work teams and medical teams have gone down to do their part in the physical, spiritual, emotional and social rebuilding and restoration. My latest trip was no exception. While there are encouraging signs of significant progress in the rebuilding of the devastated infrastructure of Port-au-Prince, the evidence of the spiritual rebuilding process is even more encouraging.
The hillsides outside Port-au-Prince continue to be covered with small houses,
built precariously on the slopes. It was poorly built houses like these that
"pancaked" during the earthquake, killing so many. While there is major road
construction taking place in Port-au-Prince, there are still many side roads
like the one in the picture at right, that are nothing but potholes, mud,
and sewage water.
I often say this about Haiti: “When you step into the streets, you see what is WRONG with Haiti. But, when you step into the churches, you see what is RIGHT with Haiti!” As far as the news is concerned, the incredible spiritual rebuilding is the untold story of Haiti – it is nothing short of miraculous!
According to secular studies, the evangelical church now comprises 45% - 50% of the population of Haiti! That makes it one of the biggest success stories of church growth in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. There are few other countries in the world that can match that level of church growth. So, Haiti has emerged from the earthquake as one of the strongest, most resilient, dedicated and dynamic churches on the globe! It is a church coming of age that has much to offer the rest of the ecclesiastical world.
NEHEMIAH VISION MINISTRY
The first part of my week was spent at NVM with my dear friend and partner, Pastor Esperandieu Pierre, who is also the director of Campus Crusade for Christ, or Cru, in Haiti. He is one of the dynamic young leaders of Haiti who is doing both spiritual and physical building and rebuilding – just like Nehemiah, after whom he has named his ministry. He welcomes work teams down almost every week to help rebuild churches and houses damaged or destroyed by the earthquake.
Esperandieu shared his testimony with a work team that was in Haiti at the
same time as I was. At right, the team builds a small cement house for a homeless widow.
In addition to preaching, teaching and mentoring, one of my personal pet projects at NVM was to do the landscaping and tree planting for their growing campus. Our friends and partners at Double Harvest have been very generous and helpful in supplying me with trees, bushes and flowers for this project of reforestation and beautification.
In between my times of preaching and teaching, I have enjoyed landscaping
these dorms at NVM from this ...
... to this!
On my next trip, I will landscape the new NVM Hospital
that was built after the earthquake.
ONAVILLE EARTHQUAKE CHURCH
One of the primary purposes for my trip to Haiti this time was to revisit the church we had built for earthquake victims on the barren hillsides outside Port-au-Prince. It was a little over a year ago that this entire church was built in less than one week – which is why the men who did the construction have earned the reputation as the “Manteo Miracle Men!" To build anything to completion in one week in Haiti is a miracle – much less a church of this size! It was a blessing to visit and preach at the church that has been well used and well maintained over the past year.
The outside of the beautiful Onaville Church against the barren hillsides,
where hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims have settled.
At right, the inside of the church, packed each Sunday with growing Christians.
Like all of the evangelical churches in Haiti, this church is a worshipping church…
... a praying church …
... a Bible church …
... a giving church …
... and a preaching church.
Until the “Manteo Miracle Men" built the metal building, this tent was used for their church after the earthquake. They have now partitioned it into several classrooms for their new Primary School for over 150 children.
GARDENING & TREE PLANTING
Since Onaville is a squatter town of earthquake victims on the barren mountainsides outside Port-au-Prince, we do all we can to introduce farming and reforestation there. For that reason, we planted a garden behind the church as it was being built. Because most of the good topsoil has been washed into the sea by generations of deforestation and erosion, we are trying to slowly build up new soil through grinding up sugar cane stalks that rot after the sugar is extracted. All we have to do is pay for trucking the sugar cane to our garden projects. Gradually, this is helping to add compost to the poor dirt.
Shredding the sugar cane in a chipper that we sent down earlier.
Because there are less than 3% of trees and vegetation left in Haiti, reforestation is one of the greatest needs and biggest challenges – and one of our top priorities. To help teach the importance of this, I have written a book titled: Trees in the Bible. We are so thankful for ‘Double Harvest’ (who is perhaps the top tree grower in all of Haiti) for their partnership in this.
Double Harvest grows hundreds of thousands of different
varieties of indigenous trees for transplanting around the country.
Sadly, the Haitian government still does not make
reforestation a serious priority.
We planted these fast-growing pine trees along the border
of the church property when we dedicated the church
a year ago. They have grown significantly from the small
seedlings that were 12" high last year! On this trip,
we added many fast-growing fruit trees.
After my several days of spiritual and physical farming at NVM and the Onaville Earthquake Church, I had the joy of speaking to around 200 seminary students at the Bolosse Seminary on the opposite side of Port-au-Prince. This was a special privilege since I first visited and spoke on this campus in 1969. This time I was asked to teach on Islam – a subject I never thought I would need to teach in Haiti! However, there are currently a dozen or so mosques in Haiti! There is also a madrassa, or Islamic school, that has been established. Just like the Christian schools, the Muslims are offering free education, except they are indoctrinating young children in Islam and Sharia Law.
The Bible Seminary.
Pastor Edner Jeanty, Jr. and his wife Dominique.
Another primary reason for this latest trip to Haiti was to speak at the graduation ceremony for the Barnabas Leadership Center founded and headed by my dear friend and partner, Edner Jeanty, Jr. Through the years we have had many opportunities to partner together in various ministry projects. He and his wife Dominique are a wonderful and dynamic couple who are setting high examples of integrity and excellence in Christian marriage and ministry in Haiti.
Edner was asked by Dr. John Maxwell to spearhead his EQUIP Leadership Training Seminars in Haiti. This was the third 3-day Seminar attended by 530 pastors and leaders from all across Haiti.
What a joy to be in the presence of hundreds of church leaders!
Our hearts were prepared for worship by a wonderful chamber orchestra.
It has been exciting to see the spiritual and technological growth of pastors and
Christian leaders in Haiti over the last few decades. When I first started teaching
pastors, most had little formal education and almost none had computers ...
... all of that has changed, however, as most of them are now IT savvy!
What a blessing it was to be asked to preach the graduation ceremony on the timely subject of “Salt & Light” to these key pastors and leaders from all over Haiti. We hope to have that message on line soon for you to watch.
I always know when Edner is translating for me that he will preach a good sermon
in Creole, regardless of what I say in English!
The Conference attendees lined up to receive their certificates.
A very proud father, Edner Jeanty, Sr., gives the benediction at the
end of the graduation program that was organized by his son.
It was an unexpected privilege to meet up with two of my missionary models and heroes, Wallace & Eleanor Turnbull, pictured at left. Patt and I first met them in the late 1970s when we were living and ministering in Haiti for the summer with our 4 young children. Later, after our son Jonathan graduated from college, he spent a summer working in their Baptist Haiti Hospital outside Port-au-Prince. This proved to be a time of confirmation for his call to medicine. He returned to Haiti with me to do medical work right after the earthquake. We thank God for the impact that the Turnbulls have had on our personal and family life.
Wallace and Eleanor and their extended family served faithfully in Haiti for the equivalent of several generations. During that time, they planted hundreds of churches, schools, a hospital, agricultural projects and many other self-help programs to generate jobs. After retiring a few years ago in their 8th decade of life, they returned to America where they continue to work with the Haitian Diaspora – especially university students. But each year, they return to Haiti several times to continue to nurture and encourage the work that they started many years ago. This time, they said they bought a “one-way-ticket” so they could stay down as long as they were needed. They are living testimonies of the promise of God in Psalm 92:12-15:
“The righteous flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon … They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green …”
Like the “palm tree” with its flexibility and the “cedar of Lebanon” with its firmness, they are a beautiful example of two saints who have “grown old gracefully” and are still “fresh and green” with the eternal spiritual sap of the Spirit! The Lord willing, this is what Patt and I will still be doing in our 8th and 9th decades if the Lord graces us with that many years. Thank God for ministry and missionary models like Wallace and Eleanor who are not just “growing old” – but are “old and growing!”
Wallace stands with his ever-present 'shepherd's staff',
(that he calls his 3rd leg) to help him get around.
His aging legs have taken him all over the mountains
and valleys of Haiti.
It was also a joy for me to have a visit with Pastor Chavannes Jeunes, who has been a close friend and partner for several decades, and is one of the most influential and respected Christian leaders in Haiti. Through him, we built several of the “containerized churches” through the work of the “Manteo Miracle Men.”
Chavannes and I also worked closely together on the “Haiti At The Cross” events for the anniversary of Haiti as a nation when the forces of voodoo were seeking to bring Haiti back under the dominance of the devil. He was also a presidential candidate in the last elections and came in fourth to now President Michel Martelly, a former rock star, pictured at right.
Since then, Pastor Chavannes has continued to do holistic Christian development with 410 Bridge based in Atlanta, Georgia. This organization takes its name from I Peter 4:10 and is committed to “helping people help themselves.” Like our Kingdom Entrepreneur initiatives, they are committed to offering a “hand up,” rather than a “hand out.”
But Chavannes has also continued to be active in trying to unify the Haitian church to greater political involvement as God’s “salt” and “light” as they face their next elections in 2016. Sadly, politics in Haiti has been dominated for generations by institutionalized corruption, inept bureaucracy, incompetence and voodoo. Just like the Christians in America, the Haitians have the numerical critical mass at 45% - 50% to sway the next election and determine whom ends up controlling the government. But too many Haitian pastors and Christians have stayed away from active political involvement believing it to be the “devil’s territory.” So, pray for Chavannes that God will continue to use him to galvanize and unify His church for greater political influence and integrity through authentic servant-leadership – like Joseph and Daniel exerted in the Bible.
Thank you for taking the time to make this quick trip through Haiti with me. Since it was our first country of evangelistic engagement and involvement, it will always be my “first love” in missions! I hope to return soon after Patt and I go to Jordan over Easter to work among the Christian Refugees there.
For the Haitian Church,
PS: After writing this report, I received the following pictures from Pastor Sangge Sherpa who has now safely arrived back in Lukla to resume his ministry. I wanted you to see them and rejoice with us in his “medical miracle” after his recent accident. Thanks again for praying him through this life-threatening incident. Please continue to pray for him as he resumes his ministry of evangelism and church planting in the high Himalayan Mountains all the way up to Mount Everest Base Camp.