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Mission Trip Report: Haiti

The Brooklyn Tabernacle is a multi-national church where numerous people have become followers of Jesus and eventually felt called to go back to their home countries to begin ministries.  Our involvement in Haiti goes back to 1988 when sister Elsie, who was discipled for 4 years at The Brooklyn Tabernacle, felt the Lord called her back to Haiti where she began working in an orphanage.  In 1996, she moved to Port-au-Prince to begin a new ministry for children that continues today with many of those children now grown up as young adults with children of their own. 

In 2004, the Lord called another Haitian sister in our church, Bonite, to go to Jacmel, Haiti, where she began a humanitarian food program.  Bonite began sharing the gospel in this neighborhood; and so many people turned to Jesus that her ministry grew into a full church. 

Over the years, we have sent many different ministry teams to Haiti to minister alongside these two ministries.  The types of teams have varied depending upon the need.  There have been medical teams, English as a Second Language (ESL) teams, computer teaching teams, children and youth ministry teams, business training teams, and more.

I’ve had the privilege of ministering in Haiti for 18 years now, and I’ve seen its ups and downs.  There are newly paved roads, new hotels, and businesses that weren’t there pre-earthquake.  Even in the Ravines, the shantytown areas near Sister Elsie’s ministry where most of her kids come from, you can see more progress—paved stairs, and real doors and walls instead of curtains or tarp. 

Figure 1: Typical street shop

Nevertheless, there is still a sense of desperation, with many people leaving the country for work.  There is still violent crime, insecurity, mounds of garbage, and a lack of other services that the developed world takes for granted.  Many of the major businesses seem dominated by a small group of elites; and woe to the entrepreneur, and even the government, if they try to create competition.

However, nothing is impossible for God.  There is no reason why Haiti can’t have a positive future given the strength and resiliency of its people.  We have to pray for this nation.

ESL Camps

Haiti is a French/Creole-speaking country surrounded by English-speaking countries.  It is known here that if you want a good job, you have to have good English skills; so our ESL camps are always in demand.  This time, we had mostly teens and young adults, but some older adults as well.  This has been one of the best ways for us to get to know people; and it gives us a platform to speak spiritual truth into their lives.  For our conversation practice, we share biblical truths on topics such as honesty, self-control, gratitude, pride, and obedience. We had quite a few visitors in our classes who were new to the ministries in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, so some heard the gospel for the first time.  Others brought up topics such as legalism, which we were then able to address from the Scriptures.  Some discussions came up unexpectedly; e.g., someone said that they weren’t always obedient to their churchgoing parents.  When the teacher asked why, they said that when they would get sick, their parents would tell them to go to the voodoo priest to get healing.  

 

Figure 2: ESL Class activity

 

Computer Camp

We’ve begun doing computer classes in various countries, and we’re finding the demand is even stronger than for English.  This class had a large waiting list.  Most of our participants had learned about computers in class, but had rarely touched a computer because schools don’t have them.  Internet cafés would be mostly out of reach for students.  We, therefore, brought our mobile laptop lab and taught beginner and advanced Windows and MS Office classes. 

One of our projects was for the students to create PowerPoint presentations about their country and culture.  Several shared how voodoo is an important part of the culture and history.  It gave us an opportunity to talk about this, and we did more teaching about witchcraft and the dangers of mixing these practices with Christianity.  Many professing Christians would also practice some level of voodoo and not realize what the Bible teaches on this (e.g., 2 Cor 6:14-17).  This is fairly typical across many cultures; not just in Haiti.

 

Figure 3: Computer Class

 

Sewing

We also had a high demand for sewing, and we had to close registration early.  This is also a valuable job skill here.  Our team had fabric and material for students to create a bag by the end of the week.  At the last class, some students who had never sewn before, proudly showed their completed bags.

 

Figure 4: Sewing Class

 

Carpentry

As was the case with the other classes, quite a few young men were interested in carpentry.  David, our carpenter, taught the men how to build a picnic table and benches.  It is not so much the completed table, but the knowledge and skills transfer that is most important; but the young men were so proud of their completed work!  Thankfully, they now have the skills to do more.  

 

Figure 5: Carpentry Class

 

VBS/Youth

We also had a dedicated VBS team that worked with the children under 12 years old that would come to the ministries.  This was in addition to the Sunday school services.  Our BTYM (youth ministry) co-leader and a number of youth leaders were on our trip, and they put together an excellent Youth Program for both Jacmel and Port-au-Prince.  Testimonies were shared, and many youth were prayed over at the end.

 

Figure 6: VBS Class

 

Figure 7: Youth Meeting Small Group

 

Jacmel Children's Center

Several years ago, sister Bonite felt the need to build a Children's Center that could take in some of the most desperate and destitute children that have been orphaned or partially orphaned or abandoned.  The fully governmentally-licensed Children's Center now has 24 children living with them.  The ministry launched a school on ministry grounds to educate the children in-house.  Our VBS team also ministered here. 

 

Figure 8: Jacmel Children Center Classroom

 

We also had 2 prodigals come home in Port-au-Prince.  One young man whom I had known from the beginning of the ministry had fallen away for a time.  I asked for him through his cousin; and he came for the Sunday service and ended up weeping and repenting at the altar call.  Elsie and I spoke with him for an hour, during which time he explained what had happened; but he has now come back home.  Please keep him in prayer, that he might draw closer to the Lord, no matter his circumstances.

In another situation, we did a home visit in the Ravines to visit one of the leaders and his family.  In his family were 2 sisters that used to go to the ministry.  There was one I hadn’t seen in 8 years, and when she saw me, she ran over and hugged me as if we had been long lost friends.  She came to the ministry later, and she and I had a long talk with Elsie.  She and her little daughter have had a tragic life.  She had been begging God for help just the week before; and we realized that God had answered her prayer in the form of our visit.  We prayed that this would be a new day and that God would help her through the ministry.

 

School Supply Distribution

BT Kids and BTYM had the privilege of collecting school supplies for the children in Haiti, and we were able to bring over 8 suitcases divided evenly between the 2 ministries in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel.  The ministries distributed them to the neediest children before school began.

 

Figure 9: Sister Bonite in Jacmel receiving BT Kids and BTYM School Supplies

 

Figure 10: Sister Elsie in Port-au-Prince receiving BT Kids and BTYM School Supplies

Please continue to keep these ministries in your prayers.  For more information on Elsie's ministry, please visit: https://www.brooklyntabernacle.org/missions/missionaries/port-au-prince-haiti-elsie-lherisson.  For more information on Bonite's ministry, please visit: https://www.brooklyntabernacle.org/missions/missionaries/jacmel-haiti-bonite-affriany

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