Sunday, June 26, 2016

Take the Name of Jesus With You

The Lord continues to open doors for preaching and ministry in various places and churches throughout Haiti, and last week we were blessed to have another group from home to participate in the work here.

James' and Jonas' arrived last Tuesday evening, and the men started right in on Wednesday with a visit to an area hospital. They were surprised to find that the hospital was not actually in operation, as the entire staff went on strike months ago. Despite there being basically nobody there to offer medical assistance, there were still plenty of sick people filling the beds and longing for some help. It seems it was a sobering and heart-wrenching, yet blessed time of witnessing to these people. From there, they headed to preach in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Thursday morning was an early departure for the long drive to Miragoâne, where Barry preached after they finally arrived.

The women and children went along on Friday as we took some time to visit some of the other missions in the area and learn a little more about the work they are doing in Haiti. It was interesting to see the sheer volume of food and other supplies that are distributed continually to so many people in need.

We were back home again for a short rest and the men left for a Bible study in Williamson. This was at the church where Barry preached the Sunday before, where there had been a good response to the message and some young people had come forward wanting to repent. There seems to possibly be some fruit coming forth from this group!

The plan for Saturday was to head up the mountain, but rain the night before and more on the way postponed the plans. Instead, we all went and visited the little orphanage in Williamson that we've recently been working with. We had Anouce along to translate, so it was a wonderful opportunity to share with these tender hearts. James and Jonas both had a short lesson for them, encouraging and reminding them of their need for Jesus to lead their lives. That same afternoon, the men went to visit
the pastor in charge of the church and orphanage in his home. It was a meeting that allowed them to dig a little deeper into what he's about and what the needs truly are in order for those dear children to be taken care of.
Brother James sharing with the children at the orphanage

The third Sunday of the month brought us back to Titanyen, where brother James brought the morning message. He opened up Galations 5 and explained the works of the flesh in detail. He ended the message with the encouragement to be sure we are among those who are in Christ and are called up together with Him on that glorious day.
Sunday morning services at Titanyen

The mountain trip was moved to Monday, so the group loaded in the truck and ventured their way up the rocky 22 mile path to the village we typically hope to make it to.  After they arrived, the people were gathered together for a service and Jonas opened up and shared a message. Anouce was unavailable that day due to family circumstances, so Josnel, our other Haitian on the team, had his first opportunity to translate a sermon.

Since our visitors left last Tuesday, God has continued to show us that He is watching over us. As we were headed home from Port-au-Prince that same day after getting the truck worked on, we were driving down a back road when we heard a loud cracking noise. Suddenly Barry slammed on the breaks, locking up all four wheels. A large utility pole had split and was falling right for us! It crashed down, hitting the metal grill guard on the truck. There was an array of sparks and wires tangled up on the truck. Barry put it in reverse and pulled us from the entanglement. No one was hurt, we praise God!

Wednesday was Barry's first "megachurch" experience, as he and the team traveled five hours away to the southwest side of Haiti. They arrived to see that the very large building had already been filled, and people were standing outside the windows waiting for the service to begin. An estimated 2,000 people were there to hear about sin and the blessed promise that Jesus offers to be freed from it. They returned again to the church in Williamson last night for a Bible study that dug deeper into some things Barry had shared on the last time he preached there.
This morning we plan to go down the street to Pastor Oscar's church. This is the church where many of our nearby neighbors attend. We've gotten to know many of them better over the weeks, but we haven't been there for church since the Sunday Benji was there to share the main message. Lord willing, this will be a great opportunity to share what's on his heart from the fruit we have seen by living among many of these people.

We are once again thankful for the visit from home, and all the help I had from the women while they were here. It is always a blessing to have American sisters here helping with all the cleaning, laundry and cooking, and being here to fellowship. I pray you are richly blessed by your efforts. We have less than two weeks until the expected arrival of our little blessing! God is truly worthy of our praise!

Monday, June 13, 2016

An Unexpected Funeral

Just over a month ago, we witnessed the  miracle of healing when God took a man that was frail and bedridden and allowed him to rise up and walk. The man joyfully began working in his garden, anxious to return to caring for his young family. In return visits, he was still up and about and said that he and his wife had committed themselves to serving God with all they had.
One later visit, though, Barry found that he was a bit sick and running a fever. Although it seemed to be nothing serious, Barry felt prompted to ask, "Are you ready to die?" To which he confidently responded, "yes."

A few days later, the shocking news came that the man, indeed, had passed away.

The family asked Barry for help with the funeral, and thus began another new Haiti experience for us.  We were to help transport the casket up into the mountain, and also preach the message before his burial.  Thursday morning, our family, our translators, and our church brethren who were here for the week, all loaded up into the truck and headed to Williamson where we were to pick up the casket.  After a time of waiting for the vehicle from the morgue to arrive, a small white van labeled "ambulance" pulled in and stopped behind the truck. The men carefully placed the casket into the back of our pick up. They strapped it in to be safe, and a spray of silk flowers was placed on top.
When everything was secured, we headed out of Williamson and up the rocky road into the mountain.  Like other frequent trips, we were uncertain of how far we were going or how long it would take to get there.

About an hour up the rough road, we began to see people dressed in their best, clearly waiting for a funeral to begin. Around the next curve was a small cemetery and a group of people were gathered on the road.
When we stopped and got out, we learned that the church building that had been reserved was no longer available because the pastor had changed his mind. So, what do you do in Haiti? You make do.  A couple of chairs were placed about six feet apart under a shaded area, the people gathered around, and the casket was placed across the chairs.  Being surrounded by God's creation, on the side of a mountain, seeing the ocean in the distance, and a pleasant breeze blowing to keep things fairly cool, was a more beautiful place to hold a service than any structure man could build.

Everyone was assembled and ready to begin, except for one person. Where was his wife? Someone had gone to get her, since she was certainly not anxious to attend. As she drew nearer, we could hear her agonizing cries and then saw her coming, trying desperately to break free from the arms of the two other women who were dragging her to attend. Seeing the casket was too much for her. She wailed and cried like she had just heard the news of his death. Finally Barry calmed her down enough to talk to her. "I know this is very hard," he told her, "but God wants to help you. He wants to help you. Please come over here and sit and we will have a nice funeral for your husband."

She came and sat in the lone available chair and slumped down, placing her face in her hands. I wondered what was going through her mind.  Would she be able to have peace from Christ after this loss? In Haiti, especially in the mountain, a woman becoming a widow is more than just the loss of her love. It's also the loss of her support, the loss of any chance of income, and, she probably felt like, the loss of everything. Typically in these situations, no one steps in to help.  No family, no friends, nobody. A young widow is left to fend for herself with young children to care for.  This certainly adds to her intense grieving, as she fears what is to come.

The funeral began with an opening from Pastor Bazalet. One of the four brothers, whom he seemed closest to, then shared a few words. Next, Barry began the sermon.  It was a sober time for many who were gathered there, as they heard about the brevity of life while a vivid reminder lay before them. The sermon was clear about the need to be truly a child of God when we die. They were informed that this man was four years short of the average life expectancy of Haiti, which is only 36.

Following the sermon and a closing prayer, the casket was moved across the road to the cemetery where a hole was already dug in preparation for burial. As the crowd followed to say their final farewells, Josnel informed me that it's not typical for a woman who is expecting to go along to the graveside. Interesting, I thought. Another old superstition that still lingers here? I slowly made my way down anyway as the shovels were  busy placing dirt back over the casket.  It was noticed that there were remains from a prior burial mixed in with the dirt.

While the burial was finishing, a young man approached and told us that he wanted to make Jesus Lord of his life. The men spent some time with him, praying and helping him through repentance. Another young man also wanted to repent, as well as a teenage girl who had been battling with evil spirits. She seemed to be sobered by the day, as it turned out she was the daughter from a previous relationship of the deceased. These young people have a great battle before them as they return to their lives, surrounded by the evil and negative influences that are abundant here.  They and the family, especially the young widow, could use our prayers.

Other Opportunites and Happenings

Last Sunday morning Barry and the team traveled to a church near the border of the Dominican Republic.  The rest of the week, we were happy to host Nate and Darla while they were here testing for wells, and James while he helped us out with the electrical set-up at our house.

Yesterday morning, we were back in Williamson for Sunday services at the church we were at two weeks ago. Following the message covering the difference between a sinner and a child of God, this time nine people came to the front to pray and get their hearts right with the Lord.  It seemed to be quite a different atmosphere from two weeks ago.

This coming week, there is more preaching on the schedule as another group comes from home to stay with us.

Thank you again for your prayers as we continue to delve deeper into the lives of the Haitian people.

Bondye beni ou!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Outside the Gate: Citè Soleil

A new church has been added to the ministry list, as we traveled again the short drive to Williamson this past Sunday. Pastor Bazalet arranged for Barry to preach at a church we had not yet been too. Like we see all around us, there was clearly deception and hypocrisy in the church. The sermon clearly explained these things, as well as defining repentance and painting a clear picture of what it means to be born again. The warfare was raging that Sunday morning. Of the same group of people who danced and clapped all through the singing before the sermon, many of them left the building in a hurry looking angry. Lord willing, they were provoked to consider what they heard and ponder their souls in the scope of eternity.

That same afternoon, we returned to Williamson to visit an orphanage with 14 beautiful children. We came into contact with the pastor of the church that runs it when he came to our house seeking help. They seem to be in great need of support, most months barely scraping by and losing some of their staff for lack of pay. It was a blessing to watch them joyfully sing about Jesus for us. It seems to be an organization that is offering these children a lot of potential as far as how and what they are being taught. We are in prayer about how we can help in ministering to these tender young lives.

Tuesday presented a new venture for the whole team. They decided it was time to head to an area in Port-au-Prince that is rather uncharted territory- Citè Soleil (City So-lay).  It seems that the gospel has not been preached there, as people are fearful to pass through this area, and many avoid it.  Barry has felt lead to preach there for quite some time. Even the Haitians were nervous about going. One of his team members was nowhere to be found that morning. As they approached the area, it was clear that these people needed a savior. As Barry began to preach, a crowd quickly gathered. These people were starving for the gospel!

God blessed their efforts. People were hungry for the Gospel like nothing they've yet seen. Thousands of tracts were handed out in the time they were there.  Several new contacts were made, and three people wanted to repent and give their lives to Christ.

What a testimony of what God can do when men are given the courage to go outside the camp! Now that the door has been opened, they plan to return in the future, praying that God continues to give these desolate souls a hunger and longing for a hope they've never truly heard of.

The rest of the week has been filled with going to and fro helping with various needs, language lessons, and Bible studies with different churches.  Wednesday and Thursday were Bible studies with two different churches in Williamson, and today they made a four hour drive (in good traffic) southwest bound to Miragoâne to preach to a church group. Barry is thankful to be back in full swing preaching and ministering wherever the Lord calls.

Thank you for praying!