One joy in training pastors in Haiti is spending time with our Haitian ministry team. Over our years of praying and serving together, we have built friendship and partnership in Christ, and these bonds have grown even stronger on this trip. I am serving with five Haitian friends that I have known for many years – Pastors Esau, Jasmin, Ulrick, Michel and Hebert. We are working hard to welcome and train church leaders. Each day we set up, welcome pastors and train, then tear down, store materials and prepare for the next day. And we eat, pray and talk together. This is our pattern, and we have enjoyed it. The Lord has given us health, strength and good fellowship. Added bonus: Being the only American on this trip has been great for my language learning!
We’ve also enjoyed “down time” together filled with teasing and laughter (Haitians love to laugh!), animated discussions about the Bible and church life, serious conversations and prayer. I am always sharpened and challenged in my walk with Christ as I spend time with these Christian brothers. I have learned so much from them about waiting on the Lord, being devoted to prayer and committed to church life. In light of that, I thought you would like to hear some faith stories of Haitian believers. Here’s the first.
How Michel Met Jesus
Two nights ago Pastor Michel (sitting just behind me in the plane to Gonaives) told us how the Lord saved him. Like many Haitians, he began life in the Catholic Church. He excelled at his catechism and service in the church, and in his early twenties, even filled in for the priest in giving the message. Michel had a born-again friend that he argued with about Christianity, but the Holy Spirit began to stir his heart. He decided one day to visit his friend’s church for one service. He sat in the back row.
As Michel listened to the singing and preaching, a terrific spiritual battle raged in his mind. A spirit of darkness shouted, “Get out of here!” and the Holy Spirit said, “No! Stay!” The battle for his heart continued throughout the service. At the end of the service, Michel went to the front of the church where believers met him. They asked him if he wanted to pray. At that moment, he could hardly speak but squeaked out, “Please pray for me.” So believers gathered around him and prayed for his salvation in Jesus’ name. At that moment the Lord delivered Michel from the power of darkness and made him a new creation in Christ.
Michel began to read the Bible and meet with his friend and other evangelical believers, but he also continued serving in the Catholic church. As he taught catechism classes and preached when the priest was away, his messages changed. He questioned praying to saints. He spoke against having statues (idols) in the church that people relied on for God’s favor. When the priest returned, he confronted Michel about this change in teaching. Michel left the Catholic church for good shortly after that and hasn’t looked back. He has pastored faithfully in Ouanaminthe for many years, and though our team teases him about it, he doesn’t plan to retire any time soon.
Some pics of our first training conference below. We begin training pastors in Gonaives tomorrow (Monday) morning. Thanks for your prayers, friends. Have a good week following Jesus in your mission field!