Newsletter - Haïti (december 2017)
November 2017 visit to Haiti
After an absence of 3 years, the opportunity to visit Haiti again opened up in November. I spent about 2 weeks there. As I had circulated my schedule beforehand, many friends prayed for this mission. The Lord answered by granting many occasions to preach His grace in Christ and by giving attentive hearts.
Many of the old contacts had cooled off because of the passing of time. In some cases, the doors were not open any more because of the message of the Gospel which is an offence or does not offer any prospect for self glory. For others, the sheer busyness of life made communications difficult to establish. It is not easy to find time when you have to fight your way all day long in order to eke out a living for your family.
The general situation in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is full of contrast. It is obvious that many have a lot more wealth than in the past, judging by the big trucks and modern cars clogging the streets. The Haitian families resident in North America provide for this state of affairs. At the same time, it is equally obvious that many live in utter poverty for various reasons. Corruption is more rampant than ever, as is religion and all the superstitions that go with it. A certain level of despair is palpable, especially a growing distrust in the leadership’s ability to sort out the situation.
My friend Moïse, who has been my guide and security man on previous occasions, having recently lost his job, was on hand to accompany me and take care of the logistics. He was very glad to be free to listen to the preaching of the Word everyday, whereas he did not have this privilege on other visits because of his employment!
I had been invited to teach in a «Centre for spiritual instruction» in Gonaïves. This town is located some 2 to 3 hours’ drive north of the capital. The setting is beautiful. I have been there 3 or 4 times in the past. The man who runs this centre refuses to turn it into a Church, insisting on the fact that he just wants to learn what the Bible has to teach, staying free from denominational specific traditions. His project is very ambitious and well thought out.
We got there on Sunday afternoon and I preached that evening to a filled room. Then, we had teaching sessions for 3 days from early morning to late at night. About 400 younger people (18-30) attended regularly. The fact that they took many notes and asked good questions showed that the Word did not go out in vain. I am already thinking about having a longer time there next year and teaching more systematically a Course on the basics of the Gospel: what it is and what it is not.
Romans in 5 hours
Back in Port-au-Prince, I was asked to teach in a couple of Bible Institutes. In one of them, I had been asked to «teach Romans» in the 5 hours of the morning session! That was a marathon, but the Lord gave us the opportunity to review in that time the main points of the Gospel and of Gospel life. Several people present expressed their disappointment at me not spending time to delineate the various theological controversies gravitating around this epistle. Somehow, I took their veiled criticism as a compliment (and indeed, we looked at the disputed areas, but they did not realise it as I avoided the technical jargon).
In many of my contacts, I have found that there is a real thirst for teaching which is faithful to the Word – there is such a dearth of this. Yet, allegiance to Christless organisations and congregations keeps people under a terrible bondage. And the labourers are few!
So it was encouraging to see the Europresse books available in another well attended bookshop in the centre of the city. There are loads of books available in French now, but little truth, though more than in the past. There is also a missionary organisation up in the hills behind the city which has opened a bookshop and has started stocking our books. May the seed of the truth bear much fruit! It was so heart-warming to see their joy at having good material to sell.
I was also able to preach several times in smaller places, some of which I had been to before, and others new. Again, it was such a joy to have the opportunity to open God’s precious Word, knowing that this is where the Spirit is pleased to come in power according to the eternal purpose of the Father.
The rest of my time was spent in revising manuscripts and meeting with individuals, sharing the Word and answering their questions. I also spent time with the leaders of the missionary organisation already mentioned, looking into possibilities to teach the Word within their framework. They want to train the leaders of the churches which have been planted by their efforts.
All in all, I was quite happy to have had a productive visit and I hope that a plentiful harvest will come of this under the Lord’s good hand. Thank you so much to all of you who have faithfully prayed and have also made this mission possible in all sorts of ways.