By: Rev. Martin Hawley
Friday, our last full day in country, began with a trip to Jean Paul’s compound for a day of training the Haitian pastors connected to Jean Paul’s Souls Winning Ministries. There were about 45 in attendance, representing at least 30 churches. We trained until just after 12 noon on the Sufficiency of Scripture and on the introduction to the Sacraments.
While we took the lunchtime break, Jean Paul led a meeting that brought us together with a group of college students from a town further south who had started their own school for children, with similar vision and principles in common with Jean Paul. Their roject goal is to transform Haiti using the youngest generations of Haitians. They have now begun networking with Jean Paul and hoping to start a church soon as well.
I spent the early part of the afternoon (after our lunchtime meeting) teaching on the Sacrament of Baptism. The Baptism segment resulted in so many questions that we did not have time to proceed to teaching concerning the Lord Supper. In the providence of God, however, it was necessary for us to take out time on the subject of Baptism, as this is a deeply controversial and debated issue in Haiti. If you were trained Catholic, you believe that Baptism saves. If you were trained Baptist (and several other Protestant denominations), you believe Baptism must be believers’ Baptism by immersion. We will need to return in future trips to the subject of Baptism in order to strengthen the understanding among the Haitians of our Reformed practice of the Sacrament.
After concluding the segment on Baptism, we handed out the certificates to those who had completed the Means of Grace seminar and then toured the grounds at Souls Winning to get a sense of the building site and the scope of the building project. We were accompanied in this survey by Jean Raphael Ceon, who advised us that if the money was available, the foundation and full first floor of the school could be up within three months' construction time. Jean Paul continued to stress to us his burden that the construction begin right away — even if piecemeal — for the sake of the growth and the credibility of the mission of Reformation Hope.
As the afternoon was drawing to a close, we said our goodbyes to our Haitian brethren and left Souls Winning in route to pick up Crawford for our celebration dinner. On the way out of Souls Winning, in fact just a block or so from the compound, we encountered the voodoo religion for the first time in full force. We were stuck behind a procession led by a bull, which the voodoo priest had placed an evil spirit upon. The crowd followed closely behind the bull in a procession. The bull behaved very erratically, endangering the children, as well as the adults who were participating. I prayed for those in the procession to be saved by faith and to be awakened from such a senseless religion and such dangerous rituals.
We picked-up Crawford and drove up the mountain where the wealthier Haitians live to dine at the Montana Hotel. The Montana is an amazing place that makes you forget what 99% of Haiti is really like. Perched upon the mountain slope, with a breathtaking view, the Montana is the favored place for foreign visitors and dignitaries to stay while in Haiti. The place is surrounded by lush gardens and you can easily peer into the backyards of several embassies (including the Israeli embassy).
The Montana features a dining room that offers the option of eating on an expansive terrace. We chose to eat outside and watch the sunset while celebrating the Lord’s abundant goodness to us throughout our trip. The Montana was yet another example to us of just what the nation of Haiti could be like transformed by the Gospel. We enjoyed an amazing meal on the terrace — in my case a Rock Lobster — and engaged in lively conversation and reflection with classical Cuban rhythms and vocals playing in the background. When it all came to an end, we drove once again down the mountain, back into the grit and grime and darkness of everyday life in Haiti. I do have to say, though, that what the Haitians lack materially, they make up for in the richness of their relationships. What they ultimately need is a God-birthed relationship with Jesus Christ.
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