Yesterday, Mon., Jan. 16, was the opening of Haiti Providence University, a Christian university located near the capital, Port-au-Prince. The university offers liberal arts undergraduate degrees in education, business, theology and nursing. Construction on the first building began in December 2010, less than a year after the earthquake that left many Haitians homeless. Pray for university president/rector Jean Marc Zamor (a Free Methodist), the more than 50 university students enrolled, and instructors desiring to apply biblical principles to their lives.
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As a missionary, one has feet in two different worlds. When I left my world of origin (Western New York) and moved to Haiti, I had a great deal to both learn and to unlearn. I am learning a new language. I have had to learn to drive as driving here in Haiti is a completely different experience than in the US. I could go on but I suspect you don’t have too much trouble coming up with things one might have to learn when one moves to a different country. It didn’t surprise me that I had new things to learn. What has surprised me is how much I have had to unlearn. I have had to unlearn that water is freely available and safe to drink. I have to keep a jug of “safe” water in my bathroom to rinse my toothbrush. I have had to unlearn that electricity is a given. Between learning to use an inverter, checking the water in my battery bank, and maintaining my generator for those frequent times that the municipal electric isn’t working, I spend hours a week just to ensure I have something I never had to think much about in my old world. I have had to unlearn that the safety of my food supply is mostly a given. I have had to unlearn that a quick trip to Walmart will supply me with most anything I might need. There is not a Walmart or even a McDonalds in the entire country of Haiti that I am aware of. A quick trip? Not.
This past summer Cookie and I spent several months in the US visiting our supporting churches. It seemed odd to leave this world (Haiti) and re-enter that one. It sure made me appreciate how blessed we in the US really are. It also made me very aware that I have my feet in two different worlds in a way that I had not really thought of before. Then I thought further and I realized that living with one’s feet in two different worlds was not a new experience after all. I invited Jesus into my world (or perhaps more correctly I entered His) at the ripe old age of 27. I had a lot to learn. Before that “grace” was a quick prayer some people said before they ate. I used to think that was kind of odd. Now grace means something very different. I have learned a lot of new words as a Christian. I learned a new way to spend Sundays. I learned a new way to treat the people in my world. The Bible has become more than a dusty book on my bookshelf. I had some things to unlearn as well. My language could be pretty “salty”. It has been a lifetime struggle to move from being “self centered” to “Christ centered”. I am still working on that one; it’s a lifetime journey.
Hebrews 11 celebrates the lives of heroes of the faith. It makes this observation:
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16, NIV)
Did you get that? They were and we are “aliens and strangers”. The point is simple and basic: as Christians we walk with one foot in this world and one foot in His world. As we allow God to reshape us from what we were and are into what He has designed us to be, we have things to learn and things to unlearn. God is watching us with more than a passing interest. How is it going? Rick
Cookie and I are supported in our work in Haiti by people like you. If you would like to be a part of our team and support us financially or prayerfully (both are needed) go to our website at www.servinghaiti.com where you will find links under the “Join Us” tab.
The pastoral training program of the Haitian FMC, the Institut Biblique Methodiste Libre, has resumed classes for the fall. Pray for the 15 men and women who are in their final year of pastoral training.
Pastor Nelson Brandymore, Coldwater, MI, is leading a team of five to Dessalines, Haiti, Oct. 20 to 23. This is an advance planning team for a larger team that will work next year on rehabilitating a building for vision/dental clinics.
A team of six teacher trainers representing four states travel to Haiti Aug. 1 to 11.
Tom Pavone, Greg Hale and Keith Snyder, Edgewood FMC, Rochester, NY, travel to Haiti, May 20 to 24, to follow up on structural assessments (post earthquake), do some civil engineering and design projects for the FMC and FOHO (Friends Of Haiti Organization) and work on 12 Pillars, an extra mile project.
A team of 11, sponsored by the Centennial FMC, Belleview, ON, is currently ministering in Haiti until April 10. This team, made up of members from five congregations in eastern Ontario and led by Pastor Rodney Peterson and Les Young, are doing construction on a church in the Mapou area.
Gene and Kelli Page, Lapeer FMC, MI, are leading a team of 15, April 2 to 9, to Haiti. This team is involved in ministry through maintenance on the properties in Dessalines. Among other supplies, the group has carried in water filters for area families.
Richard Poissant, Canada, travels to Haiti April 5 to 15. He will be doing general construction.
International Child Care Ministries
Mark Johnson, Meadowood FMC, CO, has traveled to Haiti this week to assist the International Child Care Ministries office in setting up a functioning computer network in Port-au-Prince. He will also teach the staff in how to use the new database. Mark returns Tues., April 12.
Praise God for the inaugural meeting of the Haiti Provisional General Conference held March 27 to 29. Bishop David Roller reports the meetings were filled with celebration and a sense of progress. Rev. Clovis Momplaisier was elected suffragan bishop. The Haiti church continues to grow. Attendance has increased in the last year from about 6,000 to more than 18,000. Pray for God’s continued hand of guidance and blessing on the FMC in Haiti.
Arlington FMC, WA, is sending a team to do construction work in Haiti Feb. 17 to March 3. Ron Hansen is the leader for this seven-member team.
Michael Bootland, Polson Park FMC, Canada, travels to Haiti Feb. 15 to March 15 to work with a school construction team.
Jonathan Horton, pastor of the Yorkshire FMC, NY, travels to Haiti Feb. 19 to 26 where he will teach at the Institut Biblique, visit missionaries and explore partnership opportunities.
A little over a year ago, Jack Munos was pinned under the rubble of a collapsed building in Port-au-Prince. Tragically, that collapse claimed the life of his spouse, Jeanne Acheson-Munos. Now, Jack is ready to return to Haiti to serve its people – fulfilling a calling to which he and Jeanne committed themselves. Jack, a missionary appointed and commissioned through Free Methodist World Missions, will work in cooperation with the Haitian International Child Care Ministries staff. He will coordinate special ICCM projects, including water filters, solar oven distribution and education, along with other ICCM outreach initiatives. Join us in celebrating this development and in prayer for Jack and his service to the people of Haiti through ICCM. Learn all about ICCM at www.childcareministries.org