Hello Charis family! I pray that this blog finds all of you both seeking and living within our heavenly Father’s will for your lives. Things are busy in Haiti as God continues to move powerfully through His Holy Spirit within us. Our third mission team of the year just left Haiti and we are looking forward to three more teams coming down to serve before the end of April! The first three teams were a great blessing to the ministry. It is an honor for us to have the opportunity to directly observe the diversity of gifts and strengths that God has placed within each of His sons and daughters to advance the work of the great commission!
Missions Trip #1
The first team of the year was led by our dear friend pastor Rich Valkanet, senior pastor at Living Waters Assembly of God church in Grayslake, IL. Pastor Valkanet has been a loyal friend and supporter of Charis since its inception and I view him as a mentor and a brother. Pastor brought down a team from his church that consisted of 12 people ranging in age from 20 to 78! What was planned to be a construction trip became more of an evangelistic outreach.
In mission work, flexibility is the name of the game as our plans, more often than not, are not God’s plans. So we must therefore be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading, willing to bend our will, and go forward in faith knowing that God’s will is perfect.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
During this trip, two sons of a vodou priestess were lead to the Lord through the regenerating words of the gospel of Christ. The musical members of the team lead worship for an entire audience that included two vodou priests and their families. Ground was broken for the construction of a home for a very poor and young ex-vodou priest who has been saved by God’s grace (the entire home construction was funded by this church!). Foot washing was done by members of the team for the poorest women in three of our communities (short term missionaries from the wealthiest country in the world washing the feet of women in the poorest country in the world—beautiful!). The two most powerful vodou priests in our state of Sud Est were witnessed to and prayed over. Prayer families were visited, new friendships were made, and many felt God pressing upon their souls to get more involved in missions at home and in Haiti—praise God!
Missions Trip #2
The second team heralded from a Calvary Chapel church in the outer banks of North Carolina (OBX!). The pastor of this church, Billy Rutledge, is another dear friend. I met Billy in a conference in North Carolina and as we spoke there was an almost instantaneous understanding of our kindred spirits. Pastor Billy is as radical as they come. And when I say radical, I really mean Biblical, because radical has become the unfortunate label now placed on anyone really adhering to Biblical truth that has nothing to do with physical/material prosperity, comfort, complacency, etc.
Billy couldn’t make the trip though, as he has had severe health issues over the past few months—please keep him in your prayers and intercede for his complete restoration! He sent a team of 10 young men and women, led by Nate Lusk—another great friend and kindred spirit. This team stayed for 9 days and ministered to many living in bondage to Satan through vodou. Members of this team sat with many powerful vodou priests and shared the truth of Scripture with them. They witnessed an overtly defiant vodou priest who said that he wanted to go to hell. Secondary to his entire camp turning against us, we left him with spiritual seeds of truth that will prayerfully sprout out of the current hardness of his heart. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing...”
(1 Corinthians 1:18a) They also witnessed a vodou priest softened by the words of the gospel as regeneration of his heart was evident as the gospel was unveiled to him. And of course, prayer families were visited and new Haitian friends made.
“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” Romans 10:17
Missions Trip #3
Lastly, we had the honor of hosting a medical/dental team who had a great impact within 4 of our communities in a very short period of time. This trip only lasted 4 days, but the team spent itself every day making sure that everyone who showed up with dental or medical problems were seen and treated to the best of our ability. This team was made up of old friends including my board chairman, Dr. Kyle Ramsey, Dr. Kim Bush, Jeff and Susan Lantz and our first translator (who is now married and living as a student in Atlanta) Sterling Accime. And new friends joined us, including 5 of Dr. Ramsey’s students, another dentist (the sister of one of the students), and Sterling’s wife, brother-in-law, and mother-in-law. We were so proud of this team because they gave their all in serving the true least of these in the world.
"What you did for the least of these brethren of mine, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40
We set up free clinics in 4 of the communities that we serve: Tessae, Cayes Jacmel, Macary, and Marigot. Between medical and dental we serviced hundreds of individuals in desperate need of care, and the Christ-likeness displayed by the students and the team blessed our hearts beyond description. I also want to add that all three of the above teams took part in showing the children’s version of the Jesus Film to the children of multiple vodou camps! So Joy and I would like to thank all of the teams from the bottom of our hearts. We know that you all had countless options in terms of what you could have done with your time and money. But you chose to leave the country to come and serve the poorest of the poor in obedience to the words of Christ. And we pray that you all continue to keep Charis and Haiti in your prayers and support consideration. We couldn’t do this without you all and we pray that you received as much as you gave!
Very briefly I also want to let you know about some new vodou priests that we are now ministering to on an ongoing basis. Sila, Hola, and PePe are three new priests who have all heard the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, within the last month, for the first time. Please pray with us that ongoing teaching, Bible study and discipleship are effective in the transformation of their hearts. Pray that God releases them from the lies and chains that currently prevent them from the glorious life of freedom and hope in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
Also, we are very excited about a new group that is meeting in our home on Tuesday evenings for 2 hours. This group currently consists of 9 young men and one young woman, all between 18 and 25 who God has identified to me as future leaders in their communities. All of these young people are from vodou communities that God has allowed us to penetrate with the gospel. We are calling this class IDT (Intensive Discipleship Training), and we are now studying systematic theology. Please keep this group in your prayers as we have great hope in the future of these young people. (I will discuss this more in my next blog.)
I will leave you with a verse that the Holy Spirit is prompt to share with you. As you know, the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) is not an option, but rather a command. So we are ALL called to be missionaries to the world, which is made up of those around us and those far from us. There are many times though, and I know this from experience, that we feel that giving the gospel to others is not worth the embarrassment and effort when so many people today, especially in America, treat the name of Jesus like a virus. They want to stay as far away from Jesus as possible and this makes open witnessing to people very difficult. God never gives us escape clauses in Scripture though. Despite potential embarrassment, shunning, ostracism, etc., we are still supposed to share the gospel with others. When you share Christ with others, and you continually strike out with seemingly no success or spiritual fruit produced, please remember the words of Isaiah, and put your witnessing to others back into proper eternal perspective. We are not witnessing based on an observed result; we are witnessing because Jesus told us to!