Destinee + Reece
We recently arrived back in Haiti following several weeks in the States to celebrate the marriage of our oldest daughter Destinee. It was a beautiful ceremony and we were so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends. Destinee is now married to an excellent Christian young man named Reece Riikola and they are currently living in Knoxville, TN working to conclude their studies in nursing and physician assisting respectively. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin their new life together.
July Mission Team
Following the completion of the wedding and honeymoon, we returned to Haiti with a mission team that consisted of individuals from the Chicagoland area, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and South Carolina! It was a great blessing for Joy and me to host this team. Despite the intense July heat, two meals a day, and heavy physical demands it was an amazing time of service and blessing. There was one event that spiritually stood out for us and that was the baptism of 33 new believers who had been called by God out of the darkness of vodou and into the light of His Son—Jesus Christ!
Haitian evangelists rising up
Over the course of our 7 years of ministry in Haiti we have baptized hundreds of new believers but the baptisms performed on this day contained an unprecedented element that greatly blessed our hearts. Since the inception of Charis, all the Haitians who have received baptism were saved by God through the ministry as He used us, His instruments, to evangelize and make His Son’s Name known to individuals, vodou camps, and villages in the South of Haiti. On this very special day though, only 4 of the 33 individuals who received baptism had been saved through our evangelism, while the other 29 had been saved through God’s use of our recently assembled Haitian evangelism team!! This team includes names that should be familiar to many of you: Deba, Lukson, Andrelli, Lorvelie, and Destine Mevoy.
Earlier this year, following months of prayer, God revealed to us who He had anointed and chosen as His Haitian evangelists for Charis. In responsive obedience, we instituted Charis’ first all- Haitian evangelism team! Each of these chosen individuals zealously accepted this commission and, following our departure from Haiti to attend the wedding, they began to go out and evangelize within the communities they felt God calling them to, following prayerful inquiry and obedience. All the members of this team have received thorough instruction in Scripture’s foundational doctrines, and have also spent many hours in personal Bible study. The commitment to their own spiritual growth and their personal knowledge of the Word have been proven to me time and time again. I have had the honor of witnessing the members of this team share the gospel and their testimonies on the field when they have joined me on my daily evangelism assignments for the last few months. So prior to leaving for the States for several weeks, Joy and I felt God strongly telling us to send them out as a team for the first time without my guidance. After meeting and praying with them before we left, we felt an overwhelming sense of peace, joy, and confidence as we observed their willingness and excitement to “go”.
Prayer, study, and evangelism
Over the 6 weeks that we were gone these young Haitian evangelists came together and dedicated themselves to prayer, engaged in Bible study, and performed bold evangelism and God was pleased as evidenced by the affirmative fruit He allowed their evangelism to produce! Secondary to their declaration of the gospel, twenty-nine vodou practitioners were born again and welcomed into the Kingdom of God as their hearts had been regenerated, their minds and lives made new, and their bodies were now indwelt by the Holy Spirit– ALL PRAISE AND GLORY TO GOD!!
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” –2 Corinthians 2:14-16
What an awesome moment for Joy and me to experience. Baptizing 29 new believers whose salvation was the result of bold gospel proclamation by this young Haitian team was a gift from God. To see some of the original fruit of the ministry (the salvations of Deba, Andrelli, Lukson,and Lorvely) now producing subsequent fruit in the form of 29 saved souls is one of the greatest and indescribable blessings that Joy and I have experienced to date in this ministry that God so clearly has His Sovereign Hand upon.
At the conclusion of the baptisms, the group gathered together for a photo on the beach. As I looked over all of these new believers who, after counting the cost of following Jesus, had renounced all they had ever known and were now standing in front of me free from bondage with their spiritual chains removed, I couldn’t help but think of the instruction given to us by God in the book of Isaiah:
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”
So how are we supposed to loose bonds of wickedness, undo yoke straps, and break yokes? Acknowledging the spiritual context here, there is only one tried and true way to do this, and it is evangelism through missions. Meditating upon this truth immediately brings me to Scripture:
“For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord who has believed what he has heard from us? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
As we read this passage, the ending (vs. 17) reveals that saving faith only comes through hearing the Words of Christ—the gospel! Since such emphasis is placed on the actual ‘hearing’ of the gospel, then it clearly must be preached. This passage gives the sequence of events that must occur in order to assure that this happens. Someone must be sent to preach the gospel so that people can hear it, believe it, and be saved at which point they can now call upon the name of the Lord. This sequence is recorded in Scripture to reveal God’s expectation for His church as He graciously gives us the honor of taking part in His redemption of sinful human beings. Now if this is His expectation for His church then we must state an unfortunate truth that many of us would probably like to ignore. Many people who claim to be Christians and a part of the church of Jesus Christ on this earth, cannot find any aspect of their religious life in this very important passage. These verses show us that when it comes to the salvation of souls there are only two activities that the Christian can involve him/herself in to insure his/her obedience to Christ’s Great Commission: Christians can go, or they can send; anything else is simply disobedience!
The piercing truth
In the case of a Christian, Biblical truth can either pierce the heart with condemnation or affirm obedience to God. Many of you reading this should be encouraged because your support of this ministry definitely
qualifies as ‘sending’. Every time you donate to Charis you are keeping us on the field which qualifies as perpetual sending, and the sending out and sustaining of missionaries on the field is looked highly upon by God. I want to reveal to you, through Scripture, how sending affects you and others, and hopefully after reading this you will be encouraged and motivated to zealously persevere in your ‘sending’ role, and continue to live in obedience to God’s Word. To exhibit the power of ‘sending’ I will utilize five Biblical truths:
Sending on Earth translates to fruit in heaven
Paul reveals this truth to us in his letter to the church at Philippi as he thanks them for their support of him and his ministry:
“Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit...And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is telling us that giving to, supporting, and sending missionaries results in ‘fruit’ being added to our eternal credit. God views this fruit as a form of worship that is holy and acceptable to Him. The production of spiritual fruit is not optional, but rather expected of every Christian. Matthew 7:20 tells us that a Christian life that lacks fruit is in danger of being thrown into the fire. Symbolizing believers as ‘trees’ Jesus says, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits”. As we just saw above, one of these identifying fruits is manifested through the sending and supporting of missionaries. Production of fruit identifies a true Christian while the absence of fruit proclaims a professing Christian as false and he will therefore, per Scripture, be “thrown into the fire”.
Fruit cannot be produced unless we are actively abiding in Christ, and therefore our sending and supporting ensures our continued and commanded abiding in Him: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” -John 15:4-5. So, let us commit to ‘sending’ as this commitment increases fruit to our credit and keeps us actively abiding in Christ.
Supporting and sending of missionaries ensures rewards in heaven
“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
In this verse, ‘little ones’ are referring to Christ’s sent-out ones—his disciples/apostles. If anyone gives God’s sent-out ones even a cup
of cold water they will not lose their reward—meaning that they will gain reward! This issue of rewards in heaven is fascinating and encouraging. Going to heaven is reward enough as Scripture clearly describes heaven as a place of utopian perfection where there are no more tears, pain, need for sleep, etc. But God, in His grace and goodness provides and promises even more—He tells us that certain ones of us will receive definite rewards. The reception of these rewards will be purely based upon our life on Earth and what, through our ministries, will endure through Divine testing when we stand in front of God. 1 Corinthians shows us the reality of this encounter:
“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
–1 Corinthians 3:12-15
Supporting missions results in salvations, God’s Word going forth, and Christ’s name being uplifted and glorified. This results in the production of work that will be received by God in the form of gold, silver, and precious stones, and thus it will stand the Divine test of fire. So as you give to missions you amass gold and silver to present to God which will result in the receiving of heavenly, eternal rewards.
Sending missionaries results in the sender
sharing in the work of the one sent out
Some of you may be wondering how supporting missions and sending out missionaries results in ‘fruit’ being credited to your life and rewards being received in heaven. Since actually going to the field requires so much more sacrifice and struggle, how can supporting missions even be discussed in the same light? Well it can be discussed in the same light because the Bible tells us so. The little book of 3rd John is written to commend Gaius, John’s friend, who takes missionaries in and sends them on their way rested and cared for. John tells us that the work that Gaius is doing (supporting and sending missionaries) is viewed highly by God. Let’s read these encouraging words that the apostle John writes to his friend Gaius:
“Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”
This passage reveals a firm and important truth: the Church of Jesus Christ (the true Church consisting of individuals who are surrendered to Christ and His work on this earth, not a building), functions together as a body. Paul’s illustration, in which he uses the human body to symbolize the church, is referenced here. The head is Christ and therefore all commands, movements, decisions, and actions initiate in the head--Christ. The remainder of the body simply carries out the commands that flow out from the head. Therefore, when we consider the body, a hand is no less important than the leg, and the knee is no less important than the shoulder. Pain from a small pin prick is felt by the entire body and thus the entire body suffers. The body is knit together to work cohesively as a unit, and all parts are of equal importance. The poor functioning of one part creates a suboptimal condition for the whole. The same is true of the Church. The one who physically goes to the mission field is no more important than the one who sends and supports. While there exists hierarchy in terms of leadership in the Church, there is no hierarchy in terms of power and worth.
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
So within the true Church of Christ we do not consider one as above another. If the evangelism performed directly by Joy and me resulted in the salvation of the entire country of Haiti, we first of all can take no credit for it because it is only God working through us that makes any evangelism successful. Secondly, those of you who sent and supported us will be counted as sharing in the work per the passage from 3 John, and therefore will share in the rewards too. So never allow yourselves to be tempted into thinking that your support efforts are minuscule and unimportant because NOTHING could be further from the truth. Joy and I love the fact that we will all, as a sending/evangelism/ missionary team be regarded by God as doing His work on this earth and building His kingdom and His Church together, and we will have eternity to spend together, enjoying our rewards that resulted from the fruit of OUR (yours and ours) labor!!
The fourth point I want to make will now transition us from considerations of ourselves to considerations of what your sending and supporting results in for the Haitian people.
Your sending ensures that Haitians hear the gospel of Jesus Christ
Our verse above, from Romans 10, clearly asks, “how are they to preach unless they are sent”. While this is an obvious truth, it is nonetheless incredibly important to realize. I say that because so many Christians, while knowing this intuitive fact, never give a dollar towards missions. For too many Christians the thought is, “well someone else is surely giving money to missionaries so I’m not going to worry myself with such things”. The Biblical calling for every Christian is missions, and thus we must involve ourselves if we want to be found putting the kingdom of God first in our lives, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..” (Matthew 6:33a).
So as you support and send, know that this decision keeps you firmly adhered to the Word of God as you are revealing your concern for the lost in the world and do your part to ensure that they hear the gospel that is capable of saving their souls. You are making certain that Joy and I can remain on the field and perform this work optimally and impactfully! This ‘work’ that you are ensuring and maintaining is best summarized by Paul in Acts 26:17b-18 as he defines what God wants to accomplish through us on the mission field: “I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” So, sending/ supporting results in the light of the gospel of Christ entering into the darkest spiritual situations on Earth and conquering Satan’s power over the people resulting in their release from spiritual bondage, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8b)!
By sending, you are physically sustaining the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere
While the salvation of lost souls is the most important aspect of sending and going, the physical needs of those being ministered to cannot be ignored. Our God is a God of both mercy and compassion and these two attributes manifested through the life of Jesus. Jesus brought the message of salvation, but He also had compassion concerning the physical needs of countless people over the course of His earthly ministry. It is important to continually study and consider the life of Jesus because we are instructed to live as Jesus did, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6). So, compassion should flow out of our hearts as it did from the heart of Christ who only did what His Father instructed Him to do. God’s Word reveals how high of a priority He places on human compassion and how He expects His Divine heart of compassion to be the same heart that is within those of us who make up His Church on this earth. To see this just consider Matthew 25:34-40:
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. I was naked, and you gave Me clothing, I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’”
– Matthew 25:34-40
Despite having read that passage hundreds of times, it never gets old! It is such a powerful and impactful passage in its ability to bring us right into the heart and mind of God. Jesus actually identifies Himself with the poor, the indigent, the imprisoned, the naked, and the sick. Our Creator identifies Himself with the least of His creation, and in doing so instructs us to love and worship Him through honoring and caring for the poor. It brings me great joy to tell all of you who send and support this ministry that you are doing exactly what this passage from Matthew instructs. A large percentage of our budget goes directly to alleviating the great physical suffering and needs that the Haitian people endure on a daily basis. So rest in the fact that God is pleased with you as you honor Him through your compassion displayed to the Haitian people.
I hope that you have been encouraged through reading this newsletter. As Joy and I sit and consider each one of you and your commitment to God’s work in Haiti through this ministry, our heart just spills over in gratitude! Just knowing that we are all in this together—doing God’s work in this most difficult of countries where Satan believes that he has a foothold—greatly emboldens and encourages us beyond what you know. Together we are showing Satan that his power only stands in the face of Christian disobedience—disobedience to the command of the Great Commission. Satan’s kingdom in Haiti is being actively dismantled and his power is being weakened, all as a result of your sending and our going. We applaud you all!! If you are reading this and have never given to this ministry there is no time like the present to get involved. God’s hand is powerfully upon this work in Haiti and the fruit to be gathered is low lying as the Haitian people are very open to the gospel and the power of salvation is being displayed almost daily.
Acts 26:18 Ministry
I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank the many individuals, as well as, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas, who made a commitment to help those who are newly saved out of vodou and now in need of financial assistance as they pursue their new life in Christ. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!
Out of the 28 individuals we listed on the back page of the last newsletter, 21 of them have received assistance! Your support made it possible for us to:
Cover Racine’s, Kettelie’s, Florance’s, Lucienne’s and Sergot’s children’s tuition for the 2018-2019 school year.
Cover the tuition for Nancy’s, Franky’s, Wilky’s, Luccene’s, Lorvelie’s and Jeff’s 2018-2019 school year.
Buy a generator and 4 batteries for Oxeran to run his barber shop.
Purchase motorcycle parts for Lukeson to start his motorcycle parts shop.
Purchase clothes for Marcella, Nadege, Nerlande and Locite to each have their own small business in the market.
Purchase dishes and kitchen supplies for Adeline to start her small business.
Purchase 3 motorcycles for Samuel, Adruin and Larousse to each start their motorcycle taxi service.
Purchase phone cases and phone chargers to help Ulrich start his electronics business.
Marcella’s clothes business.
Purchase a cow for Rene to start his butcher business.
Rented land, bought 150 banana trees, beans and fertilizer for both Ousann’s and David’s farming endeavor.
Purchase a gas stove for Wandy to bake and sell bread.
Rent small houses for each of the following individuals who were kicked out of their home after coming to Christ: Franky, Marcella, Hestella, RoseMarie, Lexionet, Renald, Dieusibon and Tania.
Last, but not least, after Peter Saintluc, (Lukeson’s dad), came to Christ, someone burnt his house to the ground. However, with donations raised, we were able to build him a new 1-room house and buy him a bed.
As stated in this newsletter, 33 more individuals have turned their back on vodou, repented, surrendered their lives to Christ and were recently baptized! This has come at great cost to the lives of these new believers. They are now in desperate situations and are in need of the same financial assistance that was provided for the group above! Please prayerfully consider supporting your new brothers and sisters in Christ