Greetings to our Charis family
Joy and I hope that you all had a blessed Christmas and New Year and were able to spend special time with your families and brothers and sisters in Christ. It is hard to believe that yet another year has come and gone. The fleeting time reminds me of the brevity of our earthly existence and the very short time we have been given to glorify God’s name with our lives. Our ephemeral existence, rather than frustrate and depress us, should serve to heighten our awareness of the colossal job found in the great commission that our Savior has so graciously assigned to us. The immensity of this work demands a sense of urgency that should be possessed by every Christian who desires to display efficacy in God’s Kingdom expanding work on this earth.
Knowing this, we have no time to waste, and we should realize that every moment of our lives spent in selfish pursuits and preoccupation with the establishment and perseverance of our comfort and security adds up to wasted time. When our time is so short we must determine to live every moment in passionate pursuit of the souls of people that can be redeemed and secured for eternity through our sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Continue in your zeal
We have a job to do, and I applaud each of you for your ongoing commitment to this ministry in the form of prayer and financial support. Furthermore, I want to encourage you all to continue in your zeal for missions and saving those held in bondage to Satan in Haiti. Joy and I could not have asked for a better, more supportive group of fellow brothers and sisters. Your continual involvement provides us with great encouragement and gives Joy and I the fuel we need to keep striving and laboring on this very difficult mission field. So thank you, and know that your support and love is the fuel and backbone of this ministry!
Plans for 2018
Since the New Year is here, I want to inform all of you of the plans God has placed on our hearts for 2018. It is our prayer that this will provide you with the information needed to pray specifically, and give with full awareness of how your money is being utilized to expand the Kingdom of God in Haiti.
The foundation of this ministry is, and always will be, Jesus Christ! While the world around us continually vilifies His name, utilizes His name as a verbal expletive, and presents Him as a radical teacher of hate and division, Charis will boldly and persistently elevate the name of Jesus and glorify Him through our passionate and relentless pursuit of lost souls who do not know His name and the salvation made possible through His life, death, resurrection and ascension. This is why the passage of Scripture that defines this ministry with the greatest clarity is Acts 26:19b-20:
With that unmovable, and non-negotiable cornerstone of this ministry set firmly in place, it should come as no surprise that seeking out the unreached people of Haiti is the first and foremost priority of Charis for 2018 and every year to follow.
As you all know, our model of evangelism is a trickle-down model where we focus our evangelism on the people used most effectively by Satan to keep Haiti in spiritual darkness. These agents of Satan, in Haiti, are those who vocationally practice vodou—the vodou priests and priestesses.
Everyone utilizes vodou
Almost every Haitian utilizes the power of a vodou priest or priestess for reasons of healing, financial blessing, cursing others, finding a job, etc. Thus, the vodou priesthood has great influence over Haitian culture and, as a result, the local vodou priest or priestess intimately knows nearly every member of his/her community.
Knowing this, it makes sense that if we focus on building relationships and sharing the gospel with the priests and priestesses we can indirectly affect entire communities. We have witnessed this many times in the past year where the priest accepts Christ and is baptized, burns and destroys his books, temple, and demonic talismans, and then shares His new freedom, faith, and hope in Christ with all of those who have come to him for years to make use of his demonic power. When the local priest comes to Christ, there is a good chance that many in the community will follow him.
While this isn’t always the case, it has occurred enough times to encourage us to continue performing this very rare, and at times dangerous, ministry. Our thought is that if we were to evangelize the community and neglect the priests and priestesses out of fear, then the real source of the problem would remain relevant, persistent, and neglected. I take no credit for this ministry as it was God, through His Holy Spirit, who spoke and assigned this vodou ministry to me. Therefore, I see this ministry as a great honor, as God has entrusted me to represent Him to some of Satan’s greatest agents on this earth. With man this ministry would be impossible, but with God “all things are possible”.
Continued evangelism of vodou priest and priestesses
So the first focus of 2018 is to continue aggressive and determined evangelism of vodouists! In reference to those who practiced witchcraft, the Bible reveals what occurred after they heard the gospel of Christ, and this is exactly what we are experiencing in Haiti today. I frequently say, that when you actually enter the pages of Scripture and stop limiting yourself to the role of a spectator of Scripture, you will find yourself pressed deeper into your heavenly Father with greater faith, more boldness, and a heart that becomes more and more like Christ’s!
New ministry: Vodou liberation
The second item on our 2018 agenda is occurring with such frequency that it has earned its own name and ministry: Vodou liberation! What this ministry entails could easily be referred to as a vodou recovery ministry. In the same way ex-drug addicts, and ex-alcoholics require an indefinite period of rehabilitation after they ‘quit’, vodou priests and priestesses who have been saved and have surrendered their lives to the Lord, likewise require a period of time to properly recover.
Physical needs overcome spiritual convictions
While their salvation and eternity are sure and secure respectively, the fact that their surroundings and immediate environments continue to teem with demons and other vodouists, the newly saved vodou priests require support to aid them in both physical and spiritual endurance. Physically, after salvation, the former priests and priestesses have literally lost their jobs. Vodou had provided for them financially, and now after giving it up. They ALL find themselves in desperate physical situations in which they can’t feed their families, can’t send their children to school, and can’t pay for other daily necessities like clean water and toiletries.
If this desperation is allowed to continue for too long, their physical need will overcome their new spiritual convictions, and the demons they once served will whisper solutions to their problems in their ears which undoubtedly involves a return to serving them. As the spiritual father of these men and women I, under God’s authority, cannot allow this to happen. This is when I must have complete faith in the words of Scripture. While there is certainly NO prosperity gospel in the New Testament, there is surely a provision gospel, and it is found in Matthew 6:25-34. In that passage Christ clearly says:
As a Christian, I view every word of the Bible as absolute truth, and therefore in this situation of desperation with the newly saved vodou priests, I go to prayer and ask God to enact His Word on this earth in their lives. While, in response to my prayer, God could just supernaturally intervene and personally provide for all of His newly found children. He chooses to enact His Word differently—He chooses to manifest His word through us—His sons and daughters on earth. This leaves us with the awesome responsibility to care for these beautiful new Christians who, due to a social situation outside of their control, can’t provide for themselves.
After a priest or priestess is saved, and God has shown me that their salvation is genuine as they burn and destroy their vodou relics, I sit with them and have a conversation about their skills and what they could see themselves doing to earn money. The answers that I have received include raising goats, growing crops, being a motorcycle taxi driver, or starting a small vending business in front of their home. I then take their requests to God in prayer asking Him to place it upon one of your hearts to give to this ministry so that I can make the purchases I need to in order to secure their new vocations and ensure their physical maintenance.
So far, Joy and I have witnessed nothing short of miracles in this ministry. Many of you who have come to Haiti on mission trips and had the opportunity to meet these saved priests and priestesses and sit with them, and hear their surreal stories of salvation from the literal grip of Satan himself, responded beautifully to their needs. We want to give special thanks to those of you who have donated for this purpose. Through your generous giving we have had the great honor of being able to buy goats, motorcycles, bean seeds, supplies for selling, etc. and thus initiate the new lives of these newly saved brothers and sisters in Christ.
A new family through Christ
The beauty of this specific ministry is that it only requires a one-time purchase to galvanize the new lives and future physical sustenance of these individuals. What humbles me is that when Joy and I purchase the new motorcycle or herd of goats, the response is not what you would expect. One would think that the motorcycle would be seen and that alone would be celebrated, but our new Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ are most astounded by the fact that they now have a new family that they have been adopted into through Christ! A family in America that loves and cares about them enough to send money across the ocean to help them—they are blown away by this!
Their response would be better understood if you knew their culture. Haitians don’t show love toward one another very well. Jealousy, insecurities, mistrust and hatred underlies most interactions that Haitians have toward one another. So the fact that they cannot count on their own neighbors will help us understand why they are in such awe that someone they don’t even know would send them help based on the sole fact that they are now a part of the global family of Christ! This is life-changing for them, and this is why I urge you to support this ministry that will now exist as a firm wing of our ministry efforts in Haiti.
Spiritual needs are real
Along with this physical need, we also take very seriously their spiritual need. This spiritual need is one involving both teaching and loving. I weekly teach hundreds of Haitians, including the newly converted priests and priestesses, as their growth in the knowledge of Christ is crucial to their sanctification and endurance in their righteous walk. Loving them simply involves ‘doing life’ with them. While laborious, this spiritual support is vital as a missionary must tend to both aspects of the human being—the spiritual and the physical.
These two aspects of our humanity are coexistent on this earth, and thus when one falls the other is not far behind. The spirit will not manifest Christ on this earth optimally if one is starving while, at the same time if an individual’s spirit is down and depressed, physical sickness will manifest alongside of it. Therefore, we must care for both, and this takes the full efforts of this entire ministry which include ALL OF US. Thank you in advance for your support of this most important ministry!
Lastly, one of the greatest problems that I witness in Haiti on an ongoing basis involves the lack of pastoral knowledge of the Bible. There is one main Bible school in Haiti and it exists in the dangerous capital city of Port au Prince. Many who desire to be pastors cannot afford the tuition expenses required to enter this school, and thus there are countless uneducated men acting as pastors of churches in the mountains of Haiti.
The preaching I have witnessed in such situations is overtly heretical secondary to both a complete misunderstanding of the Scripture that they have read, and vital gaps in their knowledge secondary to Scripture that they have not read. Creole has very few words in comparison to other languages and is a poor translation of the Bible. The connotations are inappropriate if the required word even exists.
Also, there are no Biblical commentaries offered in their Creole language, they obviously cannot read Greek or Hebrew language study books, and there is no concordance in the back of the Haitian Creole Bibles. Overall, the Haitian Bible is a very poor representation of the true Word of God, and while the ‘big’ truths of the gospel may be there, the other aspects of Scripture that are required to properly preach, teach, and properly disciple, are simply lacking in Creole. There is a new translation that just came out, and we have had generous donations made to purchase these Bibles, but the pastoral education issue is one that God has placed heavily on my heart this year and thus it will be addressed.
American pastors needed to come and teach
I am arranging bi-monthly meetings with all of the pastors in our ministry and those additional ones that have a desire to learn to teach Scripture to them. While I personally love to teach and have spent countless hours studying Scripture, systematic theology, church history, geographical and historical context, and many commentaries, I am still actively arranging for American pastors and teachers, who have the desire, to come down and help me with this ministry.
I love teaching the Word of God, but I also know that there are many who share my love, and thus an open invitation is given to those of you who would like to actively perform this ministry with us. On average I expect anywhere from 50-100 pastors to attend these meetings, and I am very excited to see what God will do through this.
This ministry does require financial support to aid the pastors. Many are very poor and need to be transported to the teaching sessions, small meals will be provided during the sessions, and Bibles will be purchased for the pastors (both audio and written- as many pastors in the mountains can’t read). This ministry ties into everything that God is doing through Charis. Vodou priests are evangelized, saved, baptized, discipled, and placed in a Bible teaching church. It is the last aspect, being placed into a Bible teaching church, that needs to be addressed and supported to ensure that truth is being taught.
Widows pray for the pastors and church
Of course, Joy’s ministry to the widows also ties into this as the over 140 widows currently being taught and discipled by Joy are assigned to pray for the pastors, the church, and the mission of Charis. All of this comes together to bring the church of Jesus Christ together in Haiti which will surely, if sustained, defeat Satan in what has traditionally been considered his greatest territory on earth.
This is an exciting time to be a Christian, and our hearts leap in anticipation of what can happen this year in Haiti if we all do our part. Please continue in prayer and support of Charis—God is doing absolutely incredible things, and our obedience and continued zeal for this work will surely establish the Kindgom of God in this country. Satan and his demons will be toppled in Haiti–I am sure of it–and I pray that your desire to be part of this work leads all of you to continued commitment to this huge work being performed by the Holy Spirit using our obedience to glorify God.
Joy and I thank you so very much for being a part of this work. We love you all, and look forward to working together with you throughout 2018!
Updates from the field
Our Haitian nurse, Juliet Gedeon, was married to a wonderful Christian man named Alexandre Hobene on December 29th. We are so happy for Juliet as she has been part of our Charis family since the beginning! Join us in praying for a blessed marriage as they share in the grace of this life together!
Over the fall and early winter of 2017, we were able to give an update on Charis and share our passion for missions to 12 churches and several small groups in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Arizona, and Texas. The reception, love and support shown to us in each location was rejuvenating and encouraging!
A big thank you to Matt Douglas for all of his hard work spearheading a fund raiser to purchase 10 small generators and 1 large generator for our ministry in Haiti! Ryan Hoekstra, Pastor Rich Valkanet, and Living Waters Church, thank you for your support in this effort as well! The small generators were received and distributed to our churches, schools, and carpentry apprenticeship program last month. The large generator is on a container headed to Haiti this month!
We would also like to inform all of you that we are involved in the planting of a new church in a small, isolated coastal village named Tomarow (pronounced ‘tomorrow’). This village, that had never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, has been successfully evangelized by Charis as there are currently 30 believers that make up this new church. Please pray that God adds to this flock, and that funding becomes available to build a proper shelter able to keep rain and sun out, as currently they are meeting under sticks covered with blankets.