Hello Charis family!
I pray that you all are doing well, are living in health, and experiencing the great grace of God daily as you live in obedience to His calling on your lives. I wanted to update all of you concerning what is occurring on the ground in Haiti, and what God is placing on our hearts in terms of near future planning.
The ministry is going very well! God continues to pour His Holy Spirit into the hearts of new Haitian believers that have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. The greatest example of this, that we are currently experiencing, is occurring in Deba’s former vodou camp. I have shared Deba’s story in past newsletters, so I won’t expound again, but for those of you who don’t know, Deba was a vodou priestess who was married to a demon when I met her. She had a radical response to the gospel that resulted in her burning all her vodou materials and giving me her ‘marriage’ ring to destroy.
She truly became a new creation in Christ, and Joy and I continually feel blessed to have witnessed such a miraculous salvation. Immediately upon being saved she began witnessing to everyone in her family and, because of her commitment to evangelism, 28 members of her family, who were either vodou priests, priestesses, or servants of demons, have all radically come to Christ in much the same fashion as Deba did.
I have spent a lot of time over the past few months going to the demonic temples and homes of Deba’s family members who, after being witnessed to by Deba, asked me to come and help them burn and destroy every material aspect of vodou that existed on their property. This has been a pleasure and honor for me as I fully realize what a powerful display of Christ’s power this is and what a defeat this is for the demonic world.
The pinnacle of this display can be appreciated by the fact that Deba’s father was a vodou priest who had a temple containing human bones before he was saved. He destroyed his temple, and in its place erected a meeting area for us to have a two-hour Bible study every Wednesday afternoon. Joy also teaches the children of these ex-vodouists in this same place of meeting and currently 35-40 children show up every week with their memorized Bible verses and an eagerness to hear more Bible stories! This ‘temple’ for God that now stands upon the debris of a torn down demonic temple is a mighty representation of the power of the gospel against the demonic power that once reigned supreme on this land.
Just take a moment to consider what an insult it is for the demons to see their servants turn completely to Christ, have the temples built in their honor torn down, and in their place now stands a house church where Christ is worshipped, and the Bible studied! This immediately makes me think of Christ, and Isaiah’s prophecy quoted by Matthew. This is definitely the case in Haiti and seeing this occur with my own eyes is a great honor and blessing!
Secondary to God’s awesome display of grace and salvation in this camp, the Holy Spirit led me to pray persistently about planting a church in this area. Currently there are no Protestant churches in this zone, so this would serve a wider purpose of reaching out to the community at large. Well, God heard my prayer and responded, as He always does, through my fellow Christian brothers and sisters in America! A few weeks ago, I received an email from a consistent and generous donor saying that he was sitting in an airport looking through photographs of one of our recent mission trips when God placed it on his heart to consider funding the building of another church in one of our communities. He was moved by his observation that our church in Marigot provides a broad range of ministries that effectively serve the entire community.
Currently at our Marigot church building we are holding 3 church services a week, Joy performs a weekly widow’s ministry every Saturday afternoon, I hold a weekly 3-hour church leader/pastoral Bible study, and the children’s choral ministry, along with the adult choral ministry hold their weekly practices there. The Marigot church also serves as a central hub for the other 10 churches we support and minister through in the mountains. Thus any event that requires all of the church leaders to be present is hosted there.
When I received the email, I immediately responded with excitement. After a couple of weeks of inquiring about price I relayed the cost analysis to the donor who then, to our surprise, sent us the whole amount!! Now all we needed was land. Since all of the construction costs were being covered by Charis, I made a requirement of the local community, that this church will serve, to donate land to us for free. In this way Charis and the respective community, partner together in the effort as we both give something of value to reveal both the importance of a community church and the true status of the heart of the community.
This is always a very difficult part of the planning process because these impoverished people want to sell their land for money—so once again we started to pray. God did not take long to respond as only two days later Deba called and told us that her aunt had land that was to go to Deba’s mother. Deba’s mother died many years ago, and the aunt told Deba that the land was rightfully hers. Without hesitation, Deba called us immediately and told us that she wanted to donate the land for the site of the church!
What an amazing thing to experience—God calls His elect out of the throngs of vodou, He then uses the time spent in an airport and some photos from a mission trip to prick the heart of a donor to give towards the building of a church, He then inspires Deba’s aunt to inform Deba that she has land for her, and then He places His will into Deba’s heart to donate the land to us—what an awesome God we serve!
As soon as the money is available we will break ground for a church in Deba’s community. Currently all the new believers in Deba’s village are taking tap taps (local transportation) that Charis provides to attend church in Marigot. This is a 40-min ride and it costs us $150 US each month to transport everyone. This church is both needed and wanted by the ministry and community. Please pray with us that God shows us who He wants to pastor this young church that holds the unique demographic of men and women who have been saved out of overt Satanism.
No easy task
I also want to share a new community with you that we have begun to evangelize. This community is named Madelin, and getting to it is no easy task. Several weeks ago, I went to Madelin for the second time. I had been there for a brief amount of time last year as this community was brought to my attention by acquaintances of mine who informed me of the need for the gospel to be shared there. There is no church in this village, vodou is entrenched there, and a great percentage of the people can’t read.
To get there, you go to our church in Marigot, park the motorcycles and begin walking up the mountain across from the church. The whole trip takes a little over an hour, but the entire walk is spent ascending a very steep mountain-side which makes the walk both exhausting and very dangerous, especially when descending.
When I arrived there, for the second time back in January, I sat with the people in a vodou temple. This temple belongs to the community leader who is the local high priest of vodou who everyone looks to for guidance, healing, and general leadership. I shared a basic gospel message with this priest and the community and, through this teaching, made them aware of the fact that they did not know God, who they claimed to know, because they didn’t know Jesus—the only way to God.
After a lot of back and forth and many questions, the leader asked me if I would be back within the next several months. Despite the difficult walk, I really felt God pressing my heart to return every week. So, I informed him of what I felt God telling me to do, and in response to hearing that I would return weekly he jumped out of his chair, ran over to me and wouldn’t stop hugging me and rubbing my head. He said that he and his community needed to hear this message as having peace with God is all that matters.
When he was hugging me, my heart filled with love for this man and this community. I became excited knowing that God’s elect are amongst this community and they are in desperate need of hearing the gospel so that their election can be made known to them! So please join Joy and I in praying for this community as I sense something big will occur here spiritually!
Avoiding man-made missiology
Now to conclude this newsletter I would like to be honest with all of you and inform you concerning what I feel God strongly telling me. From the inception of this ministry I made a promise to God, my family, all of you, and myself that I would never use current trends in missions, never resort to man-made missiology concepts, never lean on my own understanding of a situation on the field, and never cease to bring the gospel to the lost secondary to any difficulty, discomfort, or fear associated with Haiti or the people I am ministering to. To adhere to such a lofty promise that is obviously unattainable to my flesh, I have had to surrender all to God and use solely His Word as my mission instructional manual, and prayer as my form of inquiry that results in either granted permission or prohibition. This way of thinking results in criticism and, at times, overt ostracism at the hands of the religious institution and this is irrespective of denomination. God has greatly blessed me though, with pastors and churches that do understand my resolve and even though such individuals and churches are rare, they do still exist today.
Currently, Joy and I have found ourselves both frustrated and overwhelmed with the day-to-day financial burden here in Haiti. Part of this burden is expected and understandable as it results from the unthinkable poverty, the virtually non-existent medical system, the corruption within the political establishment, and the spiritual bondage produced by vodou. All together, this creates a reality that is so offensive and destructive to the human soul it is surprising that anyone can endure under such hopeless conditions.
Obviously, these conditions warrant help and assistance that require both spiritual and physical help which we gladly provide with an open heart. I cannot honestly recall a day in Haiti in which I have not looked poverty, hunger, sickness, or homelessness directly in the face and not been absolutely driven by the mind and heart of Christ to act. An impoverished teen begging in the street, a hungry child who’s cries demand my attention, an elderly gentleman on his deathbed secondary to a treatable disease consuming his body, or a homeless mother on the side of the street crying in desperation. These cases demand action—a hug, a kiss on the cheek, sharing the hope found in Christ, and even buying medicine, food, etc. I feel it is our absolute, non-negotiable responsibility as Christians and I greatly enjoy serving these individuals as an ambassador of Christ in Haiti!
This is NOT what has frustrated me, as acts of compassion towards the poor are instructed in Scripture. What I am referring to is an excessive number of new Christians who turn to me for ALL of their financial needs.
Biblical level of faith
In the last newsletter I put out a plea to financially help new Christians that have turned away from vodou, and we have helped many such individuals with small start-up businesses that requires an average of $300 US. What we are seeing is that the money distributed is truly used for a small business, but after a period of weeks they fall back into financial difficulties and again turn to me.
After praying about this, God showed me that I’m allowing my flesh to trump His Spirit in me. What I mean by this is the following.
If I continue to function in this way I am failing in two ways. First of all, I am not functioning as a missionary who adheres to the Pauline model of missions found in Scripture; specifically the book of Acts. Secondly, and more importantly, I am robbing these new believers of the opportunity to develop a Biblical level of faith in the one who saved them-Jesus Christ. Placing their faith in me is a terrible and regrettable thing, but I fear that this is what’s occurring and I must stop it. God moved me to pour over the book of Acts and I noticed something stunning.
Paul’s model of missions is very consistent. He is moved by the Spirit to go to a particular city, he arrives and finds the local synagogue—there he teaches, preaches, and debates with the people (there were cases in Greece and Ephesus where, due to unique situations, he taught in the Areopagus, and the lecture hall of Tyrannus respectively). As a result of his teaching, some believe with a saving faith (the elect), and others don’t.
He then appoints elders and leaves. This is absolutely amazing when we consider that Paul stayed in Lystra for about 5 months, and only taught in Thessalonica for 3 Sabbaths, and in both instances left fully functional, self-sustaining churches in place. If any missionary today told their mission board that they were going to go to a village for 5 months to preach the gospel and then leave with the confidence that a functional church had been created, they would be called disillusioned and crazy.
Missions may be in a state of emergency
But maybe, due to our turning away from the Biblical model of missions, this is why missions is currently in a state of emergency. Not enough people are going into full-time missions, and the people who are, are quitting in 2-4 years (currently 7,000 Protestant missionaries quit a year). As I was considering Paul’s method my heart was convicted, yet curious. How did Paul trust a church to function autonomously after only 5 months of instruction? This is even more amazing when one considers that Paul didn’t even have the New Testament to leave them—he left them with only the Old Testament which would have required a great amount of teaching considering how the Old Testament was viewed during his time.
The Old Testament was considered to be a purely Jewish Holy book, yet Paul appeared to understand the Old Testament from what could be considered a mystical point of view. He was taking the revered Jewish Scriptures and teaching that they transcended sole relevance to the Jews and actually were purposed for all people—Gentiles and Jews alike. When one considers all of this, one thing becomes very clear about Paul—he had faith that we don’t have today. Paul had so much faith in both the teaching role of the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Spirit’s ability to illuminate even the most pagan minds, that he left the churches, that resulted from his preaching, completely in the hands of the Holy Spirit and the human leaders that he had deemed capable of leading the church. After this, Paul would check up on the churches through messengers and brief personal visits and write letters to correct any disciplinary or doctrinal issues the young churches were experiencing.
Do we have the faith?
Whenever God illuminates His Word to us we should properly respond by examining ourselves and our ministries in light of the truth our spiritual eyes have been opened to. This self-examination left me with the following questions that I believe will benefit all of us to seriously consider.
Today, do we have a Biblical, Pauline level of faith that erases our pride and allows the Holy Spirit to teach new believers despite our physical absence? Today, do we have faith that elect minds can be illuminated by Christ so greatly with saving faith that we can baptize people within hours of responding to the gospel like Paul did for the Philippian jailer and Phillip did for the Ethiopian Eunuch? Do we have faith that we can leave those we have witnessed to on the mission field in the hands of God and He sustain the churches planted by the gospel preached from our mouths? Do we have faith that God can provide for the material needs of young, impoverished churches?
If we have this Pauline level of faith, then we won’t feel the negative burden of caring for every aspect of the material and spiritual needs of new believers beyond what can be intuitively expected initially. New believers must learn to express and practice their faith, and the only way to truly learn the proper expression of Biblical faith is to go through trials and tribulations where purely human attempts to escape or alleviate the trial will prove futile, while bending their knees in desperate prayer to God will please Him and He will hear us.
Why am I saying all of this?
I want to put as much faith in God to provide for His new sons and daughters as Paul did, and in doing this I have no doubt that mature, Christ dependent, faith filled believers will result. God will then regain His rightful place in the lives of these new believers while I fall into the background where I belong to support them with prayer, the answering of doctrinal/ Biblical issues, and an occasional visit to ensure that a Biblical church has been established with no heresy creeping in disguised as culture, or legalism.
Over the next few months I am going to do research to discover the most unreached areas of Haiti, and in January of 2019 I am planning to go to one of these areas and put the Pauline method of missions in place.
will go with a plan to stay for several months. The first couple of weeks I will make it known to the community that I am there through knocking on doors and sitting with groups in public areas of meeting to announce my reasoning behind being there—to bring them a message from their Creator—God.
I will invite everyone to an open area to meet, and I will come daily to teach, discuss, and answer questions that the locals will undoubtedly have. Through this, God’s elect will be identified just as they were in Scripture.
In terms of leadership, I will do the same thing I do now—pray, and ask God throughout the time to show me who amongst the people He wants to lead the new believers in the respective community. Once these men are revealed to me I will have special times of meeting together with them to raise them up even more to assume leadership roles.
Now I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me. I am not going to stop giving to the poor from a material perspective—that is my Christian duty. Also, if you are currently sending money to support your prayer family, that money will continue to be delivered to them irrespective of where I physically am in Haiti. Your family support money is given to our leaders to distribute to your respective ‘Haitian families’, and this is ongoing whether I am in Haiti, or in the States.
What I am going to stop is entering into situations and relationships where I become the sole provider of ALL material needs for an individual where I am expected to virtually ‘pay’ them every week. In my mind, the missionary must continually ask himself/herself: is my work producing individuals and communities that can sustain themselves both spiritually and physically, or is my work producing people and communities that possess an unhealthy level of dependence on me?
I have written all of this because I really want your thoughts and feedback on this. You can contact me directly through my personal email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Needs continue to grow, and I would like to share some of them with you all. Funding is greatly needed for audio Bibles. The more mountain communities we are called to, the greater the need becomes for these audio Bibles secondary to the high percentage of illiterate individuals. The audio Bibles have been a GREAT blessing, but they are expensive. I can get them cheaper being a 501c3, but they are still around $60 US each.
Regular printed Bibles are also needed. A great new Creole translation of the Bible has been printed here (thanks to Pastor Dan Miller in Minnesota for making me aware of this through his connection in Haiti), and I would love to purchase many more of these to get them into the hands of the people.
Rainy season has begun here, and many people are suffering with poor roofs. The roofs are mainly corrugated tin sheets that rust and become eroded. The resultant holes make life miserable for countless people. Repairing roofs by providing the required material would be a great blessing for families who spend rainy nights watching their homes flood as their sheets and clothing get saturated with water.
The medical needs are continually present, and currently we need funding to purchase medication for scabies, fungal infections, bacterial infections, lice, and acid reflux. Additionally, we have many unique surgical needs including a woman who has retained membranes in her uterus after giving birth months ago, and a woman who has a 14-in x 16-in ovarian tumor. These 2 women and many others require specialty operations in the Dominican Republic and funding is needed to get them there.
Working in Haiti is difficult as our hearts break every day for many people who live in great suffering and misery. As Christian Americans we have the capability, through God’s grace, to care for people spiritually through the sharing of the gospel and physically through sharing our money and resources—please don’t forget that the developing world needs us and we can never forget those suffering in the world.