Our day was busy— dancing in the streets praising Jesus, praying with people, people praying for us, food and water relief, preaching, handing out crayons and paper to children, giving out male and female care packages to families, and hearing more amazing stories from the faithful and hopeful Haitians.
In particular, I want to tell about my experience in Croia-des-Bouguets with pastor Cleonont Elipson’s church.
Pastor Cleonont Elipson::
Lars Rood, Rhett Smith, Anne Jackson, and I begun walking towards one of the Croia-des-Bouguets tent community. Pastor Elipson’s church was at the center of this little tent community. Anne and I were talking to many local families and we were running out of food, crayons, and paper, so we had to go back to the van to grab more supplies. As we were returning back to the van, we noticed a parade of people singing and praising Jesus heading towards where we just were. Little did we know pastor Elipson’s was about to start church service and this worshiping parade was making its way towards the pews.
We grabbed our supplies and headed back to where we were visiting with church families. However we noticed a church serviced started. Lars and Rhett were on the church stage and Lars was preaching. Immediately an usher grabbed Anne, our translator, and myself and led us up to the front stage to join Lars and Rhett. Lars finished his sermon and pastor Elipson stated: “Next?” Anne jumped up and preached it. Not only did she do an excellent job, but she was a woman speaking from a pulpit. Anne had a way relating to the female population, which was a good majority of the congregants.
I was up next. My mind was racing because I had about 6 minutes to collect my thoughts and give them a God inspired message. I told the church that when I arrived in Port-Au-Prince on Friday I was deeply saddened by seeing many collapsed buildings, which made my heart collapsed. I asked them how can they, as Haitian Christians, still joyously and zealously worship God with such thanksgiving in the midst of destruction? Americans get mad if we don’t get enough sleep, Haitian Christians exhibit great joy and worship when a natural disaster hits. I reinforced that their worshiping posture was a real gift of faith to me as I saw it firsthand. Pastor Elipson’s church perfectly illustrated the true meaning of: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
We had no idea that we would be a part of a church service. I actually love entering unexpected situations, where people are expecting you to show them a small glimpse of Jesus. It is stressful, but allows you to listen and experience God now.
Today I felt like YMATH did productive Kingdom business. I am feeling more and more comfortable ministering in Haiti. I actually had no problems dancing with a group of Haitians in the middle of the street during a worship service. Seth Barnes, the President of Adventures in Missions, said “he has never seen such a revival for Jesus like he has in Port-Au-Prince. What is happening in Haiti, right now, is historical and needs to be in a mission text book.”
I am learning more from Haitian Christians, than I ever did in seminary. In fact I asked them to pray for me instead of me praying for them. Their prayers are so powerful, authoritative, and LOUD. When they pray, they really do believe and have faith. I am concluding (and I can be wrong) that anyone can minister in Haiti. Haitian Christians (at least the members at Pastor Cleonont Elipson’s church) love American Christians and need many-many-many more to come help provide food, water, and secure shelter.
Seriously, doing short term mission trips is not rocket science. If you/your group love Jesus, people, and prayer, you/your group will be a perfect candidate for short term missions. I was insecure because I was entering one of the biggest natural disasters in history with no short term missionary experience.
What I learned today: Having a lot of ministry experience some times requires little faith. Not having ministry experience demands full submission and obedience to Jesus. Coming to Haiti, I didn’t have a clue what to expect, which challenged me to get out of my boat, act in faith, and do something for God. Once one starts expecting, doubting, and thinking, one might sink. I feel like I can walk on water like Peter did in Matthew 14.29-33. Today Peter’s story became a reality for me. When Peter was scared, he had little faith. When he walked, he had enormous and courageous faith.
After today, I have a deeper experiential understanding of what faith means and requires.