Update from Matthew Kitchell on the Power of the Gospel in Haiti
Last week I had the opportunity to go to Haiti with Pastor Chip Miller, Billy Adams, Don Blackburn, Hal Foshee, John Kitchens, and Chuck Duggan, and we were overwhelmed by what we saw and learned.
Haiti is a Caribbean country that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. This is the same island that Christopher Columbus landed on in 1492. The French took control of the western third of the island in 1697 and over the next 90 years imported nearly 1.5 million African slaves. Left on the beach with a role of burlap and told to grow their own food and make their own clothes and shelter, half died within the first 3 years of arrival. The slaves revolted and in 1804 Haiti became the 2nd nation in the Western hemisphere to gain independence, just 28 years after the United States. Haiti hasn’t seen a stable day since its inception with over 70 different dictators in its first 100 years as an independent nation, and the past 100 years have been arguably worse.
Today Haiti is viewed as a culture of consumption, having few resources and little infrastructure. Haiti has 10 million people with nearly 50% of the population under the age of 10. As much as 15% of the population are orphans or abandoned school age children. Haiti has an 85% unemployment rate and 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
Many view Haiti as hopeless with its history of consumption, political corruption, economic instability, and deeply ingrained Voodoo religion. Jesus says in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
I am here to report to you and I believe I can speak confidently for all the men on the trip that the Haitian people are neither dogs nor swine, as the gospel message is falling on fertile soil. Dony St. Germain and his wife Sharon opened their home to us, and drove us up and down the washed out roads showing us the power of the gospel in Haiti.
El Shaddai Ministries International (ESMI) led by Dony and his brother Louis, and overseen by a board of trustees here in the US, is transforming Haiti with the gospel.[/left] [right] [/right]
I’m not talking about a watered down promise of hope with a mixture of their cultural religion. I am talking about a gospel message that believes in the full supremacy and inerrancy of scripture and uses the Westminster confession of faith and the Larger and Shorter catechisms as their summary of beliefs.
ESMI has 4 branches to their ministry. The first is evangelism and they do it the right way. Dony is a church planter! They have planted 117 churches in Haiti, training pastors in the Gospel of Grace and holding them accountable to truth in their monthly presbytery meetings.
Their second leg of ministry is education and ESMI has started over 40 schools, including a newly built seminary and university. All of their technical and vocational schools through graduate level coursework have a Biblically integrated curriculum. They are seeking to help Haitians become self-sufficient and independent from aid.
The third leg is empathy, as ESMI seeks to take care of the worst of the felt needs in their community. With one doctor for every 37, 000 people ESMI has created 5 medical clinics which have the dual purpose of helping the sick and evangelism as it is also helping break the Satanic hold of the witch doctors that are prevalent throughout the land. They also take care of nearly 1000 orphans in their nine children homes.[left]
The fourth leg of ESMI’s ministry is economic. ESMI helps sustain their pastors and teachers through the creation of over 50 micro-businesses such as chicken farms, a water purification and bottling plant, and ice factories.
Dony and Louis are not outsiders or profiteers. They are Haitians transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ who have a vision and calling to the people of Haiti. Our Church has partnered with them over the past few years through faith promise giving and thousands are being transformed by the ministry of ESMI and the dollars you have donated. I am convinced that this is one of the most worthwhile ministries with which we partner and the impact that is being made with resources they have is absolutely staggering. The Spirit is moving in Haiti and on behalf of the men who went last weekend I invite you to talk to anyone of us for a unique look at an unbelievable ministry. [/right]
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 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 foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25: 31-40
The missions committee of First Presbyterian Church has supported El Shaddai Ministries International since 2008 and approved ESMI – University of Jeremie as a 3-year Major Ministry Partner in 2014.