In the Fall of 2016 ABCNJ received an urgent request for help from IM Missionary, Tim Long. A recent flood of Haitian Refugees were showing up in Tijuana Churches looking for assistance and hoping to reach the United States
Before coming on the IGNITE trip to Haiti, I have always asked myself, “What do I want to do with my life?” Before I entered college, I finally settled on studying medicine to hopefully become a doctor. I figured that it was worth the extra effort in school to live a comfortable life with a steady income, plus I was always interested in health and the human body. However, I was still not completely satisfied with my career choice. Throughout my first year in college, I quickly found out that medicine is a not an area of study I can simply cruise through. To reach medical school truly takes devotion and motivation. Because I seemed to lack these two things, my first year in college proved to be a drag academically. I always questioned myself if this hard work was worth the comfortable life I sought after. To what end was I putting in all my effort? This question was on my mind as applied for the IGNITE trip to Haiti. I did not think too highly of the opportunity, but I applied nonetheless thinking that no harm could be done by sending in the application. However, after the IGNITE experience, I can say with confidence that this trip was something not to be taken lightly, for it gave me a clear vision as to what my calling in life is.
During our trip in Haiti, we stayed at the UCNH (Universete Chretienne du Nord d'Haiti) in Limbe. This was where we met Dr. Steven James and his wife Nancy. Dr. Steven is a missionary doctor in Limbe where he travels around to different clinics in the area to treat simple illnesses and ailments or to direct patients to a more specialized doctor. Our team was given the amazing privilege to travel to the different clinics with Dr. Steve and experience a glimpse of the life of a missionary doctor. While visiting various clinics, one thing I noticed in was Dr. Steve's relationship with all the patients. When Dr. Steve and his patients would meet, they would greet each other like old friends and he would continue to treat his patients like friends during the entire meeting. God's love seemed to radiate out of him with every patient he met.
Dr. Steve's lifestyle reflected his commitment and love for people, and it was this love that allowed him to give himself up for the sake of others. Dr. Steve has a doctorate degree in family medicine. He could easily be working in the United States and be receiving a hefty pay while living a comfortable life. Instead, he gave this up and came to Haiti where he receives money only through the donations of churches and organizations. He spent all those hard years in school studying not so that he could fulfill his own aesthetic pleasures, but so that he could use his skills to help others in need. Dr. Steve's sacrifice for the people of Haiti pulled me out of my own swamp of being unsure about what to do with my life. It instilled me a new passion as to why I want to study medicine. I want to study so I can be a servant and expand the Kingdom of God. Many times, people have told me that I need to live for something bigger than myself, that I need to live for Christ. However, before the trip to Haiti, I was never really able to comprehend what these words meant. Now, after I have spent time with Dr. Steve, who truly showed me what it means to give up oneself for others, I understand a little bit more of my calling in life. I want to become the servant that God called me to be.
ABCNJ and the Haitian Baptist Convention have taken the first steps in fashioning a cutting edge sister church relationship! Rev. Emmanuel Pierre, General Secretary of the Haitian Baptist Convention, along with Rev. Ronel Mesidor (a pastor from the Port-au-Prince area who also serves the Convention in its Development work), have spent the last two days (Friday/Saturday - June 22-23) in New Jersey. On Friday, they visited Baptist Camp Lebanon and spoke with our new summer camping staff.
Camp Director, Don Smith, led us on a tour of the property and then shared the inspiring story of the Green Cathedral.
On Saturday, a number of ABCNJ team members, church pastors and lay leaders gathered at the Living Word Baptist Church in Beachwood to discuss the Sister Church relationship we hope to establish with the Haitian Baptist churches. Unlike many other sister church projects, in which first world churches are valued for the monetary support they can provide, this sister church ministry is based on the following 3 principles:
1. The focus is on the developing of authentic and long lasting friendships that are mutual and based on a spiritual equality.
2. The purpose is the sharing of wisdom and other spiritual gifts in a spirit of openness and humility.
3. Joint mission endeavors will embody the principles of equality and mutuality. Haitians pastors and lay members will serve in New Jersey settings (such as at Camp Lebanon), even as we will work hand in hand with them in Haiti.
About 15 ABCNJ churches have indicated an interest in participating in this ministry, but we can certainly take on more churches! If you are interested in finding out more about this ministry, please contact Rev. Sue Royle (ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor for GoGlobal Ministries), Rev. Dr. Edgard Nicolas (ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor for Haitian Ministries), Rev. Ken Cadette (ABCNJ Coordinator for this project), or the region office.
Haiti and American Baptists have a long history of partnership and service together. And yet, due to internal conflicts in Haiti, the western half of Hispaniola has never been host to an Xtreme Team or Ignite team, until now. After a year hiatus, the American Baptist International Ministries young adult program is back under the name IGNITE and is headed to Haiti. A group of four young adults and one team leader will be serving, learning, and living mission and outreach in Haiti this summer. The orientation training, trip and debriefing of this first IGNITE experience will run from June 23 through July 28th. Upon completion, the team will share their stories at the Immerse Youth Event in Washington, DC from July 24-28th. IGNITE enables young adults to spark a connection, kindle spiritual and personal growth, and blaze with passion for Jesus Christ. The month long adventure of cross-cultural mission service will push them out of their comfort zones into an extraordinary faith walk with God. During their travels, team members deepen their relationship with God while seeking a deeper understanding of how people of other faiths view God, Jesus, and followers of Jesus. The IGNITE team will be blogging regularly on their website. http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/Ignite_2012
“In Haiti the IGNITE Team will meet believers who have suffered great trauma from chronic poverty and the devastating 2010 earthquake yet have a vibrant witness to God’s blessing and peace,” says Reid Trulson, Executive Director, International Ministries. “This month-long experience with Haitian brothers and sisters may ignite profound changes in the Team members’ understanding of God’s presence, Jesus’ love and the Spirit’s power. We should not be surprised if it helps clarify their call and their unique participation in the mission of God in the world.”
Members of the 2012 Haiti team are: Tyrone Choate, Jr Red Bank, NJ
Catey Hobza Douglas, WY
Nathan Kang Monmouth Junction, NJ
Sarah Nunez Dearborn Heights, MI
Ketly Pierre Nicaragua
Dan Buttry Hamtramack, MI, USA support
Deliris Carrion Haiti
Nancy and Steve James Haiti
Monel Jules Haiti
Team members regularly post journals and photos to highlight their Xperiences throughout the trip. Visit http://www.internationalministries.org/teams/Ignite_2012 to follow the adventures of this year’s team. Join the network to get regular updates by email. We encourage you to be a part of their support team and spread the news of the IGNITE experience and post their journals to your own social media page.
Please keep these young adults and their mentors and leaders in your prayers!
The IGNITE team is open to young adults ages 19 - 29. More information is available on the IGNITE team website www.ignitemissiononline.org.
Welcome to ABCNJ Alive - our region's video blog celebrating all the great things happening within the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey. Haitian Evangelical Baptist Church is one of 20 Haitian Baptist Churches in our regional fellowship. I spoke there on January 29, 2012. Enjoy the interviews and worship!