Pacific Northwest Trip

We are gearing up for the MFI (Ministers’ Fellowship International) Conference which begins on Monday in Portland, Oregon. We have been affiliated with MFI since 2002. An added benefit to this trip is getting to see our son, Gabriel, while we’re there! Gabe has lived in Portland since he graduated from Portland Bible College two years ago.

After Portland, the next stop will be Trinity Church in Tacoma, Washington. On Saturday, Oct. 8, I (Dana) will be sharing at their women’s conference. Then on Sunday, Prit and I will be sharing the testimony about Prit’s healing in 2010. Sunday afternoon, we will be meeting with the cell groups at Trinity. This will be our first time visiting Trinity Church and our first trip to Tacoma. Busy days lie ahead!

Greater Works Deliverance Temple

Divine appointments? Oh yes, the Lord orchestrates those! A trip to the manicurist, of all places, opened the door for me to be able to meet Elder Laverne Wilson. I knew before I even spoke with her that she was a woman of God. As we shared in conversation, it was evident that we had a lot in common  and  a rapport quickly developed between us. One thing led to another and she invited Prit and me to meet her pastor, Dr. Carolyn Thomas. After spending some wonderful time together in fellowship, they asked us to return and share Sunday’s message with them.

What an awesome time it was visiting with the members of The Greater Works Deliverance Temple. Prit and I shared the testimony of his healing and we were received with tremendous enthusiasm. This is a special group of people who are led by their pastor, Dr. Carolyn Thomas. The first thing we noticed about Dr. Thomas is that she greatly loves the Lord and is marked with a spirit of humility. What a joy it has been getting to know her and the flock the Lord has placed under her. If you’re in the Fayetteville area, we greatly encourage you to visit The Greater Works Deliverance Temple. You will feel the love of the Lord in that place.

Elder Eleanor Figgs, Elder Laverne Wilson, Dana, Dr. Carolyn Thomas (Pastor), Prit

How a Paycheck Gets to Haiti

Everyone looks forward to “payday”. From the time one receives his check, he can usually go straight from work to the bank and either deposit or cash it. The old saying, “You can take that to the bank” meant that one could definitely rely on something that was told him. It was as reliable as being able to cash one’s check at the bank, the bank being a very stable institution at the time.

This is not always the case if one lives in Haiti. Lately, we’ve had great difficulty sending a check to pay all our leaders and professors their salaries. Our hearts have ached for the workers for whom we’re responsible, knowing that they have bills to pay and children to feed just like we do. Just so you can greater appreciate your own country (in spite of all its faults), I will tell you what it’s been like for our workers to receive their pay and the process that takes place before the money is in their hands. Sadly, they are experiencing the ripple effects that trickle down from the confusion that reigns in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and a ruined economy.

First, it takes at least a week for a check to get to Haiti once it leaves North Carolina (our home base in the States). Because the plane’s normal schedule is to fly into Cap-Haitian on Thursday morning,  the check must be mailed several days ahead of time to insure it’s on the plane once it takes off. When the check finally arrives in Cap-Haitian, one of the workers from our church is always at the airport to take it from the hand of the pilot. At that point, it is then promptly taken to a trusted moneychanger. (Our account is located in the States. Due to the confused state of the country, we do not keep a bank account in Haiti.)

Here is where the fun begins… the moneychanger sends a worker to the bank to cash the check. He may have to return several times before he has the full amount. Since the bank is interconnected with the banks in Port-au-Prince (the nation’s capital), the flow of money through the country is stymied. Due to the massive upheaval and destruction caused by the earthquake of 2010, the banks in Port-au-Prince are still trying to recover from this catastrophe and function properly. The wrestling for political power going on at the top further affects the movement of the economy. A stalled Parliament that takes months to vote in a new prime minister only reflects what is going on throughout the country. At this writing, the third person proposed to serve in this office is still “on hold” waiting to be ratified.

Sadly, due to the dysfunctionality of Haiti’s present circumstances, it has taken three to four weeks for one of our checks to be cashed. Several trips back and forth to the moneychanger’s office to see if the money has been changed requires tremendous patience and diligence. Deferred hope finally turns to relief, however, as the money comes forth, though sometimes in spurts. The money, finally collected, then goes to be counted carefully by our elders. Torn bills are returned to be exchanged for better ones and there’s always the lookout for counterfeit bills. This only serves to prolong the process as “haggling” will certainly be involved.

Meanwhile, those anxiously waiting for their salaries have been doing everything from buying on credit  to “making do” until the money comes. “Making do” (the Creole word is “degaje”) can mean anything from working odd jobs (if available) to licking a little salt from the hand until there’s enough money to buy food. Others buy a certain type of cheap clay in the open air market that supposedly contains iron for strength to keep the hunger pangs at bay. A few of them show up at the pastor’s house looking for a meal that will hold them for a couple of days. For those that trust God, they’ll take the tithe and set it aside and trust that the rest will last until the next paycheck. This is no small feat in the light of the dire circumstances in which they live.

Men Anpil, Chay Pa Lou!

It was just a random statement: Prit was showing some slides of our work in Haiti at one of our supporting churches (Faith Temple in Alexander City, Alabama). The pictures showed two young fellows with their heads on the bench while the service was going on. Prit told the congregation in Alabama, ”Please don’t misunderstand. It looks like these young men are not interested in what’s going on. But, in reality, many people come to church hungry and weak. They place their heads on the bench while listening to the message.” The rest of what Prit shared that evening was lost to the hearers because God so stirred their hearts to help feed hungry people in Haiti. When the question and answer time came around, the only questions asked were, ”What can we do to help these people get some food?” We explained to them that we had been praying and were burdened for our schoolchildren. Many of them come to school with empty stomachs and some of them have even fainted in the classroom because of the hunger and the heat. Some of our teachers have bought food on credit just so they could give the little ones something that would give them a little energy.

We had wanted to restart the feeding program that was in place years ago, but our schools have grown at such a rapid rate, it seemed like an impossibility to feed all the students. (All three schools combined give us a total of 1,250 students!) We have reminded the Lord that he had fed over a million Israelites in the wilderness, but honestly, we really lacked the faith to relaunch such a program. We didn’t want to start something again that we couldn’t continue. Proverbs 13:12a tells us, ”Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” and there would be tremendous disappointment among the recipients to learn that the food would no longer be available.

To our amazement, the members of Faith Temple (pastored by Dick and Sandra Stark) started raising funds. Between many of the church members and a dynamic children’s group called ”Kid’s On The Move”, they have already raised an impressive $6,150! They are still taking up offerings because God laid the burden on their hearts.

Feeling that this work has been initiated by the Lord Himself, we are bringing this opportunity to the rest of you as well, and inviting you to give as God would lead you to help make this feeding program a success. We still need $17,850 in order to feed every student in every school a hot meal three times a week for a school year. That sounds like a huge sum, but essentially, it only costs 20 cents to feed a child a meal. Just 20 cents a day per child will help stave off hunger, thereby protecting them from sickness due to malnutrition and also lifting a small burden off their families. To feed one child for a year costs less than $20. It would take less than $2,000 to feed 100 children for a year!

There is a Haitian Creole proverb that sums up this call for help. ”Men anpil chay pa lou” means, ”Many hands make light the work.” With your help, we can make this a reality. The Haitian government has declared that the schools will reopen on October 3. The already sluggish economy, compounded by the ongoing, post-earthquake dilemma paints a dismal picture for those who are trying to work and have a decent life in Haiti. Because  the school will open a little later this year, we have additional time to raise the funds necessary to help feed these precious children. Can you help?

Checks made to Rehoboth Ministries and designated for the Feeding Program can be sent to our home address or one can utilize the paypal account on this website.

A Brief History of Cap-Haitien

This year, the city of Cap-Haitien is celebrating its tricentennial. The city officially became a French colonial port in 1711, although the area’s recorded history actually goes all the way back to Christmas Eve, 1492, when Christopher Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria, struck a reef and sank in a nearby bay. The local Taino people received the visitors warmly, and Columbus and his crew built the first European settlement in the New World here within the walls of the Taino fishing village. They named the structure La Navidad (Spanish for “Christmas”) since they built it on Christmas Day.

Since Spanish explorers eventually opted to establish their colonial capital at Santo Domingo (the present-day capital of the Dominican Republic), on the southern side of the island, the northern coast was mostly neglected, gaining notoriety as a hideout for French pirates looking to evade the law and illegally trade French goods with Spanish outposts during times of war. The area around Cap-Haitien eventually became so thoroughly identified with these pirates that the area was named Cabo Francés (French Cape). When the war between Spain and France finally ended in 1697, Spain officially acknowledged what had been a longstanding reality by ceding the western third of the island to France in the Treaty of Ryswyck. Thus, the island today is divided between two different nations speaking two different languages.

Cap Francais in colonial times

The 18th century saw the meteoric rise of Cap-Français (as the French called it). By century’s end, it was known throughout the French Empire simply as ‘Le Cap’ (‘The Cape’) and was exporting a rich agricultural harvest (the area had 100,000 coffee trees alone) to the entire world. Haiti was France’s most prosperous colony, wealthier at the time than the entire United States. With wealth came sophistication—Le Cap was noted for its theater and its Royal Academy of Science and Arts. A contemporary observer noted, “Le Cap sets the tone; it is the Paris of our island.”

Monument at Vertieres to the battle for independence.

The dark side of the city’s newfound wealth, however, was that its plantations were built upon the backs of tens of thousands of imported African slaves. While the French Revolution of 1789 guaranteed ‘liberty, equality, and brotherhood’ for all men, it quickly became apparent to the slaves that to the colonial slave-owners, ‘all men’ did not include them. As a result, the slaves launched a revolution of their own in 1791 that lasted until 1803, when the slaves finally secured their independence by defeating the French army in battle at Vertières, near Le Cap (as a result, Cap-Haitien is known within Haiti as the birthplace of independence). On January 1, 1804, the French colony of Saint-Domingue officially declared itself to be the world’s first independent black republic. The newly independent blacks renamed their new country ‘Haiti’ (an Indian word meaning ‘land of mountains’) and the city of Cap-Français was rechristened Cap-Haïtien.

La Citadelle

Sadly, the nation’s problems were not solved by independence. In 1811, Haiti was divided into a Northern kingdom ruled from Le Cap by King Henry Christophe, and a Southern republic governed from Port-au-Prince. During Christophe’s rule, Le Cap prospered. The North’s two most prominent landmarks were built during this period – the Citadelle, a daunting fortification built atop a nearby mountain to defend against a French re-invasion, and the beautiful Sans Souci Palace (Henry’s gift to himself). The North’s affluence was short-lived, however – Christophe suffered a stroke in 1820 and, fearing an assassination attempt, shot himself through the heart with a golden bullet. After a brief power struggle, the Northern kingdom collapsed and was reintegrated into Haiti under Southern leadership in 1820. Through the rest of the 19th century, Cap-Haitien declined into second-city status. By 1900, Port-au-Prince had nearly three times its population. Even Christophe’s beautiful palace lay in ruins, destroyed by an earthquake in 1842.

Two generations of dictatorship (1957-1986): "Papa Doc" & "Baby Doc" Duvalier

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cap-Haitien’s rebellious elite and geographical distance from the capital gave it a reputation as a springboard for groups seeking to start revolutions. Paradoxically, this served to weaken the city since Haitian leaders (particularly the Duvalier regime, which held power from 1971-1986) tended to respond by centralizing the nation’s resources and authority in Port-au-Prince in order to keep them close at hand. As a result, Cap-Haitien today (along with the rest of the ‘provinces’) is markedly underdeveloped, a heavy contributing factor in Port-au-Prince’s overpopulation (although like Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien has experienced an influx of people moving in from rural areas to find work).

Modern-day Cap-Haitien

Today, Cap-Haitien is a rapidly growing city with great potential for tourism and economic development. It was fortunate as a city to be spared from the effects of the 2010 earthquake, although it continues to be plagued by grinding poverty andhigh unemployment (around 80%) like the rest of Haiti. It does share another feature in common with the rest of Haiti, however — a high level of spiritual hunger.  Though through natural eyes, it is sometimes impossible to see reasons for hope, we continue to believe in the God who calls forth life from the dead and to pray for a new day in Haiti’s history. Who knows whether the city where Haiti’s battle for freedom from slavery began and ended might become the place where its freedom from poverty, social injustice, and spiritual oppression will also be fought and won?