Testimonies: Gesner Lefort

My name is Gesner Lefort. I am the pastor of l’Église Centre de Formation Chrétienne (Christian Training Center Church) in Sainte-Philomène, the most recent of three church plants sent out by Pastors Pritchard and Dana Adams.

I accepted Christ on June 29, 1997 in a Baptist church a few miles outside of Cap-Haitien, in a small town called Caracol. Two months after I became a Christian, I became gravely sick. I went to three different hospitals but was not able to find a cure. Finally, I came to the point of death. Being young in the faith, I honestly did not know what to do. I loved the Gospel but at the same time, I was afraid to die. At that time, my father, who did not yet have Christ in his life, went and consulted a bocor (a witch doctor) without my consent. The witch doctor told him that if my father did not bring me to him within three days, it would be “too late for me.”

I remember that it was a Friday when my father told me what the witch doctor had told him. When he told me this, I was truly conflicted. I didn’t want to betray my newfound faith, but at the same time, I didn’t want to die. The next day, on a Saturday afternoon, two young Christian brothers came to pray with me. It was exactly what I had needed. Although at the time I was not even able to stand up, I felt power enter into me as the brothers prayed — I stood up and began to join them in prayer. After the brothers left, I felt that I would be able to walk as well and I began to do so.

While all this was happening, my father was not in the house, but outside in the garden. Convinced that God had touched me, I spoke to my brothers and said, “Guys, I heard Dad say that he was going to take me to the witch doctor’s house, but I’m not going to go.” While I was speaking, my father had walked in behind me and had heard what I had just said. He was filled with hatred and was very angry at me because I had rejected his advice and refused to go to the witch doctor. “Go ahead and die, then!” he told me. “I’ll bury you.” My father abandoned me completely at that point, but God would prove His love for me, just as Psalm 27 promises: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me in.”

The devil is persistent, though. Although I was convinced that I had received divine healing the day the brothers came and prayed for me, it took me four more months to live fully into the healing that had been given to me. During this time, my father had nothing to do with me, but I went through this for the Gospel’s sake. I went through some really hard times, but finally, after six months, I was back to full health. During this time, I was asking God for only one thing, that He would heal me so that my father might know that only God, and not the witch doctor, possesses the power to heal.

The Bible says to “delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The Lord heard my heart’s prayer. When my father realized that I had truly been healed, he accepted Christ into his life and has walked with Him ever since. Today, he serves as a deacon in the same church where I first accepted the Lord. Hallelujah! Christ healed me and delivered me from death! I want to serve Him forever.

A couple of years after this happened, I dreamt that I was in a medical clinic where a lady was consulting the sick. When the lady got to me, she would not consult me. I asked her why she wouldn’t see me, she simply handed me a shrub and said, “This is a tree shoot. If you plant this, it will become a great tree. We will take from it to decorate the corners of the temple.” In the dream, I saw myself planting this tree as a tremendous rain began to fall.

When I awoke, I knew for certain that God was calling me to ministry within the church. That was in 2000. In 2004, at the Centre de Formation Chrétienne church in Petite-Anse (pastored by Pritchard Adams, who is also the head of the Covenant of Grace Bible Institute), God spoke to my heart, bringing to my remembrance the dream that I had had. I was no longer able to resist the Lord’s calling — I signed up for Bible school and spent the next four years being trained for ministry.

After graduating from Bible school, I began teaching an adult Sunday School class at the church, serving as the youth pastor. A year and a half later, with God’s help and with the support of Pastor Adams, I was sent out to pastor the church’s third church plant in a neighborhood called Sainte-Philomène. The church is called the Centre de Formation Chrétienne (after its predecessor). May God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit receive glory from it.

In addition to my role as pastor of the new church, I also became a professor at the Bible school. Recently, I also launched a school for the children of Sainte-Philomène, called the John Knox Christian Institute. God is at work here, with both the church and the school experiencing growth. To God be the glory!

“I Shall Not Pass This Way Again”

Today was a major cleanup day in our house. The dust in my lungs still has me coughing! I went through old papers, documents, letters, and such that have been stored away in boxes for many years. I came across a letter which contained a quote that I would like to share with you. It is worthy of much meditation and application in our own lives. After going through countless near-death experiences, Prit and I are all too aware of life’s fragility and the importance of seizing the moments that are allowed us to do good upon this earth. I hope you are as blessed by this as I was.

”I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness or abilities that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” – William Penn

I gave a pair of tennis shoes that were too small for me to the young man that cleans our house once a week. Manno is the father of two children and works very hard just to make ends meet. The pleasure was all mine as I watched his face light up. It was just a small gift that really didn’t cost me anything. I would love to have given him so much more because I know how much he struggles to provide for his family. But I am thankful that I could spread a little kindness around today, for one day, ”I shall not pass this way again.” – Dana

A Tribute to My Dad on His Birthday

There is no greater gift that a parent can receive than praise from their children. We are including John’s tribute to his Dad on his birthday. This tribute also gives the reader an inside look into life in Haiti through the eyes of an MK (missionary kid). Hope you are as blessed by it as we were!

Image Today is my Dad’s birthday. Having nearly lost him twice in the last five years (to kidnappers in 2006, then to a brain aneurysm in 2010), I am taking this occasion to write him a tribute, however imperfect and incomplete it might be.

My Dad was my childhood hero, he was to me a seemingly inexhaustible supply of knowledge and wisdom (I once proudly informed my neighbors’ kids that “my Dad is never, ever wrong”). Since then, even though my view of my Dad’s knowledge has been somewhat chastened, he has played a tremendous variety of roles in my life.

As a child, my Dad was my pastor, teacher, and comforter. My Dad took any opportunity he could to teach me the Bible, in church as well as out, and he taught me a deep passion and reverence for the Word of God. An iconic image of my Dad in my mind’s eye is the sight of him in his “SR” (Study Room), rocking back and forth on his knees, praying in tongues over an open Bible. He taught me, by example as well by admonition, a love for the presence of God as well. As kids, my siblings and I would groan at the sight of my Dad strapping on his classical guitar because we knew that that meant the next 45 minutes would be spent in “family devotions.” Secretly, though, I loved it. One year, when I was 10 or 11, my Dad walked us all the way through the book of Proverbs, teaching us every morning in the hour before schoolwork started. Someone told me recently that “you were born wise,” but the truth is quite the opposite. Any wisdom I have is due to my Dad’s steady determination and cheerful imperviousness to my childhood whining.

My Dad was the first way the Gospel reached me. When I was five years old, he drew stick figures on a sheet of graph paper to demonstrate what baptism represents. “John is a sinner who needs to be saved by God’s new life,” he explained, drawing a stick figure standing up. “John has to go under the water and die to sin…” (another stick figure lying flat on his back underwater) “but since John trusts Jesus, he will come up out of the water a new creature, leaving his sins in the water” — and now a stick figure with hands stretched upward — “and living a new life with the Holy Spirit of God inside of him.” And then he drove the whole family to the beach and baptized me in the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.

My Dad taught me plenty of things besides the Bible as well. He was a history buff, and he would take me on hikes to the old French forts scattered along the coast and tell me the stories behind them. Every time there was a movie on about World War II or Vietnam, we were watching it. He would take obvious delight in explaining to me the stories behind the battles being referenced, what the insignia on the soldiers’ uniforms meant, and a thousand other minute details.

In addition to the knowledge he passed on, my Dad also taught me crucial life lessons by his example. For instance, once, on our way back to the U.S., we had a layover in Port-au-Prince. One of the hundreds of beggar children that roam the airport came up to us and asked if he could shine my Dad’s shoes. My Dad said yes. When the boy was finished, he asked if he could shine my shoes as well (I was wearing white tennis shoes). “No, they don’t need to be shined,” I began to answer, but my Dad looked at me and said very gently, “Let him shine your shoes, son.” He then paid the boy the full price for two shoe-shines. I never forgot that. Over the years, though my Dad acquired a reputation at our church for being a disciplinarian since he wasn’t afraid to call people out for their sin, I watched him quietly create literally hundreds of small “jobs” in our church that we didn’t really need but which helped people make a little more money in a city where there was 80% unemployment.

Due to his childhood spent as a military brat, changing schools every three years, my Dad could understood the dislocation, rootlessness and divided loyalties my siblings and I were experiencing as missionary kids in a way that my Mom could not. “You will never be fully from either the United States or Haiti,” he once told me, and that has proven over time to be true. He was my comforter on several occasions when Haitian kids mocked me because of my skin color or accent or told me to go home because this was their country and they didn’t want me there. My Dad was always able to put things back into perspective and restore my shattered sense of confidence.

As I grew up, I went through an adolescent phase of rebellion and disrespect. There were times when my Dad and I butted heads, and times when I thought he was hopelessly uncool. My Dad saw me through this phase, and through my bouts of insecurity that often coincided with and fueled my attempts to carve out my identity over against him. I had no more faithful encourager through these years – my Dad taught me to play guitar, and refused to let me give it up. When he discovered my first blog late in high school, he read and praised every post I wrote. When I ran into girl issues, and got my heart broken for the first few times, I also had no gentler comforter than my Dad.

When I got to college, and sent my parents a letter of confession of sins I’d committed in high school, the next time my Dad saw me, he hugged and encouraged me without a word of condemnation. He then told me how he saw God at work in my life, how the hardness and rebellion had given way to repentance and a gentle spirit, and he asked a crestfallen teenager if he would preach in his church the next month. I have often seen this spirit of forgiveness at work in him – a few years later, when he was kidnapped, he developed a special relationship with one of his captors, to the point where when they released him, the guy offered him his watch and asked him to pray for him. “Maybe I’ll come visit your church someday,” the kidnapper offered tentatively. “I certainly hope so,” my Dad responded without hesitation. “I would love to see you there.”

So much more could be said about my Dad – about the tremendous work of discipleship he has achieved in Haiti, at the cost of the better part of his adult life, about the 52-day hospital ordeal in Canada that nearly claimed his life last year, about the indomitable faith, hope and love which have been his greatest legacy and his greatest gift to his children, about the obvious and tremendously corny love he still has for my Mom after 30 years of marriage. Suffice it to say, though, that after 26 years of life, my Dad is still my hero. I hope to follow him into ministry and emulate his example. I hope that my life looks as beautiful as his does when I am 56.

Happy Birthday!

A fellow pastor wrote today that he’s been sharing some of our updates with his church members. What a neat idea! Maybe those of you that are getting updates of our life in Haiti would like to share them with your members and friends as well. Thanks to all of you that have been writing to let me know you’re enjoying the Rehoboth reports.

Tomorrow we are celebrating Prit’s 56th birthday. We have so many reasons to give thanks, but the greatest one of all is that he is still here with us after going through the most horrendous fight of his life! So the turkey with all the trimmings that were meant for Thanksgiving day will be prepared tomorrow instead as we celebrate the gift of LIFE!  Alright, I have a confession. I made the pumpkin pie today and added the whip cream on top because we’ve been craving dessert! Dessert is a rarity around here, so when we do have it, we really enjoy it! 

Since Prit will be reading this update, please allow me to say, ”Honey, I want to wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and many more!” I love you! 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is an exciting time of the year! Folks are gearing up for Thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings all over the country this week. Some families are traveling for miles around just so they can join each other at the table to celebrate. As Americans, we have many reasons to give thanks. The United States has been blessed beyond measure and we are the recipients of a wonderful heritage.

Being missionaries to Haiti causes us to see the things for which others give thanks from a different perspective. In a less fortunate land, things that we might commonly overlook are highly prized. This is revealed in the things that are said such as, ”We thank you Lord that we are not in the hospital” or ”We thank you Lord that our children are not sick.” Marie, the lady who washes our clothes, often declares how grateful she is that she’s been able to see the sun rise another day. This giving of thanks for the ordinary, yet important things in life reveals a simple yet profound faith. In a land where many post-earthquake survivors are still calling a tent their home and in which cholera is still claiming many victims, our perspective on life takes on a much clearer focus. Where clean water is considered a luxury and the ability to pay for one’s children’s tuition is a great feat, we are even more thankful for the blessings and comforts we have enjoyed.

Allow us to take this opportunity to say that we are so thankful for you, our supporters. You are the wind in our sails and what keeps this ministry afloat. Your sacrificial giving enables us to make an eternal difference in the lives of God’s people here abroad. We hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Love, Prit & Dana

Launching Out

Yesterday, we had a wonderful meeting with the pastors that oversee our three church plants. The meeting was concerning the feeding program that we plan to launch soon. Prit and I were so impressed with their “take-charge” administrative skills. We discussed cooking crews and their salaries, plus start-up fees which include cooking pots, gas burners, plastic plates, forks, spoons and whatnot. We also listened to their counsel concerning the most nutritious food we can provide for the most economical price according to the amount we have to work with. There’s a lot involved in feeding over 1,200 children for the process to run smoothly!

We ask for your prayers for all who will be involved in making this happen, from the person who goes to purchase the supplies to the teacher who will lovingly place that food in a little child’s hands.

Instead of feeding the kids three days a week, we’ve reduced it to two (Monday and Wednesday). According to the funds that have come in, we see it necessary to scale back, although we hope to be able to do it on a grander scale next year. The menu will include bulgar with bean sauce on one day and a bouillon (soup) that will include “dumboys” (rolls of biscuitlike dough dropped into the soup to make it more filling, thereby making the food go further) and vegetables on the other day.

With the difficulties we have had lately getting checks cashed, we feel it would be wiser to start the program with the entrance of the new year. This would give us more time to procure the funds in time to make purchases. As of the beginning of January, we will be trusting the Lord to help keep the “cash flow” going in order to buy the food, etc. each week.

That being said, if you want to be part of greatly impacting people’s lives, there’s still time to contribute. While everyone is rushing to “Black Friday” sales, won’t you consider making a difference in the life of someone that is less fortunate than you? Your money will not only help feed children, but also provide the cooks with a much-needed salary. Would you consider making a Christmas contribution to this cause?

God bless!
Dana

Ministry Trip to Ste. Philomène

Dana sharing the testimony

Yesterday was our youngest church plant’s birthday. The Christian Training Center in Ste.-Philomène is now 2 years old and is growing quickly. Yesterday morning, I shared the testimony about Prit’s miraculous recovery with them, then we prayed for the sick. Over half the church came forward for prayer. We are continually seeing miraculous healings as a result of this testimony!

Pastor Gesner Lefort, his wife, and two children (Justin and Fritzner)

 

Prit and Dana praying for the sick

Many Thanks to You!

Our hearts are warmed by the donors that gave up their Christmas money in order to help feed the hungry children in our three schools. Many thanks to you as well as to the dear person that took her birthday money given to her by her friends and donated it to the feeding program! A gift of twenty dollars feeds a student for a whole year! One hundred dollars will feed five kids! Will you help?

1 Picture = 1,000 Words

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is a little girl that truly appreciated her free meal at our children’s Christmas party last year. We’re now gearing up to feed over 1,250 students in all three of our schools at least three times a week! Pray for us! There’s still time to help us meet our goal of $24,000.00!

Your Giving Is Making a Difference!

Many, many thanks to all of you who are heartily responding to the needs for the feeding program! The barometer is filling up and we are very excited about meeting with our leaders to plan meals, select cooking crews, etc. Please pray that we will be able to raise the rest of the funds quickly. Everyone here is very excited and we can’t wait to watch how God provides. God bless you all!!!