Happy Birthday Greetings are in order for today. We joyfully salute our mother church “Centre de formation chrétienne,” wishing her an “Heureuse Anniversaire” and many more! The Christian Training Center (as it’s known in English) is 23 years old today! Perhaps we should say 23 years young, for she is still going strong! Just as the Mardi Gras season was approaching, the church was birthed on February 4, 1990. With humble beginnings, it started under an old army medical tent given to us by a missionary friend, Pastor Jay Threadgill.
Our first service consisted of twelve people, five of whom were our family. One of those original members is still with us today. Brother Orléus Joseph witnessed the work take shape from the very beginning, then watched as it spread its wings to fly. He could tell you of all the awesome events and miracles that have taken place over the years. The army tent was eventually ripped apart by strong winds. The church then evolved into a structure consisting of a thatch roof and sides. Finally, after years of tropical rainstorms, the roof caved in and was replaced by the present structure of a tin roof and concrete blocks to form the walls. In spite of the dirt floor and leaky roof the people continued to come. Our Sunday morning attendance now spills over into our church yard.
Over the course of time, the Centre de formation chrétienne has birthed two other churches and has assumed the oversight of another church plant. Our small church of eight people has grown to a congregation of around eight hundred. Five hundred and seventeen people took the Lord’s Supper yesterday morning.
While Haiti is gearing up for Mardi Gras, we are also preparing to celebrate our church’s anniversary. Guest pastors are flying in to celebrate with us and we are eagerly anticipating their arrival. Pastor Steve Fitzpatrick (San Diego, Ca.) is flying in on Thursday to be our guest speaker for a conference involving our Bible school students and graduates. He will also be sharing in our Sunday morning service. Pastor John Finochio (Hamilton, Ontario) will be joining us the following weekend. We are very excited to see what the Lord will do during this time. Pastor Fitzpatrick and Pastor Finochio are fellow members of MFI (Ministers Fellowship International).
It is our hope that next year we will be celebrating our 24th anniversary in our new building. We ask for your prayers that the Lord will enable us to rise and build, making this the last year in the tonnelle.
Speaking of Mardi Gras, Cap-Haitian has been chosen to host this year’s national celebration. In just another week, thousands of people will converge upon this city to party. All the hotel rooms in the city have already been filled. Even houses have been rented for this special occasion. Structures are going up on the main boulevard to host bands and this old colonial capital will soon be teeming with activity.
Many people anticipate this event all year long. It is common to see locals dress up as policemen and don party masks of all sorts. They fill the streets blowing whistles and stopping cars, then proceed to “write up tickets.” It’s all in jest, but done with the hope that someone will fork over a few dollars for the entertainment. Others will completely immerse their bodies in black oil and promenade through the streets. We met a few of these characters coming home from church yesterday. I managed to take a few pictures to share with our readers. They generally mean no harm, but they can be downright scary to a tourist. Things can get rowdy, though, as the day drags on and people become intoxicated. A frenzy sometimes takes over and fights often break out. Many participants have suffered from knife wounds, crashing bottles heaved through the air and, unfortunately, there have been quite a few mortalities. We tend to “lay low” during this time of year and make it a point not to venture out into the city.
One cannot live in Haiti without witnessing the fervor and excitement that comes with this season. Our fervor is placed elsewhere, however.