Steve & Kathy Fitzpatrick: Week of Ministry

What a great week of ministry we have had with MFI Pastors Steve and Kathy Fitzpatrick from San Diego. Steve and Kathy are over Herald of Faith Ministries and missionaries-at-large. Although their home base is in San Diego, a large portion of their time is spent traveling and ministering around the world teaching, training and establishing leaders in God’s Word.

Last Saturday, Steve was the guest speaker for our Bible School graduation and spoke about the call on our lives. Essentially,there were three main points which I gleaned from his message.

  1. He gives a call – we are responsible to discover what the call is.
  2. He gives gifts – we are responsible to recognize the gifts we’ve received from the Lord, then to stir them up.
  3. He gives his Word. We are expected to preach the Word and be faithful with the treasure with which we have been entrusted.

Steve also ministered at our main church in Petite-Anse Sunday morning and at the church at Sainte-Philomène on Sunday night. On Monday, we enjoyed a gorgeous day at the beach together and on Tuesday, Steve ministered for three hours to our past and present Bible School students on the all-important subject of Vision. We have wined and dined on God’s Word and we thank our special guests for such rich ministry. Not only have they ministered in a special way to our people, but to us as well. We shared lots of stories and laughter together. Thank you, Steve and Kathy, for gracing our home with your presence and for pouring yourselves out for our people.

We Bought an Island!

No, it’s not a Caribbean island, though that would be nice! Due to the generosity of several of our lady friends, we commissioned Boss Luckner to build an island for our kitchen. As with all his work, it is beautiful and has surpassed all our expectations. Slowly but surely, we are renovating the mission houses and love watching each room being transformed. Even though we are now eating our meals on the porch, it’s well worth having more room in our kitchen. One day the porch will become a den and it will be easier to gather together with the locals or with teams that come to minister and work with us. Thanks so much to our generous friends who are always so mindful of the needs here. Thank you, Boss Luckner and your friend for all the hard work to make life a little easier here.

Praying for Jean

2014-10-14 13.07.18This week will mark eight years since Prit and I were kidnapped at gunpoint outside our church in Petite-Anse. It never entered our minds that a gang would enter our church yard, commandeer our Isuzu Trooper and take us for a wild ride into the countryside to avoid any contact with the police.

After releasing me, the kidnappers chose to hold Prit hostage until I could manage to round up the money that would set him free. We always joke about the fact that they chose the wrong missionaries since they were demanding over $300,000 in US funds. We didn’t even have the money to build our new church.

One member of the gang was assigned to guard Prit and make sure he didn’t get away. His name was Jean. Jean’s pockets were full of bullets. He confessed to Prit that he had shot his wife in the foot after finding out that she had been unfaithful. Before the ordeal was over, however, Jean had poured his heart out to Prit. Pastor, I can’t get out. If I leave the gang, they’ll hunt me down and kill me. If I stay, the police will probably catch me. My family has disowned me. I can’t even go outside to use the bathroom without taking my guns with me for fear of getting shot.” Prit tried every way he could to share the Gospel with Jean and to encourage him to give up the life he was leading before it was too late.

The day Prit was released was the last time he ever saw Jean. Before Prit was led back down the mountain to the small town of Limbé under the cover of darkness, Jean surprised him by returning an item to him. It seems the Lord had been pricking his conscience. Jean had previously stolen my necklace. He handed it back to Prit and confessed that he shouldn’t have taken it. He also gave Prit $20 Haitian. Lastly, he took off his watch and handed it to Prit. “Pastor, please don’t forget me. Take my watch as a reminder to pray for me every day.” The watch still sits up on the shelf in our bedroom, but only the Lord knows what ever became of Jean. Rumors have abounded that some members of the gang were killed. Still we pray for Jean.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful after all this time to discover that this gang member living a life of crime did leave his former ways to become a disciple of the Lord? Meanwhile, we are still praying for Jean.

The Joy Is in the Giving

giftOn Sunday morning, one of our leaders’ wives approached me. Just after the service concluded, she came to where I was sitting and said, “Oh, Man Pas, thank you so much for the clothes that you sent to me!” She wore a great big smile and joy radiated from her face. I had loaded up her husband with a pile of clothes that I no longer needed. It was then that I realized she had on the blazer and skirt that I had sent her. I remembered how I had struggled with giving that blazer away. I really liked it, but never seemed to be able to find a matching skirt to go with it that I liked. I finally gave it away.

“You are very welcome. It looks a lot better on you than it did on me,” I said and I meant it. I received so much joy in that moment. Seeing her overflowing with happiness blessed me so much and it had been such a simple gift on my part. I only regretted that I hadn’t given it away sooner. It’s amazing the things we hold on to when they can be giving others so much joy. It made me want to go through my wardrobe and give away more items that I will probably never miss.

Would you like to spread some joy around? There are more needs represented here than we can count. Whether it’s feeding hungry children, paying salaries, or just brightening someone’s day with a gift, the joy is truly in the giving!

Open for Business!

10644432_747742048594933_2854747544756302349_oPresident Michel Martelly gave an impassioned speech last Thursday after flying in on the first American Airlines flight to Cap-Haitian as he reiterated what had been accomplished so far in Haiti during his presidency. After having been bankrupted by greedy dictators for decades, suffering through a crippling embargo, facing a cholera epidemic and succumbing to a monumental earthquake that took the lives of an estimated 220,000 people, one had to wonder if Haiti would ever find its way again.

Columbus called Haiti the Pearl of the Antilles. It was once the richest French colony in the world. Cap-Haitian, the old colonial capital and second largest city in the nation was known as the Paris of the New World. Even Pauline Bonaparte (Napoleon’s sister) was one of its inhabitants. Today, Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, rating as a fourth world country. Perhaps Columbus would barely recognize Hispaniola today for all the trouble she’s seen. But God is not finished with Haiti.

Last Thursday, as he spoke, the President sported a purple T-shirt. On the front was inscribed: “Cap-Haitien is Open For Business.” While Port-au-Prince has been the seat of power and wealth for decades, Martelly managed to lift the heads of the Capois and promote dignity to the residents of the north of Haiti. He is definitely a different kind of President in that he truly seems to represent all of Haiti.

Many new businesses have and continue to spring up all over this island. We do not attribute all this to political or business savvy, however. This has been the result of years and years of saturating the Haitian soil with earnest prayers. We believe the fruit on the vine is only beginning to bud. Click on the links below to become acquainted with some of the new enterprises that are taking place in Haiti. While you’re reading, please remember to pray for President Martelly, the Haitian people, and the work of the gospel in their hearts.

The End of an Era

TontonmacouteHow well I remember my first introduction to Haiti. Descending the steps from the airplane at the Maïs Gaté Airport, the very first sight that captured my attention was that of the feared Tonton Macoutes. The Macoutes were President Jean-Claude Duvalier’s private army. There they stood, a formidable sight with their blue jean uniforms, dark sunglasses, and Uzi submachine guns. Glimpses of their stone-cold faces struck fear into my heart. As naive as I was at the time, I knew they were evil and history would reveal my fears were warranted.

Prit and I never had any run-ins with Duvalier’s police. This brutal force kept the population in check and in some ways it worked towards our advantage. We could walk the streets at midnight with no fear whatsoever. No one wanted to come under the wrath of Duvalier’s henchmen. Horrendous stories were repeated, however, of their revenge upon many of Duvalier’s enemies. While things appeared calm on the surface and foreigners from all nationalities came to Port-au-Prince to visit, there was an undercurrent with which the Haitian people were all too familiar. People would suddenly drop out of sight and there was talk of firing squads conducted at night. It was a reign of terror. Actually, this horrific reign was initiated under Jean-Claude’s father, François Duvalier, better known as “Papa Doc.” Under François Duvalier, at least 30,000 Haitians were murdered and his devoted Macoutes faithfully carried out his orders of execution. The brutality continued under Jean-Claude, who at 19 years of age, was declared President for Life by his father., John, and I were living in Port-au-Prince when Duvalier (the son) was exiled to France, but not before he looted millions of dollars from Haiti’s national treasury. John was just a year old at the time. All the pent-up rage of decades that stretched back to Papa Doc’s regime was finally unleashed after Jean-Claude and his wife, Michelle, flew out of Haiti with a whole entourage of elite friends. The Macoutes became fair game for the masses and the fury of an oppressed people was poured out on those who remained behind. During this time, we stayed close to home to avoid the gunfire that was going on all around us and crawled under windows lest any stray bullets came our way. A missionary friend told us he saw young Haitian men using the head of a Macoute as a soccer ball.

Jean-Claude returned to Haiti in 2011 bankrupt, divorced, and a very sick man. No one thought he would ever return to the nation which he had stripped bare of its riches. Such is the irony of living in Haiti. Yesterday morning Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) passed away at 63 years of age. It is the end of an era. The present generation here doesn’t even remember the old Duvalierist regime. Many of the youth in our churches don’t even remember the continued succession of failed leadership that plunged this little nation into despair.

After thirty-one years in Haiti, we’ve seen the suffering of our Haitian brethren up close. An all-time low came during the embargo of 1993-1994 . We learned that people in the countryside were eating cowhide and the bark off of trees just to have something in their stomachs. All the while, Duvalier enjoyed a life of opulent luxury in Paris.

While Haiti is far from being trouble-free, we do believe things are beginning to turn around for this little nation the size of Maryland. Wonderful things are taking place and hope is rising once again that the Haitian people will once again hold their heads up with dignity.

As for Duvalier and the Tonton Macoutes, they remain indelibly fixed in our minds. They were an integral part of our first years of life in Haiti.

Big Bird Has Come!

10689781_739591162743491_8185662582279658744_nAmerican Airlines made its debut flight into Cap-Haitien today. President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe were on board with several other dignitaries to join in the celebration. We gathered around the television and watched President Martelly’s speech from home and were only too keenly aware that we were witnessing history in the making. Not only was this American Airlines’ inaugural flight, but there are plans to do so much more in Haiti. I’ll share more about that in another post. President Martelly’s speech today breathed life into the Haitian people. He wore a purple t-shirt with the words, “Cap-Haitien, Open For Business.”

Since our children were small, there have been rumors of American Airlines flying to Cap-Haitien. In the past, they only flew to Port-au-Prince. We finally resigned ourselves to the fact that if it happens, it happens. Well, it has happened and this is wonderful news for us who have paid a hefty price just to fly from Cap-Haitien to Ft. Lauderdale, let alone a second and third leg to North Carolina.

It’s a new day in Haiti. After thirty-one years of seeing the worst of the worst happen in the poorest country in the western hemisphere, we are only too happy to watch Haiti rising from its ashes.