Monday, April 23, 2012

Convention was 10,000 strong this year

You read that right, 10,000! Each year the national church association, MEBSH, that RMI partners with holds its annual convention for its members. As many as possibly can make it crowd into the the little village of Simon (a suburb of Cayes) where the mission center and MEBSH’s headquarters is located. The Simon church (which seats only 4,000) takes on the challenge to erect palm tree board benches, thatched roof shade coverings, tarps, tents and whatever else needs to be done to host the Convention. The church is painted, fans, lights and speakers are repaired or new ones installed, decorations are hung and the yard is cleaned. [Below benches are being built beside the main building.]

benches being built

Special speakers are invited, choirs in MEBSH churches practice and meetings are planned well in advance. Starting Wednesday evening, the sessions go all day Thursday, Friday, Saturday until Sunday mid-day. 5 a.m. prayer meetings, 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m. - doesn’t matter which meeting you go to, it’s literally standing room only! Church leaders, pastors, deacons and members are there to fellowship and be enriched by the many speakers and special choirs and singing.

choir singing

If you miss a meeting, don’t worry because it is aired on the radio, TV and live stream online! It’s ok if you’re sitting outside because there are speakers set up everywhere and set on the highest volume setting while the projection screens set up capture everything there is to see on the inside. Extra lights are strung for night time, too. [Amazing technological advances are being made in Haiti!]

The streets surrounding the church become so crowded that they are impassible. Small booth after small booth is set up as vendors use the opportunity to sell food, snacks, books, clothing, shoes, household supplies, toys and all manner of sundry items. It takes on a street fair atmosphere. Old friends reconnect and groups of people from the outback of Haiti use this opportunity to see some of the “big city” sights and sounds and go shopping. [Below are pictures of the vendors just beginning to set up. Soon the streets with be wall to wall people!]

street vendors starting to set up

more vendors setting up

Thousands of people arrive by bus, on foot, motorcycle, bicycles, in cars, on horseback – any way they can get there. In a matter of hours the population of Simon more than quadruples.

bus loads of people arrived all day

People stay with friends or friends of friends, in school buildings (school isn’t in session during those days), camp out in smaller local churches, sleep on church benches, anywhere they can find to lay their heads. The congregation of the Simon church open their homes to sometimes dozens of people they don’t even know.

They all wear their Sunday best and make sure they have their Bibles and songbooks. Who cares if its stifling hot?! They are there for the encouragement and enrichment from God’s Word. But don’t leave your seat! It won’t be there when you get back! If you feel ill the Red Cross has it’s own tent set up and the MEBSH hospital is literally right around the corner.

Personal space? Not here! Claustrophobia? Nope, it’s close fellowship – unless you are a Westerner. 10,000 people in that small space is a phenomena to see and experience. It is a real microcosm of Haitian culture.


inside convention

RMI President, Dan Shoemaker, was in Haiti last week before Convention started and was asked to stay an extra day so he could greet the people during the opening service along with several past presidents of MEBSH. It was a great honor for him! Some of those men graduated from Bible School when his dad was the Bible School Director and knew him as a kid, then as a missionary and now as RMI President.

Here is a report that was written Sunday, April 22, by another missionary:

Subject: report on the MEBSH convention

I thought the Haiti Alumni would be interested in a little report on the 76th Annual Convention of the MEBSH, that ended this morning. I estimated about 10,000 people there this morning--inside and very crowded all around the Simon tabernacle. The five-day convention featured some very strong biblical preaching--messages of encouragement and hope as well as pointed challenges to faith, holiness and consecration specifically directed at Haitian cultural trends. I thought Pastor Bresil's message on Thursday afternoon was particularly poignant. It was a great encouragement to have such a long-standing respected leader of MEBSH present and preaching the Word of God.

In addition to this, the MEBSH official workers meeting on Wednesday morning featured two speakers from the Féderation Protestante d'Haïti who challenged the pastors to have a more prophetic ministry in society. The coordinator, Edouard Paultre, addressed four key areas: justice, integrity, good governance and the environment. Then a man named Pastor Valery spoke on the roles and characteristics of the O.T. prophet and how pastors today fill that role. I was incredibly excited to hear this kind of development in the Christian community and found their presentation very consistent with the OT Prophets class that Steve Buerer and I taught last spring at the Bible School.

MEBSH's leadership is becoming more decentralized under Pastor Alneve's administration. They are working on establishing a MEBSH office in Port au Prince besides the one at Cité Lumière. Although they have had regional directors for a long time, they specifically ordained them this morning with more of a sense of leadership, rather than just logistical purposes. Chavannes Jeune is the regional director for MEBSH churches outside of Haiti, which currently includes the DR and Sint Marteen. One of my former students is the new pastor at St. Marteen.

There were some new leadership positions established. Jean Admettre is the new general administrator/coordinator of institutions, besides continuing as Intitut Biblique Lumière/Faculté Théologique Evangelique Lumière (IBL/FTEL) director. Jean Chery is the director of the Evangelism department and Thomas Plaisimond the director of the education department (overseeing MEBSH's 364 primary schools and 39 secondary schools). Both Pastors Chery and Plaisimond are new FTEL graduates. Also, Napoleon Lusson was named the vice-chancellor of Université Lumière, where Chavannes is the rector.

The current and ex-presidents of MEBSH formed their own commission to pray for the political leadership of Haiti, including the current and living ex-presidents of Haiti (Duvalier, Manigat, Aristide, Preval, Martelly) and to resolve to be upright examples of leadership to the country. The living presidents of MEBSH are: Bresil St. Germain, Chavannes Jeune, Pelege Pierre, Luders Erase and Alneve Emile. All were present except Pastor Pelege. Pastor Alneve remarked this morning that only in the Gospel can you have four presidents together and not have any problems!

It is my passionate conviction that church leaders profoundly transformed by the gospel are the real hope for the inner change needed in Haiti's society. I am thrilled to be able to work with a devoted team of Haitian and foreign teachers to be tools in the Lord's hands for this good work. I am asking all of your "readership" to pray for us, that we will have the Lord's focus, His love and power, and the team that He desires to assemble.

Gratefully yours,
Sean & Heather Christensen, Worldteam missionaries (professor at the Bible School)

We thought you’d enjoy a little insight into the biggest happening on MEBSH’s and your Sister Church’s calendar!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Partnering together: Awana and RMI

Today 50+ pastors from Les Irois, Dame Marie, Tiburon, Chambellan, Baraderes and many other Sister Churches as well as pastors from outside of MEBSH attended a seminar at the Mission Center in Cayes to learn about Awana International’s initiative for Haiti using their new international model. They are starting in southern Haiti with RMI as their key in-country partner. Awana hopes to have 50 clubs by the end of the year.

Pastors are excited to get something like this into their churches as an effective way to disciple and minister to the children in their congregations. Besides hit or miss VBS and traditional Sunday School classes, they’ve had no other tools in their hands for children. Think of what this means to these pastors! And think of what it will mean to hundreds of children!

RMI Prez, Dan Shoemaker, Awana International Executive Director, Brian Rhodes (pictured below) and 3 others are there this week to speak with church leaders as well as facilitate today’s seminar. There are exciting days ahead as this ministry opportunity blossoms!

Dan & Brian Rhodes, Exec. Director of Awana Int'l in PAP tuned

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Where language limits

“Where language limits, hugs and smiles take over.”

RMI hugThis is my favorite quote from an evaluation sent in by a team member who recently went to Haiti for the first time. I love it! Love transcends culture. Relationships are built despite the differences and language barriers. That is what RMI is all about. It is a part of our DNA.

RMI’s evaluation form is now online and easier than ever to complete. We want to get better at what we do, but need your feedback to help us know where we need to tweak things or make changes for the better. And of course we want to hear what the trip meant to you!

If you have been on a team, we would love to hear from you. You’ll find the evaluation HERE.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Cool idea of the week

1st Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church of Gastonia, NC went to Haiti last month for their first visit to their Sister Church in Sous Baptiste. They had 4 unique ideas that we thought you might find helpful:

1. Poster – they developed this glossy, 12” X 18” poster that they posted around the church buildings and in each Sunday School classroom in the weeks prior to their trip. They raised money for 120 Bibles, 120 songbooks, 45 boxes of food aid, 450 Bible storybooks and even had enough money to support 3 kids in school! I’d say that it was pretty effective!IMG_3150

2. Group prayer card – Not only were the name of the team members on it, but the back listed specific prayer requests. Each team member were given a stack of the cards to share with their friends, co-workers and family.

Cool idea to keep the team members going, the place, date and requests in front of people!


3. These zippered canvas bags were embroidered with “Sisters in Christ” in French and English. The team sold them to the ladies to the ladies’ group at 1st ARP. They raised enough money to pay for the bags. The Haitian ladies were “tickled pink” with the bags. They are large, zippered, sturdy yet a pretty bright color that they’ll enjoy. Ladies on both sides of the ocean now have matching bags to use!IMG_3147

4. Banner – Written in English and French, this colorful banner is seen in the team’s prayer card. They presented it to the church and hung it while they were there. Shown are both church’s pastors.

Banner & handshake tuned

Good job 1st ARP!

We’re always looking for new ideas to share with other churches! Send any ideas to Debbie Shoemaker at