Equipping Church Leaders!
We had the wonderful privilege of putting on two Church Leadership Seminars in the mountains of Pays Pourri. The mountains of Pays Pourri are south of the mission base in Fond Parisien and are only accessible by foot or mule. It is a 2 to 5 hours strenuous hike up to 4500 feet. Pays Pourri is the 5th Section in the Commune of Ganthier, and is home to about 16,000 people.
There are many churches in Pays Pourri, but they have a limited understanding of the Gospel. Most were started years ago by a missionary from Jacmel, a city on the south coast of Haiti. Now the pastor from Jacmel comes once a year to do all the baptisms and marriages. There has been very little teaching and discipleship Couple this with the fact that most of the lead pastors in Pays Pourri cannot read. This leads to an environment where animism and voodoo practices creep into the church. Remember that it is not very long ago that true Christianity came to Haiti. Many cultural beliefs still revolve around belief in evil spirits.
So we were able to put on two, four day seminars for the pastors, deacons, and Sunday School teachers from all the different churches and denominations. The first one was in the northern part of Pays Pourri, and attendees walked up to three hours to participate. Of the 89 church leaders that participated, 26 were illiterate. These illiterate ones are the actual pastors, while the literate ones are younger Sunday School teachers,etc.
As Charles Dorneus, a deacon, 70 years old, who walked 2 hours to participate said, "The seminar is very, very good! The churches in the area where I live do not have anything like this. Now we understand the Gospel better. It opens our minds." Charles unashamedly told us that earlier in his life he was a secretary in a church while still a Catholic. In Haiti, Catholicism has mixed with voodoo.
The second seminar was held in the southern part of Pays Pourri. There we had 90 participants, even though we had only had 65 apply. Of the 90 participants, 25 could not read or write.
Here is a list of the sessions and teachers that we had each day:
> Sermon from Matthew 5-7 by Mike Martin, stressing the importance of religion from a heart that is
regenerated by grace through faith.
> Class on Basic Christian Theology by Andy Eversole translated by Wismith Joseph. This class
was given twice a day, once for the literate and once for the illiterate.
> Class on Good Christian Leadership by Ric Gullman translated by Jeams Auguste. This class
was also given twice a day.
> Clear Salvation Sermon by Emanual Schrock translated by Jeams Auguste.
Check out the staff blog for other updates about the seminars.