Eglise Methodiste d’ Haiti
A Joyous Easter Greeting to All
The Most Frequently Asked Questions:
The most frequently asked question. How is the security in Haiti?
The question is always the same and the answer is always the same.
Things remain largely unchanged. There is still no President of the country, and no elections are currently planned. The last remaining elected Senators have left office and there is no elected government. The Prime Minister Ariel Henri rules by degree.
Travel is restricted to isolated areas of the country.
Gang related violence remains an issue. Murders, rapes, kidnappings are a daily occurrence. Extreme care must be taken when traveling anywhere in the country because disturbances can start with no warning.
The second most asked question. When will this madness be over and peace return to Haiti?
The answer is the same. “But about the day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
The third most popular question. “Just what is Eglise Methodiste d’ Haiti doing during this crisis?”
Here is my candid and unadulterated answer. Eglise Methodiste d’ Haiti is doing what the church has always done. The church is busy, very busy ministering to God’s people amid their needs.
The people of Haiti continue to suffer hunger and illness. With extremely limited physical resources, the church is feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty and giving healing care to the sick. The Methodist Church of Haiti, at all levels, from the District to the Circuit to the congregations, has no available resource. EMH is totally dependent on the influx of outside resources to minister to the physical needs of her people. Occasionally, an outside gift, grant, or donation is received for food, water, or medicine. As soon as these gifts are received, they are immediately translated into commodities that are distributed to the people without regard to race or religion or social status. Several food distributions have been made to congregations all over the country. Although the monetary value of these distributions may seem large, they are gone in just a few days due to the magnitude of the needs.
Two medical clinics, Furcy and Gebeau receive regular donations of cash for medical care and supplies. These services are immediately disbursed to the patients who come to the clinics. Donations are anticipated for the clinic at Sources Phillipe as it is returned to service. A new medical clinic is being constructed in Oliviere. It is scheduled for completion later this summer. As the new clinic comes on stream, it will require funding for staff and supplies. More continuous aid for existing medical clinics is needed to keep these clinics open. Short term, mobile medical clinics are now being planned for the Port au Prince and St Marc Arcahaie, and La Gonave Circuits. More donations for mobile medical clinics are desperately needed to serve the people who are without access to permanent clinics.
Another area of ministry by Eglise Methodiste d’ Haiti is evangelism and spiritual growth. This is a time of great spiritual need for the people of Haiti. Some congregations have had their physical sanctuary violated and confiscated by gangs and are unable to access their normal place of worship. Some congregants must face potential violence as they travel to their local place of worship. The world presents the people of Haiti with hurricanes, storms, earthquakes, droughts, political chaos, anarchy, and violence. The world gives the people of Haiti all the reasons to be discouraged and simply give up hope. Yet despite all the reasons to be hopeless, the people of Haiti, at least the Methodist’s that I am most familiar with, remain hopeful. They constantly verbalize “God will take care of Haiti. One day, He will save us from our misery.” The ordained pastors, sometimes without pay for months on end, faithfully lead their people through prayer, teaching, powerful worship, and pastoral care. The structure of EMH, as dictated by the Constitution, remains intact. Annual Conferences, Committee Meetings, Bible study, and Sunday worship continue.
Since the District Annual Conference in January, all the Circuits have held their annual conferences where the members of the Methodist Church of Haiti meet, worship and conduct the business of the Church. Several Circuits have held trainings classes for their lay pastors and church stewards. The annual Youth Retreats were conducted for all the Circuits. These retreats, held just before the beginning of Lent are an alternative to Carnaval activities. The retreats last from Friday thru Ash Wednesday and feature seminars in Bible study, better living with stress and generally, how to be a better Christian. They were all well attended and well received by the young people of the church who enthusiastically returned to their home church with ideas on how to make their church a stronger Church.
I attended the Port au Prince convention for all its member congregations which ended on Palm Sunday with Holy Communion. The three-day event mainly consisted of worship and praise and fellowshipping with other members of the Circuit. Due to insecurity, the participants slept at the New College Bird campus. Again, the worship on Palm Sunday was filled with much singing and praise to God.
An interesting anecdote from the Port au Prince convention. There was no violence, threat of violence or disturbance around New College Bird where the convention was held, normally it is a hot bed of negative activity. There also seemed to be an abnormal number of young children in attendance at the Sunday School class with over one hundred in attendance. At worship on Sunday morning, one of the known gang members from the immediate neighborhood of the sanctuary told the Bishop that the extra kids were children of gang members who had brought their children to church because the recognized the good things the church was doing.
The churches that can remain open are filled to capacity, not only with members of the Methodist Church of Haiti, but with people of other denominations and the unchurched. On Sunday March 26, twelve new communicant members joined Eglise Methodiste d’ Haiti at Carrefour and twenty-six are scheduled to affirm their membership in late April in Jeremie. In an atmosphere of total chaos, punctuated with frequent violence in the form of murder rape and kidnapping EMH is growing not only in numbers but in its strength as a community of faith. In a time that it might seem logical for people to give up and abandon the church, the church is growing. In a time when church members could react with gloom, doom, and despair they are filled with joy and hope for the future.
In this desperate time, people are able to strengthen their bonds with each other and reassure themselves that life is worth the living and return to the war-torn neighborhoods in which they live with a renewed hope for survival.
You ask me what the Methodist Church of Haiti is doing during these times, it is bringing the hope of the Light of Jesus Christ to the people of Haiti.