By Jeff Boshart
Motivated by the ongoing political and economic crises in Haiti, members of Eglise des Freres Haitiens Miami (Miami Haitian Church of the Brethren in Florida) organized and supported a team of eight people to travel to Haiti from July 16-25. Due to insecurity in and around Port au Prince, the team focused their work in St. Raphael, a community in the northern part of Haiti, about a two-hour drive from Haiti’s second largest city, Cape Haitian. In St. Raphael they were hosted by the local Brethren church and joined by several members of the national leadership of Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti).
Each day began with door-to-door visits in the community, where neighbors were informed of evening revival services. During the week, 28 people made decisions to follow Christ. On the final weekend, a mass wedding was performed for 7 couples who were living together but not officially married due to financial difficulties. The team from Miami brought the wedding clothes and rings for the ceremony and organized one large wedding reception at the conclusion of the service. In many Haitian churches, one cannot become baptized or become a member of a church if living together with someone but not married. This also excludes individuals from singing in choirs or having children dedicated in the church. The wedding service took place on Friday afternoon and was followed by baptisms on Saturday and a child dedication service on Sunday morning. In all, 12 people were baptized and 13 children were dedicated.
Click above for larger images of the wedding. Photos by Ilexene Alphonse.
One unexpected blessing came during door-to-door visits when a witch doctor and practitioner of Voodoo, gave his life to Christ. He then removed all items related to Satan worship from his house and burned them. A second highlight of the week came the morning of the baptism service. An onlooker, whose wife was getting baptized, struck up a conversation with Ilexene Alphonse, the pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens Miami. He confessed that he had been thinking about becoming a Christian and Alphonse invited him to make that choice and be baptized. The man accepted the invitation and was baptized along with his wife.
This was the second mission trip organized by the Miami congregation, with the first occurring in 2019. They plan to make this an annual event in partnership with the leadership of Eglise des Freres d’Haiti. Relief efforts are also an ongoing outreach of the church as members are collecting clothes and shoes to send to Haiti.
— Jeff Boshart is manager of the Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren. Find out more about this ministry at www.brethren.org/gfi