“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.”
—Galatians 5:1, 13, ESV
Dear Partners in Ministry:
As ESMI continues to make Evangelism via Church Planting and Leadership Development its main mission, we wanted to share with you the testimonies of a few who are using their freedom in Christ to serve the community. God continues to show His faithfulness as ESMI focuses on reaching the many lost people for His glory.
Freedom to Serve in Evangelism
Meet Pastor Lionel Moril. He is ESMI’s Coordinator in the Jeremie, Grand-Anse Department. Pastor Lionel grew up in a strong Catholic home and was given to the priestly services at a young age. He entered the Catholic Seminary as a teenager which made his father very proud. While in seminary, he had a dream. A voice told him to leave the seminary because he was not in the right place. He spoke to the priest about this dream who told him to dismiss such thoughts. But when he had the same dream again, he decided to leave the study of the priesthood. His father was disappointed with this decision and to show this, he abandoned him. Lionel was left with no resources but his mother did what she could to assist. During those 18 months when he felt totally abandoned, he heard the gospel and was baptized. However, his knowledge of what it meant to be free in Christ was not fully understood and so he was easily swayed by a “deacon” in the church to join the Masonic Lodge. He studied this for a year and two weeks and was at the 4th degree when he became deathly ill. Folks came to his family and asked if they wanted Lionel to die. If they didn’t, then he needed to be taken to the witch doctors. His illness demanded the “strongest” of spirits to be involved and rituals that may be too difficult to understand if written. For three days these rituals went on and on. His pastor visited him during that time and shared the gospel with him again. It was then that he truly understood the freedom that was his in Christ. He banished the idea of being healed by witchcraft. The All-Powerful God healed him; and in 2000, he entered seminary. In 2004, he received his bachelor degree from the ESMI seminary in Les Cayes under the leadership of Louis St. Germain. Louis saw him as a leader with great potential. In 2008, after the severe floods in Gonaives killed many people, Pastor Lionel was asked to oversee the work which ESMI had begun in 2005 in that region. However, after visiting this city, he didn’t feel called to serve there. Instead in 2009, he headed up the ministry in Carrefour, Port-au-Prince with 106 orphaned and abandoned children under his care. Some of these children came from rough neighborhoods such as Cite Soleil, a city known for gang violence. And yes, some of these children were involved in those gangs.
Pastor Moril and his new bride, Francoise, loved those children, and he was not only their pastor but served as a role model for them. Then the earthquake struck on January 12, 2010. His life and those of the children were turned upside down. The children were moved to Cambry, Les Cayes where space was very limited for them.
The work in Jeremie began in 2010 with the construction of a church and several children’s homes. Around the summer of 2010, Pastor Moril with his wife moved there with the children who were once in Port-au-Prince. His presence made the difficult transition for these city children just a little easier. Today, Pastor Lionel is in the Master’s program at the ESMI Seminary at University of Jeremie and is one of the professors for the first year students. He is not afraid to live in a city such as Jeremie known for its voodooism. In other cities, the witch doctors hoist flags to show their residence and their power to call upon the spirits of darkness. Not so in Jeremie. Everyone knows where these “doctors” live. Pastor Moril has no fear of these spirits. He is constantly witnessing to the “Most Honorable President” of all witch doctors in the Grand-Anse Department. He is also known as” the pastor” to the gangs in the city of Jeremie. Indeed, God delivered Pastor Moril from a life of bondage and is now using this freedom to serve others in love.
Freedom to Serve in Education
Here’s a construction team from Long Hollow Church who came to serve in wiring the School of Joy building and the Administrative Building/Theological Center. This group of 17 men saw God empower them to use their gifts in different ways to accomplish, in a few days, what they thought would take them the entire week. Both buildings now have internet access and electricity powered by solar energy. These men completed their task and headed home on Friday, February 15, and on Monday, February 18, the seminary classes began for the first year BA students on the University of Jeremie campus in the School of Joy building. Courses offered this semester: Old Testament Survey I, Church History, Pastoral Ethics, and Systematic Theology I.
One of the first year seminary students, Leslie, at the “Preaching Point” in La Hatte Chateaux- the second “spin off” from of the Bonbon church plant after last November’s medical team served the community.
Freedom to Serve in Empathy
Remember Jude? This was the gang leader who came to know the Lord after the Chicago medical team witnessed the love of God to him. Well, every time this team visits La Savannes, Jude makes sure he is there. About two weeks ago, the team was in La Savanne again doing medical ministry. They had a situation with one of the patients who had visited the witch doctor. Immediately, the team sent for Jude. Jude was able to share his testimony and that individual prayed to receive Christ. Here is a life once enslaved to voodooism, now completely changed and exercising his freedom in Christ. Praise God!
Freedom to Trust God in Economical Endeavors
The first batch of chickens was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Sandy but there was enough income to start the second batch. We praise the Lord that this batch fared well as we now prepare for the third batch. The goal is that in the next several months, the farm will generate some resources to assist in the church planting efforts in Jeremie. We are thankful to the Lord for the Christian businessmen from the US who have visited and seen what God is doing on the island of Haiti. We are also very thankful for the Haitian Christian businessmen He is allowing us to meet who will advise us better in this area of ministry.
Freedom to Serve the Haitian-American Communities in the US
On December 11-13, 2012, we had our first MNA Haitian-American Convocation in Naples, Florida. This went very well with 40 pastors and lay leaders in attendance. The next one is planned for June 13-15, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The news has spread and so we have been told to anticipate at least 100 pastors. It will be a time of encouragement, a time to refocus and revitalize their ministry as well as an opportunity to learn how their churches can be a part of the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) denomination.
Special Prayer Requests for…
1. Pastor Nerva, the pastor at Cherette, found out in early February that his dear wife, Adultka, has colon cancer. Thanks to the support of very good friends, Madame Nerva is now in Cuba awaiting surgery. She and her family are in need of our prayers.
2. Pastor David Landrith, the senior pastor of Long Hollow Church, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of cancer. He and his church have been a very strong support for the work in Jeremie. Listen to Pastor David’s message on how you can pray for him and his family. http://www.longhollow.com/messages/series/9?message=645
3. Church Planter Hector Mardy, has begun the preliminary work for a church in Jacmel
4. Praise God the safe birth of Pastor Guercy and Evelyn’s first son
5. Louis St. Germain, his leadership in Les Cayes and his desire for three new churches in the South Department
6. Pastor Bresile’s ministry to the Haitian churches in Florida and Boston. Praise God for how he used Pastor Bre to bring 31 people to the saving knowledge of Himself on December 31, 2012.
7. To fund an elementary school, K-2, to serve the Bonbon church plant and the two “spin off” church plants/preaching points. The estimated cost is $3000 for the 10-month school year.
8. The General Hospital in Jeremie is in dire need of assistance. This is the hospital for the Grand Anse Department and is expected to serve the population of one million. Yet it is extremely limited in what it can provide. The hospital has on its board Haitian physicians who have studied and overseen medical departments in Europe and North America. These doctors have shared how difficult it is even to do operations as the surgical knives are dull. Those leaders have asked ESMI for assistance in the following areas: 1) providing basic supplies for the ER and the two surgical rooms, and 2) assisting in their orthopedic department. I present this request to you, our ministry partners in the medical field.
Thank you for your support in reaching many people who were once slaves to voodooism and witchcraft, and are now free in the righteousness of Christ. An estimated 5,000 came to that knowledge in 2012 through the seventy plus churches across the island. You, our partners, were a part of this. We also praise God for all our teaching pastors who have been instrumental in training men, like Pastor Lionel, fulfill God’s calling in their lives. To God be the glory!