Why Church Planting and Leadership Development? (Part II)
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (NIV)Matthew 16:18
Last week, I shared about our primary focus as a ministry: Evangelism with an emphasis on church planting and leadership development. This week, I want to briefly review our other E’s: Education, Empathy, and Economical Development.
As ESMI enters an area with a church plant, it is expected by the community to offer an educational program. It can be a pre-school, an elementary school, a high school, a technical school, or an adult education center. Why this expectation? Seventy percent of the country is still unable to read, and as one goes further beyond the mountains, the illiteracy rate is higher. ESMI has over 41 schools ministering to more than 7,000 students. Our desire in the area of education is to see new believers not only hear the Word but also read the Word for themselves to strengthen and deepen their relationship with God. We have seen God do marvelous work in this area, especially in the South where the ministry has served the communities the longest… twenty years and counting!
Two years ago, ESMI established its first university, the University of Jeremie (UJ). Approximately forty percent of the students are believers. We praise God for this ministry field and for our pastors on staff. There have been spiritual encounters that they have had to deal with and many opportunities to share Christ with the students. Just this past Sunday, I prayed with one of our nursing students. She is now the only member in her family who is a Christian. Then, today, I was able to counsel one of our Agricultural students.
Praise: The School of Agriculture has the highest enrollment of all the six school of studies. This summer, I met with the leadership of a US university who are interested in partnering with UJ. While the talks are only in the preliminary stage, it was encouraging to learn that the curriculum offered was just as good as that in the US.
Praise and Prayer: Four years ago, through a ministry partner, a high school was established also in Jeremie. Earlier this year, the educational team in Haiti realized that to become self-sustained, we had to move into the city. So we took a step of faith, with no resources, to renovate the classrooms on the Versailles site purchased over a year ago. This September, school opened on the new campus.
I cannot write about this E without remembering a dear father and mentor in the faith, Dr. David Nicolas. Louis and I knew he was passionate about church planting. We approached him about 19 years ago to partner with the church planting efforts in Haiti. He gave an immediate, “No.” With Haiti being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, he did not see how any of the churches would move toward sustainability. Not discouraged but determined, we came up with the idea of each church plant having a small business to provide employment for the pastor and his members. When we approached Dr. Nicolas again with this new idea, he was totally on board. With every church planted with Spanish River Church and Dr. Nicolas, there was a small business. Forty-seven churches were planted this way. Today, we praise God, that these churches are still going strong and are self-sustained. Some have even expanded their business from a bakery to owning dump trucks which they lease for construction.
Twenty years later, in Cayes, a ministry partner has been diligently working on a huge aquaponics farm to grow vegetables not only for the orphans on that site but to use also as a small business. Our two recent business endeavors in Jeremie are: the chicken farm and water business.
The chicken farm was able to generate enough in its second year to assist the older orphans to learn a trade. The water business is still in its beginning year but we are hopeful as there is now an expanded site in the city. In a couple weeks, we will purchase motor taxis for the church in the marketplace. Earlier this year, we purchased a dump truck to assist with the church planting efforts in downtown Jeremie. We thank the Lord for our partners who make this all possible.
In the area of empathy, ESMI’s focus has been on: disaster relief, medical missions, orphan care and ministry to the widows. This summer was one of our busiest with 263 volunteers serving in Cayes, Gonaives and Jeremie. In Jeremie, over 400 adults and children came to know the Lord this summer. Very thankful to our summer teams as they ministered to the children with Bible Clubs. Because this summer ministry was so impactful, ESMI now has a weekly children’s ministry.
Our medical teams are always a blessing.
This summer we had four teams, two in Cayes and two in Jeremie. Here in Jeremie, both medical teams met a little girl, age 11, from the mountains who had a broken collar bone. She also had a severe breathing problem and the fear was she either had HIV or TB. Her father believed her illness to be related to voodoo and so spent what little money he had on witch doctors. After ruling out these two diagnosis with tests, she was treated for severe case of pneumonia (layman’s term) and showed significant improvement within three days after being given strong antibiotics. We praise God for the opportunity to show Christ’s love in a practical way by meeting this need.
Praise & Prayer Requests
1. Praise God for the opening of the high school on the new campus, downtown Jeremie at Versailles.
2. Praise God for our ministry partner who assisted in funding two school buses to provide transportation for our high school and university students. We are grateful that these buses are functioning despite the terrible road conditions between downtown Jeremie and the UJ campus.
3. Pray that God will help us identify US Nursing and Agricultural professors to teach one to two week courses at UJ.
4. 1,000 pairs of shoes needed for all children at the nine Children’s Village sites
5. Pray for a productive meeting with the nine site managers of ESMI’s Children’s Village in November. Always wisdom needed as we plan for the more than 900 children under our care.
6. The next business project is to establish a supermarket in the in the Grand-Anse (Jeremie area). Pray for the needed resources for such a project.
Thank you, dear partners, for your faithful prayers and financial support. We hope you’ll plan a trip to see all that God is doing because of your partnership with us in the ministry of the Gospel. To Him be the glory!