Why We’re Here… This Is It!

National Church Conf 3-15We finished our Association of Churches’ annual National Conference this past Sunday with a beautiful morning service that was broadcast via radio throughout the country. This service closed what many thought was one of the best conferences for many years. The conference was very applicable to where our churches are. Former Field Director, Pastor Rob Baker had the opportunity to begin the conference by teaching on sound doctrine. Other topics taught by various pastors and leaders included institutional development, wise management of resources, entrepreneurship for leaders, use and dangers of technology, Christian education, effective leadership, structure of the church, and the family from a Biblical perspective. Some of the conference speakers were graduates who had come up through this ministry through the churches. All of the topics pointed toward having a stronger church and stronger individuals with good testimonies in order to spread the true Gospel throughout Haiti and the rest of the world. Talking about their responsibility as leaders was also a resounding theme.

It was a great time of fellowship and encouragement. Growing maturity with the ASEBACH executive committee was also seen as they functioned together much more like a team. It was great to see the body of Christ working together for His glory and honor.

Our Field Director, Chris Lieb, wrote this about the conference: “As there is much work to do, I was greatly encouraged to see the fruit of the labor and the continual development of the Church.   I feel we have a stronger base to input into to really see some great changes in Haiti through the church. I really believe that as we continue to help the churches mature that it will multiply the efforts to spread the true gospel throughout Haiti. I keep using “true gospel” because in this Voodoo culture, Satan is a master in twisting the efforts of evangelization into a false syncretistic evangelism. I feel as a mission we are ready to leap forward to do some great things. I know we have many obstacles, but I believe as we continue to purify the mission with our processes and resources, God will provide the produce.”

We thank God for the very uplifting week we had. Through various kinds of education, medical care, child sponsorships, and economic-oriented ministries, we are here to advance the Kingdom of God through the churches of Haiti. We are here to magnify and glorify the Name of Jesus so that all might see and come to Him as personal Lord and Savior. May God be praised!

 Because He Lives!

Dennis and Sara

Christmas 2014

Pics for Christmas blog 2014This is significant to me. I was interested in photographing a poinsettia growing outside behind our apartment here in Haiti. Then I stepped back and included in one of the photos the ‘Crown of Thorns’ plant growing close to it. Anybody know where I’m going with this? The poinsettia is a much-loved and beautiful traditional Christmas plant for well over 100 years; one of the few plants anyone in Indiana will buy in December. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The One sent to the earth by God to be born fully man, yet fully God. He was born so that one day, he would wear a crown of thorns, be crucified, and then triumph over sin and death by rising from the dead. Having these two plants growing so close together in our backyard is a thrilling reminder of the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Eye Surgery in the Mountains

What an amazing week of eye surgery God gave us here at BHM last week! From the surgical straightening of a 2 year-old’s badly crossed eye to the removal of a large orbital tumor in a 4 year-old girl to new sight for four diabetiOR 2 - bestc young people in their 20’s who suffered from total diabetic cataracts, we witnessed healing and restoration of vision like rarely occurs in Haiti. Take a look below at a couple of the beautiful children whose eyes were straightened.  Our ophthalmologist friend from Ft. Wayne, Indiana again returned to Haiti to offer his outstanding surgical skills for four days October 27-30. He ended up doing 24 surgeries, which included three children with severely crossed eyes, several cataracts in patients of all ages, corneal surgery, eyelid growths and repairs, and even removed ear lobe keloids and a scalp hemangioma. The cataract surgeries were done with the same state-of-the-art, small incision, no-stitch procedure currently done in the U.S. called phacoemulsification (or ‘phaco’). It was a busy week indeed.

Pre & Post picsWe praise our awesome God who has a special heart for the hurting and needy of this world.  May this ‘new vision’ of our patients impact them and us in a way that ‘opens our eyes’ to the unfading beauty of Jesus!  He is the Light of the world, and may we never lose ‘SIGHT’ of HIM!

Rejoicing in God’s Amazing Grace

Pastor Edrice

Pastor Edrice

One of the most exciting and heart-warming things we’ve experienced in Haiti has been to see Haitian churches take evangelistic, “missionary” trips to other places within Haiti. We saw that happen twice while serving with New Vision, and we’ve seen it again this past week with one of our BHM churches. One of our favorite pastors, Pastor Edrice, led 40 of his congregation on a 5-day evangelistic trip over 7 hours away to Anse Rouge in northwest Haiti. This is one of the poorest and least reached areas in Haiti. There is much voodoo, and getting there can be quite difficult. Along the way they picked up some older teenage/young 20’s youth from another BHM church, and taught them how to share the Gospel. When they arrived (20 hours later than expected due to their bus breaking down), they went door to door sharing the Gospel to about 900 people of all ages. One hundred five people made professions of faith in Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and their names and phone numbers were given to the pastors of our churches in that area. What a thrill to see our Haitian brothers and sisters burdened for their fellow Haitians, and stepping out in faith and action to proclaim the Good News! We praise God for His awesome blessing of this trip, and we look forward to seeing this fire spread to other churches! To Him be all glory!

Greetings from the Mountains

Pic of us - 2 As we come to the end of our 7th week here at Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM), we want to update you on what’s been going on! We thank God for the clarity and confirmations He’s given us in directing us here to serve with this dedicated team of missionaries. It’s truly an honor and privilege to be part of this mission that takes seriously their goal to glorify God and advance His kingdom by strengthening the churches of Haiti.

With a mission that works with 350 Haitian churches, pastors, and schools, that sponsors 3,000 students, hosts Master’s level pastoral training every two months and a Summer Bible Institute every July and August, operates an 80 bed regional hospital, and maintains a self-help store and restaurant that sells Haitian made products, there’s an enormous amount of administrative work to be done. Keeping track of people, meetings, needs, and all the financial transactions that go with it involves time, computers, and patience, especially when you’re dealing with multiple currencies (including two Haitian currency systems!).

Sara has been working full-time at Mountain Maid, the self-help Haitian store/restaurant that helps to support so many of our Haitian families here in the mountains. Dennis has worked in the operations department, the central administrative office, and provided some eye care. This weekend he was able to get the major pieces of equipment moved into the eye clinic at the hospital. He’s scheduled to begin seeing patients there on a regular basis on July 1.

After living for four weeks in the apartment of a missionary couple on furlough, we moved into our own apartment three weeks ago. It’s been enjoyable, and at the same time, very busy fixing things up and getting organized. We look forward to getting our own batteries and inverter in the next few weeks as we’re ‘borrowing’ the current of our neighbors above us at the moment. We’ll be taking some pictures and getting those out soon.

One of the most rapidly growing ministries of BHM is the camp ministry at Montrouis. We lived in Montrouis for over two years while serving with New Vision, and that’s where we met Chris Lieb, who is also now our BHM director. Chris and his family continue to live at the camp and run that ministry, and God has blessed it in a huge way. We’re rejoicing for the 19 Haitians who trusted Christ this past week as a result of the camp ministry. Please pray with us for these young lives that they will grow deep in their walk with Christ and become part of our local churches.

This week we had a woman from western Nevada with us who sponsors 13 children in our school sponsorship program. This is her first trip to Haiti, but she’s been “part of the BHM family” for many years. It was very encouraging to hear how she and her husband, who is a pastor, have slowly added one child after another over the years as they’ve come across a little money here and there. She’s had a very rewarding and adventurous week visiting most of her students at their schools and homes in the mountains. Education is such a huge blessing in Haiti for those children who are able to go. Among other things, it enables them to read a Bible and discover the truths of the Gospel for themselves.

One of the neat opportunities we have every morning is meeting for devotions with a group of 20-25 of our workers. We open with 3-4 songs of worship, and then one of the missionaries shares from the Word. Everything is in Creole as most of our workers don’t speak English. Right now we’re going through a discipleship series that covers the basics. Dennis had his 2nd opportunity to share this past Friday, and God graciously enabled him to speak well enough to be understood. Probably most are believers, but some are not. This is another group of men and women you could remember in your prayers.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement to us. God has been so faithful and awesome. We look forward to sharing more of what God is doing here in future updates. Please stay in touch. May God bless you abundantly with His amazing grace and truth!
For His Glory,
Dennis and Sara

Time of Transition

Greetings to all! It’s way past time to update you on what God’s been doing in our lives. As you may or may not know, last summer the Hattens and we found God shifting our focus regarding the children’s home. Instead of looking for land to build a new children’s home, we were led to look for younger children’s home directors for the long-term. The first couple we talked to was Stephen and Autumn Byxbe of Together We Can – Haiti. Stephen and Autumn have lived in Haiti for over 4 years, were former house parents at the New Vision children’s home, and are in the process of adopting one of the original children in the home. They are very familiar with the kids and are well qualified for this special ministry. Within a matter of days after talking with them, the Byxbes let us know that God was leading them to say ‘Yes’. After much work on remodeling a larger two-story house near downtown Montrouis, the children were transferred to their new home the last week of January and are doing well.

Our school, New Vision Academy, has been a tremendous blessing to our eighteen students this past year, and we thank God for all He’s done through it. However, in latter November the Hattens discerned that God was not leading them to continue the school after May of this year. As a result, we faced a significant decision point in the future of New Vision Ministries. Would we look for another building to rent after the school year is over (and the lease on the mission building is done) and continue our current ministries? Or would we consider other options?

Based on our gifts and skill sets, we’ve always believed God brought us to Haiti to work in a supportive role with an established mission that clearly shares our spiritual convictions and priority of making disciples. That is, advancing the kingdom of God in such a way that Haitian lives are transformed for all of eternity! Because of this, we determined that God was leading us to find out if there might be other possible partners, opportunities, or ministries for us to work with. If nothing was found, perhaps God would be telling us to patiently continue doing what we’re doing with New Vision. Or, perhaps it was time to return to America. On the other hand, if He had another plan for us, He could show that to us as well.

So, in early December, we began our ‘exploration’ by talking to a ministry friend with Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM). BHM is a long-established, large independent evangelical mission that was started in the mountains behind Port au Prince in the 1940’s. One of the many things that impressed us about BHM is their emphasis on strengthening the churches of Haiti. That is their motto and theme, and everything they do is focused on making disciples through local Haitian churches (they have 350+ churches/schools over central and northern Haiti). It was very “interesting” to learn that one of the ministries BHM wants to develop in the coming year is their ophthalmology service, and they need equipment to start doing cataract surgery. They have well developed discipleship/training ministries, a solid school sponsorship program, a very fine hospital, and many other ministries, all of which need ongoing missionary and administrative support.

During December we made two exploratory trips to the main BHM campus in Fermathe, which is located 5,200 ft. above Port au Prince. After spending time there, and getting to know the ministries and other missionaries who serve there, we were convinced that God was calling us to serve with BHM. Dennis will do eye care and administrative work, and Sara will assist with various ministries, including their education and Haitian sustainable income programs. It will require that we relocate to Fermathe, and we anticipate moving there in latter April.

As we mentioned earlier, we’ve been surprised and amazed to see how quickly God has put all of this together. But as we look back, we also see how God has been preparing us for this kind of ministry for some time. It will be very hard for us to leave Montrouis and New Vision, and all of the wonderful friends we have here. While several things are changing here, we’re comforted to know our faithful God has everything under His control, and is making sure all things work in conformity to His will. We’re so grateful for your prayers and support. May He be praised in the days ahead!

For His Glory,
Dennis and Sara

NEW VISION through Cataract Surgery in Haiti

Surgical Team led by Dr. Eric Purdy

Surgical Team led by Dr. Eric Purdy

For the first time ever, cataract surgery was done last week in Montrouis, Haiti at our nearby hospital in Pierre Payen.  Not only was cataract surgery done, it was done with the same state-of-the-art, small incision, no-stitch procedure currently done in the US called phacoemulsification (or ‘phaco’).  To our knowledge, this is the only phaco machine that “resides” in Haiti. 

 From two teenage type 1 diabetic girls to several patients in their sixties and seventies, Haitians who were blind or nearly blind from their cataracts were operated on by Dr. Eric Purdy from Ft. Wayne, IN during the four days of Oct. 29-Nov. 1.  One of the many highlights of the week was the impact the surgeries had on the lives of two diabetic girls. 

Teenage diabetic girls 1st day after surgery!

Teenage diabetic girls first day after surgery!

From the minute the patch came off the eye on post-op day one, one of these girls was able to see her sister for the first time in two years!  Smiles and tears flowed for all in that room.  In fact, both of these girls did so well with their cataract surgery on the first day that they had their other eye done on the last day of the week.  All one-day post-op visits were very encouraging, and their one week post-ops are being done this week.The idea of providing cataract surgery began last February when a partner of New Vision visited one of our eye clinics and witnessed the overwhelming number of untreated cataract patients.  When told that  very few patients had access to affordable, quality cataract surgery, the dream was launched that would ask God to address this huge need.  Dr. Purdy was consulted and gave countless hours of telephone and email time explaining how to make this happen from his many years of doing cataract surgeries in third-world countries. 

Dr. Eric Purdy performing cataract surgery

Dr. Eric Purdy performing cataract surgery

Not only did he freely offer his invaluable advice, he agreed to come down the last week of October to do surgery.  Then, another special friend of New Vision was moved by God to provide resources that enabled quality cataract surgery equipment to be purchased.  A bus was provided that could transport the heavy, bulky operating microscope, stands, stools, examination chairs, and many other supplies that were needed.  Through the prayers of many, many people, God graciously delivered the bus just in time for the scheduled week of surgery!

Patients waiting for their one-day post-op check

Patients waiting for their one-day post-op check

We stand in awe of our amazing God!  He is a mighty and loving God who loves us in a way we’ll never comprehend, and has a special heart for the hurting and needy of this world.  May this ‘new vision’ of our patients impact them and us in a way that ‘opens our eyes’ to the unfading beauty of Jesus!  What a privilege we have to be part of His care to those around His world.  May we never lose ‘SIGHT’ of that!