This 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.
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 diabetic 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.
We 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!
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!
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
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