Last week, I had the privilege of accompanying the team from Second Cape May Baptist Church from Marmora, NJ as they visited their sister church of over 30 years in Port a Piment, Haiti. Over and over I was reminded of the basic reason Rob and I serve in Haiti with RMI. For me personally, it was a stretching experience and just what I needed to energize my heart and soul. RMI’s President, Dan Shoemaker, calls it “the Ministry of Presence.” God’s presence, in us, overflowing in ministry to others.
There have been a few times over the last 3 years that Rob has stayed home with the kids and I’ve gotten the opportunity to go out with a team. I was excited to learn that my sister-in-law, Stephanie, was joining this team and Rob and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to join them. On past teams I have gone out with, there have always been another American missionary with the team. This time, I was it! Our Haitian Administrator, Benjamin Altema, was the team leader and we had 2 more translators and a driver from our Haitian staff join us. For a report on the trip and more pictures read The Ministry of Presence: Second Cape May Baptist and Port a Piment over at RMI’s blog.
While many of our teams come and do projects, that is not and has never been the thrust of what RMI is all about! The team from Second Cape understood that. They had many things planned for the week, but all were part of the ministry of celebrating Christ together and their relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ. They worshipped together during 2 services, and collaborated by having an open-air gospel service in the community. Praise the Lord for a new brother-in-Christ in the Port a Piment area named Mackenson! They planned special gatherings for the ladies and men’s groups and had a lot of fun during a gathering with the school kids. We visited shut-ins and had the opportunity to pray with them. Twice we visited 2 different churches in the district: Sentiment Church and Bosquette Church. The goal for all these activities was to build relationships and share the love of Christ.
My highlight was our visit to Sentiment Church. We were told we would drive and then get out and have to hike about 30 minutes to get there. We followed a river bed, had to cross the river by foot 3 times. We all had squishy shoes when we arrived! The last 10 minutes we turned from walking along the riverbed to walking up the mountain. When we arrived a the top of this small mountain, the small, crude church building was decorated beautifully and was full of people waiting to worship with us. It was very humbling to worship with this body of believers. Not long ago, the evangelism committee at the church in Port a Piment decided to go to this area and share the gospel. Many came to Christ and from this, the Sentiment Church was born. This area was the church in Port a Piment’s “Judea” (Acts 1:8.) It was exciting to see the fruit of the Great Commission in action.
More pics from our visit to Sentiment Church:
The whole experience this week really energized me. It served to remind me of why I am here. I not only enjoyed developing relationships with the members of the US team, but got to know and love on some of my Haitian sisters-in-Christ. It was stretching! I had to step up my translation skills. In doing so, I found much encouragement! I felt like the whole week I was hearing, speaking and translating on a one-to-one basis better than ever before. I was challenged to be stretched even more by sharing a devotional one morning and doing the team debriefing at the end of the trip. This is not my comfort zone, but was so good for me personally to step out in faith.
It’s easy to get bogged down with day to day responsibilities and living life here in Haiti. So often I get frustrated with the constant flow of people at my house asking for money or things. The trip reiterated in my heart and mind the importance of the ministry of presence: not just when I go out with a team, but the ministry of presence in my family, in my missionary community and in the Haitian community in which I live. Since returning, I feel more energized in these relationships! The ministry of presence: live out this ministry right where you are.