On Friday April 13, 2012, a team of 11 people representing Church of the Rock arrived at the border of The Dominican Republic and Haiti. It was 7:50 a.m. and the border was about to open. Already there were thousands of people lined up waiting to cross from Haiti into The Dominican Republic as it was “market day” in the border city, and crossing to purchase or sell was essential for the daily living of these local people. Fortunately the team was going into Haiti when all the traffic was going the other direction so our border crossing went smoothly. Our luggage was carried across the border on the back of a truck while we as a team crossed by foot into Haiti.
The Community of Ranquitte is a 2 1/2 hour drive up into the hill country of Haiti. When we arrived at Ranquitte the church people had already excavated a 2 – 3 foot deep trench where we would be helping to lay the foundation for a 34’ X 54’ church building. Our job was to help the masons and stone layers by carrying pails of cement, moving wheelbarrows of sand, and hauling tons of rock, all to be used for laying the foundation of the building with rocks and cement. By the time we arrived it was already mid-afternoon, so we settled into our place of lodging, had supper, and started ministry. Ministry for that night meant that we went into the community and invited the people to an outdoor service that we would be having next to the construction site. The team sang a song in French and two members shared their testimonies. The gospel was preached and around 70 people of the 200 people responded to good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Saturday morning would be like the start of every morning when we were at Ranquitte. Breakfast would be at 6:30 a.m., followed by team devotions, and then by around 8:00 we would be starting the projects for the day. Today we would be moving large boulders from the roadway up the hill 100 meters to where the church foundation was being built. By 4:30 we had moved three truckloads of rock, helped mix and carry cement, and helped set in all of the steel reinforced corner and middle columns and poured/rocked in 1/3 of the foundation.
We then broke up into small groups and went home by home through the community to invite people to come in the evening to watch part of the “Jesus Video”, mentioning that we would be praying for healing at the end of part of the video. During the evening service, there was some praise and worship and then the watching of the first hour of the “Jesus Video”. After the first hour we stopped the video (after Jesus healed the Blind man, Luke 18) to pray for people needing physical healing. The needs were great—there were around 250 people present and asked almost all of them asked for healing.
There were too many for us to break up into groups for prayer so we did group prayers, getting the people to lay hands on themselves and anticipating that the same power of Jesus which touched people as they had seen in the video would also touch them. After the prayers we would get the people to move, wiggle, touch their sore areas, checking to see if God had actually ministered to them. Many people were physically healed. About 1/3 of the 250 people felt that God had touched them. It was hard to believe that so many were physically touched by God. One of our team members said, “Maybe they are just being polite to us by saying that God healed them when He actually had not.” But when we looked at the expressions of joy on their faces, and when we saw how excitedly they moved their arms, legs, necks, and backs which were in pain before it was obvious that God had touched them and that they were not just being kind to us.
Sunday we were up as usual for breakfast at 6:30. Then we were off to the adult Sunday school lesson; while this was taking place our team led, through translators, a children’s lesson at the same time. During the main service several other team members shared their testimonies and the team sang a different song in French. During the message the team again took the children aside and ministered to them, sharing the gospel with them and leading most of the children, around 60 in number, in a prayer of salvation. In the adults service God provided Words of Knowledge on areas where He was bringing healing and around 10 responded in a prayer for salvation.
After the morning service we were blessed to be able to participate in an open air baptismal service. Starting at the location of the church, the congregation walked through the community singing songs of praise as we marched to a small creek and a pool of water where the baptism was done. What a bold declaration for the church and people as they walked and sang through the streets! The local pastor played an accordion and led the people in song. Four were baptised.
After the baptism the team again broke up into smaller groups and, going with a translator, walked into the country area to further regions, where we went from house to house praying for families and needs and inviting people to the evening meeting. Some people from the community saw what the teams were doing and followed us, waiting and begging for the team to come to their homes and pray. Other people invited us to come and pray for neighbours in their situations of need. Of course children followed us everywhere as we went from house to house.
In the evening we had another open air service. One of the team members shared their testimony and one of the local pastors preached about God’s abundant gifts which Jesus freely gives to us. At the end of the message a little boy fell into the nine foot latrine hole. (Praise God that the latrine was still being dug and so had not been used yet). This caused for some disruption to the service, but we used the situation and the commotion to tell of how many around us are in holes of sin, depression, sickness, emotional and relational stress. We encouraged the people to go and rescue the people all around them by praying for them, encouraging them to walk with the Lord, helping them in times need. We then divided the team into three groups and took time to pray for people’s needs.
Through the remainder of the week, we continued to move truckload after truckload of rocks and sand up to the construction site. We also dug deeper the pit latrine and worked to level the dirt within the framework of the foundation. This dirt will become the floor of the new church.
During two noon times we ministered to around 275 children from the area, sharing skits, songs and testimonies. We presented the gospel to these children, and most of them responded by putting up their hands and praying the prayer of salvation. There was some uncertainty if the younger children were just praying and responding because they thought that we wanted them they should or because they clearly understood the gospel, yet we rejoiced for the opportunity to share and minister.
On the Monday evening service we started with some singing. The team sang a song in French and did two skits. We continued showing the “Jesus Video” up to the part of Jesus’ arrest in the garden. We then had an altar call and invited people to come forward for prayer for families and relationships. There were only around 5 or 6 people who came forward at this time for prayer.
At Tuesday evening service the team again sang songs which the people knew enough to join in with us, did some skits and mimes, shared testimonies, and then completed watching the “Jesus Video”. There was a great level of excitement as God spoke prophetically to the pastor and leadership of the church.
On Wednesday morning after breakfast and devotions, we loaded up and went to the community of Milot. There we helped to distribute food supplies (beans, rice, and oil) to destitute seniors and then ministered in the evening through skits, songs, and the Word of God to a community in the church. The evening service was unique as the team ministered within a church illuminated only by a couple of flashlights shining on those that were ministering and three coal oil lamps. Yet despite the darkness of the room, the light of God shone into the hearts of the people. All was received well. The people begged us to return again.
On Thursday we packed up crossed the border back into the Dominican Republic and then headed back to Canada on Friday.
Would we do it again? Each team member boldly said that if they had the opportunity they would gladly return to minister again with the Haitian people. God touched each person on the team and He clearly touched the people in Haiti as well.
~Pastor Keith Eberhard
Testimonies from the Team Members:
The Haiti mission trip was an eye opening experience for me. Coming from a third world country, I thought that Haiti would be quite similar to Kenya. However, arriving and witnessing the differences in this country was really interesting. Learning to interact with the people, spending a lot of time getting to know them and the kids was something that I really enjoyed. Also the hard labour was a great experience because our team worked together so well and we all worked with the mindset that we were doing the work to both glorify God and to help the people of Ranquitte. This is an experience that I would recommend to anyone for sure!
~ Sheila Gwendo
I had an amazing time. What I found the most touching was how welcoming and happy the Haitians were even though they had so little. Also a event that sticks out for me was we were going around the town praying for people and this middle aged lady who had severe mobile issues expended all her energy for that day by walking to seek us out so we can pray for her cause she had so many health issues it really brought tears to my eyes. Another thing that I enjoyed the most was playing with the kids weather it be soccer or even bubbles it was still a lot of fun