Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Little Background

You may be wondering how we got to this point with Haiti as a focus for missions for Grace Baptist Church. The following is an attempt to "bring you up to speed" on what has happened over the last year and a half to bring us to this point.

Right after the earthquake in 2010, Michael Stephens, church member and former Director of Men's Ministry at GBC, was asked to go to Haiti to fly helicopters. He did do some flying, but his primary functions became emergency medicine and leading the operations of an over-run orphanage that had also become a children’s hospital. He was there for a month and his wife, Fawn, joined him for the final two weeks of that trip.

During that visit, the Stephens' met Reghi, a 23 year old Haitian man who worked for the orphanage as a translator. He was there every day, not only helping missionaries and relatives of injured children to overcome the language barrier, but also by holding babies, administering medicine, and carrying boxes of supplies. The Stephens' developed a friendship with him and soon were introduced to his best friend, Palto, who was 18. Palto also stood out in the crowd as a very bright and loving young man. Both men love Jesus passionately and it showed through the hope they carried within, which they shared with many in the orphanage/hospital. Over the course of their time in Haiti, the Stephens' knew that the Lord had put them together with these two young men for a reason much bigger than they could see at that time. Some of that reason is now beginning to unfold as follows.

Palto is now living with the Stephens family here in Oregon, having been "grafted in" to their family. He is now 20 (just this week!) and through the amazing generosity of some people in our church, is attending Portland Community College to study nursing. His goal is to return to Haiti to establish a hospital where people can be treated no matter their financial status. Through Palto, our church has also come to know his parents, Riccardo and Misselaine, whom the Stephens' met while in Haiti last year. Riccardo is a pastor and has led the 2nd Patmos Baptist Church since 1999. He has also started five new churches in the Port au Prince area since the earthquake. In addition to teaching people about the love of Christ and the freedom they can experience from the darkness of voodoo, their church members are feeding the homeless children in their communities and providing hope to many who have nowhere to turn. Riccardo and Misselaine also run an orphanage and two schools, one kindergarten through 12th grade and one for high school only.

As we considered opportunities for missions at GBC and the desire of Jeff and Val Sutton to expand their ministry to a country like Haiti, the fit with Riccardo and his ministry was apparent. We began exploring the idea of a trip for leaders within our church to this area to assist with evangelism and discipleship in line with our own mission as a church.

That gives you a bit more information about our connection to Haiti and how it has developed. We will continue to post information as things develop so you can follow along. We would appreciate your continued prayer for this effort and our relationships. Most importantly, we ask that you pray that the Gospel will be proclaimed clearly and people will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

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