Mission Team Assesses Needs in Haiti

Post a Comment » Written on December 12th, 2003     
Filed under: News
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (December 12, 2003)  – A mission team of five people  traveled to Haiti from December 2-8 primarily to assess ministries being  conducted by Haitian pastor Martinez Jovin, who has helped develop  Haitian ministries in Florida for the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC)  through the Southeast Conference.

The group, led by Covenant World Mission’s Rose Cornelious, visited  churches, schools and clinics in places like Port-Au-Prince, Jacmel,  Fon-de-Blanc and Marbial, among others. They also consulted extensively  with Jovin, who is president of an evangelical association of pastors in  Haiti (serving an estimated 80 congregations) and has helped the under-served receive additional medical and educational assistance.

Haiti ChildrenThree U.S. Covenant pastors – Dave Shaw of Covenant Community Church in  Deland, Florida; Tim Olsen The Covenant Church of Thomaston,  Connecticut, and Tom Anderson of Haddam Neck Covenant Church, Haddam  Neck, Connecticut – also participated, as did Cornelious’ 15-year-old  daughter, Courtney.

“They had all expressed an interest in the Caribbean and two had  expressed interest in Haiti,” said Cornelious. “It was very successful  and all have said they would be going back. They saw the vibrancy of the  churches and the desperate needs of the people and they responded to  that It’s just another example of God moving upon the hearts of people, knitting hearts together even across the shores, to help his church  globally.”

“It was also good for me to see the trip through my daughter’s eyes,”  Cornelious continued. “I think she has a better appreciation for school  and for being able to ride on a bus. The children really ministered to  Courtney and she ministered to them. She’s giving a report in each of  her school classes as a result of this.”

Along with visiting churches, health clinics and schools in various  towns, the mission team met teaching staff and children and talked with  numerous Haitian pastors. Cornelious said that 80 percent of the  children attending school in Haiti go to private schools, so few of the  poorer children in Haiti receive any formal education. Jovin has  improved educational opportunities by starting a more affordable school  that now has 350 students. The school offers one meal a day for the  children. Students walk as many as three hours each way and for some,  the school food is the only substantial meal they will have during the day.

Anderson says the work of Jovin and others has inspired him. Christian  groups meet regularly at 8 p.m. to hold Bible studies and Jovin and his  wife, Emma, lead discussions with university students and other young  people in what Anderson says has a very real “Where is it Written?” Covenant conventicle format. Given massive  poverty and major political unrest in Haiti during recent days, the  positive environment at the Jovins was a welcome respite to the young  people.

“It was a very fine experience – you wish you had a million dollars to  help,” Anderson said. “Fundamentally, just to see that people can  overcome what might crush many spirits was a testament to hope. And  within this desperate country is this church that is praising and  preaching and practicing abstinence and singing hymns that I sang during  my youth.

“The Jovins are absolutely remarkable people,” Anderson continued. “And  Martinez finds a way to get things done. He has all of these irons in  the fire all over the country and he still manages to run his own  church. His office is his briefcase.”

A tropical storm nearly curtailed the visit last week, but the storm  eventually moved towards the Dominican Republic. Haiti wasn’t so  fortunate earlier in the fall as large floods devastated parts of the  country. News reports estimated that 25 people died and another 100  remain unaccounted for, said Jovin in an email update. Jovin’s family  sent a truckload of food, soap and other emergency supplies to pastors  and leaders of a village with more than 200 families. But there never  seems to be enough supplies to make a dent in the impoverished country,  which makes mission trips like last week’s critical.

“There are things that we don’t think about – like elderly care – but if  you’re old in Haiti you have no health care available,” said Cornelious.  “Medical clinics aren’t available in Haiti and nothing’s handicapped  accessible, so they stay inside all of the time. Martinez would like to  provide a place for the elderly in the future and he’d like to have a  Bible school there, too.”

Shaw said that an August 2004 trip in Haiti is being planned, including  construction work and the coordination of a church Bible camp. “It was  an excellent trip from a mission experience,” Shaw added. “I’m excited  about future relationships our church will have based on the connections  we made. The (Haitian) church really seems to thrive in that environment. They are glorious in an ‘inglorious’ situation. And we  (North American churches) can help the church do some things there.  That’s a mission vision we saw very clearly.”

To learn more about Haiti’s ministry needs, contact Jovin by email at  Mjovin77@hainet.net. To read a 2001 article about Jovin’s ministry,  visit Jovin.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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