To call the road rutted would be an understatement. Better to say the deep ditch ahead looked daunting. But we had been driving on such roads for several days in our travels to see the work of Cebien Alexis and his ministry, Army of Ch rist, in Haiti. Our HBI team, consisting of Christie and me, and our longtime friends Jim & Ann Witkower and Mark Bodycombe was getting used to such conditions.
We had almost reached our destination, the school in Robinette, where Hope Builders’ donors have helped fund a recently opened church building and is helping with school and agricultural development. Our hearts were stirred with excitement as only a few years before the only school structure here consisted of some wooden benches under a rusty tin roof held up by bamboo poles. Today we would serve lunch to 75 beautiful young school children, who meet in cinder block classrooms while a large school and agricultural training building are going up nearby. Their songs and words of devotion to the Lord brought smiles to our faces. Everywhere we went the believers greeted Cebien with hugs of joy.
Our time in Haiti had certainly been a contrast in kingdoms. After the chaos of having our luggage searched and getting through customs, seeing the smiling face of our 72 year old brother Cebien waving to us was a joy. Packed into our vehicle, leaving the airport, seeing the mounds and mounds of garbage lining the roads and the waterfront, surrounded by zooming motorcycles and small taxis, called taptaps, these are all memories that will endure. Seeing the hordes of people sitting by the roadside in dirty stalls trying to sell their wares reminded us of other impoverished lands we have seen, but somehow at a more desperate level. The poverty and hunger are acute.
Thankfully, as time went on, the weight of glory began to shine through. We watched Cebien serve with joy in his natural environment, and met Kathy and Alice, his dedicated American co-workers who have served with him for 40 years. We saw the smiling faces of the children in their care and began to get a feel for the magnitude of their good work in the face of opposition, government instability and corruption, the deadly influence of voodoo, poverty and danger. Our spirits were lifted. We found the Lord and his Kingdom in the midst of the chaos.
Our days found us roaming far and wide through the Haitian countryside to visit churches and schools that Hope Builders has helped provide buildings and grounds for. We met pastors, educators, children and church members who hugged us unabashedly and whose faces lit up as they shared the impact Pastor Cebien has had on their lives. Outside of the cities, this part of Haiti is lush, mountainous, green and beautiful. While the roads were terrible, indeed, some of the worst we have ever driven on, when our destinations were reached we were happy and blessed to see the fruit of Cebien’s and his team’s labors. He was happy as well that we were willing to take the time and endure the long days of driving to see what has been accomplished for the people he serves in difficult to reach areas.
We attended lively church meetings and a pastoral training gathering of 70+ leaders. We met more of those that Cebien works with and through whose leadership the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached. We saw the grounds of the university where a nurse’s training program is housed and where very soon training in careers as an electrician or mechanic will be provided. As mentioned, we traveled four hours to bring lunch to children in the area of Robinette and meet their teachers and the local pastor in that area. The foundation for a large new school has been laid and the building waits for additional funding in order to be completed. The church is growing and the local people are encouraged. Agricultural land has been purchased here to train believers in effective farming techniques. The potential is evident.
Another day’s journey took us over the top of a mountain from which we could see a large red tin roof, provided by HBI that covered a seemingly massive church building. Though construction is not finished on the inside, over 200 Haitians already meet to worship God there. We sat by the nearby river with local believers and were treated to some fine Haitian coffee, sweet and strong. We found out that this is one of the areas where goats will be provided to Haitian families that will enable them to earn income. Through the Lord’s mercy and your help, we have provided enough funds to give three goats to each of forty families at $200 per family. We look forward to sharing photos of some of those families with you as the goats are provided.
A lot has been done but the promise of greater things coming permeates Cebien’s thoughts. Additional funds will see the completion of church and school buildings, the provision of clean water for agricultural projects, the development of small businesses for enterprising church members and the establishment of a youth camp on a beautiful site Army of Christ already owns in the mountains near Cap Haitien. Ever the evangelist and church planter Cebien also shared with us his plans to travel to the remotest parts of Haiti where there are still unreached people groups who have had no witness for Christ established among them. There are currently 210 churches in the Army of Christ’s network and Cebien would love to see more where Christ’s name is not yet known.
On top of all this, Cebien, who is also a doctor, continues to see upwards of 100 patients a day in his medical clinic, located on the school compound. Patients began lining up as early as 5:30 in the morning to receive his loving care.
This unique man with the steadfast heart for the Lord is bringing the culture of the Kingdom of God to a place that desperately needs it…a true apostle. Pray with us that the Lord will continue to give Cebien good health and that He will bring leaders of vision and commitment to Cebien’s side. Thank you again for your gifts of support. They are helping Cebien empower Haitians to both bring the gospel of hope to a people in darkness and to elevate the living conditions of those in his circle for years to come.
In addition to the items listed above, there are still many ways to help in Haiti. Funds are welcome for replacing tin meeting sheds with permanent structures, funding micro-finance projects to enable believers to become self-supporting like the goat project, providing school clothes and materials for the many school children who have no source of help for such things and development of agricultural land for farming on fields Cebien has already purchased. While we couldn’t visit the far western parts of Haiti due to the great distances and still impassable roads, a great deal has been done with the hurricane relief funds we sent last winter for that area. Still, more remains to be done for those suffering in Haiti’s westernmost regions.
We are blessed to serve the wonderful ministry of Cebien Alexis and Army of Christ in Haiti in these endeavors. We thank you for making it possible to do that.
With love in Christ,