Sunday morning

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This past Sunday morning, in the church here in Cap Destree, visiting pastor Silvio preached a compelling sermon on repentance based on Acts 3:19. The Holy Spirit’s presence was evident so afterwards brother Tony gave an alter call for repentance. Brother Daniel, the oldest member of the church, started to move out of his pew. Daniel walks in a stoop and relies heavily on his long cane to help him get around. He slowly made his way to in front of the lectern, painfully lowered himself to his knees then to all fours then he put his forehead to the ground. He began to sob.

The pews emptied as others followed in like kind.  I was asked to join the leaders in praying over the repentant. I could not. I had to join those who felt remorse.

Most of the time I hold to the idea that God has sent me to Haiti to give to the Haitians. Quite probably it is the other way around. Knowing Gods economy I am certain it is both.

Ernie

 

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“FIRST EDITION”

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First Edition. That’s what Phenix is calling this first time of revival in Cap Destree, an event he plans now ‎to have every year. The word in Creole sounds like our word for Crusade and lots of work has gone into the preparation for it. The neighborhood has been canvassed and flyers hung and handed out. For weeks now the folks in the area have witnessed almost daily me bringing  pews on top of my car.

A dump truck load of river sand was spread to level the ground and a stage was built. Bunting and curtains were hung and a sound system was rented. All afternoon, as final touches were made, we could hear distant thunder on the mountain.

 

Typically Haitian, the program, scheduled to start at 5:00pm, began promptly at 5:30. ‎Even then only a few people were present to join in the singing. Half of the sitting area was in full sun and those present sat in the shaded area. It was hot and my shirt was soaked with sweat. There was a steady hum in the sound system and it occasionally shrieked in a feed back loop when the song leaders got too close to the microphone. Clouds were forming and there was still the sound of thunder, less distant now.  I tried to be optimistic.

People began to trickle in. Church ladies wearing tshirts that said in Creole ‘Women of Faith’ helped people feel welcome‎ and to find a place to sit. Church men in blue vests stood along a wall and tried to look helpful. Church leaders sat in chairs along the front, the chair for our speaker still vacant.

The singing became more enthusiastic and girls with tambourines and all dressed alike got on stage an‎d did a routine along with the singing. At 6:15 several pastors arrived and sat in the chairs where the elders were sitting. One of them sat in the chair for the speaker. The pews were filling up and people were still streaming in.

At 6:30 Pastor Levy, Madame Bail’s brother, got up to do the welcome. Clouds began to grow dark and the wind picked up blowing the leaves off the trees. One of the speakers for the sound system blew over. And as the opening prayer was about half way through the sky opened up and torrents of rain fell.+

Haitians have an observation about themselves. They say that a Haitian would rather face bullets than rain. I can say that is a true observation as I witnessed the crowd scattering. It took a few minutes to get the electronics ‎into my house and dried off. Then I heard singing. I went to my porch and realized that the singing was coming from the church building.

I braved the heavy rain to get to the church. I was amazed to see all of the people in the church building! There, shoulder to shoulder, standing room only, we’re all the people who had come  ‎to the revival. Not only were they singing, ALL of them singing, but there was so much joy it bordered on ecstacy.

Without benefit of a sound system, or a stage or of a place to sit or even light to see the revival continued. ‎At 7:00 the speaker opened his bible and while someone held a flashlight read John 14:27. “My peace I give to you…”. The theme for the revival is “Peace in a World Upside Down”.

‎His sermon went on til 8.

What a wonderful picture of the fruit of the Spirit. I am slated to speak tomorrow night and I am thinking that this is a perfect object lesson to illustrate the peace that Jesus is talking about!

Then I have to chuckle at myself as I ask myself ‘What am I going to teach THEM about peace?’

Silly boy!

This lesson was for you!

Some assembly required

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As the project to build pews for the church progresses  a student begins assembling the parts. After weeks of training , sanding, cutting,  marking, boring, gluing, sanding, cleaning, shaping and sanding some more, ‎it is finally time to put things together! Notice stacks of materials over his shoulder to the right and the glue up form over his shoulder to the left.  It is exciting seeing the final product!

 

For those who would like to help with our continued ministry in Haiti the link for online giving is:

https://texasbaptists.givingfuel.com/um-ernie-sharon-rice

For checks, make them payable to BGCT and send it to the following address with a note that it is for Ernie & Sharon Rice’s ministry in Haiti:

BGCT
7557 Rambler Road, Suite 1100
Dallas, TX 75231-2310

Prayer request

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Recently Pastor Phenix Bail’s wife, Marie Raymonde, discovered a lump in her breast and it became painful. She made several trips to Port au Prince to see doctors for consultation and diagnosis. The doctor told her she needs surgery but did not and would not explain what the issue is.

None of us have any  confidence‎ in having her treated in Haiti. Consequently steps are being taken to get her care in the US.

Ash Creek Baptist Church in Azle Texas is spearheading the effort. A member of the church is head of a hospital there and is coordinating the diagnostics and consutation. Upon diagnosis we will consider possible options for recomended treatment. Another member has contributed toward flights to get her to Dallas. Another member is looking for Creole or French speakers to assist in translating from the local college.  ‎Lodging and local transportation plans are still in process.

Please place Marie Raymonde on your prayer list and enlist as many prayer warriors that you can ‎to pray on her behalf.

We want that Pastor Phenix travel with his wife as she goes through this ordeal. We need financial help for his travel and for their local in-country expenses. ‎Good For Haiti is now operational so any funds given can go there. The couple is ready travel as early as this weekend.

‎Thank you for you concern, help and prayer!

Pastor Bail and his wife, Marie with Wesley Shotwell in Haiti.

Ernie

Noblesse Oblige

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I was introduced to this phrase by Pierce Brosnan in one of the movies he was in. I don’t remember the context in which it was used but the sound of it and the meaning of it has caught my attention in recent days.

Pronounced no bless ‎oh bleeg with the g pronounced like the ending sound of garage it is French in origin. It contains the idea that those who enjoy privilege (nobility) should feel an obligation towards the people of the community in which they live.

While I enjoy a relationship with Pastor Phenix Bail ‎in which we are working together almost every day I do not get to see his wife as much. Consequently getting to know her has been a longer process. ‎I have come to realize that noblesse oblige is a powerful motivator for her. She was raised in a family who was and is very active in the communities they live in. She was taught and brought up in a lifestyle of serving. What strikes me about her is that she does not now look at it as duty or something she is expected to do. It is a passion bordering on obsession with her.

As she talks about the condition of the children on Tapion Mountain when she and Phenix first started their ministry here she struggles to control her emotions fighting back tears. ‎It is a mind set of service that motivated her to run for the office of mayor in Petit Goave. Not only does she use the office to leverage national resources to benefit “her people” but she uses a majority of her salary to help fund the school and church in Cap Destree.

‎Phenix and Marie Raymonde are not wealthy people. In fact they live very modestly as working folks. This duo is not working from a worldly nobility but rather from their inheritance from Christ. You see they know they are of the family of a King. With such wealth how can they not reach out to those who don’t know the King?

I am humbled. I came to teach. I have become a student.

Ernie

 

For those who would like to help with our continued ministry in Haiti the link for online giving is:

https://texasbaptists.givingfuel.com/um-ernie-sharon-rice

For checks, make them payable to BGCT and send it to the following address with a note that it is for Ernie & Sharon Rice’s ministry in Haiti:

BGCT
7557 Rambler Road, Suite 1100
Dallas, TX 75231-2310

Press on!

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I once saw a cartoon picture of a crane trying to swallow a frog. The frog, already well into the beak of the bird, had his hands around the throat of the crane squeezing his throat. The caption read “NEVER GIVE UP!”

 In the face of incredible obstacles, much like the frog in the cartoon, the leaders of the communities around me in Haiti defy the impossible and push to advance the work of the Kingdom. I am amazed as I observe the strength of resolve to be found in these common people doing the work of giants.

 

Pastor Phenix, pressed in by the requirements of government and the perils of a budget not yet met, is still adding class rooms to the school. Working with teachers and students in the morning and mixing mortar and hauling blocks in the afternoon he persists in his drive to provide education  to a desperately poor community. Even while he leads the worship in a building with stifling heat he works to develop church leaders and is making plans for building a larger sanctuary.

Croix Hillaire marked my beginning of ministry in Haiti and it has once again become an exciting venue for proclaiming God’s word and his goodness. The church and the school, now being guided by Pastor Remy,  ‎continues to struggle to survive and to operate. He too is pressed in by pressures that sometimes seem just too hard to bear. Yet he has added an English speaking service to the Sunday schedule to follow the morning Creole ‎service. Classes of English as a second language as well as a school for translators and interpretors are being held weekly at the church.. The English service is to support those who want to improve their English skills and often has more than fifty people in attendence. Pastor and his wife are enthusiastic students and attend the services faithfully.

Pastor Enoch watched a lifetime (over 30 years) of labor come crumbling down in the earthquake. Pushing aside discouragement he has orchestrated the rebuilding of the Good Samaritan campus in the seven years since the quake. ‎Today he still has difficulty, just like the other two pastors, in finding food and funding to continue the school, church and orphanage.

These men, my very good friends, continue to press on!

I have been warmly welcomed into this community of faith. I have been allowed the privilege of walking along side these three men. Since my arrival in this community ‎in April our relationships have deepened even though we have been acquaintances for several years. The trials and victories we have shared as we watch God work here has pulled us together. There is a trust and respect growing between us.

Consequently several opportunities have presented themselves. And they are making me giddy with excitement. Pastor Phenix has asked we to share responsibilities with him in leading a Wednesday afternoon bible study at his church.  ‎And he has asked me to bring the message periodically to the Sunday morning worship.

Pastor Remy has invited me to teach or preach as often as I can in their English services. ‎Edward Durand, the teacher of the professional translator school has asked me to assist him in the school by giving students experience translating for a preacher. I have already begun doing all of these things. To my delight I have found those Haitians in the classes and services to be hungry and enthusiastic students of the word of God!

I am even more delighted at how profoundly satisfying it is to me to teach here. It is so much more than what I had hoped for. I shouldn’t be surprised. Isn’t that just the way God works?

 

For those who would like to help with our continued ministry in Haiti the link for online giving is:

https://texasbaptists.givingfuel.com/um-ernie-sharon-rice

For checks, make them payable to BGCT and send it to the following address with a note that it is for Ernie & Sharon Rice’s ministry in Haiti:

BGCT
7557 Rambler Road, Suite 1100
Dallas, TX 75231-2310