by Josh Good, C.E. USA - Coach & Church Development Director, World C.E. - Materials Team Co-Leader
As I sat quietly enjoying my breakfast of spaghetti noodles cooked with onions and green peppers (a common and delicious Haitian breakfast!) and munching on some kinep (a prevalent Caribbean fruit), I mentally prayed over what this day would bring…
I was overjoyed to be able to return to Haiti for a third time. My first two experiences in country were as a youth pastor…bringing groups of teens and adults from my church. This time, while I was reconnecting with the same mission organization and working with the same local church, I was coming to introduce the idea of Christian Endeavor to Haitian pastors.
While Haiti’s poverty and poor infrastructure prove to be an initial shock to most Americans, it doesn’t take more than a few hours to recognize the depth of beauty that fills this country. The love, warm friendship and genuine enthusiasm that I’ve experienced (along with the good-natured remarks of “bèl bab”, Creole for “nice beard”) have overwhelmed my heart and blessed my soul on numerous occasions.
2014 – The Relationship Begins
In 2014 I partnered with an organization called Hearts United With Haiti. We brought a group of students to spend a week at “Eglise Maison de Transformation Des Ambassadeurs Du Royaume”, a local church that Hearts United regularly works with in Carrefour, which is a suburb of Port-Au-Prince. This church, led by Pastor Robbie Simeon, is a gospel-centered church full of passion and bursting with young people! Our group spent a week introducing the idea of interactive children’s ministry through leading a VBS – something that Pastor Robbie had never experienced and had never been done in the Carrefour area.
Now, five years later, this church holds weekly children’s programs at multiple locations in Carrefour. They’ve raised up leaders from within their church to run these programs with excellence. They also still hold a VBS each summer, led by their church in partnership with another church from PA. This summer there were over 100 children who came…many of them teenagers.
I arrived in Haiti this summer the week after their VBS program. Pastor Robbie was tired from an exhausting week of VBS, but he still gave me one of his Kingdom-sized “Pastor Robbie hugs” as we greeted each other. I explained the heart of Christian Endeavor to him. C.E. partners with local churches to equip them to disciple young people – deeply & effectively! Little did I know that, during the previous week, Pastor Robbie had been wrestling with questions such as, “What can we do with the teenagers who are coming to our VBS?” “We’re glad they’re coming, but our children’s program isn’t meeting their needs…how do we provide something for them?” Little did he know that what I was going to share about C.E. would provide insights that he had never imagined.
Over the course of two days we provided morning and evening discipleship training workshops at Pastor Robbie’s church. Multiple pastors from local churches attended – some from the Carrefour/Port-Au-Prince area, others from out in the countryside. Overwhelming, those in attendance were young adults of Pastor Robbie’s church (who were highly encouraged by their pastor to attend😊). This provided a God-given opportunity to not just talk about effective discipleship – but to do interactive activities which would allow C.E. discipleship ideas to come to life.
For one exercise, I asked a young adult to come up front with me. With a soccer ball in my hand, I asked those in attendance who they believed would be better…me, or the volunteer? Overwhelmingly everyone said, “he will!” Feigning indignance, I challenged the volunteer to a face off. He easily beat me by kicking the ball over my head and running around me to score a goal – to thunderous applause from his peers! Then I asked, “why?” Why did we all instinctively know that he would be better at soccer than me? Because he had played the game while I spent most of my time watching it! He’d been an active learner where I’d been a passive one. The same thing is true of faith – active learning yields a deeper and stronger faith than passive learning.
To reinforce this idea even further, I split those in attendance up into smaller teams and challenged them to present the gospel in some way other than by standing up and reading it. Utilizing creativity and ownership, these groups did everything from present skits, create symbols and invite audience participation! After the workshops had ended, Pastor Robbie approached me and said, “Josh, I’ve been explaining the gospel to these people for years, but I never imagined moving to the side and inviting them to come up front and present the gospel using their God-given creativity. You have opened my eyes.”
Building on the Foundation
This summer was an exciting opportunity to build a foundation for effective youth and young adult discipleship. There is passion in Haiti. Passion to serve God and to raise up the next generation. But passion is most effective when it’s paired with an intentional process. I’m so excited to see what God does next, in Haiti and around the world, through the ongoing work of Christian Endeavor!
Pray for Haiti. Pray for the ongoing work of organizations like Hearts United With Haiti. Pray that God would bring clarity for how to build on the foundation that was laid this summer. And get a hug from Pastor Robbie if you ever get the chance!