As 2023 gets underway, we want to share a “State of the Ministry” update for the areas where Jesus in Haiti Ministries serves. The gang violence in Haiti continues to slow—but not stop—every aspect of JiHM, and we are thankful for each new day we are given to shine the light of Christ.
Victory Bible Church
Pastor Derson reports that all activities besides Sunday worship services are on hold at VBC. Many of the church’s members are still scattered, as several lived in the area of Source Matelas that was attacked on November 29 and haven’t returned. The pastoral team continues to help the elderly of the church with food and meets regularly to pray. On Sunday, December 25, the church held a Christmas party that brought joy to many after a really difficult month.
Grace Emmanuel School
After 4 months of delays, Grace Emmanuel School fully opened on January 16. (Read more about the mixed feelings of students and staff to be back at school.) About 85% of the students have since returned, which is more than we had dared to hope for. The rest are still living in different parts of Haiti or even the DR and are too far away to travel to the school. (Most of these families do want to return, but don’t have anywhere safe to live if they did come back right now.)
“School is functioning, despite the problems in the country and especially in our area,” said Andris, director of GES. “We are carrying on even if it’s not the way we would like. To get to where we are today, to reopen in our community, we have worked really hard. Thanks to God, we are in session.”
Some of the staff who travel from Port au Prince have faced major hurdles in getting to and from the school, sometimes having to sleep at the mission when roads that were clear in the morning are no longer safe in the afternoon. Multiple staff members have been robbed on their way to or from work while they pass through Canaan, a post-earthquake settlement that has now become a stronghold for gangs.
One of the highlights of reopening has been seeing the new kindergarten courtyard in use. Make sure to watch the video below to see how the kindergarteners begin their school day in this space that now encloses a yard in front of the 3 kindergarten classrooms.
It’s hard to believe that just one mile down the road from where our students are learning and playing, gangs are in control. Multiple missions in those areas have completely lost control of their properties. Please continue to pray Source Matelas can hold on to its freedom.
In 2017, after Grace Emmanuel School’s first graduating class, JiHM began awarding scholarships for the top graduates to attend university or trade school. By 2021, we were supporting 9 graduates to further their education.
With school closures and dangerous roads, these scholars have faced major obstacles to their progress over the last couple of years, including two of them being robbed at gunpoint on their way home from school. Despite this, 1 student graduated in 2021, and 4 more completed their studies in 2022—though they still await their diplomas.
Of the 4 remaining students on scholarship, 3 had to pause their studies after the November attacks because they could no longer travel safely to their schools. Two will resume this month and are working with JiHM to find a housing option so they can live near their schools in Port au Prince instead of traveling from Source Matelas each day.
Esther, the first female recipient of a scholarship, has moved forward into her second year of nursing school. Through a connection from her church, she has a place to stay in Port au Prince during the week and tries to come home on the weekends, though that is not always possible.
At the recommendation of local leadership, JiHM has held off on awarding scholarships for the last two graduating classes. We pray we can resume awarding new scholarships as soon as possible.
The Lighthouse Children’s Home
Finally, the Lighthouse Children’s Home. Located in a suburb of Port au Prince, the Lighthouse continues to be a home for 6 teenagers and young adults. Last May, the kids had to flee when their neighborhood was caught in the middle of a gang war. The fighting ceased after a couple of weeks, the kids returned, and the area has been relatively calm since then.
Stephanie, Lighthouse cook, moved in to the Lighthouse with her family after Mama Odette retired as caregiver in August. Kimberly and Fedner graduated last summer and continue to wait for their next chapter to begin. Plans are in the works—including the potential to study abroad—but everything moves at a frustrating pace right now. The rest of the kids resumed school in December. Adriano, Robenson and Anne Marie will graduate this summer, Peterson will graduate in 2024, and Johnny in 2025.
Keeping up the fight in 2023
When Roger reflected on last year, he shared this. “Though it was tough, we had you as warriors who fought for us to stand our ground,” he said. “Thank you so much for going beyond expectations to keep this ministry and so many families going during these grave times.”
You all have been warriors for JiHM in 2022. Your consistent prayers and financial support kept JiHM in a position to respond to many of the great needs before us—sometimes miraculously. Thank you.
As we look to this year, expenses continue to mount. With school open again, we have learned that the cost of providing lunch every day to the students has more than doubled from when school closed last summer. We have also heard repeatedly from staff members that their paychecks are no longer sufficient to make ends meet for their families each month, and we will make increases as we are able. Please continue to remember your brothers and sisters in Haiti and give generously. Consider sponsoring a student. Pray often.
Thank you for continuing to fight for your brothers and sisters in Haiti this year. May these words of Paul be true of all of us in 2023:
“We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”
2 Corinthians 6:3-7a; 10