In February, Derson Louis was installed as lead pastor at Victory Bible Church.
For the first several weeks, ministry was just as he had hoped. “We were seeing God continue to save people every Sunday,” Derson said. “People were being restored to the faith, and some were asking to be baptized.”
He was excited to see a growing interest in Bible study as well. “In Haiti many people love all activities in the church—except for Bible studies. VBC is becoming different in that sense.”
The normal rhythm of pastoral ministry was brought to a halt on March 19, after the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Haiti. Victory Bible Church would no longer be allowed to meet together.
Concerned for his scattered flock, Pastor Derson adapted.
“I didn’t want people to grow discouraged or weaken in their faith, so I came up with an initiative called ‘Families: Little Churches in Worship’ to encourage families to gather every night to read the Bible, sing, and pray together.”
Every day, Derson researches and writes a devotional that can be read during these family gatherings. He says about 55 families receive his daily devotional via Whatsapp, a free messaging app.
“People are appreciative of the way it is encouraging them,” he said.
Besides the devotionals, he stays connected with the church family through social media, phone calls, and the occasional visit.
“By God’s grace we have no news of anyone sick in our church,” he said. He is thankful that despite the lack of sanitation and negligence by the majority of the population, Haiti has so far seen less than 100 cases and 10 deaths.
“Many people are not really careful about COVID-19, and I’m afraid it will lead to disaster,” he said, explaining that many people doubt the virus is in the country, and have kept up with life as usual. Only schools, churches, and some workplaces are closed.
Overall, Derson says he is doing very well—besides missing his church family a lot.
“What I’m most looking forward to when COVID-19 is over is seeing the beautiful faces of my brothers and sisters again, so we can encourage each other, and give each other hugs.”
Until that time, Derson is intent on redeeming these strange days.
“The apostle Paul tells us how to redeem the time— by encouraging one another with spiritual songs, and singing to the Lord with all our hearts,” Derson says, citing Ephesians 5:17-20.
He is thankful he can continue meeting with the other pastors on Sundays to talk and pray. They are currently studying the book of Daniel together. He tries to fill the rest of his days with more personal prayer, fasting, and study time.
He wanted this encouragement to be shared with you:
To all the supporters of JiHM, I want to encourage you to redeem this time and to continue on in the good works you are doing. Be encouraged by Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 15:58:
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.