200 years- Arise Reformers!
May 18th, was Flag Day
in Haiti, a time to celebrate and honor the national heritage of the nation. As cross-cultural workers it is crucial to understand the culture of the host country of your calling. It is important to understand where you came from to see more clearly where you are going. A missionary must understand the history of the church in the nation and be able discern the unique times in which they are called to serve.
The Gospel message is not new to Haiti. Haiti is not an "unreached" people group, "misreached" perhaps, but not "unreached." It would be hard to find someone in the nation who has not heard the name of Jesus and at least (in word) understands the basic premise of the Gospel message.
The Gospel first came to Haiti in 1816, twelve years after Haiti's independence, when the first two Protestant missionaries arrived at the request of Haiti's then President Alexandre Petion. The request was made with the understanding that missionaries were assisting with developing schools and hospitals/clinics across the world. The Quaker influenced French missionary Etienne de Grellet and his colleague John Hancock landed on the shores of Les Cayes on July 16th. (perhaps Gelee Beach) :)
Etienne conducted evangelistic campaigns throughout southern Haiti. He was known as a reformer in the areas of educational policies and prison and hospital conditions. Since that time the Gospel has been carried to every corner of the nation of Haiti.
Today here are the results:
-In 1930 less than 1.5% of the population identified themselves as Protestant believers, today nearly 50% (16% evangelical) of Haiti's population identify themselves as Protestant believers
-42% of the country's fundamental schools are administered by Protestant churches
-66 centers of health are maintained by Protestant churches, representing 60% of the medical coverage in the country
-Advances in radio and television technology were implemented by the church with coverage across the nation
-Humanitarian giants such as Compassion International, World Relief, World Vision, Red Cross and Salvation Army all have programs in Haiti.
Jean-Baptise, Joses, Ing. (2013, October 28). Vers le bicentenaire du protestantisme en Haïti. Le Nouvelliste. retrieved from www.lenouvelliste.com.
200 years later... where do we go from here? What is the remaining missionary task in the nation of Haiti? In 2008 the Lord gave us a clear vision with the central message of "Arise Haiti."
“Arise [from spiritual depression to a new life],
shine [be radiant with the glory and brilliance of the Lord];
for your light has come, and the glory and brilliance of the Lord has risen upon you."
Isaiah 60:1 Amplified
7 years into the history of Arise Haiti and the partnership with the national church in Haiti, we find ourselves at what we feel is a pivotal moment for the church and missionary partnership in the nation. Haiti has been a receiving nation for 200 years, church attendance has swelled, now is the moment to shine. Now the transition is from receiving to sending. The moment for the church in Haiti is now.
Missionary Etienne was a reformer in his generation and in this current generation we need a new breed of reformers to arise in the nation. Those who are led by the Holy Spirit, who are passionate about mission, service and justice to Haiti and to the ends of the earth.
We ask you to pray for us as we inquire of the Lord for His strategy for this next move of the Spirit. We feel He is asking us to look beyond traditional "mission" activities to search His heart for the nation. Pray for us during the summer months of visiting "encounter teams," outings and events with our teens and children of Arise.
Pray for the nation of Haiti this July when 200 years are celebrated this Jubilee Year.
Thank you for standing with us for over 7 years now in the call to this nation. We appreciate your continued prayers and support.
The Courter Family in Southern Haiti
founders of Arise Haiti
James and Rachael, Chelsea, Gabriel, Elisha,
Grace, Nehemiah and Shekinah