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Alabama WMU missions team reaches Haitian women, childrencomment (0)

July 22, 2010

By Anna Swindle

Haiti was thrust into the spotlight when it was devastated by a magnitude-7 earthquake in January, and six months after the event, relief efforts are still ongoing. Homes were destroyed and families displaced, but one positive thing that has happened as a result of the quake has been the number of Haitians interested in Christianity.

To help foster that growing curiosity about the Lord, a group of men and women with Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) traveled to a small mountain village to minister to the women and children June 26–July 3.

“After the earthquake, we were told many people came to the churches because they were scared,” said Susan Bartholomew, director of Baldwin Baptist Association WMU.

“The pastors were overwhelmed at first by all the people, but now they’re working to do all they can to minister to everyone,” she said.

And that’s why the nine-person WMU team traveled to Haiti — to share in some of the outreach efforts. The team went armed with Bible studies and activities based on Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Traditionally most Haitians practice Voodoo, and so the fear of evil is strong. In fact, a prayer request team members often heard from women was to sleep well through the night without worrying about evil spirits. Initially the children were cautious about suckers because they made their tongues change colors — something they interpreted as black magic.

Bartholomew said being able to alleviate those fears by bringing the hope of Jesus was a remarkable thing.

“One day, we saw 32 children accept Christ,” she said. “To be able to pray with those little children, who say to you, ‘I want Jesus to come live in my heart,’ was such a blessing.”

And to witness “true from the gut laughter” by the children as they participated in the hokeypokey touched Candace McIntosh, executive director of Alabama WMU.

“How wonderful it was to see that joy expressed,” she said. “When we left that day, the pastor’s wife said, ‘You will never know what you have done for us today.’”

That sentiment was expressed at each of the eight churches the WMU team members visited, McIntosh said, noting the time at the churches consisted of games, songs and Bible stories with the children as well as Bible studies and sharing times with the women.

“It was important to us that the women knew they were valued, were loved and had hope,” McIntosh said. “The unique thing for us was that we had Marie (Toussaint) with us, so we could understand the culture of the people and the church.

Toussaint is a Haiti native who has lived in the United States for 20 years.

“To see how much courage they have after what happened to them, I can’t even describe it,” said Toussaint, who serves on the Haitian women’s team with Florida Women’s Missions and Ministry of the Florida Baptist Convention. “They ministered to me.

“I learned so much from my own people,” she said. “There was so much faith even though there was so much poverty. After five days there, we could see hope, joy and smiles on their faces.”

The Haitians are determined, too. Many of the churches the team visited didn’t even have complete roofs, yet locals filled the makeshift pews to worship. After seeing things like that, the team members left with an extreme awareness of how fortunate Americans are and the knowledge that “there are some very obvious needs” such as with the education system for children.

To learn more about this experience, watch the video provided by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions at www.thealabamabaptist.org. For more information about missions opportunities in Haiti, visit www.alsbom.org/haiti.

To view a video related to this article, visit the video library.

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