Providing Haitian pastors with the necessary training to lead a church is the best way to raise healthy congregations, according to Elysee Joseph, pastor of the Eglise Evangelique De La Freres, a Grace Brethren church in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Haitian community.
He and his fellow Haitian Grace Brethren pastors in South Florida have a vision to reach their home country for Christ, which is only an hour away by plane.”We have a big field in Haiti,” says Joseph, who has lived in the U.S. since 1985. The Caribbean country is about the size of the state of Maryland and boasts a population of 8.5 million people, many of them Catholic. An increasing number of Haitians also practice voodoo.”Haiti has a great need for the gospel,” stresses Pastor Joseph.
“The Grace Brethren cannot neglect that need.”Currently there are four Grace Brethren churches in the country located at Au Perche, Lascaobasse, St. Michel, and Cap-Haitien.Plans are underway to establish the first Church Resource Center in Cap-Haitien, a city of about 130,000 people on the north coast of the country. It is the first of three or four such centers that are planned throughout the country.”We will equip the leaders to plant new churches,” says Pastor Joseph. “We also will train them to keep the church healthy.”It’s a plan that is being piloted at the Fort Lauderdale church, where aspiring leaders study each weekend as part of a year-long curriculum.
“They will get the tools they need to get the job done,” he emphasizes. “That’s the purpose of the training center.”The first class graduated in August, according to Dr. Chuck Davis, southeast regional career missionary with Grace Brethren North American Missions.