Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Hatians are experiencing Pentecost

40,000 Haitians profess faith in Christ since Jan. 12 quake

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 | by Barbara Denman
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (BP)--A reported 40,127 Haitians have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ since a major earthquake hit the impoverished nation in January, according to pastors and directors of missions within the Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d'Haiti (CMBH).

"Haiti is ripe for a spiritual movement from God," said Craig Culbreth, director of the Florida Baptist Convention's partnership missions department, which coordinates the work of the CMBH, upon his Feb. 22 return from Port-au-Prince.

During a Feb. 16-17 citywide holiday observance in Cap Haitien, Haiti's second largest city, Culbreth saw "thousands upon thousands filling the streets where people are seeking God and asking Him to spare them from what happened in Port-au-Prince. For me, it was a New Testament expression of what it looks like when the Spirit of God shows up. I have never seen anything like it."

The CMBH is the Florida Baptist Convention-funded partnership of nearly 900 Haitian Baptist churches throughout Haiti. Through the partnership the Florida convention employs seven indigenous missionaries in six regions.

Since the earthquake, the CMBH pastors have distributed 51 tons of rice, which provided 437,750 servings to Haitians in Port-au-Prince and outlying areas where refugees have fled. Additional feedings are expected.

During the week of Feb. 16-22, Culbreth was on his third trip to Haiti since the earthquake to determine how Florida and Southern Baptists could reach beyond Port-au-Prince and meet needs of refugees who left the capital city.

Together, he and Dennis Wilbanks, an associate in partnership missions, have visited five of the six associations, conferring and praying with the directors of missions and Haitian pastors in the associations.

Culbreth compared the window of opportunity where the people are hungry for the Gospel to the United States after 9/11 when hundreds flocked to churches.

He cited recent events in many of the 110 churches in the Port-au-Prince area where throngs of people have been seeking spiritual guidance in church meetings, which have been held outdoors because Haitians feared to enter buildings. Church leaders have reported 28,000 salvations in the Ouest (Port-au-Prince) association.

Many conversions took place during the three days of prayer and fasting called for by the Haitian government Feb. 12-14, Culbreth said.

"People were in the streets, literally begging God for forgiveness and mercy," said Wilbanks, who was in Port-au-Prince at the time.

Professions of faith also have been reported by Florida and Southern Baptist medical and disaster relief teams as volunteers shared the Gospel.

The upsurge in the reported conversions appears to fulfill a pre-earthquake vision by Louis LaBranche, CMBH director of ministry.

"Pastor LaBranche said he had a vision of God telling him that 1.5 million Haitians will be saved in the next five years. He believes it and so do I," Culbreth said.

Culbreth traveled to Leogane, the epicenter of the earthquake which is located 18 miles west of the Haitian capital.

"Reports said that 90 percent of the buildings have been destroyed, but I did not see a house that was not damaged. The roads are buckled and people are pouring out in the streets," he said.

Culbreth was in Port-au-Prince during the 4.7 magnitude aftershock Feb. 22, and he said Haitians continue to live in fear for their lives.

The next three months will be crucial to reaping a spiritual harvest in Haiti, Culbreth said. CMBH leaders are planning 14 area-wide crusades, including two each in five associations and four in Port-au-Prince. The Florida Baptist Convention has authorized $53,000 to purchase Bibles and tracts and to rent sound equipment for the Haitian leaders.

"This is their dream and vision," Culbreth said. "They are making the plans. We are only providing funding to make it happen."
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Barbara Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist Convention. Note: The total for professions of faiths reported by the Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d'Haiti is based on written reports by churches/pastors to the seven CMBH regional missionaries, who in turn report them to the convention's director of ministry. The regional missionaries provide numbers of professions of faith and baptisms as part of their reports on disaster relief ministry by CMBH churches.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Discipleship

Sitting here wondering why it is so difficult for the church today, specifically in the North American context, to make disciples. Most people and most churches are impressed and happy by their numbers because a bunch of people went down an aisle and signed a card. Many of those same people are the ones that you cannot find anywhere near a church five years later. It is time for the church to wake up and realize what has been known as "discipleship" the last forty plus years has not been working. The proof is seen in our churches and the decline in most of them, especially in the "Bible belt".

Now what about those people who still profess with their mouth Christ, but see no reason to be connected to the church? I have countless friends who still consider themselves followers of Jesus, but see no need for the "organized church." Here is a challenging question that my pastor asked at church last night, "Can God be powerfully at work in your life apart from being part of the body, the Church?" -J.D. Greear The answer was a big "NO" based on Ephesians 2:11-3:13. So to those same friends, I challenge them to show me in the Bible, where they see no need for the church or to be connected to a local body of believers? I don't care if it is house church, church plant, denominational, nondenominational, small church, mega-church, etc. The importance is to get connected because it is the means by which God provides for His bride the church to do His mission.

Here are a handful of quotes from my pastor, J.D. Greear, from this weeks sermon that I highly enjoyed and agree with:
"The church is plan A; the church is he means by which God's Spirit does His work."
"You have no right asking for the power of God if you have separated yourself from the means of that power."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Disaster relief and social work...

I must admit, I have been very impressed by the relief efforts that have been put forth to help Haiti. I admittedly regret that I cannot personally do more to help. There is a word of warning though when doing relief work. As great as it is for Christians to be involved with relief efforts, as I believe we should be, they need not be the means to an end. If all we do is feed, clothe, and house people then we have vastly missed something. Yes, those things are good and we should be amongst the first people to be doing them, but we must not forget that what we are commanded to do is make disciples in all nations.

Providing food, clothing, and housing for people in need is great, but if that is all we do then we are doing them a great injustice. All of that will be great at the moment, but when these individuals come to the end of their life what will they say? "God, I was fed, clothed, and house by your people, they even told me to blessed in your name." This is not to knock disaster relief and social work, if anything this is to encourage it because we should love the world around us, but love the world in such a way that within our disaster relief and social work, the name of Jesus is proclaimed and a hope for eternity is given, not just for the moment.

If anyone is looking for a different way to help out Haiti specifically, go to http://churcheshelpingchurches.com/