A stone was cast into the lake at Gros-Morne, Haiti, in June 2011, and the ripple effect has been amazing. When our plans to build a Child Development Center in Port-au-Prince crashed and burned, we headed north on Haitis National Highway to a place called Gros-Morne. We saw a school with no roof on its third floor due to the January 12, 2010, earthquake, during which over 300,000 people perished. It was Wednesday night and a fairly small group of people were meeting on the first floor of a gigantic church. A tarpaulin suspended by four ropes covered the pulpit area, but for the most part when we looked up all we could see were stars. There was no roof.
Pastor Paul Eduard Zamor asked us to bring greetings. I recall telling the people that we could not promise anything that night, but asked them to keep praying and believing. By the next morning, Pascal Permis and Dennis Moore, my traveling companions agreed that we were hearing the Macedonian call: Come over and help us! No one asked for help, the Spirit prompted us to tell them, we will help you repair the school and finish the church. We had access to $170,000, so that became the budget, the exact amount needed to finish the project. That morning when we shook hands with Pastor and Anncesse Zamor, a pebble was tossed into the pond at Gros-Morne and dainty ripples began to spread across the water.
We did not know at the time that promises had been made to the Gros-Morne church in the past, but had never materialized. All progress on the massive church stopped in 2006 when money ran out, and the dream of finishing their church was halted by three area floods, two hurricanes, a market fire, and of course, the earthquake. Money was transferred incrementally and capable Haitian construction and masonry workers were put to work. A beautiful, new metal roof over steel girders had been installed when our first team arrived in January 2012 to build pews to seat 2,000 people. Now there were plenty of benches to seat everyone who wanted to come. By July 2012, when our second SFD team arrived, the exterior of the church and school had been painted. Beautiful tile floors had been installed on each level of the three-story church. Our second team went to work installing a state of the art Computer Lab designed by Jim McClellan with 21 brand new Toshiba laptops, desks and an overhead projector so that the students could follow on their laptops what the teacher was doing. Redland and Bradenton First provided funds for this project. A majority of the school was also repainted, and to the delight of all, a new name for the school was being painted on the exterior wall: Hope 112, the name of our project.
Pascal and I returned to Haiti, in August 2012, with my brother and his pastor from Columbia, SC, in search of a project Columbia First might undertake. We visited five potential sites. Clearly, the Spirit spoke to Pastor Paul Johnson and Wendel Nixon that they were hearing a Macedonian call to the Pont Tambour church in Saint Marc. Their team heads there this Saturday to partner with Pastor Robert Meat and his church. As someone said, Throw a boulder in a pond, and youre sure to get wet. I think we are all getting wet! When I learned Pastor Zamor has no vehicle and has to walk or hire transportation to superintend over 25 churches on the district as well as lead his 1,000 member church, I knew I had to respond.
Our third team embarked for Gros-Morne on January 21, 2013, to build new desks for the old broken and dilapidated ones in the school. Our goal was 100 desks with funds from our Venice church to cover materials and the bronze plaque to be mounted at the dedication service. This fantastic team exceeded all expectations with 119 new desks with two coats of varnish. I feel another ripple. We noticed that the church had not altars. Dave Collier and Bob Sanger went to work designing some old-fashioned mourners benches that got three coats of varnish and our team had the privilege to parading them into the sanctuary on dedication day. Yet another ripple.
We didnt fully comprehend where John Gary Sailor and James Rahill would go on their way back from the church to lunch or dinner, but it seems they always came back with a delicious supply of Vanilla Mangos for the entire team to enjoy. I think I see another ripple. Gary has found a buyer in Venice who will take a million mangos! A means of export is in the process, providing work for Haitian people and a chain of supply right there out of Gros-Morne! Wow! Kathy Polk and her family befriended a little girl named Jasmine, who spoke Spanish and Creole. Coincidentally? Laura Agudelo, on the Venice team happens to speak Spanish. Kathy discovered that Jasmines family could not afford tuition. Quickly, Jasmines tuition was underwritten, and she started in the Hope 112 School on the Monday after we left. Thats almost another splash.
Ripples. School down to 700 after the earthquake. Now servicing over 900 students. A new projector installed for use in their sanctuary. The Venice puppet team puts on a gospel show on Friday night; Pascal makes an invitation; scores of kids respond to give their hearts to Christ. Then came Sunday morning, January 27, 2013. Dedication Day began around 8:00 a.m. with a parade around the town of Gros-Morne led by a converted voodoo priest. The service went to about 1:00 p.m. I had the privilege of preaching to an awesome crowd of 3,500 crammed inside and outside the building. With another $20,000 US the house next to the church could be purchased making room for a much larger courtyard and playground for the school.
I almost started to write, one last ripple, but changed my mind. The next ripple we think we know about is a big, secret surprise coming in April at our NMI Convention. Team three underwrote most of it before heading home. The folks at Improve Your Serve added another nearly $9,000 US. God has already helped us find what were looking for. The seller was asking $18,000 US, but gave it to SFD for $10,000 US. Whats next? God alone knows. But never underestimate the good that one seemingly small act of obedience can accomplish when God is in control of all the outcomes.
David F. Nixon, D.Min.
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