Training Pastors in Haiti

For the first time that day, Don Smith, a retired EFCA pastor, was met with silence from the young Haitian pastors and leaders he was teaching.

“I asked them, ‘Why do you think Jesus taught in parables?’” Don says. “They didn’t offer any answers. It was quiet. I didn’t understand their silence. Then I asked, ‘What is a parable?’ They didn’t know.”

When Don went to train pastors in Haiti with ReachGlobal for a week in January, he quickly discovered how great the need for solid biblical training is in a country where evangelicalism is growing.

The young men — most in their early 20s — who attended the training at Jesus in Haiti Ministries (a ReachGlobal partner ministry in Haiti) eagerly devoured the teaching. Their discussions often grew lively. Their attention stayed directed towards Don and his co-trainer, Steve Spellman (interim leader of ReachGlobal’s ministry in Haiti).

“They asked great questions that demonstrated a sincere, honest desire to learn and understand who Jesus is,” Don says. While the questions were good, they were also surprising — questions such as:

  • Is Jesus fully God and fully man?
  • Why are Jesus’ sayings so hard to understand?
  • Was Jesus tempted to have sex with Mary?

“I wondered how they could be pastors, or be this far in training, and yet know so little about basic essential doctrine,” Don says. “Many Haitian pastors have not enjoyed the same opportunities to learn that pastors in the U.S. have had.”

“Few schools give spiritual education,” one of the Haitian pastors shared. “And most families don’t take responsibility for the spiritual education of their children.”

Once Don realized their need for a basic biblical foundation, he changed his training tactic.

“I decided to address their questions without presuming anything. I began with the most basic truth and then expanded from there,” Don says. “They do learn quickly if taught clearly, biblically, systematically and patiently.

“The biggest challenge is to know where to begin teaching a concept and then build from there. The challenge will be to teach and encourage them with a long-term, intentional, systematic, consistent, progressive curriculum so they have a firm foundation of faith.”

The pastors’ need for training wasn’t the only apparent thing — they also have a passion to learn so that they can better pastor, shepherd and disciple their fellow Haitians.

They also want to learn how to meet the challenge of voodoo, which permeates the culture of Haiti and keeps many Haitians from receiving Christ.

“The greatest need of the Haitian is Jesus,” Derson, a 20-year-old pastor in training, explains. “To be a pastor… that wasn’t my plan, because being a pastor is really hard. But I really care about people following God and Jesus. I really care about people’s souls. I don’t want anyone to burn in hell. That’s why I want to be a pastor — to preach the gospel to the world, to make disciples who make more disciples.”

One of the other young pastors approached Don after the two-day training.

“He told me, ‘Thanks for teaching me so I can love Christ more. I want to grow in faith,’” Don says. Then the young man added, “Don’t forget me. Please help us!”

What motivates Don to go back to Haiti is the need of the pastors coupled with their passion.

“This is the greatest opportunity to present Jesus as more amazing than they’ve ever been taught,” he explains. “I will not forget what I have been blessed to receive [in terms of my biblical education], and neither will I forget those who cry out for help. I owe these men the opportunity to learn about their faith as I did.”

* * * * *

CONNECT

haitiresponse@efca.org or haititeams@efca.org

SERVE

ReachGlobal is praying for more workers for the harvest in Haiti. Join Don, Steve, and others to provide ongoing training and teaching for Haitian pastors seeking a solid biblical foundation. Email haititeams@efca.org for more information.

PRAY
  • For the Haitian pastors who hunger for the Word of God — that they would be fed, receiving the training needed to shepherd and lead their people.
  • That God would raise up additional workers to go and serve in Haiti. The harvest is plentiful.
GIVE

Make an online donation to Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

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On an unexpected journey with the One who gave me unfathomable grace, I'm just trying to follow Jesus and love Him and others a little better each day.

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