Last month, my family and I celebrated one year in Haiti. We picked up our family and moved to Port Au Prince on April 17, 2015. The year has flown by and we have seen the hand of God at work like we never have before. As we look back on the last twelve months, we see some of the hardest but most rewarding days of our lives. Most of our difficulties were related to calibrating to our new cultural surroundings. In many ways I feel like our first year was just spent getting our feet wet and getting used to a new way of life. However, at the same time, in the midst of that major life adjustment, we were also able to really get our hands into the dirt with our indigenous pastors and friends.
Over the course of our first year, the Holy Spirit has revealed to us clear direction for our life and ministry going forward. He has revealed to us His vision to see all of Haiti reached with the gospel. In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” I believe that King Jesus gave us a mission that he intended for us to complete. We see a glimpse of this in Acts 19:10 when Luke tells us that in two years all of the residents of Asia heard the gospel. This is what leads Paul to write in Romans 15:23 that he has no place left to work and longs to move on to other empty fields.
That thought blows my mind. What an amazing feeling it must have been for Paul and his church planting team to look back on where the Lord had led them and be able to say, “We finished the task.”
So then the question for us is how can Jesus accomplish this through us? Well, it’s certainly not going to happen only through my family and I. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us that Jesus is reconciling the world to Himself and He is using all of us as His ambassadors to accomplish this. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul tells Timothy to take what he has been taught and teach it to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Keesha and I looked at that verse and knew that we had to commit ourselves to multiplication. We knew that we had to look beyond ourselves and train up other leaders. But where would we find these leaders?
We have prayed, fasted, and wept over that question. The Holy Spirit led us to Luke 10:2. We realized we needed to look to the harvest where the Lord is raising up future laborers. Jesus answered our prayer by connecting us with some of the most amazing people. Some of them are indigenous pastors and some of them are missionaries. However, most of them are new believers whom God has called to Himself and is sending them out to make disciples and form new churches. We want to be here to equip them to do the work.
I meet with a group of men every Saturday to disciple and train them to plant churches. There is one man named Joshua who has been faithful to come every week for months. But he doesn’t usually speak up and I really didn’t know how much of the training he was understanding or practicing. That is until a few weeks ago when he pulled me aside after the meeting one Saturday.
Joshua said to me, “Jacob, would you please pray for my seventeen new churches?” I said, “Your what?” He explained to me that he had been implementing the training with his small church out in the country-side. His church took hold of the responsibility to go make disciples. Every week they started going out in pairs into their surrounding communities to have gospel conversations with people. After four weeks, they found thirteen homes that received the message. Entire households were believing in Jesus and being baptized. Each of the thirteen families have started gathering together in their homes with their extended family and friends. Joshua told me that they range from seven to thirty people each. So every Monday he meets with thirteen men from those homes and trains them how to lead the new churches.
I couldn’t believe it. Jesus was answering our Luke 10:2 prayer and I didn’t even know it. I looked at Joshua with a huge smile on my face and said, “Ok, but you said there were seventeen churches.” He said, “Yes! Four of these new churches have already started making disciples and have reproduced into another church. They are multiplying!” At this point I had to sit down and could not hold back the tears. It felt unreal. I almost feel ashamed that I was so surprised. But I have never personally seen the Holy Spirit work in this way.
UPDATE: Since writing this, Joshua’s movement has grown and we’re seeing some of these new churches continue to reproduce up to the 5th generation. There are currently 22 new churches representing 441 new believers. This began in early March of this year.
These new churches are young but zealous about obeying Jesus together in community. Some of them do not have homes large enough, so they just gather together outside under trees. Joshua has a lot of work to do as he invests into these new leaders. I want to pour as much time and energy into him as I can. These are the type of indigenous leaders we are asking the Lord to give us in order to see a church planting movement take place.
Pray for more laborers like Joshua to be raised up. Pray for these new believers as they are discipled. And pray for us as we press on. God is so patient with us as we learn and grow. God is good! Empowered by the Holy Spirit, I believe that we can see no place left in Haiti.