Ministry is a roller-coaster, I’ve found. As I prepare to walk with one young man through his amazing
successes, another young man is in the middle of a moral failure. I’ve been beside guys before as they
are forced to deal with heavy, life questions for the first time. I’m hoping this young man will begin to
see his weakness, his sin, and his Savior in a brand new way.
We deal with ‘little issues’ all the time on our soccer team, in the brass band, in church. Kids want to
have a haircut that the adults don’t like. It’s no big deal, but it is connected to a rebellion question. Kids
want to wear their clothes a way that parents don’t like. Kids listen to music their church leaders say
they shouldn’t listen to. It’s all a bunch of details, until you arrive at a moral failure and look back at the
trail of little rebellions. They all really are part of something bigger. A rebellious heart is rebellious.
There’s a revelation! A submissive heart submits. You can argue all day long about details, but the issue
I tell kids : “If you were a model in the way you live, love, and serve God, people would not see your hair.
(Though, in Haiti, some leaders would see it.) The problem is always much deeper. You talk to two kids
about their hair…no pressure…just ideas. One kid goes back to the haircut that bothers no one. The
second kid makes his hair even MORE of an issue. It’s not the hair. It’s the heart.
The young man I mentioned at the top had a series of little red flags going up. When I approached him,
he constantly laughed off my ideas and claimed he was in complete control. I was making a big deal out
of nothing. I’ve been down that road before. I hoped it was true…that he was in complete control. It
I asked him if he recognized that Satan had fooled him. He said no. That’s not encouraging.
Now I’ll be beside him as he deals with the big questions before him. I’ll help him (hopefully) to make a
serious evaluation of how he got to where he is, and how he can make positive steps moving forward. Every day is an occasion to trust God…or not.
Years ago the young man living at my house was a good soccer player. He had a ‘groupie’ who carried
his soccer shoes for him. That young boy was Courtois Erntz. Today he is a university student in Cayes
studying agriculture. He applied for a program to spend time in the USA working in an exchange
program (CAEP – Communication for Agriculture Exchange Program). Since the end of summer he has
been jumping over hurdles and through hoops.
Erntz is headed to Wisconsin. Green Bay. In February! From Haiti to Green Bay in February…during a
Polar Vortex…or whatever they call cold weather now. I can’t imagine the shock his system will
Erntz will work with many other exchange workers to prepare, plant, care for, and sell flowers for 8
months. It’s an exciting time for me. He is the only student of mine who has ever come to the USA. I
have students in Brazil, France, French Guyana, and Chile.
If it becomes possible, my dream plan is to visit Erntz while he is in Wisconsin. I have some free trips
coming to me via a special credit card and lots of flights to and from Haiti. AND, if the program allows, I
hope to have Erntz visit PA. The exchange program has cultural experiences and travel listed as part of
its focus. We’ll see if that works.
Erntz spent a few years living here at my place full time while he attended schools nearby. But for the
past seven years or so his has only been here for weekends and summer vacation…while his education
took him other places. Everybody likes Erntz. His brother cried at the going-away party Erntz decided to
have. The party was more of a program in which Erntz gathered people he knew had helped him make it
to where his is today. He detailed many of their contributions. It was a powerful thing. Gratitude is
always powerful, I think.
After a great holiday season in the USA, I’m back in Haiti.
Re-entry is always exciting. From a distance, people tend to give rather glowing reports. “How are
things going regarding project X?” “Great. Going very well.” Then, I get back and see that things did go
well…in general…but details inevitably crop up about this or that. Conflicts. Neglect. Errors. Things that
are almost glaring. It’s one of the reasons I don’t think missions work very well for long periods of time
when the leader is far away more often than not. Without great secondary leaders, bad things will creep
in. Building those leaders takes time…and the work of the Holy Spirit.
I’m thankful for great young leaders who are making things happen here at ASAPH while I am in the
USA. They do an admirable job and are getting better rapidly. I was delighted to hear tales of maturity,
growth, and faithfulness while I was away. One young soccer player stood alone demanding his team
finish a match after a bad call by a referee. He stood alone on the field while every team-mate walked
away. He was an ASAPH Academy of Football member…the only one on the team. He took his lumps
with honor. We’re proud.
As I met with the ASAPH Brass Band members talking about the two months I missed with them, one
member noted that he is now five Minor Prophets away from reading the whole Bible! I was about his
age when I accomplished that for the first time. We’re proud of him, too.
For December exams, some students passed and some didn’t. Good news and bad. Some kids are taller
than when I left. Some are the same. Life goes on day by day.
I notice little things around the house after I’m back for a few days. My chair squeaks more. The
hammocks outside are both ripped now. Several solar lights are dead or in pieces. Many items are out of
place. I can’t find certain things without asking about them.
BUT, in general things are the same. For the two months I was at home, things functioned as much as
they ever have. I remember closing up the buildings years ago. Many people need to cooperate for
things to happen while I am away. Keys need to be handled with care. Reports need to be kept. I’m
happy for the way things ‘went down’ this time. It’s encouraging for the future. God is good.
Missionary in Haiti.