ASAPH Teaching Ministry has a group of young leaders who are doing ministry. Here are a few (first names only).
WEC, who lived for 9 months in Wisconsin, is preparing to finish his university studies and work with me in ministry in Pasbwadom. He is overflowing with agricultural plans and projects that his time at college has prepared him to realize. I look forward to having him in our community teaching people what he has learned.
Jude is ASAPH's soccer coach...a life coach for many many boys and young men. He is also finishing up his university degree. He motivates and inspires individuals. He is passionate about teamwork. He longs to see young people who commit to following Jesus Christ.
Stephanie is a young lady who is working her way toward her high school diploma. She committed her life to Christ early in her teenage years, and is a talented worship leader. She played trombone in the ASAPH Brass Band for years. Stephanie is now a leader for the brand new all-girls choir. She is a coach, and also working toward being able to direct the choir.
Boaz is an artist, doing amazing pencil drawings. Boaz is a poet, writing and presenting texts that have made him a popular young man. He learned to play saxophone this year. He teaches drawing classes at ASAPH Teaching Center.
Anemson is a fine musician, and still very young. He plays trumpet, trombone, tuba, drums, guitar, bass and keyboard. He is a key member of our church worship band...faithful and talented.
All of these young people came through the Water-For-Life school where I administrated for many years. They are living for Jesus. I am happy to be beside them now in ministry.
Makenndy is a young man who works hard. He's strong. He's reliable. He is leading ASAPH's Bible Recitation program.
Teddy moved into our town several years ago. He is assistant director of the ASAPH Brass Band. He teaches young players. He leads the band while I am away. He is a trusted voice for young people, and a fine example.
TOGETHER, all of these people are lights in the community of Pasbwadom. They are workers in the Kingdom of God. Because of ASAPH supporters here in the USA, I am able to encourage them, orient them, and equip them in their ministries.
Several years ago,.AAF was invited to participate in an all-day soccer tournament in Fondeblan. AAF won that first tournament. The next summer, we hosted it and won again. Then in 2019 we invited back to Fondeblan where we were eliminated early in the competition. In 2021, coach Jude decided to replicate the tournament with all local teams...Basen Kayiman, Flaman, Laborye, Labaleine, and AAF.
An incredible amount of work took place...led by team captains, players, and friends of the team. The field was enclosed with tin and coconut branches. The goals were repaired. Nets were installed. Shaded areas were constructed for each team. Food was purchased and prepared. It is a major undertaking to host 6 teams and their fans for 8 or 9 hours.
I followed bits of pieces of news from my vantage point here in PA. Our team tied in their first two games. It was enough to advance in to the knock-out round. That is when I lost contact. Later that evening a message came in from Coach Jude : "AAF Chanpyon".
In an apparent nail-biter, Labaleine and AAF remained tied after regulation time. From all accounts it was a well-played and respectful game. A tie in a final match means penalty kicks to determine the winner. AAF was able to score on all five penalty kicks, and Labaleine missed only 1 of 5. It was enough. AAF was champion for the 3rd time in 4 tournaments.
The Labaleine player who missed his shot is a good friend of the guys at my house. I look forward to seeing him and encouraging him.
Hats off to : Jude, WEC, Jean-Pierre, Boaz, Shelterline, Madam Emmanuel and so many others who made it all possible.
THIS...is Asaph Teaching Ministry.
I was privileged to spend a weekend in Ohio, in and around Holmes county. Many Water For Life missionary friends live there. It was great to reconnect with them. Happy memories we share from serving together in Haiti!
Breakfast and lunch at AMISH COUNTRY DONUTS was a terrific delight. Aaron Yoder has built up a great menu and a great atmosphere at his little restaurant. I have always enjoyed the food pictures on Facebook. Now, I can say I've eaten there...twice. I left with a vanilla malted milk shake. Wow!
I was also able to speak at Berean Community Church on Sunday morning with Pastor Steve Lapp. It was encouraging to see them pray with their students as the school year begins, much as we do in our church in Haiti.
On Monday I participated in a meeting with some people doing great work in Haiti through Christian Aid Ministries. We are moving ahead on a project to write three textbooks that will teach the Bible to 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. It will continue the series we finished a few years ago for grades 1 to 6.
It was a blessing to travel, visit, learn, and plan. To God be the glory.
We, humans, are lazy and slow...sometimes. I am like that. I was tasked with preparing the plan for a worship service that the Jr. Youth team would lead. It's hard to do. You have to choose things that can work. I pieced together a series of songs, a sketch, a bit of a film, and a message.
Without my knowing, the church was experiencing some verbal attacks from our community at the time. Members of the church felt exposed and discouraged. I didn't really understand much of that.
Without thinking, I had prepared a sketch with the kids based on Ezekiel 27...the dry bones story. I chose it because it allowed us to use the BOOMWHACKERS that I had purchased and had yet to use effectively. In the sketch, though, I did write one line about how God will work among us when we gather IN HIS NAME. That doesn't mean just sitting on the same bench, but really being unified IN HIS NAME.
Without thinking, I also included a video that I had been hoping to use ever since late winter. I finally found a way to stick it into my message for the service. The video was a nature film showing a herd of caribou being attacked by a wolf. The wolf panics the herd, then isolates one young caribou, then runs it out of energy and leaps onto its back. The moral of the story is that unity is key when the enemy is attacking the group. Isolation leads to death.
After the service, days later, I was told that the two different lessons were powerful for many people in the congregation that morning...with the same lesson : we must stick together now!
God prepared those lessons. I thought I did. Teaching is always more effective when God does the work.
May He continue to use both you and me !
I often play keyboard in our local church for worship services. We rehearse on Saturday evenings. On Sunday, the service flows according to the song leader. Usually we stay on track in general, but with some variation. Sometimes we go quite a different direction. Thankfully, the worship musicians are adept at following the leader. That is the fruit if the work ASAPH does with young musicians.
On a recent Sunday morning, we had our list of songs. The service was moving along. The leader, a young lady who played in the ASAPH Brass Band at one point, left the written program and moved into a song called YOU ARE ENOUGH FOR ME. It was not on the program. It is a song that I wrote and taught to the church years ago. The song (like so many of my songs) will lie dormant for months or years, then they tend to bubble up for no apparent reason.
In that service, the worship took a different direction as that song began. You may know what I am talking about if you worship regularly. Worship services can be coasting along with not much energy, than at the beginning of a new song, the energy increases dramatically. It seems the song speaks to most people in the congregation all at once. People stand. People sing out. People move.
That happened as we sang YOU ARE ENOUGH FOR ME. The worship transformed. It is a meaningful thing for me. Worship songs I have written come from my own personal experience with God, my own time in His presence. When someone else seems to share that experience, it is a powerful moment.
I love those moments in a worship service. I love when the Holy Spirit moves in a congregation. I love seeing God work in people.
Here's hoping that you are worshiping Almighty God. May He move in you and those around you as you submit to Him in worship.
God is good. Give thanks.
Many mornings, I am sitting at my computer translating. Christian Aid Ministries is a Mennonite mission that is active in Haiti. They pay ASAPH Teaching Ministry to translate documents from English into Haitian Creole. Some of the projects I have translated over the years include : pastor training materials, magazine articles, agricultural materials, and other smaller projects.
Several years ago I worked with CAM to actually write a series of books that are being used in primary schools across Haiti. They gave me a skeleton plan for six books, one for each grade from grade 1 to grade 6. My job was to write the individual lessons and evaluation materials, plus a teacher's guide for each book. Those six books are printed and in the hands of Haitian students.
CAM is now planning to continue the project for three more grades, 7 to 9. I look forward to writing those lessons in the near future. It's one way that I can teach from home. :)
Recently, we finished a book called FARMING GOD's WAY. That book is now in print and being distributed in Haiti.
Last year during the Covid lockdowns, I spent long days translating a book called RESTORING THE SOIL. It is a fascinating list of plants that can be used to turn bad soils into fertile soils once again. I learned a ton of information about beans! The book's author spent years working in Africa. The subject matter is ideal for Haitian farmers who wrestle with so many of the same issues as African farmers. In 2021, I spent time going over that translation once again. The book is now about to be laid out and printed for distribution. It is a project that I believe will help farmers all over Haiti to make their gardens more profitable long term. That is exciting. Haiti depends on small farmers. Small farmers depend on the soil. Restoring the depleted soils of Haiti will be a huge step toward food security in the years ahead.
It is good to be part of powerful projects. I love doing my little part in big projects...being one little link in a great chain.
It is teaching. It is big scale. It is one part of ASAPH Teaching Ministry.
Haiti is struggling through a bad time...again. Elections are overdue, and the whole subject is surrounded with confusion. Meanwhile, kidnappings have become almost commonplace in the capitol city. Plus, gangs have taken over parts of Port-au-Prince allowing no traffic to pass through. All of that means that leaving the country requires a flight into Port-au-Prince avoiding the roads.
I flew on June 19th. Everything was easy and smooth.
With the USA fighting its way out of a pandemic, there is no appetite for helping a country that has been in crisis mode regularly over the years. Haiti fatigue means that there is no realistic hope for any country to get involved in Haiti's crisis. Haiti will have to get things straight on its own. It's probably a good thing in the long run. For now, life in the country is as tricky and depressing as ever.
With all of that being said, life goes in the countryside pretty much as normal. Prices are high. Supplies can be low. Gas disappears pretty regularly lately...for days at a time. All of that adds to the stress people endure each day. Still, people live peacefully and free in almost all of rural Haiti.
Freedom is a subject of interest for a person who spends months in rural Haiti and then months in the USA. In many ways, life in Haiti is full of freedom. There are no covid games being played. The government is not involved in the lives of people. Churches meet and worship. Concerts happen. People interact without thinking. That is how we all lived since last Fall. Then, I flew home to the USA. I struggle with the vastly different freedom. It's true we are free to eat better here. We are free to work. We are free to attain material wealth. But daily freedoms are slipping away rapidly.
Imagine a man selling his wallet, without realizing his credit cards are still in it. Tragedy is giving away something you love and need without realizing that you are doing it. I am afraid that Western civilization is engaged in tragic behavior these days. We are smiling while selling treasures that we will search for at some point. They may be gone forever.
Back in the USA.
Years ago, Water For Life introduced street lights to our little community. There were about four of them in town. They only lit up when WFL ran its big generator. It felt like a step forward.
Water For Life’s programs changed pretty regularly over the years. The street light project was not maintained, and only the poles remain.
Many people who were born in Pasbwadòm and the surrounding area are now living in France, America, Brazil, Chile, and other places. They put their resources together recently and created a project to provide streetlights throughout our community and neighboring communities. It took some time. The poles and lights are being installed little by little. They are solar powered, and they will dim when there is no action underneath them. When something moves, the do brighten the corner where they are planted.
I love the new lights. It really changes a community when light arrives. It make this community cozier somehow…more attractive as well. Lives are better for it. There is more safety.
In the 1990’s, I would walk to evening services at the local Baptist church. On the way home, we would see only candles and kerosene lamps in the houses we passed. No light bulbs…incandescent or fluorescent. Now, in 2021, many homes have a tiny solar panel, battery, and lights, or even a generator.
There are things that change the way you live. Water changes your life. It is fundamental. Pasbwadòm is certainly proof of that. Light changes your life as well.
It is no surprise that Jesus used water and light to help us understand who He is. He is Living Water. He is the Light of the world. I am able to appreciate that more than ever. I will continue to brighten this little corner with the Light of Jesus Christ.
Here at ASAPH Teaching Ministry, we are proud of our brass band. We have performed in Okay, in Tigwav, and in many places in between. The band has been growing regularly since 2013 or so.
Over the years, we have said goodbye to members for various reasons. Some have left the country. Some have left town for higher education. One married and finds little time to play. Some have just lost interest.
This past year, four or five graduated as part of the same class. In two years, our first trumpet section went from six quality players down to one. At one time, we were getting close to thirty active members. This year, we had rehearsals where only six players showed up.
For the past several years, we have had a “B” band for players who are working their way up to be ready for the ASAPH Brass Band. Assistant Directors Teddy and Anemson often worked with that group. When the big band needed new members, we have somewhere to turn. I worked with members of the B band two times each week for the last two months. Eight of them have now passed auditions to play in the ASAPH Brass Band. That would never have been possible without the work of Teddy and Anemson the past couple of years.
We call ASAPH a music academy. It’s not a school. A school gives the picture of one teacher standing before his/her students. An academy, on the other hand, is a group of people who unite around a common love or interest. They learn from and teach each other. That happens all the time here at ASAPH.
I often leave the Teaching Center and find a guitar student sitting in my yard giving tips to a younger student. I often see young players getting together and making music spontaneously. That is an academy. That is ASAPH Teaching Ministry.
I have a poster on the wall showing two little puppies tucked into the same coffee cup. The caption reads : WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. That’s my philosophy. We must agree to get along, and help each other along. Read Romans 12 and 13. It’s God’s plan. It is a fruitful one.
No matter where you live or work, you run into sad situations. My community has plenty, and I am sure yours does, too. I’d like to share one with you. None of the names are real, but the story is.
Cal is a young musician here at Asaph. He is a regular at church and lives with his mom and other siblings. Cal has always been sweet, gentle, and polite. He can be funny as well. The other day he showed me a gesture, only for a second, that seemed so out of place for him. As he walked by me, he turned right at me and showed me claws and teeth like a ferocious lion. What struck me was the anger in his eyes. I had never seen that in him. I DO see that anger in the eyes of young men whose fathers walked out of their lives…and I hear it in the words they choose.
Cal’s father, Barry, was an upstanding church leader here at our local church for years. He, like so many other young men, decided to leave the country seeking a better life. Many young married men have left Haiti so that they can “provide” a better life for their wife and kids. A few actually do so. I thought that is what Barry was doing the last few years.
This week, I learned the ugly truth. Barry has a new wife in the country where he now lives. He has two children with his new wife. He stopped sending support to his wife and family here in Haiti. All of that is sad. But, there is more. Barry is a leader in the church where he now attends. I asked how that could be so, if he has two families. I was told the new church knows nothing of his family here in Haiti. It seems that to Barry, his first family has disappeared. He has moved on. Sweet, gentle, polite Cal has suffered one of the most traumatic situations a child can face, and I had no idea. They tell me that he refuses to talk to his father. Who can blame him? You see a kid smiling every day, and you assume his life is normal. Then you find out there is a burden he carries every minute of every day.
Eleven years ago, I drove the vehicle that took Barry and his wife to the hospital as little Cal came into this world. How can fathers just walk away from their sons like that ? How can they just turn their backs on their daughters ? How can the forget the wife they promised to love until death ? (I was there for that promise, too.) It’s just so sad.
I am glad I can be around Cal and help him to try to look beyond the brutal betrayal he has suffered as a young boy. It’s good to be here.
Missionary in Haiti.