Disturbing and beautiful, dysfunctional and inspiring—in short, paradoxical—was how Christian Reformed ministers from the Holland-Zeeland, Mich., area described Haiti after their recent trip to the Caribbean nation.
Six pastors—Scott DeVries of West Olive CRC, Aaron Greydanus of Drenthe CRC, Mark Quist of Park CRC, Chad Steenwyk of Central Avenue CRC, Matthew Stob of Maranatha CRC, and Aaron Vriesman of North Blendon CRC—traveled with Stan Koster, the regional Healthy Church coach, and Frank Wevers, senior pastor of Calvary CRC in Holland. The trip was funded by Calvary CRC.
Mark Quist (left) preaches at Baydo Church of God in rural Haiti.
Calvary has donated over a million dollars to ministries in Haiti in the past six years. Wevers said, “We intentionally invited younger pastors who have not had an opportunity to visit a developing country like Haiti. We felt that an investment in them would ripple down into their churches and ministries over the decades to come.
While witnessing many challenges Haitians are facing, including widespread poverty, systemic corruption, and the effects of super storm Sandy, the pastors were struck by the optimistic spirit and stalwart faith of the Christian leaders they encountered.
“In the face of such brokenness we met some of the most amazing leaders,” said DeVries. “They are in some ways far ahead of the American church in partnering across denominations . . . to help their communities in tangible ways.”
Despite the evident financial need of each ministry they visited, “Nobody asked for money, but everybody asked for prayer,” said Vriesman.
One stop on the trip that made a big impact was at a transitional home for girls recently freed from child slavery. “Their faces now have smiles on them, and you can see they are thriving. Compare that to the situations they were rescued from and it is nothing short of a miracle,” Quist said. After such a trip, Quist asked, “How do you go back to normal?”
As for sharing his experiences with his congregation, Steenwyk said, “We’ll see what grabs hold, but God has grabbed hold of me.”