Joys & Challenges of Serving in Zimbabwe

Our National Director in Zimbabwe, Onias Tapera, recently shared with us the joys and challenges of serving in Zimbabwe. We’re thankful for his heart for ministry, devotion, hard work and desire to do God’s work every day with all who he meets! 

The Joys:

Serving in Zimbabwe is very exciting and fulfilling, knowing that we are making a difference in the lives of pastors, children and communities in general.   The joy comes from knowing that we are touching lives for eternity.  The pastors are open, ready and hungry to learn God’s word.  They have a genuine desire to grow in their own faith and leadership journey and also to disciple their congregations.  In our follow-up seminars pastors have testified that they seek to implement the teachings we provide in their communities.

The children we serve are a group of those who are vulnerable and marginalized.  We feel our ministry is serving as the hands and feet of Jesus, serving these least ones.  It is joy to see the children come to Christ, grow in their self-esteem and learn some life skills from the negativity they’ve seen in their journey of life.  Some children who have graduated from college would not even have completed primary school if it were not for the help we have provided.  We are so overjoyed that these children have been empowered for life.

Another component of joy comes from serving in a country that allows us the freedom to witness for Christ without religious persecution.

Challenges:

Some challenges we face in serving in Zimbabwe could be turned into opportunities to reach out to more people as the demand always exceeds our capacity and resources.  There is always a demand to provide more training for pastors and to reach more needy children.  However, our financial resources and our capacity are limited. Thus, I feel like we have to do more with less.  Second, another challenge we face is the unpredictable political situation in the country, which affects the political stability in our environment.   Third, although it is joy to serve the children, this part of ministry tends to go unappreciated by the beneficiaries.  Forth, the ministry is very demanding, and because of that we tend to have no time for self-care and spiritual renewal.

            

 

“God allowed me to be here.”

Would you have the time or the desire to take on a full-time job in addition to your current job? It would require passion, stamina, devotion and support. That’s exactly what pastors and leaders in Haiti are doing, working full-time jobs to support their families while pastoring their churches without pay.  Most churches in Haiti don’t have the money to pay their pastors. Yet, these pastors continue to honor God’s calling for this important work!

The CWO annual Leadership Training took place earlier this month. Pastors and leaders from the eight CWO churches gathered on January 2-6 for Bible teaching, encouragement and sharing.

Pastors and leaders took time from their busy schedules to attend and many had to ask for this time off from their employer. They traveled to the camp in Pignon on very rough roads, through rivers and over mountains. After an exhausting day of travel, they were still excited to gather together for a time of learning, good food, encouragement and rest.

Pastor Harlan from Texas and Pastor Telfort from Port-au-Prince taught. on spiritual healthiness and Revelation. They did a great job of using God’s Word to help the leaders understand that to be a healthy church you need healthy people and to have healthy people you need a healthy leader.

Here are some of the comments shared by some of the pastors and leaders —

“As a leader we are always giving of ourselves and the conference is a place where we can receive as a river receives water from its source.”

“The conference is a time for me to grow so that we can have a healthy church. The teaching we receive is something that we can take back to our churches and pass along what we have learned.”

“God allowed me to be here. It was not until January 1 did my boss give me permission to have the time off.  The teaching I receive complements and reassures us that what we have taught is correct. It gives us confidence in sharing the Gospel and influencing others.”

“I almost gave up my ministry this past year. We as pastors and leaders in the church carry a heavy burden.  People come to pastors for all their needs – spiritual, social, economic, etc. This conference is a time where we can refresh and receive what we need to continue ministry.”

Some spoke of the challenges of this past year with some feeling attacked even from within their church, not unlike some pastors in the US.  These pastors and leaders work hard to follow through on God’s calling for them to teach their churches, but they also must work full time jobs to provide for their families.

We are grateful for this ministry that benefits pastors, leaders and churches by providing a time for refreshment, encouragement and healing.

Pray that these pastors continue to work toward the greater goal of leading people in Haiti to Christ with stamina, passion and leadership!

Dreaming of a “White Christmas”

Here are the reflections of an American missionary who served in Haiti and how he learned the real meaning of a “White Christmas.”

“In 1980 Christmas music filled the streets as my fourteen-year-old daughter and I sat quietly on our motorcycle.  We were waiting for a fellow missionary to keep a scheduled appointment.  As we waited, above the street sounds came the clear voice of Bing Crosby. Big black loudspeakers kept playing “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”

People thronged the downtown street. More than one million black people live in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Except for the voice of Bing Crosby, the sights and sounds of the street were strange to us since we had lived in this culture for only nine months.

While waiting for our friends to arrive, a Haitian woman took a complete bath in a two foot round pothole in the busy street stepping aside when cars and motor cycles passed by. She finished bathing by cupping her hands and taking a mount full of water. She then cleaned her teeth with her index finger and walked to a parked truck and fixed her hair while looking in the outside rear-view mirror. 

I felt helpless and homesick for Oregon as we sat in the middle of such poverty. Very few people spoke English. So why were they playing Bing Crosby and this American Christmas song? These sights and sounds did not seem to be connected, yet they were!

December in Haiti is hot and toward the end of the dry season. The busy road in front of our rented house was gravel and dust. In our home we also often sang, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”, but it never referred to snow. White dust covered our trees, bushes and the inside of our home. You see, two sides of our house were open concrete blocks without screens or windows.  Every night the neighbor’s cats would leave foot prints on our tables, counter tops and bookshelves – white, dusty paw prints. You could write your name in the white Christmas dust twenty minutes after cleaning a table. Even with a full-time housekeeper it was impossible to keep the house free of this white dust.

Every December, we heard Haitian radio stations play Bing’s hit, “White Christmas”. We listened as Creole-speaking people attempted to sing along. Finally, after six years living in Haiti, we learned the reason for the great popularity of “White Christmas.”

A street fellow was washing the car of our American friend.  As he worked, he sang along with Bing. Our friend asked a series of simple questions but good questions.

“Do you understand the words to that song?”

“Oh, yes!” was his reply.

“When did you see snow?” my friend asked.

“Sir, I don’t know about snow but I do understand the song.”

“So, what does the song mean to you?”

“It means that I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.  A Christmas with a house, food, a bed and presents to give to my family. I’m dreaming of a Christmas like white people have. Everyone in Haiti understands the words of this song.”

When I heard his explanation, my mind began to race back over the preceding six years. Dozens of times I had heard Bing Crosby and observed Haitians enjoying his music, we sang along with Bing too. Now I knew what the 25-year-old woman was thinking as she took a bath and sang in the middle of a street. She was singing of a Christmas most white people enjoy.”

Why Not?!

Dick Dill — Pastor, Past CWO Board Member, Traveler to Haiti, Short-term Team Member, Advocate for CWO, Teacher for Leadership Development in Haiti, Feeder of Children — reflects on his involvement with CWO over the last 40 years. CWO is grateful for people like Dick who continually help CWO make a difference!

In 1979 I was putting together a short-term mission team for a Project Serve trip to Lima, Peru. The team wasn’t coming together when Dean Yoder, my Youth for Christ Regional Field Director and friend, invited us to join his team headed for Haiti. Having never been out of the country, I thought “why not?” That trip changed my perspective on the world and my life.

It was July 16th when we arrived (my birthday) and 120 degrees on the airport tarmac. The heat percolated the aromas of tar, charcoal and rotting trash. My first reaction was “what have I gotten into?” Then I met the beautiful, gracious and welcoming people of Haiti, who immediately and forever found their way into my heart and life. We worked, we worshipped, we prayed and we experienced God’s great grace together. After our final service at a church where we had done a VBS and painted the interior, a tiny Haitian woman, probably a deaconess, gently but firmly led each member of our team into a small room where they had COLD Coke and some cookies for us. Here we had come to serve and now we were being served!

Over the years, with some breaks, I have returned to Haiti more than 20 times, most recently as part of pastor teaching teams. In that time, my heart was knit to that of Papa Dean, Mama Ellen and their Haitian, African & American families. I was also privileged to serve on the CWO Board for many years. I was inspired by CWO to establish a satellite of Kids Against Hunger, now working with Harvest Pack, to feed starving people in the third world.

I have not met finer, more loving, dedicated people in all my years as a pastor. Christian World Outreach intentionally and lovingly continues to make a difference for the Kingdom of Christ. I have full confidence that the next 40 years will bring more and more of the same, should Christ tarry.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of those who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9

In Christ,

Dick Dill

Never a dull moment in the life of a missionary in Haiti

Karen Pasquariello continues sharing her journey of her life as a CWO missionary in Haiti in the early 1980’s. 

It’s been a busy summer.  The ministry of CWO reaches throughout the entire country of Haiti.

We had our youth camp and leadership training in Montrouis at a primitive camp on the ocean.  After the camp I will continue working with the leadership and disciple the 6 women from various Haitian churches.

In Croix Des Bouquets, CWO had a medical team work at a village clinic in the isolated countryside.

In Cazeau we sent a CWO team to paint and put a roof on a mission house.

We opened our beautiful office in Port Au Prince where we can hold leadership meetings, rallies, educational seminars, develop youth programs and follow up on the literacy program.

I had the opportunity to visit a friend’s wedding on the Isla of Gonaive.  The 2 hour boat trip over the deep blue ocean on a rickety, local sail boat was a bit exciting. I visited a hospital in Bonne Fin and observed major surgery.

We worked at an orphanage in Carrefour.

The eye of hurricane Allen reached 180 mph winds and it passed 70 miles south from where I lived.  We did hurricane relief work in the mountains of Fermathe and transported a very sick Haitian woman to the hospital.

I was attacked by the only monkey on the entire island.  So far, no problems, just a bite on my leg and some bruises.

Never a dull moment in the life of a missionary in Haiti.

              

Lessons from the Lord

CWO’s first missionary, Karen Pasquariello, continues with this post from her journal writings from July 1980.

This month marks my first year in Haiti.  When I reflect on this last year, I realize two of the major lessons I have learned are reliance on God and the importance of having a positive attitude.

During the last few months I have experienced physical tiredness as never before.  Living in a rather primitive culture, it is impossible to accomplish much by phone or letter as in the states, therefore, my days are often spent going from place to place and person to person. Going alone may mean several hours a day in the Jeep, driving on rugged roads or hiking over the mountains to visit our Haitian youth in their primitive homes.

I have experienced the truth of Isaiah 40:31 “yet, they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  They will mount up with wings of Eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” I am thankful to the Lord for His strength.

Living in a culture that is surrounded by disease, poverty, despair, it is easy to feel hopeless and to sink into a complaining trap.  Then one day I realized the more I complained, the easier it was to find more to complain about, which led to a negative attitude. Luke 7:45b says, “whatever is in the heart overflows into speech.”  That truth helped me to tackle one problem, one day at a time, changing my attitude.

I am grateful to the Lord for the life lessons He teaches me.

      

What are you waiting for?

The Geremia family traveled to LaVictoire, Haiti in July to help with VBS at the local CWO church. Here Laura Geremia shares her thoughts about the trip that changed her family’s lives forever. 

LaVictoire, Haiti: Summer 2017

What are you waiting for?  Upon our return this past July from LaVictoire Haiti, that is the question I asked myself.   One of my lifelong dreams came true this summer through Christian World Outreach as my husband and three teenage boys left from Orlando, Florida for LaVictoire, Haiti.  A team of 5, plus a man name Greg Yoder, and his daughter Sarah, both of whom we had never met were embarking on a mission to lead and teach Vacation Bible School and feed over 500 children every day for a week.  What would you guess was the theme for the week?  FAITH!  But, of course!  In fact, Greg almost cancelled the trip a couple of times due to our inexperience and the size of our team.  Aren’t we glad Jesus didn’t question HIS “team” of little size and little experience that he commissioned to preach the Gospel to the entire world. Thankfully, Greg exercised his Faith in his Heavenly Father to accomplish this feat with us.

I can still hear all of the children singing to the top of their lungs the “Hallelujah – Praise Ye the Lord” song as well as “The Lord’s Army”.  Each day there was a memory verse that all 500 kids would memorize before we broke out into classrooms for the lesson on faith.  Simply amazing was their love and appreciation for the scriptures!  As the children rushed and crammed into the small, dirty little rooms, we wiped the sweat from our brow and began teaching the scriptures to kids who were like sponges soaking it all in and cherishing every word as if it were the disciples speaking to the crowds 2,000 years ago.

Feeding the children after the Bible lesson was both an invaluable and humbling experience for our family.  As my sons served the plates of food and grabbed the little hands of those that were too small to carry their own; I held back the tears as my children were learning lessons on compassion, servanthood and love that are priceless.  For most of the children, that was their only meal for the day.  Did we leave the afternoon feeling defeated and sad?  Absolutely not!  Now, who was teaching who about faith?  What is faith?  Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  I thought I had faith.  I thought I was going to teach the Haitian children what faith was and how to have it.  They taught me.  You see, as American Christians, we always want to be saved from trials, tribulations and turmoil and we treat our Heavenly Father like a cosmic fairy godfather waiting for HIM to wave his wand to get us out of trouble. The people of Haiti, who don’t even know what they are “missing out on” are not waiting to be saved FROM something but are confidently and patiently waiting to be saved TO someone!  LaVictoire is a small, poor, forgotten mountain village full of hope, faith and confidence in what is YET TO COME!

Our lives are forever changed because of this trip over an ocean and into the mountains with a young pilot and a prop plane landing in a grass field to see eyes full of FAITH and HOPE.

So, I’ll ask again:  What are you waiting for?  Are you waiting to be saved from your life that isn’t what you want it to be or thought you deserved or are you waiting to be saved to Jesus?

                

“Miss Karen, I’ve been saved!” – Part 1

CWO’s first missionary, Karen Pasquariello, shares more about her time serving in Haiti in this two-part blog post. 

It is March 14, 1980 and I shout out praises for what is happening in Haiti. On the top of my list is the response we had at Quisqueya School chapel service this past week.  Seven teens accepted Christ as their Savior and 8 made a commitment to live out their decision to follow Christ on a daily basis.  It was so precious when Rosemary came to my Phys Ed class and exclaimed, “Miss Karen, I’ve been saved!”

I started a study for teen girls who are Christians to learn what the Bible teaches regarding their roles as women. How encouraging it is to see these young women desire to follow Christ. I have been blessed to be surrounded by other women who also are serving as missionaries.  It is encouraging to share our struggles, problems, praises and thanksgivings.  And most importantly to support each other in prayer.

A month ago, I was with friends for some R&R. We were skipping rocks over the water and one flew up and hit me in the face. Ouch!  My sunglasses shattered in my eye and the pain was excruciating.  I couldn’t see.  I remember my roommate, Donalda, reciting scripture to me for comfort.  It is amazing the power of those words. Fortunately, there was a clinic nearby with a nurse to clean out my eye. A month later I went to another doctor to find that there was glass imbedded under my eye.  The doctor had to cut the glass out and stitch me up – no shots, no numbing.  When you are in a foreign country, doctors do an amazing job with the limited supplies they have.

 

                   

A Family of Big & Little Nephews

Read Part 2 of the Hoover’s blog post about the Big and Little Nephews in Zambia that they care for with open hearts!

We described how we met the “call boys” or our “nephews” (ages 25-35 years old) in the last blog post. People often wonder how we then came to have our large group of “Little Nephews” (ages 8-24 years old).

In 2005, after two years of working with the “nephews,” we expressed to them our desire to increase the number of the guys in attendance. They were adamant that we not invite other bus station call boys, but announced that they would bring us other boys. We said, “Ok, please bring them in two weeks.”

Bring they did. The nephews marched many dozen young boys into outreach and stoically stood behind the young boys to say, “You need to hear this. Listen to what they are teaching.” They themselves were silent. They wouldn’t share their hearts or lives openly in front of younger boys.

A decision had to be made. We told them that the outreach wasn’t working if they were not a part of the activities and conversations. We called for a vote to see if everyone was in favor of splitting them into “Big Nephews” on Fridays and “Little Nephews” on Wednesdays. They were evenly divided in their decision, but one of the CWO staff broke the tie in favor of them splitting.

Thus, the “Little Nephews” were formed. While speaking with them we learned that they were not in school and they idolized the “Big Nephews” because they didn’t go to school, didn’t answer to anyone and were totally independent. We counseled them and soon a wave of peer pressure swept through the group to the point all of them wanted to return to school.

Over the past 12 years we have seen the blessing of meeting these “Little Nephews” at a young age. The Lord allowed us to meet them before it was too late for them to return to school, as it was for the “Big Nephews.” The school fee assistance brought about the need for tutoring and then we expanded into discipleship on Mondays, English classes on Tuesdays, Outreach on Wednesday, Bible study on Thursdays and activity days on Fridays. Soon health care assistance, dental assistance, nutritional assistance and the ability to bathe and wash clothing were clear needs in their lives. We now touch every aspect of the boy’s lives: physical, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual.

These “Nephews”, Big and Little, are our beloved family who allow us into their lives in very real ways. We are grateful to be a part of their lives and to have them be such a big part of ours!

“When are we doing this again?!”

Bill & Marci Hoover have lived in Zambia as CWO missionaries since 2002. We are honored to publish their two-part blog post about their family of Big & Little Nephews and how God is working through them. Watch for part two in July!

We had no doubt we were called to Zambia in 2002. God could not have been more clear. We arrived with the intention of teaching HIV education and prevention, but the Lord had another plan too.

We rented a flat that had a mini-bus station right in front of it. As we’d go out to catch the bus, we got acquainted with the young men who are called “call boys” because they take it upon themselves to “call” people to the buses. These men are typically drunk and don’t hesitate to fight each other for any tips thrown out by the bus conductors. Their goal is to obtain the equivalent of $1 each day so they can have one meal.

It seemed to us that these men wished to share their hearts with us, but not in front of each other. We decided to invite all of them to our CWO office for a barbeque so they would know where to find us if they wished to talk. We asked for all of their names so invites could be printed up and they were very excited! They asked about their invite daily until they were received! No invite, no admission was our policy.

The day arrived and all 25 young men walked through the gate freshly bathed with invite in hand…outside of one. We had a joyous time together playing games, eating, and watching the Jesus Film in their local language. At 4 p.m., when their bus station was busiest, we thanked them for coming and said, “Now you know where to find us! You are welcome here anytime!” The guys didn’t budge.

We asked our translator why they weren’t leaving and she didn’t know. Marci felt compelled to ask them, “If CWO could do anything for you, what would it be?” The translator was very hesitant to ask the question believing they would ask for money. Marci felt even more compelled and insisted the question be asked.

It turns out that each bus station is its own gang. You don’t mix the guys of different stations together. The leader of this station was Big George at that time. Big George stood up and said, “Ok, #1. We don’t know how to read so we don’t know what the Bible says. We know that the way we are living isn’t pleasing to God, but if you could teach us what the Bible says, we’d be grateful.” Marci said, “We can do that.” He continued, “#2, our families and society talk down to us and criticize us all the time. If you could encourage us, we’d be grateful for that.” Marci again said, “We can do that too.” Lastly he stated, “#3, if you could get us a new job, we’d be very grateful. Our jobs are so demeaning that we get drunk just to do the job. If you could get us new jobs, we’d be grateful. BUT, please don’t give us the job first. Teach us the Word of God, encourage us to change, and then when you’ve seen us change, give us a new job. If you give us the job first, our alcoholism will ruin it.” Then Big George sat down. We committed to helping with those three things in their lives.

Before leaving, one of them yelled, “When are we doing this again?!” We quickly calculated the cost of the lunch and activities – having thought this was a one-time thing – and suggested they come in two weeks. They agreed with cheers as they ran out the door.

That was in January of 2003. We have met with the same group of men (minus the 15 we have buried) every other Friday since then. We have added some men through the years and some have shifted to other towns, but we are still a tight knit family who loves each other through the sorrows, the challenges, and the joys of life. Most importantly, they have experienced (and tested!) the unconditional love of Christ at CWO and found freedom in His love. We call these men our “nephews” because we are called their “Auntie and Uncle”. It only seems appropriate…and makes it clear we are a family.

We cannot think of a more rewarding “job” to be given than this. Each day we get to love those who feel unlovable, and in the process, help their eyes be opened to the truth and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.