Meet Mania…an evangelist transformed by family

Meet Mania…an evangelist transformed by family

Her upbringing would never lead you to believe that God had a plan or a promise for her life. Claiming that she wasn’t truly his child, her father and siblings abandoned Mania and her mother when Mania was still very small. They moved to Cap-Haitian, but when Mania was 16, her mother died.  “I know of my father and my brothers and sisters, but they all say that I am not one of them, that I am not their family. It was all the heartbreak of losing my mom and truly having no one that brought me to Jesus, and becoming a Christian only caused them to reject me further.”

She gave her life to Christ at alumni Pastor Migueleson’s church, and rented a small room from the church. Not long after, a student from Emmaus Biblical Seminary who was also attending Migueleson’s church noticed that she truly had no one to help her, and took her under his wing. All day she worked odd jobs for rent and food, and in the evenings, Ezechiel paid for her to take high school classes.

In 2009, Ezechiel graduated from Emmaus and started doing evangelism in the remote mountain village he had grown up in, Baron.  “He asked me to start helping him share the Gospel there, and so as I finished school, I often joined him and several others in sharing the Gospel all over the mountain top. In 2010, I helped him plant a church in Baron, and that is still where I work today.”

“I live at Emmaus all week,” Mania tells me. “I do my homework every evening, and every Saturday morning at 8 am, I leave for Baron.  I take public transportation to Cap-Haitian, take a motorcycle to the city of Baron, ford the river, and hike for three hours to reach the church, usually by around 2 pm. I work with the kids’ club every Saturday afternoon and lead a Bible study for the elderly in the evening. Sunday morning I teach Sunday school and lead the services with Ezechiel preaching, and Sunday afternoon at 2, I head back to Emmaus.”

In the summers and on Easter and Christmas vacations, Mania lives on that mountain top in a stick hut in the church yard, helping Ezechiel, leading Vacation Bible School, working with the elderly, and participating in her favorite ministry, evangelism.
“I came to Emmaus because I want to be a missionary, all out. I love sharing the Gospel, and when you finally get to the mountain top at Baron, you see a dozen other mountain tops further in, further away.  I want to share the Gospel there, I want to reach those further zones, where the Gospel still hasn’t been.”
When I ask her what class has been the most transforming for her so far at Emmaus, Mania tells me it hasn’t been a course.

“When God sent me Pastor Ezechiel, for the first time in my life I had a father. But when I came to Emmaus, I found a family. The stress of my life has been having no family, and when I’m here, I’m finally home. My Emmaus family loves me and helps me, prays with me and teaches me, feeds me and shelters me, and I’ve never had that in my life. This family is what has transformed me.

To help missionaries like Mania continue to be equipped and cared for through EBS Haiti, please give online here now or send checks payable to Emmaus Biblical Seminary (memo line: Student Scholarships) to 1022 Main Street, Sabetha, KS 66534.

Why one of our most important classes isn’t meeting today…

Why one of our most important classes isn’t meeting today…

Evangelism and Discipleship is one of the most important courses taught at Emmaus, but tomorrow the 18 students taking it won’t be in class.

“I want to give the students a chance to share their faith in the ways we’ve been studying, and also an opportunity to see the great need for the Gospel in people’s lives,” professor and staff member Jodenel Ambrase shares. “So tomorrow we’re hiking out to Kanpech. It’s an act of obedience that will put into practice all that we’ve discussed and learned so far.”

“Sometimes,” he continues, “we think we need to go very far to preach, but we have to remember that near our community, wherever it is, darkness reigns.”

A small village known for being intentionally cut off from others for the sake of preserving ancient traditions and protecting saturation in voodoo, Kanpech has previously rejected the transformation and freedom of the Gospel, largely due to fear. It’s been two years since Emmaus attempted major outreach in this zone.

“The Evangelism and Discipleship class at Emmaus is so important because I truly believe that they are ministries close to God’s heart!” Jodenel shares emphatically.  “He wants to reach people through us, and there is such joy in heaven for each person who comes to know Jesus. No matter what your degree or theology is, if you’re not drawing people to Christ, it’s nothing.”

Please pray with us tomorrow for Pastor Jodenel and our second, third and fourth year Evangelism and Discipleship students.  Pray for the softening of hearts and the opening of eyes in Kanpech!

Today and everyday, Emmaus continues to powerfully equip and practically train Haitian men and women for the transformation of hearts, mud-hut villages, Haiti and the world.

Loving What He Does

Loving What He Does

I know we just came off of a nice break, and Christmas, and New Years, and that’s all supposed to be the highlights.  And there are some sweet memories (and a lot of sick ones.)
But today? Today was where it’s all at…today I left the finance pile on my desk and left a homeschool pile with Lauren (the daughter of two of our visiting professors whom the girls have deemed a far more fun teacher than mom), left a happy Nora with her beloved Gertha and did the most basic, fundamental, first thing we do at Emmaus after prayer: I just went to class.
And it was so good.  I wish I could have taken you.  And I’m so THANKFUL that over 100 men and women from all across Haiti, most of for whom such education and equipping seemed IMPOSSIBLE, today, were there too.
It was beautiful to hear Dr. Jerry Caskey, a man who is just never going to be content with how things are in the world, whose whole heart is so obviously dripping for Jesus that it pours out his eyes more than once or twice a lecture.  He’s teaching Synoptic Gospels to our first year class, and today they were going through different kind of miracles and what they SAY, what they meant, what they mean. I could have stayed all ten days, it was so interesting, and relevant, and fresh.
And it was beautiful to see Simeon translating the material and language and ideas as passionately as Jerry is.  I was proud and I was thankful, because what good is bringing Jerry’s heart and mind and experience all the way here if nobody understands it?  That’s a big calling our staff who translate take seriously.
What’s more beautiful that this?  What’s Haiti need more than this?  What do I need more than this? An earnest, thorough, digging and receiving of the Word.
And then there is Ms. Pam, who has been spending at least a month a year of her life at Emmaus since before Matt and I came in 2007.  She wouldn’t tell you so, but she’s quite brilliant, and the students have finally stopped trying to stump this female who carries the reputation from year to year as one who can run rings of theology around anyone in this love-to-debate culture.
This just encourages more good conversations in this Systematic Theology 2 class, and I loved watching her translator, Blaise, dig into his own Bible countless times when students couldn’t quite get deep enough, searching it out for himself, Pam, searching it out along with them.

I love this second year class…they’ve never found a thing they can’t make fun, and I just relished this more the joy and community they have with each other.  After being spread all over the last month, these brothers and sisters are obviously happy to be working together again.
Talk about brains.  I didn’t even try to figure out what these three were talking about, but with Fanfan stepping into the Academic Dean position, and Dr. Joyce Thornton mentoring him through (while also running all of our masters programs and frequently teaching), I’m just THANKFUL for the highly intelligent, faithful and detailed man Fanfan is and the brilliant, no-nonsense, get-it-done woman Joyce is (as long as she has an unending supply of coke and coffee 🙂 to come alongside Matt and HELP.  Like, really really help.
Another God moment this morning finally coming out of my first trimester survival stretch was chatting with AnneYolie and Phida.  Phida you know we know and love and send and there’s just nobody better at compassion and Gospel-sharing here in Haiti.  But AnneYolie’s just been with us since September, and she is a humble and uber-capable woman we have prayed earnestly and deliberately for for y-e-a-r-s.  She’s a major team player, anxious to learn and it is so good to have a great receptionist, the center lady of it all, after all this time without (or, for a few months, worse than without!)
And I KNEW when I passed through the cafeteria that Edlin would be faithfully making his billionth gallon of juice, that Granny and Paulcine would be shredding their thousandth head of cabbage.  And I knew they’d be chatting and laughing, because they always are…what a testimony.  What a testimony of support ministry, of servant ministry, of faithful followers of Christ.
I ended up in the library, always doubling as our only large classroom, which is necessary when what you see here is third year.  What a joy it was for me to sit back and watch Larry and Verna (and really Leme, too) co-teach the music and theory class.  Incredibly talented and culturally sensitive (Larry grew up in Haiti and just glows when he’s “home”) they have the joy of teaching an across-the-board major love of the Haitian Christian…MUSIC.
There was lots of singing, lots of practicing, lots of conducting and testing and examples and nodding as techniques our pastors, worship leaders, and singers have been using for YEARS finally make sense, have a name, have a reason.
Verna plays the opening chords for English hymns she knows that apply various theories, Larry belts out the name of the hymn in Creole, someone yells out the hymn number (not that it matters, because nobody has a need for their battered hymn books) and in a matter of seconds, the room is full of boisterous melody, strong and harmonious as most of the students clap or conduct in their seats, and Verna is laughing again with Leme, who may have lost his voice by the end of this week.
I really could have just sat in that worship all day if I hadn’t already spent so much time in the other classes – there is no such thing as a half-hearted singer in Haiti, nor should there be when we worship in ANY country.  It’s never forced but always ready, not about individual talent, but about a very deserving God, and somehow Haiti has wrapped it’s roots around the idea that worship is the same as prayer, prayer the same as worship.

It makes for a holy class, as holy as the other’s digging deep in their Bibles.
What a morning, one I am so thankful and grateful to have experienced and to be some small part of.
As are you, as are you.  Wish you were here.
I’m off to the 1-6 pm combined masters class, with our MACL (Masters in the Arts of Christian Leadership) and our MED (Masters in Education) students come together for Dr. Joyce Thornton’s Fundamentals of Teaching class…better equipping over 40 principals, school directors, teachers and and school administrators from elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities throughout Northern Haiti…what a need, what a gift.
They Are Here

They Are Here

One of my favorite days of the year was yesterday and today…the days all the students come home!  As much as God’s at work through us and Emmaus sending people OUT…I love when they come in, too.

Everyone is so grateful to be back together, most of whom were in full-time ministry all summer, and most of them, with very little support or help or family.  To be together again with their mentors and brothers and sisters and prayer partners and accountability partners and friends is a joy obvious to anyone.  As with every August, most are a little worse for the wear, this battle we’re all a part of not easy.  Everyone’s a belt notch smaller (and most were on the smallest notch to start with) and everyone’s got stories of struggles and triumphs from the past 2 months.  

What really encouraged me, today, was to sit in the back and see 7-8 young men and women stuffed happily into each pew, HERE, voluntarily, asking for help and training in sharing and being and knowing and living the Gospel.  I mean, that’s a miracle, isn’t it?
Isn’t that deeply encouraging?  Today, there are 100 young men and women in HAITI, a place many feel to be hopeless, in a world many feel to be hopeless, gathered together from the ends of the country asking to be trained in and sent out in the Gospel.  Asking to live, asking to die, the Gospel.
His HOPE is in that.  His HAND is in that.  For the thousand without-hope young men and women we drive past just to get to the airport, for the millions of young men and women without-hope around the world, there are those who know Him and who carry Him brightly, strongly convicted that their lives and futures are not their own, and who are coming in to grow, and going out to share, and no one is making them.  No one is asking them.  No one is forcing them.
God’s called them.  For those without hope.
And they. are. here.
Right in front of me.
That excited me today.
I hope it blesses and encourages you, too.
There are some special things scheduled for this afternoon…can’t wait to see Him at work, and to share it with you!
50th Thanksgiving Service

50th Thanksgiving Service

On Saturday, May 6, we had a Spirit-filled Thanksgiving Service for 50 years of existence. The service was held at the Evangelical Church of Vaudreuil and participants included past and present seminary Directors, Deans, Students, and Staff. With many choirs and approximately 1000 in attendance, it was a wonderful sacrifice of praise that we offered to the King of Kings for 50 years of developing Christ-like leaders for the spiritual transformation of Haiti!

EBS Rector Dr. Matt Ayars and EBS Founder Dave Graffenberger

EBS Rector Dr. Matt Ayars and EBS Academic Dean Rev. Lucner Piere (with EBS Professor Bill Edler)

EBS Students Left to Right: Joan Dejak, Jean Mardochée, Eliab Alexandre, and Levy Dieujuste

EBS Students Aldy Joseph and Sundy

EBS Students leading worship

Choir

EBS Doyen Rev. Lucner Pierre

EBS Students

Enoch Firmin leading his choir

EBS Fonder Dave Graffenberger

EBS Student Rujerry Francois leading worship

Our dear Esther

 

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We had the most just GOOD convocation service this past Wednesday.  It was just GOOD.  The worship was fantastic. The sermon was convicting and humbling, the prayer time was powerful, praying over our first year class was beautiful.  Listening to them read their commitment to holy living and humble service and to be family…reading with our staff and students our promise to live life alongside and to minister to them and equip them and love them. It was all just GOOD.  Wish you coulda been there.

This is a special first year class.  Some of them are incredibly intelligent.  Many of them are very hardworking.  Several of them are just radiant leaders, many of them have sincere hearts for service and ministry, many of them radiate a true love for Jesus and a desire to love Him and give Him well…they’re beloved men and women.

Do you support a student at Emmaus yet?
If you don’t, please pray about coming alongside one of these men or women.  We need your help equipping and discipling and caring for them, and Christ-in-them-in-Haiti is such a powerful investment in His kingdom.

Please be praying for our first year students with us!

It was a good long week and we are pretty well beat this evening.  Carol and I almost have everything balanced in the office, intensive courses finished today, Lily and Sofie had a bunch of their friends over this afternoon, we grilled out with our visitors, and Matt and I are both getting ready to start teaching again this week!

Next post…things we think are normal, but you might not…