Important: See Jerry and Sonja’s final newsletter in the News tab. (Don’t worry, they’re handing off the ministry to a wonderful couple, and it will be in good hands!)
Making a real impact in Anse-A-Galets, Haiti.
Haiti is home to some of the poorest people on earth. And the island of LaGonave has historically been the poorest part of Haiti. The people there lived in abject poverty that is unimaginable to the western mind. Hungry children were eating anything they could find (including scavenging garbage piles) and suffering from severe malnutrition and disease.
Pastor Sonja Dickherber visited this area while helping with a dental clinic on a short-term mission trip in 1994. Walking through the streets of Anse-A-Galets (“on-SOG-ah-LAY”) on the island of LaGonave, she was struck by the hopelessness of the people there, and knew that God was calling her to do something to help. With much prayer, after spending a year in Anse-A-Galets, Sonja and her husband Jerry incorporated Celebrate Jesus of Haiti, Inc. as a 501 C 3 organization with the mission to improve the lives of the people there on three levels: Spirit, Soul and Body. They made the decision to pay their own expenses and to receive no salary or airfare reimbursements for their work. Only Haitians who are chosen to do certain jobs receive a salary from the mission. This very unusual arrangement means that virtually everything that’s given to the ministry is spent to improve the lives of the Haitian people.
Ministering to Spirit, Soul and Body
Spirit: The local church
Many organizations help people in Haiti because they feel it’s the right thing to do from a humanitarian point of view. That’s great, but Jerry and Sonja wanted to do much more. The voodoo religion that’s so prevalent in Haiti does not offer any hope to the people. Instead, people suffer under ritual practices that get their power from the kingdom of darkness. The local witch doctor is the De facto authority over a village. Without the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, people don’t know there is any alternative that can bring them hope. That’s why a really good Spirit-filled local church is a key part of the ministry. Now people have the hope that comes from knowing that their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and that they’ll spend eternity with their Savior.
A Haitian pastor was ordained in 2002 after receiving intensive training for approximately one year. Property was purchased and a church was built. The local non-denominational church is thriving under the leadership of Pastor Joaquim Guerrier, a Hatian man who has lived on the island of LaGonave his entire life.
About 300 families attend the church, which is reaching out to the neighboring villages with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Many Haitians are finding new hope in Christ, and are a living testimony to those who are still in bondage to the practices of voodoo.
Now, at the request of a neighboring village, the church is reaching out to plant a new church in that community.
Soul: Education – The School
Bringing food and spiritual hope to the people are very important, but people need the ability to become independent from foreign aid. A good education allows the young people of the village to have real opportunities to escape the cycle of poverty.
The school was built in 2003 and was completed and opened in time for the fall 2004 classes. Under the leadership of the Haitian principal grades one through twelve are taught with an enrollment of over 200 students. Haitian schools have thirteen grades, and we now have students in all 13 grades. Unlike other Haitian schools, the children pay no part of the expense of the school. Everything – their uniforms, books, tuition and food – is donated. The only expense for the students is the purchase of their shoes. Haitian teachers are employed, and the children and teachers are fed each day. The school’s expenses have increased due to the higher number of students. Would you prayerfully consider a generous donation to help in this important project?
Body: Food, Water, and Health Care
The Feeding Program
The feeding program was established in 2001 and was Sonja’s first priority. Children are being fed one nutritious meal of beans and rice per day, six days a week in eight different locations along the Saline, plus the school. In all, over 875 children, plus the teachers, are being fed.
The Promised Land (Vegetable Garden)
Twenty acres of fertile ground was purchased and cleared for the purpose of helping the Haitians to grow their own food. The goal is to provide enough food for the church members as well as to have some to sell in local markets to provide income to the people. The land is irrigated from a reservoir dug on the property which captures rain water flowing down from the nearby hills. A fence was completed in order to prevent animals from raiding the garden.
The Medical Clinic
A clinic was built to provide dental and physical care facilitated by volunteer dentists and physicians from the United States who donate their vacations to help the people of LaGonave. Since January 24, 2013, we are excited to have a childrens’ clinic open Monday through Friday. Children birth through 12 years of age are now being seen, whereas before these were the neglected ones. Approximately 25 to 30 children are seen each day. The doctor and nurse treat 25 to 30 children per day, and specialty teams from the United States still come in on a temporary basis as well. Over 20,000 patients have been seen in the short time the clinic has been open (not counting follow-up visits).
Guts Church of Tulsa, in cooperation with Celebrate Jesus of Haiti has completed drilling many wells on the island of LaGonave. The drilling rig has been donated to another ministry which will drill wells on the mainland of Haiti.
Bringing clean water to villages on the island has been a huge blessing for the residents, and a major part of making the island a healthier place to live.
Can You Help?
We have more details on all these efforts throughout our website. Please pray about whether you should become involved – as a volunteer, a helper on a short-term mission trip, a regular contributor, or even a golfer at our annual fund raiser. The children of Haiti will be blessed immeasurably by the contributions that you’ll make!