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Monte Pou Krist

‘The least of these’

What will we do to help?

By Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ

 

Malasi church

The church at Malasi in December 2007. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

Pastor Vilsuis Verite hiked three hours from the church in the remote mountain village of Malasi to the equally off-the-beaten-path Gentilhomme. He came to meet us during our visit to Haiti in April 2007. He had a request: could his church be affiliated with Monte Pou Krist.

Monte Pou Krist is Climbing For Christ in Creole, the language of Haiti.

“Why do you want to be affiliated with Climbing For Christ?” I asked.

“They need a 'head,'” said our missionary, Miguel Rubén Guante, who was interpreting for Pastor Verite and me. They need spiritual guidance in much the same way we are currently helping the church at Gentilhomme (known as Le Gliz Monte Pou Krist — the Church of Climbing For Christ).

The church at Malasi was one of three that met with us in Gentilhomme. Representatives also came from Thoman and Soliette. Thoman has no pastor and needs spiritual guidance. Soliette needs to have its church finished. The original church was destroyed in the flood of 2004; a natural disaster that originated on the mountain Pic la Selle and flowed downhill all the way to Jimani, Dominican Republic, more than 30 kilometers away. The flood and landslides killed nearly 3,000 Haitians and 2,000 Dominicans, and affected the already difficult lives of tens of thousands. The disaster destroyed countless homes and buildings, such as the church in Soliette.

Pastor Santelma Edma (known as Pastor Italian, for some strange reason) hiked up the steep trails from Soliette to Gentilhomme to meet with us. Visibly shaking as he spoke, he asked us for help. The new church, built on higher ground above the river bed that doubles as a highway into the heart of the Chaine de la Selle mountain range in southeastern Haiti, was built with U.S. relief. But it is unfinished; there is half a roof up, no doors, windows, or floor. Pastor Italian asked if we could help them finish their church. He also would like to improve the school that meets in his church, making it more like the school in the church at Gentilhomme.

Gentilhomme has become a model for the villages around it. Praise God for this.

The flood of 2004 also destroyed Miguel's church and killed his pastor in the border town of Jimani. In the past, Miguel has asked us to help with his church in Jimani. Herein lies the problem: Jimani, Thoman and Soliette are not technically in the mountains. I have been challenged by the need for us to stay true to our calling and vision to serve those who otherwise cannot or will not be reached by aid with the charge as a Christian to help those in need. Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these [the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the unclothed, the sick, the imprisoned], you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45).

We will answer one day for those we have passed by without helping. What will our answer be?

While meeting with these men of God and discussing these difficulties with Miguel, I explained how Climbing For Christ does not have the money to help every village in this part of Haiti. We struggle to fund what needs to be done in Gentilhomme alone.

“You don't have money,” Miguel said, purposefully. “But God have money.”

God will provide. Scripture tells us this repeatedly — in Matthew 6:33, 7:7-8 and 11, and 21:22; Luke 12:31; Romans 8:32; Philippians 4:19, and 1 John 5:14-15.

“Maybe God want you to do not just for Gentilhomme,” Miguel said. “Maybe God want you to do for Haiti.”

 

Haitian hikers

Haitians carrying twigs over the mountain in April 2007. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

God brought us to Gentilhomme. On June 26, 2005, while intending to climb Pic la Selle (the highest mountain in Haiti at 8,773 feet), we discovered Gentilhomme. Johnathan Esper, my son Jesse, and I were ascending the now-familiar trail up from Soliette and came over the crest of a hill to see Gentilhomme nestled on the slopes of what we thought was Pic la Selle. It turns out that Pic la Selle is behind this mountain, which is Món Boukan (Mount Fire — known as such because there always seems to be a fire burning on the slopes as farmers torch the undergrowth to clear the way for the planting of crops such as onions, beans, peas, and yucca, and trees are burned to make charcoal). Chalismar Miguel Charles crossed our path. We asked him if he could show us the way up Pic la Selle. He said he could, but first he would introduce us to Pastor Meristaine Tresin.

Our meeting with Pastor Tresin was a divine appointment. He looked deeply into my eyes as he grasped and shook my right hand with both of his, saying: “I have prayed for two years for God to send help.” We are the help. We raised more than $12,000 and built a church within nine months, something nearly unheard of in Haiti. The church was dedicated on May 14, 2006. In September 2006, it became a school for more than 140 children who have never been able to go to school. Mathurin Saenril is a trained teacher working at the school. He is helped by Exima, a member of the church. They teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The church at Gentilhomme is the heart of the village. Soon it will house a health clinic. It also will lead to clean water and improved sanitation. That is what we are working on now.

These are the many things God has led us to do in Gentilhomme. But I believe it is only the start. As we met with pastors and representatives of other churches from other villages in need, as I listened to pleas and prayed to God for direction, He made it clear to me: DO for the least of these.

Haiti is a troubled country, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Its history is bloody and ungodly. The people turned to the evil one when they embraced voodoo in their revolt against the French in 1791. The Haitian Revolution (considered the world's only successful slave uprising) lasted 13 years and “altered the course of world history,” according to The Rainy Season by Amy Wilentz. E.J. Hobsbawm concurs in The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848, writing: “The failure of Napoleonic France to recapture Haiti was one of the main reasons for liquidating the entire remaining American Empire, which was sold by the Louisiana Purchase (1803) to the USA.”

Today, Haiti is one of the most disadvantaged countries in the developing world. Seventy-six percent of Haitians live on less than $2 U.S. per day and 55 percent live on less than $1 U.S. per day, according to the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP). Chronic malnutrition is widespread. Malnutrition and diarrhea kill 28 percent and 20 percent of children ages 0 to 5, respectively, the World Food Programme reports. Haiti is one of the three worst countries in the world for “daily caloric deficit” with an average intake of just 460 calories per day. The WFP says: “Some 2.4 million Haitians cannot afford the minimum 2,240 daily calories recommended by the World Health Organization.”

Feeding the hungry, giving something clean to drink to those who thirst, clothing those in need of clothing, and providing health care to the sick are among the physical needs crying out to us in Haiti. Providing the love and teaching of Christ is the spiritual need.

For us, it begins in Gentilhomme. But I do not think it ends there.

God has many mountain villages for us to reach and serve in Haiti. Along the way, we will encounter many who are in need in places more easily reached. If we are not the ones sent to help them, we should act as a conduit and bring the plight of these people to those who might be willing and able to lend a hand — from Miguel's church in Jimani to churches along the road in Thoman and Soliette.

Climbing For Christ’s mission to is serve those in need in places where other missionaries cannot or will not go. Our focus is the higher ground — the mountainous areas of the world.

Malasi, like Gentilhomme, seems to be a place where God would call us to do His work. It is a remote mountain village. While Gentilhomme can be found on some maps, villages such as Malasi exist without anyone knowing they are there.

But God knows, and He sends people like us to help the least among us.

This story originally appeared in The Climbing Way (Volume 8, Summer 2008). Posted Dec. 26, 2007.

The Word

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these [the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the unclothed, the sick, the imprisoned], you did not do for me.”
— Matthew 25:45 (NIV)

Adopt a Village

You can help through prayer support and financial giving. Please consider contributing to Climbing For Christ to help us do His work. The need is great in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. In addition to helping us with work in Gentilhomme and other mountain villages such as Malasi, you can adopt a village located at lower elevations (such as Thoman or Soliette). We are trying to find churches, ministries and people who can help other villages where Climbing For Christ is not called to serve. Send your donation to Climbing For Christ, Inc. at P.O. Box 16290, Rochester, N.Y. 14616-0290.

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