by Michael & Breanna Rudolph
Michael and Breanna (USA) serve in Haiti, where they live in the remote mountains with their two children, sharing the gospel and following the example of Christ.
Immense poverty – natural beauty. Violent gangs – innocent orphans. Political corruption and instability – God’s infallibility and faithfulness. Haiti is a place of contrasts. Once called ‘The Pearl of the Antilles’, it is a beautiful country that has been torn apart by violence, natural disasters and corruption since its inception. Throughout its history, Haiti has turned its back on the Almighty Creator. The majority of people are desperate; many turn to crime, drugs or other destructive behaviours. But God is at work here, people are turning from misery to His glorious light.
Michael was introduced to Haiti while accompanying medical teams with Aid For Haiti – All For Him. The earthquake of January 2010 took him back to Haiti for emergency medical relief. During that trip, Michael heard God calling him to full-time mission and so he stayed. Working as a medic took Michael into remote areas and a cholera outbreak took him to a small clinic in the mountains of Les Palmes. Breanna met him there while helping to care for a team remodelling that clinic and she answered their request to return as a nursing assistant. Two and half years later we married and began our lives together in the small home Michael was building, just up the hill.
Located south of the coastal city of Petit- Goave, it takes two hours in a 4×4 truck to drive the 12-mile mountain trail to Les Palmes. Our remote community is completely off-grid, we rely on solar and generator power, and haul most of our supplies up from Petit-Goave. Les Palmes is a well-populated farming area. The Lord has graciously given us wonderful people to labour with on a daily basis, and the need for the gospel and opportunities to serve are everywhere.
The Lord has enabled us to partner with national believers in various outreach ministries: facilitating remote medical and surgical teams, leadership seminars, literature distribution and assisting other missions in times of crisis. Since the addition of our children, Junior (3) and Lydia (1), we stay closer to home. In the last two years, travel within the country, which is always challenging, has become uncertain and often dangerous. These circumstances have kept us in our home community and the Lord has blessed the local ministry.
Nestled in the heart of the Caribbean, Haiti, only slightly larger than Wales, is home to 11.4 million people. The official languages are French and Creole (Kreyòl), but French is mostly reserved for official business. Especially in the mountains, Creole dominates both spoken and written communication. Haiti has a humid tropical climate and suffers from hurricanes and tropical storms, severe droughts and occasional earthquakes. Haiti has one of the most crippled and unsustainable economies worldwide.1
Roman Catholicism is the official religion, but Voodoo is the cultural religion and it is often mixed with Catholicism. There is so much superstition and fear, especially in the mountains where Voodoo is commonly practised. We have seen the power of demons and curses on unbelievers. We recently witnessed the effects of a ‘curse’ on the family of a man who sold cows that he was told to sacrifice in a Voodoo ceremony. The good news is that Jesus Christ is able to set free all those who are in bondage!
Evangelicals have made their mark on Haiti, yet even they have been affected by fear and superstition. There is a common saying that ‘Haiti is 70% Catholic, 30% Protestant, and 100% Voodoo.’ The fallacy of being able to outweigh bad with good is prevalent. Biblical understanding is sorely lacking. Many misconceptions and false doctrines are taught. A widespread belief is that if you are a member of a church and tithe, you are automatically a Christian and all will be well regardless of the life you live. Much emphasis is given to dreams and ‘revelations’ and little to the Word of God.
To our knowledge, there are currently no Brethren assemblies in Haiti. There are several in the neighbouring Dominican Republic that do outreach in Haiti, and there are two other brethren serving here. There are many churches; it is a religious country but religion does not save. Too often, corruption takes its toll within the leadership and we see money controlling the hearts of ‘pastors’. We hear of the devastation and hurt that comes from a church leader not acting as an under-shepherd of Christ.
The good news is that Jesus Christ is able to set free all those who are in bondage!
However, there are those who are truly seeking ‘the kingdom of God, and His righteousness’. Men and women long to know more of the Word, but solid resources are scarce! We hold weekly Bible studies for those interested in studying the truth of Scripture and biblical doctrine. The Lord is working. We have been praying for the soul of our groundskeeper, Alix, who was raised a nominal Catholic. During a study in Romans, the Holy Spirit changed his heart. About two weeks later, he told Michael how his heart and mind were regenerated, and of the ensuing peace and joy that filled his soul.
We continue to minister to these spiritual needs as the Lord enables. These times of Bible study and prayer are held under a bamboo and tarpaulin shelter. We are working to purchase a piece of land to build a versatile meeting place for Bible studies, teaching seminars, marriage conferences and an assembly that preaches the Word. The Lord has given us many visions and goals. However, with the current infrastructure, everything takes a long time to accomplish. So we try to remain patient, do what we can, and wait on God’s timing and provision.
Our summer break leadership seminars had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. For the past eight years, God has enabled us to facilitate these annual seminars for church leaders and schoolteachers. They require much preparation, days of travel, gifted teachers and translators, and, most importantly, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Our home assembly sends teachers and material. The biblical instruction, resources, encouragement and counsel these men receive are invaluable, and they are equipped to teach dozens of others! It encourages us as, year after year, we see growth in these brothers’ lives. We witness the Holy Spirit guiding, maturing and teaching them, and we praise the Lord! We hope and pray that, as pandemic restrictions lift, we can reschedule.
The Word in Haitian Creole
We have long felt the need for Christian literature to be made available in Haitian Creole. The majority of adults have little education, most cannot read French and there is little written in Creole. With our growing grasp of the language, this past year God gave us the capacity to start putting together a periodical in Creole titled Antre Nan Pawòl La (Into the Word). We distribute 1,000 copies of each edition in the local marketplaces. The reception and appreciation of these pamphlets has been huge! People come to the marketplaces from all over the surrounding mountains to buy and sell. Many of the materials that we hand out are carried to locations that we would otherwise never be able to reach. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work through the truths printed in these pamphlets, igniting the hearts of the readers and changing their lives.
As we observe the many contrasts of Haiti, the needs, the systemic corruption and violence, we also see that in the midst of great darkness there is a great Light! If we were to point to one passage of Scripture as our inspiration it would be Matthew 9:35-38.
Our goal is to hold forth the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and follow His example of teaching, preaching and healing (v35). As Christ said, “The harvest truly is plentiful” and we give our lives to the Lord to be sent out as His labourers (v37-38).
Pray & Give Thanks
Pray for God’s work in Haiti, that the gospel would flourish, penetrating each home, drawing the Lord’s people to Himself, changing individuals, families and villages, and exalting the name of God. Pray that He would move the hearts of Haiti’s leaders to peaceful resolution to the political unrest. May the Holy Spirit use these challenging times to turn mankind to seek the Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Praise God for His grace and power, for His enduring promise that the Word will not return to Him empty, that it will accomplish His purposes and succeed according to His sovereign will!