Saturday, 12 January 2019

Establishing Sustainability

I'm a little (a lot) behind on updates here but I do want to rewind a bit to the week before Christmas when our PT team from the south west baptist university came to work with Altidor and I at Bethesda.

This is the same university who sent the team in January and brought all of our supplies and equipment for the new building.  It was so great to have them come back and to continue to support the therapy work at Bethesda.

Our team including translators 

Two of the team members arrived the week before and treated patients with Altidor and I, at the same time provided some great on the job training.  They were also able to bring down 3 paediatric wheelchairs which are almost impossible to find in Haiti. We spent most of Friday fitting two of the chairs as best as we could.  Once Yvelinda's was fitted and her mum pushed her around she could not keep the smile off her wee face.  This is a huge blessing for these families, not only to be able to take their kids for a walk but to have somewhere safe where they can sit at home.  And the chairs have lots of room in them for growing space so they will last a long time.

The rest of the team arrived on Sunday and were straight into work on Monday. Each morning in staff devotions the team educated our staff on various subjects and also shared a devotional everyday.

Over the next 4 days we treated over 100 patients, many of whom were also prayed with and one young girl gave her life to Jesus.  In the afternoons we invited local Haitian PT techs to come and complete a course in the management of low back pain.  I love this team coming because of the training aspect they bring.  My working life hasn't exactly been career orientated given that most of my therapy work has been in Haiti so for us to have a stroke specialist, an orthopaedic specialist and students who are just about to graduate with so much fresh knowledge and up to date research is really great as they pour that knowledge into Altidor and I so we can treat our patients better.

Here are some highlights and specific patients which our team members felt stood out to them during the week....

'For me personally, working with the patients in general was incredible and solidified why I want to be a physical therapist and that I choose the right profession to pursue! But to be honest the highlight of the trip was being the lab assistant to Tom during the classes and watching the PT techs start to teach themselves towards the end of the week and we just backed off and watched them. We talked about this as a group, but I felt as if that was a depiction of our entire trip. We weren’t there just to do something, but to try and teach so that the impact will last longer.'

'I worked with the woman who was carried in but walked out. That was also the patient that I challenged Altidor with, and she took over the treatment session and was very effective! Hopefully she continues to come to therapy and Altidor can see her make big improvements over the next few weeks.'

'The first is the man who told me that he is “not yet” a follower of Christ, because he owes a debt to the devil. I saw a tenderness in him as he told me, but I could see that he was paralyzed by fear. I had the chance to speak some truth to him about Christ paying all of our debts for us. I will continue to pray for truth to penetrate his fear.
My second favorite patient was one of the oldest people I saw that week. I think she was 88. I asked her if I could pray for her, and she got very excited. She said she has recently given her life to Christ, and asked me to pray for her spiritual growth. That really struck me. I saw how much the church is alive and well in Haiti and people’s lives are being transformed. As long as people are living on earth, they can still be transformed- even at age 88. That gave me hope for the other man. God is big enough to forever change hearts and lives, one at a time.'

'I've been to Haiti three times and I have only had one patient tell me they were not a Believer or hadn’t given their life to Christ. As I finished my session up with this 18 year old female, Tousson, I asked her if I could pray for her. She said yes and I asked if she went to church around where the clinic is located in Vaudreuil, Haiti. She said she attended church but hadn’t given her life to Christ. If I’m being really honest, I had a minor freak out moment. I had never had a patient tell me that before and I didn’t know what to say next. Thankfully, the Lord spoke to me and reminded me my job is not to convert or change this girl, but to just speak truth. While I was having this mini conversation in my head, my translator, Ruth Daniella, turned toward me saying that Tousson wanted to give her life to Christ. Some background on her story is that her mom is in the US and for unknown reasons is not able to get back to Haiti, and her father is deceased. She attends a Christian church but hadn’t ever submitted her life to Christ and accepted Him as her Saviour. Long story short, we cried, prayed and Tousson gave her life to Christ that day. One of the things I love about this story is that after this all happened, Ruth Daniella immediately got her phone number and told her she would check in with her and continue to encourage her in her faith. It was such a relief to know that the Lord was already lining people up to be able to mentor, disciple and encourage this girl. This experience was a highlight of my trip.'

Monday, 24 December 2018

Merry Christmas

In North America people send Christmas letters updating friends and family on the past year.  In the UK we send Christmas cards.  As missionaries our lives are always public so in a weird cultural mix of all of those things we have decided to do this...

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.  Thank you all for your 
prayers and support over this past crazy year. 

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Prayers for Haiti

Haiti is going through a time of political instability which began a couple of weeks ago.  There were planned manifestations (protests)  for the 18th November, which began on 17th and didn’t finish until 22nd. Unfortunately these protests consist of road blocks, burning tyres in the street, throwing rocks and bottles along with threatening messages making their way around the country through whatsapp, which results in almost everyone too scared to leave their homes.  Schools, hospitals, markets and businesses were closed and the whole city of Cap Haitian was on shut down.

I cannot begin to understand or even explain why people are protesting because I  have heard many different reasons.  Some people are saying it’s because the cost of living in Haiti is so expensive (which it is!), some say its the opposition party paying people to protest, who want the president to step down and some say its to do with the petrocaribe ( something to do with government corruption over subsidized fuel sent from Venezuela).  Honestly its difficult to know what to believe but for your average person its just another thing which makes an already difficult life even more difficult.

Whatever the reason is it’s not been good for Haiti. Protests mean no one can get into town to do business, buy food, bring fuel etc.  Schools were closed for just over a week and some parents are still scared to send their children to school.  Things seem to be getting back to normal this week but there are rumours of more protests coming, whether these will happen or not we don't know.

So once again we ask for your prayers for Haiti. Right now its for the political situation to settle down and for God to bring peace.

Bill and I talk often of what will change Haiti, there are so so many problems and issues how would someone even know where to begin.  According to statistics it is estimated there are over 10,000, yes I did mean to write ten thousand, NGO/aid/mission organizations working in Haiti.  Even with all that help many people still live in extreme poverty and people tell me things are more difficult now than they were in the past.

So what is the answer?  It can only be the gospel.  Business is good, jobs are good, healthcare is good, education for kids is good and there is no doubt many of these organisations are doing good things but only with the gospel will Haiti truly change.

Imagine a community, a country where people tell the truth, where there is no jealousy, where children are born within the constraints of marriage, where people love their enemies and do good to those who persecute them, where there is no stealing, where people work together and there is unity, where there is faithfulness in marriage and where people love one another. It sounds impossible doesn't it?

But through the power of the gospel and the holy spirit it is possible.

Colossians 3 v 12-16

Put on then as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against one another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful. 

Monday, 19 November 2018

Looking for the good

Most of the time living in Haiti its so easy to complain.  There are so many things to complain about...the road, the constant sweating, mosquitoes, being stared at etc etc Anyway this post is supposed to be the opposite of that so I won't complain anymore!

Its been hard adjusting back to life in Haiti and I've had a hard time seeing the positives and where God is working but over this past week I've been looking and want to share a couple stories with you. 

Last Friday we had an old man come in for physio.  He had had a stroke in 2014 and a neighbour told him to come to Bethesda for physio.  We got talking and this man told us his story.  He is from Port au Prince but left come to Cap for a job in 2006 and has not heard from his children since then.  After his stroke he has been unable to work and now a friend gives him somewhere to sleep and other friends give him some food.  He suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure (on Friday his BP was 180/100!) and his feet were incredibly swollen.  He doesn't have the means to go to any doctor so both are uncontrolled.  Altidor and I quickly realised his main problem could not be helped by physio. I spoke to Dr Rodney about his care and he wrote a note that Bethesda would pay for his care.  The next day he returned for a consultation where he received the medicine he needs for both blood pressure and diabetes.  What is even better about this is he can come back every month and get the medicine free of charge.  This is only because of our indigent care fund which enables Bethesda to help those people who are really poor and cannot afford medical treatment.

Afterwards he came back to the physio room to say thank you and told me ' God sent you here just for me to get taken care of, I am really happy today.  God bless you,'

Next was a patient I treated in January.  She had been ill for about 8 months with extreme back pain and leg pain,  gradually loosing strength in her legs and now unable to walk with out a zimmer frame. She is only in her early 40's and had been to many doctors and was now going to a neurologist but was not improving at all.  I only treated her twice before she returned to Port au Prince to keep going to the neurologist.  She came back this week walking independently! I couldn't believe when she walked in.  We asked what happened.  She told us she had been to a neurologist, then a orthopaedic doctor, but neither made any difference. After that she said she 'did another thing' but wouldn't tell us what that was, which usually means she went to a witch doctor.

Later I was taking a full assessment and she repeated about the doctors then she told me she just prayed and prayed and every day she saw people around her getting up and walking.  One day she heard a voice inside saying she could get up and walk so she did.  And from that day she has not used her zimmer frame.

It truly sounded like a miracle but why not tell us what happened in between, what was the 'other thing'? I went home pretty confused.  She went to a witch doctor but then believed God healed her.  How can I sit with her and tell her its really a miracle that she is better but not know the whole story.  I was also quite discouraged.  How do I know if people are telling me the truth or not or are they just telling me what they think I want to hear?

She has been coming back for exercise every couple of days and one of the days it was just her and Altidor and Altidor got the full story.

This patients family had been paying for her medical care and they were fed up spending money when they didn't see her getting any better.  They kept telling her go to the witch doctor, go to the witch doctor, go to the witch doctor.  Finally just to keep them happy she went but she remembered her father always told her to never go.  But when she went she told him I don't believe in anything you do and I will never take anything you give me. I believe that only God has power and only he can heal me.  Needless to say the witch doctor was angry but her family were satisfied she went.  She continued to pray and one day she was listening to a christian radio station and that's when she heard the voice to get up and walk. So she sat on the edge of her bed, held onto the wall and stood and felt good so she took a few steps and felt good.  All the pain she had been experiencing had gone.  She had been healed.

Her legs are still very weak and a little unsteady but her pain is gone, she is able to walk on her own without the help of a zimmer or walking stick.  God has truly healed her.

I am so thankful to be able to work alongside Altidor who helps me so much with language difficulties, explaining exercises to patients and cultural understanding of many many things!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Big new from Emmaus

Emmaus Community and Friends,

In January 2017, Emmaus Biblical Seminary celebrated its 50th anniversary. This was a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving for God's grace that enabled Emmaus to fulfill its mission to develop Christ-like leaders for the transformation of Haiti and the world for five decades!

The 50th anniversary was not only a time of celebration, but also a time of deep reflection and prayer. While looking back on what God has accomplished through Emmaus in the past, we are looking forward to God's plans for the future of Emmaus. How can Emmaus be strategically positioned to be even more effective in fulfilling its God-given mission? How can Emmaus make an even greater impact for the Kingdom in Haiti in the fifty years to come?

In exploring the will of God through prayer and dialogue with Emmaus stakeholders (including current leadership, students, alumni, and donors) the Emmaus Biblical Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously approved changing the name of the institution from Emmaus Biblical Seminary to Emmaus University of Haiti, effective January 1, 2019.

Of course, theological training for local church leaders will continue to be the core engine and institutional distinctive of Emmaus! The Emmaus Board of Trustees is unwaveringly fixed on theological training as the center of all that Emmaus does. So why the name change?

The stated mission of Emmaus is to develop Christ-like leaders for the transformation of Haiti and the world. This mission is not limited to local church leadership. Through the past number of months, the Emmaus community came to the clear sense that God is calling Emmaus to develop Christ-like leaders not only for the church, but also for other sectors in Haitian society. Haiti needs Christ-like leaders in politics, in education, and in the business sector.

In 2017, Emmaus launched a Master of Education in Instruction and Administration (MEIA). This was our fleece. We wanted to "feel out" what we were sensing from the Holy Spirit by doing a trial run at a degree program for leaders in a sector of society not limited to local church/theological leadership. Over a very short period of time and with very little campaigning for recruitment for the MEIA program, we had a record enrollment of nearly forty students in our very first cohort! 

This record enrollment and hunger for leadership development in the sector of education helped us realize the urgency for competent leaders in education. In January 2019, we will be starting our second cohort (also with a very healthy enrollment) in the MEIA program, thanks be to God.

Some other changes coming as a direct result of this vision and strategic plan for Emmaus is the development of three schools within the university: (1) School of Theology, (2) School of Business, Entrepreneurship and Leadership, and (3) School of Education. With this, the current tentativeschedule for rolling out new degree programs include:
  • January 2019: Master of the Arts in Leadership and Administration (MALA)
  • Fall 2019: Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)
  • Fall 2020: Bachelor of Business, Entrepreneurship and Leadership (BBEL)
  • Fall 2020: Bachelor's in Education (BEd.)
  • Fall 2021: PhD in Transformational Leadership (PhD)
We are excited about the future, and we are excited about being a part of God's work to bring about real and lasting transformation in Haiti through leadership development! We invite you to join us as we diligently work, by God's grace and power, to reach optimal effectiveness in fulfilling our mission to develop Christ-like leaders for Haiti and the world.

Matt Ayars
President | Emmaus University of Haiti

Join us as developing Christ-like leaders for Haiti and the world continues TODAY at Emmaus.

We need your help...

check out our new website!
Emmaus Biblical Seminary | Haiti | |


Saturday, 27 October 2018

Togo, Africa

Aren't these the guys who were supposed to be in Italy and back again by now?
Yep, they are. 
But for 14 months, we have been working and re-routing and applying and reaching out and reapplying and pursuing and investigating new routes, and the door to Italy, at least for now, is firmly closed. Rujerry and Jean William's travel visas have been denied several times, and after a year of asking the Lord to open that door, we at Emmaus started asking the Lord to open His door, and to make it too wide to miss.
EBS President Matt Ayars spoke to an executive at Pioneers, a church-planting organization with a passion to see God glorified among those who are physically and spiritually isolated from the gospel of Jesus Christ. He immediately put Matt in touch with David*, a convert from Kotokoli, the major Muslim tribe of Togo, West Africa.
"After my conversion in 1990, I faced terrible persecution from my family and the community," David shared with me this week, "But by God's grace through signs and wonders and through my personal testimony, all the members of my family have accepted the Lord, one by one.  We are today 8 people following Jesus."
"A few years after our conversions" David continues, "my wife and I clearly received a call from the Lord to raise an army of witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ among Muslims. Most of our co-workers now are Muslim background believers, and together we face the growth of Islam fundamentalists and Muslim leaders and their intimidations. But the Lord who calls us is faithful."
David's organization is at the forefront of disciple-making, evangelism and church-planting in Togo, where the speedy growth of Islam, the carelessness of churches, and the deeply rooted Voodoo in the culture are huge challenges.
Togo's roots in voodoo stretch next door to Benin, the West African country widely seen as the birthplace of Voodoo. Benin and Haiti share an extensive cultural history, both through the old slave trade and through the implantation of Voodoo in Haitian society as a religious force.
Several months ago, David asked if our uniquely-suited Haitian students or staff would be willing to help, and the doors Emmaus had been praying for started opening. 
The necessary person of peace has emerged, has already begun an established work in Togo, and has inspired the prayers of the Emmaus community. Not only do the Togolese people share French with Jean-William and Rujerry, but our Haitian brothers also have a unique understanding and a lifetime of experience with the Voodoo ties that snare and bind the Togolese people. Rujerry and Jean-William have now graduated (May 2018), are both on staff full-time at Emmaus, and are well-equipped in the work most needed: pastoring, evangelism, and discipleship training. All of the funding needed for a three month missions trip for both of them has already been raised, thanks to many of you, and finally, visa applications have been APPROVED through the Dominican Republic, Europe and on to Togo, and passports are in hand.
Their three month trip, set to begin in January, 2019, will be two-fold.  They will fly into Lom é, and spend the first two months in the extreme north in Nano. They will help the missionaries there in their evangelization work among Muslims. After the first phase, they will work in Nots éin the South with David, "where Vodou reigns", for a month, before returning to Haiti.
"Just three weeks ago," David shares, "The Lord glorified his name by using one of our students to make a paralyzed lady walk. He just said a word and the Lord performed His miracle. The Lord spoke to my father, once a leader in the mosque, in a vision in his mother tongue, saying, 'follow me', and he came to serve the Lord fervently. These things are a part of our daily life working for God in Togo. Having your students join us for such a time as this will be a tremendous blessing."
Rujerry and Jean-William ask you to please be praying for...
         -Final travel details to be completed
         -strength, power and wisdom to do good work
         -the softening of people's hearts, that they might be open and ready to hear
         -the people of peace they will live and work with along the way
"I am a little nervous, for sure," Jean-William admits as he, Rujerry and I talk about the upcoming trip.  "But I'm really honored to have this opportunity to participate in what God's doing to redeem His world. Missionaries coming OUT of Haiti are just so rare, and while I'm unsure about encountering a totally new culture and new people, the more I study, the more I think there will be many similarities."
"After all, we have a Biblical command to GO. This isn't our idea," Rujerry adds, slapping one hand into the palm of the other, the common Haitian symbol that something is out of your control.  "The Gospel is needed everywhere in the world, and sometimes God will use a foreign person to bring the Word in a unique, fresh way.  Since I was a child, I have felt a call to be a missionary, and we are grateful to be a part of God's plan."
Emmaus is grateful to be a part of God's plan, too, continuing to develop Christ-like leaders for the transformation of Haiti...and the world!
As their January trip approaches, we will keep you posted, ever grateful for your help and prayers!
*name has been changed

Follow us on Facebook or on Instagram for daily updates and photos, and please continue to lift up His people, like Jean-William and Rujerry, in Haiti!

Stacey Ayars, for the EBS Haiti family

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Big week and catch up

So this week has been busy and interesting.  Bill was back to being a student this week with his module on research methods every afternoon from 1-5pm aswell as teaching Monday, Thursday and Friday. he was scheduled to preach in chapel on Friday but needless to say he swapped with someone.  Bill is glad this week is over and he can get back to being a teacher, although he does have homework to do.

Yesterday was day 11 of someone in our house being sick with vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Sam started last Wednesday, Joel followed a couple of days later then Jacob a couple of days after that.  This week they are all on round 2 of what seems like the same virus.  Bill was also unwell Monday and Friday night.  Seemingly I am the only one in my house who managed to avoid anything even
Altidor, my PT tech was throwing up on Friday morning.  After that Bill began calling me typhoid Mary!  We would appreciate your prayers for everyone to get better and stay better and thankfully today they were heading in that direction.

Its much more fun when the boys are like this!

Things are busy in the clinic and Altidor and I barely even get a break for lunch we have so many patients.  On Friday I had a patient who was in Port de Paix last weekend when the earthquake hit.  He had a stroke on Friday and was in the hospital over the weekend.  The hospital was full and once they felt the ground move, all the families ran outside and left all the sick people lying in bed!Thankfully the hospital was not damaged but my patients family told me stories of people who lost their homes, who are sleeping in the street and many who were injured.  They came to Vaudrieul to visit friends and are heading back to Port du paix next week.

Again and again we see patients who just should not be dealing with the pain and disability with comes from not having a good health care system.  One lady in particular stands out from this week, Altidor passes her on her way to work everyday and told her to come and see us.  She is 44 and has been unable to walk or stand for at least the past year and a half.  Getting a history in Haiti is very difficult so the story of how she got to where she is is a bit sketchy but she has been to many different doctors, had X rays and even a MRI scan and from every doctor all she has been told is there is nothing wrong with her.  She is extremely weak and has some neurological symptoms in her legs, Altidor and I have no idea of a diagnosis but we are going to try to treat her a best as we can.  She is being looked after by her three children, aged 22, 15 and 12.  I am always sharing with Altidor that having a disability in any country is difficult, but in Haiti where there is a lack of wheelchairs, poor roads and no footpaths, no hoists and no equipment etc life must be so so difficult.  Yet what we see again and again is resilience from our patients.

Its been raining every night for the past few weeks which, after months of drought, has been great for the farmers.  Unfortunately it has been awful for the road which is getting visibly  worse every day I drive it.  This is my commute to work... anything like yours??