End of Summer 2019

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Surf City, where I have spent several days this summer.

August is here and the summer is winding down. I’m looking forward to seeing my sister and her family, who will be driving down from West Virginia next week to see us before I head home. One week from today, I will be on a plane heading back to Haiti for my seventh year of missions work.

In my last post, I wrote about my ankle and how the doctor had recommended surgery. I decided to seek a second opinion on that and I was very glad that I did. The orthopedic doctor ordered an MRI and told me he didn’t think the ankle needed surgery at all. He said he thought the ligament just needed more exercise and more time to heal. The best part was that the MRI (which would have cost about $900) was completely free due to a program the local hospital had for low-income patients. I thank the Lord for providing at an opportune time.

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Andrew, a good friend from West Virginia, came to see me last weekend.

Another thing I would like to thank the Lord for is friends who have provided fellowship. Many people do not realize how lonely it can be for missionaries when they come home. When you are out of the loop throughout the year, it can be difficult to just pick back up where you left off. Since my grandparents passed away a few years ago, I have had the added challenge of spending two months a year in a town where I knew virtually no one. I have been grateful for my connection with a local businessman who has become a friend and confidant. He has connected me to many other people. Since he also recently planted a church here that started supporting our ministry, my parents got to speak at his church this morning. I have had several other friends either make the drive down to the coast to visit or call me on the phone and I thank the Lord for them.

Finally, I would like to thank the Lord for those of you who have responded to my call in June for regular monthly support. It helps a lot and goes a long way. I am still in need of more regular monthly supporters, though. If you or your church would commit to supporting me for $25 (or any amount) per month, it would go a long way toward covering things like car repairs, health insurance, student loans, and rent.

Prayer Requests:

  • Our Bible college has been seeking government accreditation for a long time. Due to the nature of the bureaucracy and the ever-present political stability, this is taking even longer than usual. Please pray that God would move mountains.
  • This will be my final year of completing my history degree online. Please pray that I would have the physical stamina to make it through this year.
  • I have been having some trouble with my eyes and am going in for an eye exam tomorrow. Please pray that the Lord would help me cover the costs of whatever treatment I need.
  • Please pray that the Lord would open the door for a solution to Haiti’s ongoing political problems and give us a peaceful year.

To Give:

  • Visit www.thelordstable.org, click “Give Now” under the Giving menu, and set up a recurring donation for the amount you choose.
  • Specify “Missions” under Fund and type “Monthly Support – John Adams, Haiti” in the Memo line.
  • If you prefer, you can also mail a check to:
    • Rehoboth Ministries
      c/o The Lord’s Table
      P.O. Box 11049
      Goldsboro, NC 27532
    • NOTE: CHECKS SHOULD BE MADE OUT TO “THE LORD’S TABLE,” NOT to John Adams

2018-19 Year in Review: The Pruning of the Lord

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” –John 15:1-2

It is difficult to believe that it has been six years since I decided to move “back to Haiti” to work as a missionary teacher. Of the six years since I moved back, this past year has certainly been the most challenging. I had a number of “firsts” this year, from being sued to (briefly) evacuating the country, from breaking a bone to losing a former roommate. Often, it has often felt like I would not make it to the end of the year, but through the difficulties of life, Jesus’ words about being pruned so that we can bear more fruit have become very meaningful to me.

The school year began with me being taken to court by a former employee of the Bible college who had been terminated for intentionally giving students he didn’t like low grades. We won the lawsuit, but it had ripple effects in our church and I got the cold shoulder. Fortunately, at the pastor’s invitation, I was able to address the issue publicly, which resolved the matter. Nevertheless, it was sad to lose a former friend (the former employee) and to see our students who had studied under both of us feel torn and wounded by the dispute. It is always a tragedy when conflict cannot be resolved amicably in the Body of Christ.

This year, as I moved into my mid-30s, I became increasingly aware that I was no longer young. In October, I twisted my ankle while playing basketball. I thought the injury would heal quickly, but while the swelling soon disappeared, the pain never did. After re-injuring the same ankle in March (again while playing basketball), I went to the hospital, where X-rays revealed that the ankle had a small fracture. The doctor put me in a cast and I managed to get to school for four weeks using crutches. Once again, I thought the injury would heal before long but after the cast came off, I continued to experience pain and swelling. After returning to the U.S. and getting it checked out here, X-rays revealed that the fracture had never healed correctly and that two bones were now rubbing against each other, causing inflammation. The doctor told me that unless the bone healed on its own (which was unlikely since so much time had already passed), I would need surgery unless I want to live with pain for the rest of my life. I am currently seeking a second opinion, but I would ask you to pray for me since I do not have health insurance and have no way of affording surgery at the present time and need a miracle (whether medical or financial).

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Finally, I received sad news in April that one of my college roommates, Ryan Harter, had passed away unexpectedly while on vacation with his family. Ryan was one of the first people I met at Portland Bible College in 2003. He was a man of character, creativity, and faith, and I will miss him.

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Travis (L) & Ryan (R), my first college roommates

In addition to these personal concerns, the nation of Haiti was rocked by political turmoil most of the year due to charges of corruption against the president and out-of-control inflation (the currency is now worth half of what it was worth just four years ago and people are being crushed by the high cost of food and other essentials). Anti-government protests have repeatedly paralyzed the country. To make matters worse, the government’s inability to pay foreign creditors on time has resulted in chronic fuel shortages that have made it difficult for me to get to work and for students to get to school. In February, with the country almost completely shut down by protests, I chose to evacuate to Florida for a week until things cooled down. While things were calmer for the remainder of the school year, news reports indicate that since I left on June 2, new protests have erupted to demand the president’s resignation. I don’t really know what might be in store for the upcoming school year.

In the midst of all this trouble, there were a few sweet moments. At our Christian high school, I got to see the first graduating class in the school’s history. All three of these students will be attending universities in the U.S. this fall and I am so proud of all their hard work!

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Over at the Bible college, this little fellow (a regular visitor during office hours) was so impressed during the time I spent on crutches that he made his own:

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In the midst of the difficulties this year, it has felt like my faith has been stretched to the breaking point. Jesus’ words in John 15 about the “pruning” of believers have become very meaningful to me. I believe that God is working things into me that could not have been put there through any other means. Jesus promises that those whom the Lord prunes will bear more fruit. I choose to believe that his promise is true.

I would like to ask you to partner with me both in prayer and by giving financially. My teaching salary and my monthly support give me a guaranteed monthly income of only $1,000 USD. Since my expenses include $500 a month in rent, $100 in groceries, and $100 for gas & phone, I don’t have much margin for the occasional car repair, medical expense, or request from a friend in need. While I have been able on occasion to supplement my income by doing translation work and through one-time gifts from supporters, I am hoping to double my guaranteed income to $2,000 per month, which would allow me to purchase health insurance (which I will need more as I grow older), pay off my student loans (which are currently on hold), and create a contingency fund for emergencies.

You or your church can help me continue my work in Haiti by committing to support me financially every month. Even a small gift like $20 a month would go a long way. I am also more than willing to speak to your church, youth group, small group, or mission society and give you a detailed presentation of what I and my parent organization (Rehoboth Ministries) do in Haiti.

Giving is easy!

  • Visit www.thelordstable.org, click “Give Now” under the Giving menu, and set up a recurring donation for the amount you choose.
  • Specify “Missions” under Fund and type “Monthly Support – John Adams, Haiti” in the Memo line.
  • If you prefer, you can also mail a check to:
    • Rehoboth Ministries
      c/o The Lord’s Table
      P.O. Box 11049
      Goldsboro, NC 27532
    • NOTE: CHECKS SHOULD BE MADE OUT TO “THE LORD’S TABLE,” NOT to John Adams

Back to Haiti Update: Summer 2018

This blog post is coming to you from the living room of my parents’ new house in Jacksonville, North Carolina—an answer to prayer and a dream come true! Until 2014, my parents always spent their summers at my grandparents’ house. When my grandparents passed away in 2014, my parents (and I) were suddenly left without a place to stay when we were Stateside. After spending a large part of the summer of 2014 in a trailer on a friend’s property, my aunt graciously allowed us to stay in her home while she was abroad. This summer, however, after 37 years of marriage, my parents finally acquired a place to call their own! Earlier this month, their friends held a housewarming party for them. After living in that trailer, it was nice to sit in this living room and know that we didn’t have to go anywhere or pay rent to anyone.

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This was an especially hard year at the Bible college. Just before Christmas break, some students came to me and expressed their dissatisfaction with one of our professors. They had studied very hard for their final exam and did not believe that they deserved as low a grade as they had received (several of them had failed). I initially disregarded it, thinking it would blow over. Students complain. As the spring semester began, however, I noticed that the students were still upset. When the students who had failed were informed that they would have to take a remedial course, they refused, demanding instead to see their graded final exams from the previous semester. When the professor brought those in, it quickly became clear that he had not graded them fairly. Despite clear evidence of his own wrongdoing, the professor became defensive and refused to repent. We suspended him with the understanding that he would be reinstated if he would only write an apology. Sadly, he refused. At the end of the semester, with a heavy heart, we had to terminate his employment at the Bible college.

To make matters even more complicated, his wife is the school’s secretary. She has mostly sided with him in this affair, making our working relationship has become very complicated. Ending someone’s livelihood in a nation where there is 60% unemployment is always difficult, but when their significant other thinks you did it in bad faith, it becomes much more so. I will be returning to this situation in August and I would appreciate your prayerful support. We are also praying for many new students and haven’t had many sign-ups so far. The financial situation in Haiti remains so difficult that it is hard for students to commit to a four-year theological education. We did send four graduates out into the world at the end of May, however.

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Since returning to the United States, I have been able to travel to West Virginia to see my sister, who had just given birth to her second baby, Lorelei. Both mom and daughter were even more beautiful than in the pictures. My 4-year-old nephew, Sam, was a lot of fun to be with, too. He speaks very clearly now and is incredibly energetic. Since I only get to see him once a year, I am always amazed at how much he has changed from year to year. One of the pains of missionary life is the realization of how much of his life I have missed in between visits.

Looking ahead, my brother Gabe will be coming to visit from Oregon right after the 4th of July. I hope to get myself prepared for next year’s Bible college and high school classes. I will be returning to Haiti on August 23. If you would like me to come speak about the work I do in Haiti or even if you would just like to catch up, please send me a message using the contact form. I’d love to hear from you!

 

My Summer So Far

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Saying goodbye to Haiti at the Cap-Haitien airport.

The Fourth of July usually marks the midway point of my summer break from Haiti, which began on May 25 and will end on August 25. It is difficult to believe that the summer is already halfway over. This past year was a very busy one. I held down three jobs (one at the Bible college, one at the English-language Christian high school where I also teach, and one as a freelance translator), which led to fatigue at certain points of the year. In addition to this, my parents flew out about a month before I did, making the last few weeks especially lonely. Add in the sweltering heat and I was more ready than usual this year to be flying home.

One thing missionaries to Haiti quickly realize is that while Haiti is a very poor country, it is not cheap. I had been flying American Airlines since 2014, when they first started flying into Cap-Haitien. This year, however, I found that their prices had ballooned from $400 to over $700 for a roundtrip ticket. After doing a little research, I realized that due to the quirks of airfare route pricing, it would actually be a little cheaper to fly to California (my brother had invited me to visit him and his friends in San Diego) and then on to North Carolina. After my first flight landed in Atlanta, I had a minute of minor culture shock when I went to Subway and the girl behind the counter handed me a stack of paper napkins (not 1 or 2 napkins, but a STACK!) without my even having to ask. In Haiti, where resources are almost always limited, I would have had to ask and I would have received exactly one napkin.

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“Potato Chip Rock” near San Diego

In San Diego, I spent a few days with my brother and his friends, exploring the city and eating some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life (one of my brother’s friends was a local and knew all the best places to go). After they flew back to Portland, I stayed with Pastor Steve Fitzpatrick, who often comes to visit us in Haiti and was gracious enough to host me at his beautiful home in the foothills. His home was close to the desert and on one day, I drove down there and hiked up into a palm oasis in the canyon (alone in 100-degree weather, which is not advisable but makes for a good story). I also got to explore the Salton Sea. On another day, Pastor Steve and I drove across the border into Mexico, which was also a unique experience.

After six days in San Diego, I packed my bags and drove north to Los Angeles, where I got to attend the wedding of one of my friends from my first year of Bible college. It was encouraging for me (still single at 32) to see my friend, who is over 40 years old, marry the love of his life. He cried a little as his bride walked down the aisle. She couldn’t have married a nicer guy.

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I traveled all the way to Santa Barbara and met a guy from Cap-Haitien!

After two nights in L.A., I spent the last night in Santa Barbara, about two hours up the coast where I connected with Jon, another friend from my Bible college days, who introduced me to a Haitian brother (Gérald, or G, as he goes by in the U.S.) in his church. G, a professional photographer, was from the same city (Cap-Haitien) as me and was a very gracious host. He gave me a book of photos he had taken on his last visit to Haiti. He will be joining us in January (Lord willing) and giving his time to the Lord by volunteering as a photographer/videographer in our ministry. It is amazing to see the connections the Lord weaves together for us.

After flying back to North Carolina, I moved into my aunt’s house for the summer. She is in Germany for the summer but has been kind enough to let my parents and I crash here until we go back to Haiti. Shortly after returning, my mother learned that she has breast cancer. The diagnosis came as a shock and it shook all of us a little bit. We prayed earnestly that it would not be too serious and it looks like it will be an easy fix. She will still have to undergo some radiation after her procedure, however, and it remains to be seen what the side effects will be. Needless to say, we would appreciate prayers for a smooth operation and speedy recovery.

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This book scanner at UNC-Wilmington got heavy use from me.

Since returning to North Carolina, I have been spending most of my time scanning, editing, and formatting e-books for the Bible college. The school stopped printing books last year, so for the second summer in a row, I have brought back all the textbooks for the coming year to scan. It is tedious work but this is the last year I will have to do it since by the end of the summer, textbooks for all four years will have been scanned – a major accomplishment!

This past week, I took a break from the tedium of scanning in order to spend a week at the beach on Topsail Island with my family. My brother flew in from Portland and my sister drove down from West Virginia with her rambunctious 3-year-old, Sam and we met at a beach cottage a friend of ours let us stay in for free for the week.

Both of my siblings have now gone home and I’m back from the beach, a little tanner (but not much – my family is Scots-Irish, which I’m pretty sure is one short step away from being a vampire). I have one more major trip to look forward to this summer. I’ll be heading to Montreal from August 10-14 to preach at a supporting church and give a presentation about our ministry. I am excited since it will be my first visit to Quebec and the first time that I have ever preached in French (although I’ve preached in Creole many times).

In the meantime, I’ll be putting my nose to the grindstone to get the rest of the books ready before heading home on August 25. If you’d like to connect with me, drop me a line in the comments and I’ll give you my e-mail and phone number. I’d love to hear from you.

“If You Will Hold the Rope”

245931835_640In 2010, just before the earthquake happened, I was sitting in the Port-au-Prince airport, waiting on a flight that was running late. As so often happens in Haiti, I struck up a conversation with a couple of airport workers who, once they discovered I was in seminary, started me asking questions about the Bible. Before long, a small crowd had gathered. I remember looking around and hearing what I believe was probably the voice of the Lord, saying, “They are so hungry and have so little (spiritual) bread.” (To read the whole story, click here.) Haiti is full of churches and religion, but it has very few trained leaders in local churches.

In 2013, I moved back to Haiti with a desire to be part of the solution. I wanted to help disciple young leaders for the local church. For the last four years, I have been teaching at the Bible college my Dad founded. I have had the opportunity to teach some exceptional students, but I have also seen how great the need is for theological and spiritual formation among local-church leaders there. (Once, one of my students raised his hand after I had taught for about half an hour on the Gospel of John, mentioning the Trinity several times, and nervously asked the question, “What is the Trinity?”) The task of teaching in a foreign language has been difficult but interactions like that have helped to convince me that I am doing valuable work.

Doing that work requires money. (I often wish it didn’t, but it does.) For my work at the Bible college, I receive the equivalent of about $50 per month. Last year, I also began working as a history teacher in an English-language high school for which I receive $350 per month. I also have a translation business on the side, but my income is mostly supplemented by partners like you who contribute to keep me financially afloat. When I was first considering moving back to Haiti five years ago, I told the Lord that he would have to help me raise whatever I needed because I am naturally shy and not very talented at self-promotion. The Lord came through and he has done so every year. I have never had to worry about money since moving back.

However, I am at a point in my life where I need to start building a larger base of support. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere but paradoxically, it is also an expensive place to live. I am looking for at least 10 regular partners who would sign up to give on a monthly basis. Here is what I spend my money on:

  • Rent/food — My parents have never asked me for anything, but I give them $300 per month because they are allowing me to live in their house, eat their food, and drive their car. They lost a renter this year (they were renting out their guesthouse) and I would like to be able to move in and pay them the $500 per month they lost.
  • Student loan repayment – about $300 per month
  • Car insurance/vehicle fees – about $40 per month right now; will probably go up soon
  • Gas for the car – runs about $100 per month (diesel is about $3.20 a gallon in Haiti right now)
  • Travel – I travel back to the U.S. once a year. Roundtrip airfare to NC is running about $700 once a year or broken down over 12 months, about $60 per month.
  • I would also like to be able to have medical/dental insurance for myself.

I would like to raise at least $1,000 per month in support to complete the translation and teaching incomes. I currently raise about $130. With your help, I will be able to continue sowing my life into theological training for young Haitian leaders.

In Philippians 1:5, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi that they had been his “partners in the gospel from the first day until now.” Similarly, William Carey, before setting out as the first missionary to India, famously told a small band of brothers in England that “I will go down if you will hold the rope.” Some are called to go; others are called to give. All have a part to play in Kingdom work. Would you be my partner in the Gospel? Would you hold the rope?

To give:

  • Visit www.thelordstable.org, click “Give Now” under the Giving menu, and set up a recurring donation for the amount you choose.
  • Specify “Missions” under Fund and type “Monthly Support – John Adams, Haiti” in the Memo line.

WANTED: Creative Intern

394968_538b_7Do you have photography & video-editing skills? Do you have a heart for missions? Would you like to put those two together? If so, this internship is for you!

Rehoboth Ministries, a Christian ministry that has been serving Haiti since 1983, is seeking a creative, mature believer with a heart for missions who will develop videos highlighting its work.

Who We Are

Rehoboth Ministries is a Christian ministry that has been operating in Haiti since 1983. The Rehoboth umbrella covers five local churches, three schools with a school lunch program, and a Bible college, all in the Cap-Haitien area. Our work is focused on extending the Kingdom of God in Haiti through the discipleship of believers in the local church.

Time Frame

We are flexible but ideally, the intern would spend at least two weeks around January 2018 (the month that our new church building will be dedicated).

Responsibilities

  • Developing promotional videos to provide an overview of the ministry and highlight needs with an eye to fundraising.
  • Enhance the ministry’s presence across a variety of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and others.
  • Optional: Teach a seminar on photography/videography/web design to interested Haitian students.

Requirements

Time
A two-week commitment is required. Start and end dates can be adjusted based on the needs of the intern.

Other Requirements

  • Strong organizational and time-management skills
  • Demonstrated ability to multi-task, prioritize, and set and meet deadlines
  • Some knowledge of social media platforms
  • Possess attention to detail
  • Passport valid through the end date of the internship

Skills

Photography, Videography, Social Media, Writing, Creative

How to Apply

To apply, send a short autobiography, personal testimony, and a sample of your photography and videography here. We hope to hear from you soon!

Giving Opportunity: I Need a Car

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I’m looking for something fuel-efficient. Maybe something with a little more room than this, though.

In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been teaching this year at a local Christian English-language high school. About two-thirds of my students are Haitians and the other third are missionary kids from the U.S. Teaching them has been challenging, but it has also been a lot of fun. It has added a level of joy to my life that I’ve realized had been missing over my first few years on the mission field.

To get to school, I have to commute about 20 minutes outside of town. The school is in a very simple concrete building with a big yard. There has been lots of construction noise to get used to since the school is adding on a whole new wing to accommodate the high schoolers (formerly, it went only through 8th grade). Since my parents and I share the same (17-year-old) vehicle, commuting to school five days a week has put some limits on what they can do and also puts more strain on the vehicle than usual. Since the school has asked me to go full-time next year, I badly need a vehicle of my own, especially if I end up getting married in the near future.

Used vehicles in Haiti can be expensive. Just the other day, I was looking at a 2005 Toyota Rav4 whose blue book value was only $6,000. The owner was asking $8,500, though. He felt justified in sticking to that price because of how expensive it is to import vehicles. If I had bought the same vehicle in Miami, he said, the customs charges would have brought it back to his asking price. Since most car-shoppers in Haiti tend to be upper-class elites or NGO workers with generous stipends, he might very well get his asking price. That leaves (relatively) poor missionaries like myself in a tough spot.

Long story short: I think I need to raise about $10,000 to buy a decent secondhand vehicle, I need to have the money by the end of this summer in order to work more hours at the school. If you would like to help, you can mail a donation for any amount to: John Adams, c/o Rehoboth Ministries, CAP 1385, 100 Airport Ave., Venice, FL 34285. (This is my preferred method of payment since PayPal takes 2.9% + 0.30 of whatever you give! However, if it is more convenient to donate through PayPal, click here.) I’ll keep you guys updated on the progress with this fundraising thermometer. Thanks in advance for your help! I could never do what I do in Haiti without the support of generous people like you.

UPDATE: Fundraising for this project is CLOSED. Thanks to all those who gave!