A Life-or-Death Situation

I was halfway out into the intersection before I saw it. I had seen a news item on Facebook about a motorcycle thief being lynched at the intersection down the hill from my house, but I didn’t think the corpse would still be there this morning. But it was–I had to swerve to avoid it. As I did, I could see the man’s body was charred. His facial features were still recognizable but he had been hacked with a machete, burned alive, and left in the middle of a busy highway to make a statement.

This morning wasn’t the first time I had ever seen a lynching victim. When I was a teenager, I came across a boy about the same age as me on a back road. He had been accused of being a goat thief. He was lying on his back, staring up at the sky, and his eyes were still open. On another occasion, I awoke in the middle of the night to hear a crowd killing a man who had been caught breaking into someone’s house. The sound the crowd made was an eerie mixture of anger and glee. I’ll never forget it.

People here have very little sympathy for lynching victims. People who get lynched have been caught doing something they had no business doing. In a country in which so many people don’t know where their next meal is coming from, stealing someone else’s livelihood is an act of murder. Murderers get no sympathy.

I can understand the local point of view and even sympathize with it to a certain extent. Nevertheless, these incidents always make me incredibly sad. No one should ever die that way. At one point in his life, that young man in the intersection was someone’s baby. I also always wonder where the victim’s soul is. Facing the wrath of man is one thing, but facing the wrath of God is another. I always wonder whether the church could have done anything differently to reach these young men before they got to that point.

After leaving the intersection, I drove across town and spoke at a church, where I invited young people not much older than the victim to sign up for Saturday classes at the Bible college. I saw that young man’s face all through the service. The church had a beautiful new building and after the service, my colleague Gary and I were invited into the pastor’s air-conditioned office for cake. It blew my mind that this place of order and beauty could coexist with the piece of hell on earth a few miles away in the street.

I’m not telling this story to be lurid, or to color your perception of Haiti. I understand that in a country in which law enforcement is severely underfunded and the justice system is seen as hopelessly corrupt, lynching will continue to be a part of life. If the conditions were the same in the United States, Americans (or any other people) would probably do the same.

I share this story to remind myself and others why I do what I do. Together with my colleagues, I train young men and women in the Scriptures to be ministers of the Gospel. I take my work very seriously, because I know that the witness of our graduates likely will make the difference between eternal life and eternal death for young people like the one in the intersection this morning. Life is short, heaven and hell are real, and the Gospel is the only way to be saved from sin. If you would like to help us train more young people for the highest calling, see the information below.

Link for Giving: https://pushpay.com/g/tltglobalmissions?

Mail Checks to: The Lord’s Table / PO Box 11049 / Goldsboro, NC  27532 / (919) 751-8188  & please earmark your gift for Haiti.

Fall 2020 Newsletter

Bonjou tout moun (hello, everybody)! As I write, we are about a month into our fall semester. We weren’t sure that we would have any new students this year, but at the very last minute, 7 new students (5 men, 2 women) signed up. They are all very bright and inquisitive and a joy to teach in class. We are also looking at the possibility of offering classes on Saturday to students who are unable to attend during the week and this has already generated a lot of interest.

This semester, I’ve been teaching Old Testament Context, which has been stretching me personally. I’ve already learned a lot of things about the Old Testament I didn’t know before. (For instance, did you know that some scholars think that Queen Hatshepsut was the Egyptian princess who pulled Moses out of the Nile River? Since Hatshepsut had no legitimate heir, some think she may have been grooming Moses for the job.) I’ve also been working on Part 2 of my Church History course for Theos University, an online seminary founded by a friend I went to Bible college with. (Church History 1, which was the culmination of months of hard work, just went up on their website this month.)

Since neither of my parents are here at the moment, the house has been feeling a little cold. This year, Mom stayed in the U.S. to undergo treatment for breast cancer. She has a mastectomy scheduled this week so I know that she would greatly appreciate your prayers. My Dad returned to Haiti briefly to tie up a few loose ends before flying back in mid-September to be with her. I moved out of my little house into their slightly bigger house and my days have consisted mostly of study and some light administrative work at the Bible college. Some days, I feel like a monk! I have plenty of time to study, work, and pray.

I have made some new friends, though. Last weekend, I got the opportunity to go out into the country with my friend Angelo. He originally came to Haiti with YWAM but moved back here to start a small business and help with community development in a small village. We got to explore a nearly deserted beach and climb a hill overlooking a beautiful valley.

As we enter this new school year, I am thankful that the political turmoil that locked down the country for three months last year seems to be over. I am also thankful that the coronavirus pandemic has had a very minimal impact on Haiti (the country announced recently that it had a week with no new cases).

This year, however, there is a new challenge. The Haitian government took measures last month to halt years of inflation and strengthen its currency. This has resulted in a rapid fluctuation of the exchange rate, which has dropped from 100/1 to 60/1 since August. The government says its goal is to get it to 40/1. Just to give you an idea of what this means for us, last month, a friend in the U.S. asked me to price what it would cost to buy 500 Bibles for our schoolchildren. I sent him the list price of $5,000. By the time I found a distributor a week or so later, however, the exchange rate had caused the price to soar to $6,200–in spite of the fact that the distributor had offered me a 10% discount!

Obviously, the falling exchange rate is making life very difficult for those who (like most missionaries) depend on money transfers from the U.S. and other countries. This is especially true since prices for food and other essential items have not yet come down. This year, I’ve already had a professor ask (reasonably) for a raise but since we’re paying significantly more just to meet our present commitments, I’m not in a position to give it to him.

However, we know that the Lord is able to “supply every need of ours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). He often chooses to do so through his people. I noticed this morning for the first time that Paul follows his famous declaration that “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13) with, “Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble” (v. 14). Did you catch that? Paul can do ANYTHING through Christ — but the way Christ met his need at this particular moment was through the kindness and generosity of the Philippians.

We need some Philippians in our corner right now! This year, we need to raise $25,000 for the Bible college in order to pay salaries, scholarship students, and make necessary improvements to our facilities. If you, your church, your Sunday school class, your campus ministry, or your business want to be Philippians and help us hit that goal, follow the information below. May the Lord bless you!

Link for Giving: https://pushpay.com/g/tltglobalmissions?

Mail Checks to: The Lord’s Table / PO Box 11049 / Goldsboro, NC  27532 / (919) 751-8188  & please earmark your gift for Haiti.