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!

 

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!

Sorrowful yet Rejoicing

“…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” – 2 Corinthians 6:10

After spending the summer in North Carolina with my parents, I came back to Haiti alone this year. Since my parents had a conference to attend in October, they stayed in the U.S. for a little over a month longer than I did. I enjoyed this month of solitude far more than I had expected since the decisions constantly needing to be made kept me very busy. Upon arrival, I immediately had to get the air conditioning in the car fixed (in the sweltering late-August heat) and found that the inverter batteries we use for backup electricity in our house had worn down to the point that they needed to be replaced. As a result, we didn’t have electricity for nearly half the day until early October when we were able to purchase a replacement. During this time, in addition to my regular administrative and teaching duties at the Bible college, I started a new job at an English-language Christian school.

This semester has been an emotional rollercoaster ride. After having spent all summer digitizing books, the roll-out of the new tablets with digital books proved to be a success. The new class also had nine new students, which was far better than the 2014 class, which came in with only four. A couple of weeks later, however, I was called to the office when one of the new students showed up acting aggressively and saying disturbing things. Before the encounter was over, he had stripped naked and had to be restrained. His pastor came after about an hour and drove him home but he took off once again almost immediately and could not be found. He showed up at our school again a few weeks later and that time, I refused to let him in. A couple of days after that, I received the terrible news that he had been shot dead by a police officer. Folks who knew him said the officer had had it in him for him for years. I felt terrible after hearing this news and wished that I had driven him straight to the hospital the last time I saw him. Attending his funeral was a very sad experience.

In early October, Hurricane Matthew (a category 4 storm) swept through southern Haiti, doing a tremendous amount of damage to the towns of Cayes and Jeremie. Several hundred people were killed during the storm and over a month later, relief efforts still have not been able to provide food and shelter to everyone who needs it. To make matters worse, people have been killed while fighting over relief shipments. Our church raised a few hundred dollars and sent it down with our pastor’s wife, who was born and raised near Cayes. While northern Haiti was completely spared from the hurricane, it was not spared from four days of nonstop rain earlier this week which caused massive flooding in most of the city. Many people in our church, which is located in a low-lying part of town near the sea, were directly affected by this storm. Since Haiti has experienced a communications revolution in the last few years, most people own cell phones and can access social media inexpensively. It was surreal to see people’s status updates in real time about water up to waist-level inside their homes.

In addition to the more dramatic moments, it seems like living in Haiti brings neverending expenses with it. A brother in the church began having epileptic seizures and needed money to travel to the only part of the country where he could receive care. Our car, which is getting old requires constant attention. I drove around for the first couple of weeks without air conditioning. Next, one of the windows wouldn’t go up and everything inside got soaked when it rained. After that, the radiator started overheating. The replacement of the inverter and batteries cost over $6,000. As I write, the electric wires to our house have gone bad and we can’t get city power. Nearly everything here seems to be more expensive yet we are frequently forced to work with technicians who are less competent than they would be in the U.S. It’s frustrating. Sometimes, the expenses have nothing to do with repairs. We had to shell out money to a lawyer when our neighbors paid us an intimidation visit and took us to court over a land dispute. These things can wear down one’s patience over time. It’s difficult not to let resentment work its way into your heart.

We’ve had reasons for thanks as well, though. In October, we had a teaching visit from Steve Fitzpatrick and a couple from Quebec whose church began supporting us. An American organization also confirmed its intention of building us a new church building, a project that has been in the works since 1993 (!). In January, they will be coming to install a new water-purification system that will provide clean water to all of our schoolchildren. Also, on a personal note, it was fun to watch the Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 108 years. We know the election has shaken things up in the United States. We’re poised for a presidential election of our own here in Haiti on November 20; we pray that it will put an end to over a year of political infighting and transitional government. As the semester winds down and we head into the holidays and the new year, I want to ask for your prayers and thank you for your partnership in the Gospel this year. So far, 2016 has been a year laced with hardship but also one filled with the sustaining grace of God.

Bible College Scholarships

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Bible College Graduation

Summertime, and the living is easy! Since I last wrote, our Bible college class of 2016 has graduated. It was wonderful to have Rev. Dick Iverson, a veteran minister from Portland, Oregon, who has been hugely influential in the network of churches my parents are associated with, fly into Haiti and speak at the graduation. We were supposed to fly out of Haiti together, but a crack in the runway in Cap-Haitien forced us all to take a bus together across the border to the Dominican Republic. Although it was an inconvenience (especially for Brother Dick, who is 86!), we flew out of Santiago and made it to our respective destinations in one piece.

Over the last month, I have been enjoying my “time off” in North Carolina. While I’ve managed to visit my sister and her family and squeezed in a couple trips to the beach with my brother, the bulk of my time this summer has been spent scanning and editing our books into digital copies. I’ll spare you the details (they’re tedious), but I’ve been working about 8-10 hours a day, five days a week. The fruit of all this labor, however, will be sweet. This fall, for the first time, our Bible college students will purchase tablet computers rather than physical books. Over the next four years, they will pay 20% of what they would have paid for four years’ worth of books!

 

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This fall, we will be enrolling a brand-new class. We don’t yet know how many new students we will have, but our receptionist informs us that we have had four applications turned in so far. (I have been praying for at least ten new students.) As a result, the next goal we have is to raise enough money to give our students scholarship to help with their tuition. We aim to raise about $200 per student, per year. For ten underclassmen, plus four upperclassmen, we would need to raise $2,800.

  • In 2015, we raised $2,832.45, well more than the $2,200 ($200 per student per year) we needed in order to offer a full scholarship to all eleven of our students.
  • In 2016, we have raised $680 so far. Added to the $632.45 surplus, we currently have $1,312.45 available for scholarships for students for the upcoming year.

Practically, what this means is that we would like to raise $1,500 by the end of August to cover tuition for everyone this year. If you would like to partner with us this year, you could put a student through Bible school for less than the cost of a pizza every month ($20).

There are two ways to give:

  1. Mail a check to: Rehoboth Ministries, c/o The Lord’s Table, P.O. Box 11049, Goldsboro, NC 27532. Make the check out to the Lord’s Table, and be sure to write “BIBLE SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP” on the check. (Due to the fact that PayPal takes a 4% cut of all online donations, we would prefer you use this option if at all possible.) One hundred percent of what you give will go to covering students’ tuition.
  2. Or, to donate online through PayPal, click here and then click the yellow “Donate” button in the right-hand column. Enter the amount you would like to give and tick the box to make your donation a recurring payment.

Thanks for helping to scholarship the classes of 2018 and 2020!

Digital Book Project (Update)

UPDATE 2 (May 11): Looks like we’ve got it covered! Praise God! (If you would still like to give, we are still raising money for student scholarships for next year.)
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UPDATE (May 11): As you can see on the thermometer, we now have $795 pledged! Another piece of good news is that Amazon.com was offering $10 off the price of the tablet the other day, so we went ahead and bought 20 tablets with the money that we had raised. We still have a way to go to cover the costs of transportation and customs dues, but we are happy to be well on the way toward meeting our goal! Thanks so much to those of you who have partnered with us. If you would like to help us get the rest of the way, click here.
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Last week, I introduced you to our Digital Book Project. In a nutshell, books are too expensive to produce and to buy, so we aim to raise $1,200 by August 30 in order to digitize our Bible school books and load them onto tablet computers that we sell to students at-cost. This digital transition will save our students 80% of what they are currently spending on books, and it will save our school the time and money it takes to produce those books.
I am happy to say that so far, we have had a solid response! Thanks to those of you who have given, we are already well over 10% of the way toward meeting our goal, and there has been more money pledged to the project as well. Of course, there is still a long way to go, so we could still use your help! If you would like to partner with us to save our students money and move our school into the 21st century (or just learn more about the project), click here.