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Theological training for Haiti’s Lutherans

February 27, 2019 No Comment

Map Credit: OCHA

HAITI – The Haiti Lutheran Mission Society (HLMS), a listed service organization of Lutheran Church–Canada, has been supporting work among the Lutheran Churches of Haiti for many years.

Much attention has been given to humanitarian aid, chiefly by sending shipping containers full of clothing, building supplies, tools, shoes, and other needed items. Even the odd bulldozer and a lot of sewing machines have been included too. Support has also been provided for the congregations of the Lutheran Church of Haiti (LCH) in the north of the country.

Of late, however, it has been increasingly difficult to maintain contact with LCH churches. In light of that, HLMS has directed its endeavours towards the south of Haiti, where congregations belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Haiti (ELCH).

The board of HLMS has also become acutely aware of the need for theological education in Haiti. In response to this need, I had the privilege of being in Port au Prince from October 22-27, 2018 to teach a foundational class on Luther’s Small Catechism.

The students were primarily lay leaders from congregations across southern Haiti, with half of the thirty students having made the arduous twelve-hour trip by an old school bus, coming from the city of Jeremie on the far west tip of the southern peninsula. (The society covered the cost of their travel, as well as the cost of accommodation at a guest house in Port-au-Prince for the week.) A few of the students are already ordained pastors of the ELCH, and one Baptist pastor also joined the class. The students are poor and work wherever they can to support their families. Because they were also away from their work for a week, the Society also provided $70 per student to help support their families in their absence.

Over four days, with the help of very able translation work of Rev. Blaise Marin, an LCMS pastor from California who is originally from Haiti (and whose father, a Haitian Lutheran pastor, attended the class), we worked through the six chief parts of the catechism. Even though it was hot under the tin roof, we managed to have some thorough discussions of many issues that arise from the catechism. Beginning and ending the day with wonderful acapella singing was a joy.

Some of the leaders were already familiar a little with Luther’s catechism and the biblical teaching therein; for others this was their first introduction to the catechism and its biblical teaching. Plenty of small debates took place as they struggled to learn the truth of God’s Word, and as some of their preconceived misunderstandings of the Scripture were challenged. The Haitian leaders have a good working knowledge of the Bible, but since they are surrounded by both Roman Catholic and Evangelicals, they are in need of clear biblical teaching.  The Society hopes, with the help of faithful Canadian Lutherans, to provide more teaching in the days ahead.

Please consider supporting the Haiti Lutheran Mission Society as it seeks to assist our Haitian sisters and brothers.

Rev. Warren Hamp is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Kitchener, Ontario.