February, 2012

Through this Ministry I pray God will be seen!

A family portrait of those who attend our church in the area.

God is so good! Brothers and Sisters in Christ, it is an honor for me to write to you from Haiti. You and I may be different in many ways, but we have something in common: we believe that “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. Ever since this has been planted into our hearts, we have been on a mission to bring God glory using the Gospel as our foundation.

Growing up as a young man, I have come to realize that the Gospel is not only for me but that it’s for all living things on this earth to which Jesus gave life. Rich or poor, strong or weak– we were all created in the image of our Heavenly Father. As I have read the Bible and heard many sermons, I have learned that Jesus teaches us that we need to have a private and public relationship with Him. Where I am at today is an act of a public relationship with Jesus Christ. I am in Haiti serving my people, God’s people.

As it states in Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” At one time, I was poor and I was weak. But someone, who believed I too was created in the image of Jesus Christ, came to Haiti to be the hands and feet of Jesus in order for me to be where I am today.

This is a typical street view in Trou-Sable, a city within the Gonaives area.

In September of 2011, I decided to move to Haiti full-time to minister to the people of Trou-Sable, a small area of 50,000 people in Gonaives. Gonaives is a major city with a population of 350,000-400,000 people. Trou-Sable was recently a farming community, full of mangos, coconut, and banana trees. Many people who are leaving the village sites are now coming to make their homes in this community. It is common to see many people leave a village to migrate in to the citylife in order to improve their families’ status. Once these people come to the cities, they realize life is not as easy as they might have anticipated. Parents are not able to find food to feed their children, have difficulty finding jobs, and cannot afford to send their children to school. This is exactly what is going on in this community. When I came to visit Trou-Sable, I saw a tremendous need to build a school. Many of the schools are too far away for parents to send their children and sadly, those who can afford to go to school that far away, get killed by fast driving cars on the way.

I started my ministry by doing a Boys and Girls Club type of program called Etoile (Starfish). I have music, dancing, Bible studies, and sports for the children. Each evening we have about 100-150 children attend our programs. It has been such a success and God has been blessing this ministry tremendously in many ways:

We purchased land. After partnering with Many Hands for Haiti, we decided it would be important to purchase our own land. This we did. Land in Haiti is not as cheap as many might assume, but with people graciously taking funds out of their own savings, we are able to have a space for a church, activities, and a school in the near future. Individuals such as Tim Brand, Rick and Cheryl Nikkel, Ken and Verna Hackert, Norma and Sidney DeHaan, John and Linda Grandia, Jeff and Kris Van Maanen, and Mike and Kathy Veenstra have made this a reality. It was not cheap, but God made it possible. This is God’s land!

Here is the church building, right after it was built.

We started a church. In order to better minister to those in Trou-Sable, we felt we needed to have a church. After purchasing the land, we had no more money left for anything but just $500. True or false, were we able to build a church structure with just $500? The answer is true, we did! Family and friends brought some big tree sticks with which we nailed together a church structure and covered it with wrapping tarps. Once this was done, we built 14 church benches. The first Sunday we had over 80 people in attendance. Ever since then the church has grown and is short of space. Is God good or what? God is sooo good!

We built a latrine. Hundreds of kids come to the field every day to do activities but we did not have a latrine for them to use. Without a proper spot, they will go right near the closest tree or building. Is this what Silentor really wants? No! But, in order to build a latrine, I had to seek more funding. Many Hands for Haiti provided the funds for a latrine. For $1,800, we built a four room structure on our land. Now, if I see a kid behind a building or tree, I will throw a rock at them. It’s good to find joy while serving God.

Some boys trying out the new well!

We built a well for drinking water. Recently we were provided with funds to build a well for the people in our community to come get clean water to drink. This is so special. I thank Matt and Jess Hugg for this wonderful gift. It’s good to help people with their needs, and the people lined up their buckets with clean water to drink. I pray that they will also find the living water in Jesus Christ!

We had a vehicle donated and rented a house. As I was sharing my desire to return to Haiti full-time with the Hackert Family of Sully, IA, they right away felt this ministry needed a vehicle. Shortly after, they provide me with a vehicle that was shipped here. After many hard days (months, even!) dealing with Haitian customs, we finally got the vehicle out. Your prayers prevailed! This vehicle is now used to transport groups from the airport to Gonaives where we rent a home to host groups. Major support for the house rental comes from the Nikkel family of Sully, IA, and Sherry VanAntwerp out of Pella, IA.

We host mission teams. I have had the opportunity to host so many wonderful people here in Haiti to help serve God in this ministry. These people have been a power testimony on how we are supposed to go and serve our brothers and sisters. They have been the face of Jesus Christ to the Haitian people. I have hosted a few groups from Sully, IA, led by Cheryl and Rick Nikkel. We had a group from Memorial Lutheran Church of Nevada, IA, led by Pastor David Burling. We had a group come out of Pella, IA, led by Tim Brand. I also had the opportunity to host my adoptive father Tommy Henderson here for week. God has been good on sending His children to come to Haiti to help the poor and the sick. I cannot do this work here alone; I need my friends, like those above, to come help serve in ways that I cannot. Brothers and Sisters, you have an open invitation to come to Haiti; it would be an honor to host you here. As well, whenever I am in the states I am open to you hosting me. By the way, I love Chinese food!

This is one of the students who will need a sponsor this year.

We plan to build a school. It is the goal of Many Hands for Haiti and myself to build a school for this next school year (September 2012) for the community of Trou-Sable. Our hope is to have a kindergarten-6th grade building, but we will need the generosity of others to make this happen. My cousin Woody Cadet often says, “Education is the fundamental base in the development of a nation.” This comes from a young man who grew up in Haiti and has fought to achieve all his schooling; he succeeded. He now is working for Many Hands for Haiti, hoping to help other children succeed as well. These children will need sponsors to help them go to school. If you have a desire to sponsor a child, please do so, for they cannot afford it themselves. By being a child sponsor, God’s work will be prevailed through this ministry. To sponsor a child, please email Tim Brand for more information.

All this was possible in just a short 4 months! Through this ministry God is seen through the work of His children. We are demonstrating publicly our love for God by serving with the people of Haiti.

We need your prayers. We thank everyone for all your prayers for the people of Haiti and this ministry! We hope that you will continue to pray for us and ask others to pray as well. Here are some of our prayer requests for the short-term and long-term of our mission:

  • For safety for outreach teams that comes to Haiti
  • That the people in Trou-Sable will witness Jesus Christ through this ministry
  • For the leaders of these programs, that they continue to be filled with joy
  • To combat the evil one and stay true to our call
  • For peace in the Haitian government
  • Individuals from the States to come teach English in the school

Needs for the programs. God has given us many visions and we believe we make make them a reality. Here are some of the short-term and long-term needs of our ministry in Gonaives:

  • A school be built before September 2012 for 100 children in Trou-Sable
  • Students will be sponsored through Many Hands for Haiti
  • For a new building for the church
  • Support to pay teachers and staff
  • A mission house be built to host guests
  • A bigger vehicle to pick missionary groups from Port-au-Prince to Gonaives
  • Work groups to come give a hand in Haiti in the areas of education, construction, medical, Evangelism, and feeding programs.
  • Two motorcycles for staff in order to make their travel easier

I have been so blessed already spiritually and financially by those who support this work through prayers. This work cannot be done without you playing a role to serve Jesus Christ. I ask that you continue to pray for this ministry here in Haiti and how you can play a role.

You are my brother and sisters through Jesus Christ and I LOVE YOU!

Silentor Thomas Esthil-Henderson