by Mr. Sam Kastensmidt (Knox Graduate; Headmaster, Bethany Christian School, Fort Lauderdale, FL)
In February, Ryan Brasington and I (both to graduate with an MDiv in 2012) were invited to be part of a mission trip to Pignon, Haiti — along with two Knox alumni; Pastor Kirby Williams, MDiv 2003 and Billy Nader, MDiv 2011. Destined for a small village in the mountainous region of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, I spent weeks bracing my heart for the spiritual and emotional impact of this trip. I braced myself to encounter utter poverty, hopelessness, the darkness of voodoo, and the possibility of physical danger or sickness. Indeed, Haiti is filled with frightening possibilities; however, I also prepared to be confronted by my lack of gratitude and an idolatrous dependence upon my daily comforts such as the Internet, television, electricity, ice, air conditioning, and paved roads.
But I never braced my heart to be humbled by the genuine Christians of Haiti. Upon arriving in Port-au-Prince, we went to the “tent city” where an estimated 500,000 people now live after being displaced by the devastating earthquake of 2010. Thousands of “tents” (simply wooden poles holding up blue tarps) littered this expansive and desolate valley. Here we met Miss Ellie — a woman who never once stopped smiling. She had lost all of her children in the earthquake, except for one son. Grief struck again when her husband took her surviving son and disappeared — leaving Miss Ellie with even more grief. In spite of her own devastating losses, and with the love of Christ in her heart, Miss Ellie went through the slums of Port-au-Prince and adopted 31 orphans. We were humbled!
Then we met Pastor Jephthe, who lost his 13-year-old daughter to an undiagnosed illness last year. In describing his pain to Ryan and me, Pastor Jephthe wailed and moaned, crying out, “Oh, sometimes faith just hurts so much!” This pastor clings to Christ and has poured everything into his calling to spread the gospel in Haiti — planting 65 churches and dozens of schools.
The gospel is advancing in central Haiti. During our six-day trip, we visited many schools and several churches — distributing toys, school supplies, and medicine to these needy people. At every location, with the assistance of translators we led skits and gave gospel presentations. In total, more than two-hundred children and forty adults professed a desire to surrender their lives to Christ.
We were stunned by the passion with which the people worshiped the Lord. In fact, after three days with the beautiful people of Pignon, I found myself bracing for my return to America. Indeed, this trip has fueled my desire to be used as an instrument in God’s hand to bring revival to my own country.
Billy Nader (MDiv, 2011)
Sam Kastensmidt (MDiv, 2012)
Ryan Brasington (MDiv, 2012)
The trip leader was Kirby Williams (MDiv, 2003)