Board of Global Ministries dinner celebrates mission in Haiti
Rev. Erik J. Alsgaard
The Rev. Chrisnel Le Lievre, superintendent of the Methodist Church from Jeremie, Haiti, addressed the plenary session as well as the Board of Global Ministries dinner during the 2012 Annual Conference session. (Photo by Jeremy Africa)
Members and friends of the Detroit Conference Board of Global Ministries gathered to celebrate missions at Adrian: First United Methodist Church on Friday, May 18. Nearly 100 people came together for dinner and fellowship and to recognize the continuing need of sharing God’s love throughout the world.
Guests heard from the Rev. Chrisnel Le Lievre, a superintendent of the Methodist Church from Jeremie, Haiti. He brought news of life after the January 12, 2010, earthquake.
“Since the earthquake, the church has helped in many ways with many people,” he said. “So many people were left without anything.”
LeLievre told how the church in Haiti, thanks to its many partners—including the Detroit Annual Conference—has been in ministry for the past two years, from providing scholarships for young people to go to school, to constructing houses for families; from providing tents and other shelters to helping people plant and develop their own gardens and livestock farms.
“We are trying to assist them with life in the midst of this situation,” he said.
The Michigan Area, consisting of both the Detroit Annual Conference and the West Michigan Annual Conference, has been in ministry with Haiti through its Michigan Area Haiti Task Force since 1996. The Task Force helps coordinate ministry with Haitian Methodists through the Haiti Hot Lunch Program, the “Water Sands” filtration efforts, and the coordination of Volunteer in Mission (VIM) teams to Haiti.
LeLievre said that the church has asked “everybody” to assist. “It’s nice when someone comes to visit and help for a week,” he added. “But what we really need are people to work beyond one week; maybe six months, maybe a year.”
As his country slowly emerges from the chaos and rubble of the earthquake, LeLievre said that the need is great. Schools, home, churches, hospitals—all destroyed, he said. But today, children are back in school in tents, and the process of rebuilding, albeit slowly, continues.
“With the help of everybody, we’re seeing progress,” he said.
That doesn’t mean there are no problems, he added. In his home district of Jeremie, about a six hour drive from Port Au Prince, there are no church buildings yet, and the challenge in constructing new facilities is in finding money to make it possible. At one school, he said, there is no money to pay the staff.
“Your presence—those of you who have come to help and those of you yet to come—is very important right now,” LeLievre said. “We can do something together to help make the people live better.”
At the banquet, guests congratulated the Rev. Dorothy Thon, pastor at Akron, Caro: Bethel, and Sutton Sunshine United Methodist churches, as the outgoing chairperson of the conference board. The Rev. Don Gotham, pastor at Utica United Methodist Church, will be in the new chair.
Gotham also received the VIM award from the board for his work in mission over many years. Although not able to be present, Gotham was recognized for his VIM work that began in 1993 and being the current chair of Michigan Area Haiti Task Force.
An honorable mention VIM award went to Joshua Mullin, age 16. Mullin, also not able to be present for the award, is originally from Paradise, Mich., and now living in Sault Ste. Marie. He was recognized for his mission work starting when he was in the sixth grade. The award also cited his going on his first mission trip in the seventh grade, and being the leader of a youth mission trip when he was in the ninth and tenth grades. Especially noted was his volunteer service at home in helping building handicap-accessible ramps at various homes throughout the community.
Note: Erik J. Alsgaard is the chairperson of the conference Commission on Communications and pastor at St. Ignace UMC in St. Ignace, Mich. He is a former conference communicator for the Baltimore-Washington and Florida Conferences.