Training pastors and church leaders never gets old. This is especially true every time you have the privilege of teaching the first module at a new training site.  During the week of February 7-13, I was privileged to join Pastor Nick Wilson (Plainview, Minnesota) and Terry Spenst (Wichita, Kansas) for a week of training in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Dean in Haiti
Dean Bertsch teaching a survey of the OT

Haiti has gone through significant political tumoil.  By God’s grace, we were spared some of the consequences of such turmoil.  As it turned out, the day we arrived in Haiti was the day the president announced he was stepping down.  We discovered that, if the president had not made that announcement, there would have been significant rioting all throughout Port-au-Prince.  Traveling in the city would have been quite dangerous.  Due to the president’s decision, what we experienced was relative quiet.

The teaching throughout the week was extremely well received.  We started promptly at 8:00 in the morning and went to 5:00 in the afternoon.  The men demonstrated a serious hunger to be taught from God’s word.  As one man shared, “I’ve been searching for someplace to learn more of the Word of God, so that I can be a better pastor for my people.”

While we are eager to have many to come to the training, the primary concern is to reach out to the pastors/leaders from the countryside.  While we had approximately 30 attend the training, the clear majority traveled a number of hours from different directions.  Some come from regions where there are many who desire to be trained.  However, due to finances and logistics, it was not feasible for all of the men to attend.  Specific men were appointed by groups in their respective geographic areas to come, receive the teaching, and then return to share it with the others.

During the week, the primary focus was upon a survey of the Old Testament.  A number of men mentioned they don’t  spend much time in the Old Testament, specifically because they struggle with understanding it.  It was exciting to see “the light bulbs go on” as men came to grasp the storyline.

Haiti students
Haitian pastors study the Scripture together

Also, we addressed the spiritual discipline of Bible intake.  The first couple days were spent teaching on the importance of reading, listening to, studying, meditating upon, and memorizing the Scriptures.  The men put the teaching into practice throughout the remainder of the week, using the book of Colossians.  On Wednesday, one of the men got up and read Colossians to the entire group.  As I observed, I wondered if the setting was similar to when the church in Colossae had it read to them the first time.

Every countryside pastor whom we asked, told us there is no access to any sort of training out where they are.  One man, who admitted his total monthly income to be equivalent to about $50 US dollars, spent $22 on transportation costs to come to the training.  He indicated it was well worth the investment and is excited for future modules.

This is an excellent site for Reaching & Teaching’s pastoral training program.  The need for the program is huge.  The feedback from the pastors and leaders who attended was both humbling and encouraging.

The poverty and depression among the people of Haiti is evident.  Some place their hopes in political change.  Some place their hopes in voodoo or other pagan religious practices, including aberrant forms of Christianity.  Many, seem to have no place to find hope.  The solution to the problems there is the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dean Bertsch

Dean Bertsch serves as Regional Mobilizer for Reaching & Teaching. Dean frequently travels abroad to train leaders in the RTIM program. He and his family live in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

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