In the midst of a hiatus from political protests that had plagued the streets in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for several months, forcing schools to shutdown and businesses to close, Seventh-day Adventists had a reason to celebrate God’s goodness 10 years after the nation saw its worst earthquake devastate thousands of lives. The earthquake, which hit on January 12, 2010, claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people. More than 500 church members were among those who perished.
On Jan. 11, 2020, hundreds gathered at the nearly completed Eglise Adventiste Galaad in Diquini, Carrefour, to praise and worship as they welcomed visitors during their second week of a three-week evangelistic campaign. To the more than 300 church members of the Eglise Adventiste Galaad remembering the tragic earthquake also means the birth of a church group of 50 Seventh-day Adventists and non-believers. This group slept on the streets the night after the earthquake and soon grew a church group to now a new nearly completed church that seats more than 500.Pastor Pierre Caporal, president of the church in Haiti, was among the group of 50 sleeping under the stars and worshiping every week with the new, small congregation. He congratulated the congregation for its resilience and dedication in spreading God’s love in the community.
“Tomorrow will be 10 years since the terrible earthquake hit us,” said Caporal. “That date brings sad memories, made us cry and touched the whole world.”
“It has been 10 years of demonstrating God’s love. Ten years of struggles in favor of God’s work. Ten years of generosity that led to building this temple and waiting to see its completion and dedication soon,” said Caporal. “These 10 years were not easy, but everything came about as a result of God’s grace and God’s power for His people.”
Caporal said that 10 years has been referred to as a perfect number, the completion of a term, the closing of a circle. “Yes 10 years have brought many fruits for the kingdom but the finish line is not very far,” said Caporal. The growth of the church since the earthquake has seen more than 91,000 new believers join the church and the birth of more than 110 new congregations.His spiritual message encouraged the more than 500 crowding the church, and reminded them of the importance of resisting sin today and clinging to Jesus, “for nothing can separate His people from the love of God.”
“Keep moving forward, resist temptation, and finish the goal of spreading God’s love to others,” said Caporal. “The finish line is the Second Coming. We are all running in this race and do not know when we will be called to rest, so we must work hard, stay strong and not be tempted to abandon the race.”
As Caporal broke into a praise song during the service, he was joined by hundreds of voices. He invited anyone who wanted to give their heart to Jesus to take a stand up front. More than 20 accepted the call and were prayed for by Pastor Waitland Francois.
Pastor Francois, who is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in the Philippines, moved quickly to the platform to pray for those in the front.He remembers the pain and the grieving he and his wife endured after celebrating their wedding on Dec. 27, 2009. Seven of his bride-to-be’s family flew in from the United States to witness the ceremony and were scheduled to leave on Jan. 13, 2010. “They all died when the earthquake struck and the both of us were left to grieve,” said Francois. “I do not even have photos or videos from our wedding because our photographer died in the quake.”
Francois’s wife died less than two years ago in the Philippines from a pulmonary embolism.
“Life is short and its important to know that the best resource in your life is family and friends, it’s what matters most,” said Francois. “You have to be ready in Jesus because you do not know when you may not be here anymore.”Francois is more than determined to finish his thesis on developing theology of service. He wants to return to Haiti and serve his church and ensure that churches are acclimated to providing accessible spaces for members and persons with special needs. He too was blind in one eye for more than 19 years before surgery was possible to correct it. Francois sees the growth of Galaad Adventist Church and proudly speaks of one of his best friends, Figaro Greger, who is the head elder at the church and was instrumental in raising funds to build it.
Greger points at the spot where a small group of people from his neighborhood gathered that fateful night and for more than five years later, in the middle of the street, worshiped under a tent with wooden pews right in front of his house. His house right across from where the church was built. “We came to the porch of my house when we held communion services and we saw the church grow,” said Greger.
Greger, had a burden to find property and build a church. Ten years after, there are more than 350 church members at the Eglise Adventiste Galaad. He is overjoyed to see the church bursting with over 500 people. Greger said there is so much to praise God for, because from the moment the earthquake struck, a new congregation was born among so many unbelievers in the neighborhood.The ceiling needs to be finished and the air conditioning system needs to be installed, as well as a few details in the basement which houses the children’s church, said Greger. “I know God will see the completion of the temple,” he said.
Many churches still have some additional fixing to be done after the earthquake, but every church is bursting with believers every Sabbath, said Pastor Caporal. During his spiritual message, he reminded church members of the love and support that the world church demonstrated right after and years later. “You are not alone, God and our brothers and sisters still care and pray for us,” he said.
Primary and secondary schools resumed classes in December after two months of being closed and Haiti Adventist University began their first semester last week, said Caporal. The university is expected to make up lost class time due to the political unrest and complete its school year in July like all other government-run schools. The university has nearly 200 more students enrolled this year and university and church leaders are hopeful that the girl’s dorm will be remodeled by the end of the year, and the men’s dorm to be completed next year, explained Caporal.The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Haiti has more than 481,000 members worshiping in 1,126 churches and congregations. The church oversees a hospital, university, a radio station, and dozens of primary and secondary schools.
To view a photo gallery related to this story, click HERE