At least 75 people accepted Jesus as their Savior through the efforts of a unique youth team from the Southern Florida District that traveled to Gros-Morne, Haiti, from August 4 to 11. The trip was the district's project for Nazarene Missions International's 100th anniversary celebration.
Pastor Eric Skelton, the district missions youth coordinator, led the Florida team to the Gros-Morne soccer stadium early each morning to organize a weeklong soccer camp and training for more than 1,000 local primary and secondary school students. More than 250 soccer balls were donated by Southern Florida churches for the team to use and give away in Haiti. They were given to local teams and churches around the region.
Youth leaders from the Gros-Morne Church of the Nazarene partnered with the Southern Florida team to organize the students in playing soccer, but more importantly to share Jesus with all participants. Multi-colored EvangeBalls were used exclusively, and each morning Pastor Pascal Permis, a Haitian-American pastor and leader from Southern Florida, gave a devotional and invitation.
In the evenings, the team would show the JESUS film in remote areas around Gros-Morne, a community of more than 150,000 people about 100 miles north of the country's capital, Port-Au-Prince. The team would play soccer with the local youth and create large soap bubbles to attract children — all as a prelude to showing the film.
The team planned to have a JESUS film rally in the soccer stadium on the final night the team was in Haiti, but a deluge flooded the soccer field. After a quick appeal, the city's mayor gave permission for the film to be shown in the Gros-Morne City Square. The result was a much larger crowd. At least 28 people committed their lives to Jesus at the conclusion of the showing.
“We believe this collaborative effort had a great impact on the people, students, and our church in Gros-Morne, but I know our team was deeply impacted by the love and response of the all the Haitian people we met,” Skelton said.
In addition to soccer and the JESUS film, the Southern Florida team provided speakers and special music for the Sunday services at the Gros-Morne church, which is the largest Nazarene church in Haiti.
The Gros-Morne church also operates a primary and secondary school for 850 students. The Southern Florida District has been partnering with the church since the 2010 Haiti earthquake by helping to complete the partially constructed 2,000-seat sanctuary, replace the earthquake-destroyed roof to the school, provide a state-of-the-art computer lab, and construct new desks for the school. Individuals and churches in Southern Florida also are sponsoring the cost for about 100 students to attend the school each year.
On this trip, the Southern Florida District provided the resources for new textbooks to assist nearly all of primary students attending the school. The district is also working on providing the resources for a new lending library at the school.
Through an interpreter, Gros-Morne Pastor Paul Zamor said, “We are overwhelmed by these Christian exchanges and sacrifices. We sincerely appreciate the assistance from Southern Florida as we continue to expand God’s kingdom in this part of Haiti.”
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