Chapter 5. Rice Christians, Churches, and Caravan

ebook: Mr. Missionary, I Have a Question (part 6)

In this eBook, Howard Culbertson answers questions that were asked in church services across the United States during a home assignment year. Originally published for the Nazarene Missions International mission book series by what is now called The Foundry, this book carried ISBN number 083-411-1519

Have Alabaster funds been used to build churches in Haiti?
In the first 20 years of Nazarene work in Haiti, Alabaster funds played a key role in purchasing land and constructing buildings. Scattered all over Haiti are churches, schools, and parsonages that testify to the faithfulness of Nazarenes in filling cardboard Alabaster boxes with nickels, dimes, and quarters.

In recent years, however, Nazarene Mission Teams projects (formerely known as Work & Witness) have done a lot of the church construction work in Haiti. There are two reasons for this. First, Haiti is very close to the United States, and most Nazarene Mission Teams teams come from the United States. Travel time and costs for work teams coming to Haiti are low as compared to some other world mission areas. Second, Haiti is a third world country with a tropical climate. Our strategy, therefore, has been to build simple buildings that will basically ward off the rain and keep out thieves. Such buildings can often be financed and constructed by just one work team. [ Very first Nazarene Mission Team ]

These two factors-low travel costs and ease of construction-have made Haiti an attractive place for people planning Nazarrene Mission Team projects. At the same time, this has freed Haiti from the need to tap Alabaster funds. The amount of Alabaster money that would have had to be spent in Haiti can now be redirected to countries that are visited less often by the work teams.

In a recent year, more than a dozen Nazarene Mission Teams came to Haiti. We now have a missionary couple assigned full-time to this ministry. Unfortunately, even with all of this construction activity, our list of project needs in Haiti grows faster than can be met. Currently our project list has over 100 projects waiting. Haitian district superintendents have marked 30 of these as "urgent."
Do you have special projects, such as Approved Specials, that need funding?
Like all other Nazarene missionary teams around the world, we have our "wish" list. These current, unfunded needs for Haiti -- or for any other mission area -- are kept on file in the World Mission Office of the Global Ministry Center in Lenexa, Kansas. Please contact them and ask for the most recent "Approved Special" list for the mission work in which you are interested. These lists usually contain items in varying financial amounts, all the way from less than $20.00 to thousands of dollars.
How many self-supporting churches do we have in Haiti?
The number of self-supporting churches used to be an important Nazarene missionary statistic. Now, however, our focus is on developing self-supporting districts. World Mission (Nazarene World Evangelism Fund) monies no longer go directly to local churches. Rather, these funds often help to subsidize the national district's Home Mission and Evangelism Fund. The district superintendent, with the District Advisory Board, determines which churches will get financial assistance from that fund.

In recent years, Haitian Nazarenes have made great strides toward financial independence. A couple of our districts are starting to fix their sights on becoming Phase 4/Regular Districts in the near future. In 1984, all six of the districts took a giant step when they phased out subsidies for pastors' salaries. Whatever salary a Haitian Nazarene pastor now receives must come from his local church.

World Mission (Nazarene World Evangelism Fund) funds still subsidize rent payments on church and parsonage properties where we do not yet own buildings. Nazarene World Evangelism Fund funds supplement district superintendents' salaries and expenses. In addition, the international church helps Haiti with evangelistic projects, with literature production, with radio outreach, and with the training of pastors and evangelists in our Bible college and extension program. Our Compassionate Ministries are financed by both Nazarene funds and nondenominational agencies.
Do we still have our print shop in Haiti?
For many years we had our own printing plant at our headquarters property near the capital city of Port-au-Prince. At one time, though small and limited, it was one of the best printing facilities in all of Haiti.

As our denomination began to expand into other French-speaking countries such as Martinique, France, and into the Quebec area of Canada, the decision was made to open a French Publications office at what is now the Global Ministry Center in the Kanas City area. The printing plant in Haiti was closed, since it became less expensive to contract our printing work that was still needed in Haiti.

Currently, we are still publishing Sunday School materials in Haitian Creole and French in Haiti. We have begun work on several small book projects to be printed in Haitian Creole. The French Department of the International Publications Office at our Global Ministry Center translates and publishes many items in French, including a French edition of what is Holiness Today and the Nazarene Manual.
With all the development projects and other such activities going on, do we have trouble with "rice Christians" -- people who come to church just for economic benefits?
We've tried to be very careful not to produce rice Christians, and there is good evidence that the Church of the Nazarene in Haiti is built on solid, spiritual foundations. For example, in 1984 all of our districts ceased paying subsidies for pastors' salaries. Several non-Nazarene missionaries predicted that many of our pastors would leave and go to other denominations who would agree to pay them a regular salary. This had indeed been the experience of some other groups who tried to push their churches toward self-support.

A survey taken one year after those subsidies ceased showed that we hadn't lost one pastor for that reason. Praise the Lord! Rice Christians? Not these men. They've stayed at their assignments, most of them living on a reduced income while their churches learned to make up the difference in the salary subsidy. So it has not been easy for them; but they are still there preaching, praying, and evangelizing.
Are we just now starting our Bible school in Haiti?
One of the first things pioneer missionary Paul Orjala did was to start a Bible school for training pastors and evangelists. The first property he purchased in the early 1950s was land for a Bible school campus and missionary homes. Our resident school is still at that same location near Port-au-Prince.

Our Bible college is one of the finest Bible colleges in Haiti. The college is now being considered for accreditation with the Caribbean Association of Bible Colleges. Perhaps its greatest needs are a larger French theological library and more Haitian professors.
If you're having to start an extension program for men already pastoring, does this mean the Bible school has not been producing enough preachers?
Our shortage of trained pastors has more to do with the way churches are started in Haiti than it has to do with lack of graduates from the Nazarene Bible College here. Few churches are started in Haiti by sending out a trained pastor

to a new community. Most often, local churches sponsor stations in nearby areas. These grow and develop under lay leadership from the sponsoring congregation. Some get so large that they organize themselves into separate churches. Often the pastor of these new churches will be the key layman who led the group through its formative years.

Most new Haitian churches have, therefore, been started and subsequently pastored by untrained but divinely gifted leadership. Graduates from the Bible college are often sent to fill a vacancy in some church that has lost its pastor. They have also been used to start churches in the large cities and towns.

Our current extension program is not something totally new. Through the years the Bible school has offered various kinds of programs to train men who have not been through the resident school. We are building on those past experiences plus drawing from experiences of the church in other countries to design our Pastoral Extension Training program. This is a type of program called Theological Education by Extension in missiological circles.

The men in the extension program continue to pastor their churches while living in their own hometowns. At least twice each month they meet at a central location for classes designed to lead them to ordination.
How can you be sure that those pastors without any training are correct in their theology?
Many of our pastors have risen to their position in a pattern reminiscent of New Testament times. They are laymen who have emerged as leaders in a group of believers. The district superintendent, in consultation with the sponsoring mother church of the new congregation, recognizes this person's spiritual gifts and asks him to assume the pastoral leadership of the new church. That seems to be what the apostle Paul and others did as they organized churches around the Mediterranean basin.

We are concerned that these new pastors be instructed in correct doctrine; but that is not our first concern. Our primary concern is their spiritual condition. Head knowledge can never substitute for heart experience. Holiness is first of all a relationship with God, not just a clever doctrinal formula.

Most of our districts have monthly preachers' meetings that are used to provide training. Finally, until we can provide proper training for these men, we have learned to trust the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth.
Isn't Caravan a big thing in Haiti?
When Steve and Linda Weber were missionaries in Haiti, under Linda Weber's direction, approximately 20,000 Haitian children became involved in the Nazarene Caravan program. Some of the churches have now made Caravan a part of their weekday elementary school curriculum. Others have a separate weekly meeting time for Caravan. We have a central Caravan office in Port-au-Prince that coordinates the program on all of the six Nazarene districts.

The children often wear their Caravan uniforms to church. In one church in Port-au-Prince, for instance, older Caravaners in uniform, are the ushers on Sunday mornings, helping latecomers find seats in their crowded church.
Why aren't we as far along in our work in Haiti as we've come in Italy?
The Church of the Nazarene has been at work in Haiti and in Italy for almost the same number of years. In many ways, the districts in both of these countries are at the same stage of development. All of Haiti's churches are pastored by Haitians, and all six districts have Haitian district superintendents. Italy has its own Italian district superintendent, and all churches are pastored by Italians.

Literature and radio work in Italy is being conducted by Italians, and most of the literature work in Haiti is done by Haitians. Any radio programming being done in Haiti is under the direction of Haitians.

The one obvious difference between the two countries is that Italy no longer has missionaries assisting the Church of the Nazarene there. Haiti's Nazarenes still have missionaries working with them. Why?

In Haiti we have a Bible college, a medical program, and such explosive church growth that there is need for continued building construction. It is for these three areas of ministry-ministerial training, compassionate ministries, and construction projects-that the Church of the Nazarene continues to send missionaries to Haiti.

The Nazarene church in Italy, on the other hand, does not need missionaries for these special areas of ministry. Italy's pastors and evangelists are being trained at the European Nazarene Bible College located in Switzerland. There are Nazarene missionaries teaching in that school, but they are not assigned to Italy-they are appointed to the college. Our church also does not have a medical ministry in Italy, and we only occasionally have a construction project there.

So we do not need medical personnel or construction supervisors in Italy.

The Italian Nazarenes do, however, continue to receive funds from the denomination's mission budget (Nazarene World Evangelism Fund). They are at about the same level of financial independence as the districts in Haiti.

Our future goal in Haiti is, of course, to place all areas of ministry under the direction of Haitians. It does, however, take time to develop college professors, medical personnel, and competent construction supervisors.
What obstacles do we face in Haiti?
We are troubled by demonic powers, the lure of materialism, inadequate finances, large numbers of illiterate believers, and little good holiness literature for those who can read.

Satanic forces personified in voodoo seem to battle us at every step. Our Lord continues to show himself as more powerful than these forces of darkness, yet it is a battle that consumes time and energy.

Of course, the emigration of potential lay and ministerial leaders to the United States from time to time always hurts the developing church.

Our explosive church growth has far outpaced the finances available for property and buildings. The subsistence level at which most Haitian Nazarenes live limits the funds they can contribute. Nazarene World Evangelism Fund and Work and Witness funds also have their limitations.

The lack of adequate holiness literature -- books, pamphlets, tracts -- in both French and Creole hinders the church as we work to develop theologically astute leadership.
Do you work with other missionary organizations in Haiti?
Our hearts are always open to any evangelical group that is possessed by God's vision for our sinful world. We are

involved in quite a few cooperative ventures, particularly in the area of compassionate ministries. Most weeks at least one truck from some other mission will be backed up to our central food warehouse, getting sacks of rice and beans to use in their feeding programs.

We are currently talking with other holiness denominations concerning the possibility of cooperation in publishing ventures. This appears to be a very promising possibility.
What other denominations have missionary work in Haiti?
An estimated 1,000 American-based religious organizations claim to have work in Haiti. Of these, less than one-half are legally registered with the government (something that obviously causes concern with governmental officials). The missionary presence in Haiti is so pervasive that any foreigner appearing in a rural area is automatically thought to be a missionary.

Among denominations working in Haiti are several Baptist organizations, the Missionary church, the Assemblies of God, the Free Methodist church, the Wesleyan church, the Salvation Army, the Episcopal church, the Methodist church, and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.).
With so many missionaries in Haiti, it shouldn't take too long to finish evangelizing the country, should it?
Currently, almost 25 percent of the 6 million Haitians are Protestant. That's over 1 million believers, most of them in what we would label as evangelical churches. The evangelicals are starting to make an important impact on society, even if all groups are not growing nearly as fast as the Church of the Nazarene.

In a certain sense, of course, the evangelization of a country is never finished. Each new baby born represents another soul to be won.

Actually, only a small percentage of the foreign missionaries in Haiti today are working in direct evangelization. Many are working in community development, in medical projects, in Bible schools, and in church construction.
Doesn't World Vision have a work in Haiti?
In addition to the denominational and other church-planting missions working in Haiti, there are several evangelical groups working in development. World Vision is one such group. Compassion International and Tear Fund are others. Through the years, the Church of the Nazarene has worked closely on various projects with several of these organizations.
Do we use the OMS radio tower in Haiti for transmitting Nazarene radio programs?
The OMS station, as well as four other radio stations that together blanket Haiti, carries our weekly radio program produced in Port-au-Prince.

People on English-speaking islands in the Caribbean can also listen to the English "Showers of Blessing" radio broadcast from the OMS radio transmitter. Our French radio broadcast, produced in Kansas City, has at times been broadcast by this station.
Missionaries always show pictures of beautiful churches overseas. Why can't we spend some of that money here in the U.S. to fix up run-down home mission buildings?
Many Nazarenes are ignorant of how much Nazarene World Evangelism Fund and Alabaster money is spent each year in the United States and Canada. In the face of crying needs around the world, some argue that too much is still being spent in the United States. Others take the opposite view, saying that in the face of unmet needs in the United States and Canada too much money is going overseas.

Funds spent for the building of Haitian churches go for building concrete block structures with corrugated tin roofs. There are no ceilings. Florescent light fixtures (if the church has electricity) are attached to metal roof girders. Plank pews, such as used to be found in camp meeting tabernacles, sit on cement floors.

When funds are used in the United States and Canada, there are many other expenses that must be addressed: ceilings, air-conditioning, indoor plumbing, glass windows, carpeting, and so on.

Knowing how to best utilize our limited financial resources is not always easy. Nazarene leaders continually agonize over how to respond to mountainous needs with meager funds. At the same time, we are often amazed at how the Lord seems to be multiplying our "five loaves and two fishes," making them stretch far beyond what we had ever dreamed possible.
I've noticed from pictures that the Haitian church buildings never have windows. They just seem to put openings in the walls. How come?
Haiti is a tropical country. We do not need to heat the church buildings, and the congregations cannot afford air conditioning even when electricity is available. Glass windows would be an expensive, useless luxury. We just put in plenty of openings to let the tropical breezes circulate freely.
What do we do to start a new work overseas?
First of all, church leadership usually sends in a Joshua and Caleb team to spy out the land. This decision is made at the regional or field level. Sometimes they discover an independent holiness work that would like to merge with the Church of the Nazarene. This happened in Italy, Nigeria, and most recently in Egypt.

When new missionaries are sent to a new country, they may go armed with addresses of people who have been regular listeners of one of our radio broadcasts. Several of these may be interested in forming a home Bible study that will evolve into that country's first Church of the Nazarene. Radio was a key factor in opening Nazarene work in countries like Colombia, Venezuela, and Jamaica.

Sometimes Nazarenes who have immigrated from another country will provide the nucleus for the first Nazarene church. This happened in Portugal, France, and Suriname.

Occasionally we have used mass evangelistic crusades to get started, such as was done in the Dominican Republic.

There is no prepackaged Nazarene missionary strategy for every new country. Pioneer missionaries are very dependent on the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they search for keys to successfully planting an aggressive holiness church in their target people group.
Does the pastor at the huge Nazarene church in Port-au-Prince have paid associates like big churches in the United States?
The Bel-Air Church of the Nazarene in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, conducts an education program for students from the first grade through high school; therefore, they have several full-time people staffing that program. Indeed, the pastor is the principal of that school. For the most part, the Bel-Air Nazarene congregation depends upon volunteer people to direct all local church ministries.

Almost all Haitian Nazarene churches -- even those quite small -- have "local preachers" in them. These unpaid volunteer workers provide leadership in home prayer meetings and Bible study groups as well as often leading the public worship services where the pastor's primary responsibility will be the preaching. . . . [ read more ]

  Page:  ←Prev    |   Preface  |   1. Hawaii, Garden Hoes, and Holiness  |    2. Creole, Christopher Columbus, and the&nb sp;Citadel  |    3. Regional Directors, Demons, and the  Dominican Republic  |    4. Mangoes, Malnutrition, and Modernization   |  5. Rice Christians, Churches,  and Caravan  |    6. Missionaries, Mail, and Men   |    Epilogue  |    Next→ 

Missionaries, Mail, and Men

chapterDo we still have plenty of people applying for missionary service? . . . Do you have to raise your own financial support? . . . How many years does it take to become a missionary? . . . . [ read more ]

Howard Culbertson,

eBooks    Alfredo Del Rosso, an Italian captivated by a vision     God's Bulgarian tapestry    The Kingdom strikes back: Signs of the Messiah at work in Haiti     Paul McGrady, Mr. Evangelism     Our balanced attack: How Nazarenes finance world evangelism     Pasta, pizza and Pinocchio     Jonah, the reluctant missionary     Rookie notebook: Our first nine months as missionaries in Italy    Other books and articles

10/40 Window explanation and map     Seeking God's will?     Mission trip fundraising     Nazarene Missions International resources