Journals, Pray
Posted on March 6, 2024 200 Years of Baptists in Haiti
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“I had an interview with the President of Haiti, which lasted two hours.  He treated me with much courtesy, but it was with great difficulty that I could prevail upon him to grant me liberty to preach Christ on this island.  I was compelled to resort to all the arguments in my power – that it would be to the spiritual and temporal good of the thousands of precious souls for whom he was responsible, that many were the happy effects upon a people instructed in the Word of God and that I hoped that this island would not be an exception to this happy reform… I have at last obtained the promise of full liberty and the protection of his government for preaching.” 1

In her book “Pioneers of Light; Stories of the Baptist Witness in Haiti: 1823-1998”, Ivah Heneise researched and cataloged the history of missions in the country of Haiti.  These are summarized portions of her writings and references on the early ministry work of Rev. Thomas Paul.

On May 31st, 1823, Rev. Thomas Paul, who was commissioned by the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society, set sail to Cape Hayti [Cap-Haitien] to assess the recently independent country of Haiti.  In the six months he spent in Haiti, he traveled around the area of Cap-Haitien and to the capital of Port-au-Prince in order to gain permission from the president to publicly preach the the word of God.  Once gaining approval he returned north to Cape Hayti and began preaching.  He rented a large hall where he began hosting services.  On the first Sunday in August, he preached to approximately fifty men.  In the afternoon that number had doubled and about one-third were women.  Rev. Paul had set a “concert of prayer” for the next day and 150 people attended.  Over the next four months he would meet in homes and host services to share God’s word. 

“He states that when he announced that he would administer the ordinance of baptism, ‘Hearts melted with joy’. He adds ‘May thy name, O Lord, have all the glory.’” 2

“Early one morning in December, a service of baptism was held in the sea near the ruins of Pauline Bonaparte’s palace.  A profound silence gripped the great assembly that stood upon the shore as Paul solemnly plunged each candidate into the waters.” 3



Over the past year and a half, my family has been unable to visit Haiti because of the country-wide insecurity and we have been without a prompting from the Holy Spirit.  Following summer break, Ricky and Calen began wishing for a chance to return to Haiti and inquired if there ever might be a time soon when we would be able to go.  Just a short time later, we received an invitation to attend the 200 year anniversary celebration of the event described above, the first recorded baptism in Haiti and in the Caribbean.  Not hearing of positive changes on that side of the island had us doubting that we would be present for this special commemoration.  As time passed and the date came closer, we were in contact with our friends and ministry partners in Haiti.  With much prayer, discernment, and contingency plans, everyone agreed that there was reasonable security to begin a plan for travel.  This was an answer to prayer for the four of us after months turned into years of hearing ‘no’.  So, with anticipation, loosely held expectations, and hope, we started our itinerary.

In December, Lynette, Ricky, Calen and I were granted passage to Haiti.  We arrived by plane into Cap-Haitien where we were greeted by a dear friend who would host us during our stay.  We found Cap-Haitien to be calm and peaceful; we saw kids in their pressed uniforms walking to school, laughing and joking along the way; we saw vendors in their stands with goods to sell; we saw people working, worshiping, conversing and going about their everyday lives.  It was refreshing to see and in ways, it was better than some of the days we had lived during our short time in 2019.  Life is not easy in Haiti, rarely has it ever been, and after hearing so much negative about the country as a whole, we were really grateful to experience this side of Haiti and we were really glad to be there again.

On December 17th, 2023, we attended the 200 Year Anniversary service by invitation of Pastor Voltair at the First Baptist Church of Cap-Haitien.  There were around 3,000 people in attendance.  Seating was set up on the street in front of the church so that additional people could attend the service.  We were honored to be given a time to bring words of encouragement on behalf of Dr. Adalia Gutiérrez Lee, Area Director of Iberoamerica for International Ministries, to all those in attendance.  The congregation was elated to hear me speaking to them in Haitian Kreyòl, as were the recipients of the local radio broadcast, (Station 4VEH) and Facebook live, we later discovered!  Lynette and I also had the privilege to present a plaque on behalf of the Board of International Ministries to the First Baptist Church of Cap-Haitien in recognition of ministry over the past 200 years.  It was a wonderful celebration, and we were honored to be your Global Servants representing International Ministries to these faithful kingdom workers.

We spent the next few days touring ministry work that has taken place and is still happening, despite the negative news reports, and we took time to meet with humble servants who continue to give from the little they have to serve their neighbors and the poor in the name of Jesus Christ.


Will you join us with continued prayer for Haiti?

The country is very volatile; one moment their world is calm and functioning, and the next day or week, the country is unstable with little to no travel possible.  Our family is honored to encourage God’s work that persists and perseveres in Haiti.

Please remember that God has been good, and God is STILL good; there is still hope, all things are possible, and God is a God of transformation and redemption stories.


Each of these citations are excerpts from “Pioneers of Light; Stories of the Baptist Witness in Haiti: 1823-1998” – Ivah T. Heneise p. 25-28

1 “Baptist Missionary Society of Massachusetts Mission to Hayti,” p. 305

2 “Domestic Mission, Hayti: Mr. Paul’s Letters,” P. 227

3 “Baptist Missionary society of Massachusetts Mission to Hayti,” P. 305