(MNN) — As recently as last December, mission agencies in Haiti were turning away
short-term mission teams. The reason? Haitian gangs were targeting missionaries with kidnapping for ransom.
That, coupled with a bad economy and political unrest, affected ministry.
Pilot/Mechanic with Mission Aviation Fellowship Mark Williams says initially those issues did have
an effect on flight hours. "It did decrease the number of passengers that
were in Haiti
to do ministry when it was at its peak. But now it's back up to about 115 to
Williams says the reason their work-load has increased is
because kidnappings decreased.
"The UN has made a lot of arrests of various gang members and gang
leaders, so that really has attributed to big decrease in the kidnappings. So
actually the kidnapping situation has gotten a lot better."
Improved security means more Christians coming to the
country to work. Williams says they
could really use a Cessna Caravan to help service short-term work teams.
"Sometimes we get 15 or 20 people, or even more, on work teams, and a
Caravan would allow us to carry two plus [Cessna] 206 loads in just one
While transportation and technology are their main tasks,
MAF is also reaching out with the Gospel. According to Williams, the JESUS
Film has been an incredible tool. He
says in the voodoo religion the cross represents two powerful spirits. A pastor
told him that Haitians cheer when Christ is laid on the cross. "When Christ was laid on that cross for
our sins, He overpowered that symbol–the very powerful [spirits] of the voodoo
culture. And so they were cheering the fact they're not afraid anymore."
Williams, who has served in Haiti for 17 years, says many have
responded to the film and other evangelistic initiatives. He says the Protestant church has seen
incredible growth since 1991, and the church needs help. "So we're in the
process of trying to create learning centers to develop lay leadership and
pastoral leadership to be able to [shepherd] these numbers that are just
incredibly large right now."
Christians are being asked to pray for safety for the MAF
team as they make 280 landings a month. Of these, 140 are on shorter gravel or
grass strips with people or animals possibly intruding on the airstrip causing
a dangerous situation.
Pray also for wisdom
and funding as they develop these learning centers.