Finishing Strong

Jim & Marcy Ryken   -  

It’s Thursday night and we are back at MFI in Florida.  What an amazing trip!  We have so much to be thankful for.

Here is a recap from the last couple of days.  The highlights from Tuesday took place in the Gazebo in front of JeanJean & Kristie’s house.  The morning highlight was lay pastor training.  This is a weekly gathering where pastors from the area meet to learn and pray together. This has been happening for 16 years; it was the original purpose for which JeanJean and Kristie came back to Haiti in 2005.

Mike and Kip spent the morning teaching from 1 Peter.  They were very encouraged by the spirit-filled prayer and worship from this group of 15 men.  The theme of suffering resonated among them.  God’s providential timing was evident from the responses of the group expressing how they could immediately apply what they learned.

The afternoon was marked by our team meeting with members of the Haitian board of directors.  UCI has always been governed by a Haitian board and a US board.  The Haitian men direct the ministry, providing a spirit-filled vision, hands-on leadership, and powerful prayer.  It was humbling to hear what God has done and how the community has been transformed.  It was exciting to listen to the God-sized vision they have for the future.  Ultimately desiring to glorify God and take Christ to all of Haiti and the world.

Tuesday was the 18th of May holiday also known as flag day.  There was no school.  Instead people gathered and celebrated the country.  Some of the team attended a local parade/processional as the crowd mostly followed the marching musicians and dancers.

Tuesday included a couple interviews by Jianhua of board members, which she will write feature articles about in the future.  We also gave away 10 goats to local families.  Each family received some training about goat husbandry before receiving their animals.

In the evening we had the pleasure of meeting 8 university students.  It was a joyful time, getting to know them and their dreams for the future.  They clearly cherish their education and are 100% committed to doing well in school to make a difference for their country.

Yesterday we took a trip to Mirebalais about 90 minutes away.  We had to have Covid tests before coming home and that was the closest place available.  The whole process took a couple hours but we left with 10 official Negative test results.

After lunch at a restaurant in Hinche the team stopped by the hospital there. This is a large hospital where some of the UCI medical students are in residency.  The team met with and prayed for 40 patients. They each received a Bible and a food package, including 8 pounds of rice, 4 pounds of beans, tomatoes, oil, mackerel, garlic and bouillon – Enough to feed a family for several days.

The conditions in the hospital were generally deplorable although the staff seemed both committed and compassionate. Shared rooms, stale air, dimly lit, partially cooled.  Among the patients were 5-6 men with heavy chains around their ankles. It created a metaphor for what sin looks like – a place where you suffer and feel alone and lack hope.  Into that place we brought Jesus.  We celebrated and prayed with believers and shared the gospel with those who were open.  Near the end of the time one lady committed her life to Christ.  She found a savior!  Her life was rescued!  What amazing Grace!

One of our ongoing projects was to teach a few Haitian guys how to build a simple cabinet for the classrooms.  There were several challenges, like no flat surface to work on, a saw that ran backwards, no Phillips screw drivers, lack of power on several occasions.  But patience prevailed and when we left 5 cabinets were completed, the last two were done basically unsupervised.  Their task is now to take what they learned and build one for each of the 44 classrooms.

This morning we had a couple hours after packing and breakfast.  The team used that time to prayer walk around the community.  We delivered more food packages to families and prayed with those we met along the way.  On the walk some of our group met a young man and asked him about Jesus. He wanted to learn more and eventually accepted Jesus, a couple of young girls walked up during the conversation and also received the Good News and committed their lives to Christ as well.  Praise God!

These decisions for Christ were a great way to end our time in Haiti.  The rest of our day has been traveling with MFI from Pignon to Port-au-Prince to Fort Pierce.  Tonight we will relax and debrief here.  At 8:00am we head for the airport and should be back in Ames around 5pm.

Thanks for following along.  Thanks for your prayers and support.  Please ask us about the trip we look forward to telling you more.

Blessings,  #Haiti21


Pastor training


Board meeting


Flag day parade


The cutest of all goats


Goat give away


Covid testing


Rice and beans for hospital ministry


Bibles distributed at hospital and on prayer walks



The workshop and the crew.


Cabinets for the school


Praying with a new believer


Prayer Walk experience