Hope Here International Ministries (HHIM) accepted the call to take on the task of establishing a ministry, committed to spreading the gospel message in the mountain village of Opiege, Cornillon, Haiti in early 2015. In doing so the Opiege Ministry began support of both the church and school. It was a daunting task whereby the ministry began a role in not only operations, but also accepting the challenge of establishing suitable facilities for both members of the church congregation and students at the school.
Soon after beginning work in Opiege the question of constructing a building to house the church and school began. To many it seemed it would be impossible to deliver the materials and resources to the desired construction site. Many felt it would be too costly to build, with the remoteness of the location, which was 3.5 kilometers from the nearest road.
It did seem these early assessments seemed to make sense, but nonetheless a seed for a building was planted, and a dream born.
The initial church in 2012, was a tarp draped between two buildings, then a straw hut was erected in 2013. When our HHIM team visited in late 2014 there was a crude pole barn with fabric panels that could be pulled into place as walls.
HHIM next returned as Opiege Ministries in the Spring of 2016. The team found that during 2015, church members and villagers had improved the sturdiness of the structure and covered the exterior walls with palm bark boards. With a little paint it was much improved. The church saw this to be a temporary solution.
However, the dream of a new and suitable church building was alive. Our team found that using pickaxes, shovels, mattocks, and mules, men had begun chipping away at the limestone of a nearby wall, thus creating more surface space to lay out a building. The seed that was planted was beginning to sprout. In the minds of our Haitian friends, the confidence in a building rising in the clearing was contagious. Furthermore, faith that God could put a building on this mountain was strong. Work on the site continued through 2017.
Talk between the ministry and Madsen Ulysse, the director of the school, as well as Pastor Ulysse Emmanuel began. Soon we all were convinced a building was possible.
When our team returned to Opiege in March 2018, we marked the corners of the site where the Church and School would be located. While in Opiege, we had an assembly of students, teachers, and the School Director meet within the borders. All were led in prayer by Pastor Emmanuel asking God to bless a new building.
A year later ground was broken, and Phase One began. Money was raised, a contractor obtained, and soon building materials were headed up the mountain. It was not easy, but steel poles, ten tons of bag cement, and rebar were taken up by men and work animals. No vehicles were used due to the narrow, rocky trails to the work site.
2020 arrived and it was time to raise the trusses and install the roof. Again, funding was provided with God’s provision through our friends and supporters. In March, nature introduced a big obstacle in COVID-19. Another barrier in the form of civil unrest raged across Haiti. Still, another as out of control inflation set in. With a lot of patience and caution, materials were delivered to St. Pierre, then up to Opiege. Work on Phase Two began. In mid-January, the ministry received photographs of a completed Phase Two. Completion of this phase allows for use of the building.
Matthew 19:26 says “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” It became crystal clear; our God is one that makes the impossible possible.
Our Opiege Ministry team served in the village in April this year. All team members gazed at the structure. It was emotional to say the least. While in Opiege the team added elements of a water collect system and solar power to the building. This will be the first building with light in this part of the mountain. In the picture on right are Americans and Haitians worshipping together in the Church.
In closing, John 8:12 states Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world.” Indeed, those in darkness in Opiege can now look to the light of this church. They can come out of the darkness and find the light that is Jesus Christ.
Opiege Ministry saw its mission team return to the village after an eighteen-month absence due to COVID-19. With the pandemic stifling so many things in 2020, the ministry still was able to accomplish all its goals for the year from home. Glory to God for all the kingdom work accomplished through His provision. Nonetheless the team was determined to once again be on the ground in Opiege. All team members were committed to making the most of the visit.
One major project on the agenda during this trip was installation of some key additions to the new Church and School Building. Currently Phase Two of the instruction had been completed, yet the team addressed a couple of critical items. This included building 70 linear feet of water collection guttering that channel usable rainwater into two 125-gallon tanks.
Another item was the installation of two much needed solar panels. One panel was located atop the old church and school building. It powers lighting inside. A much larger panel was mounted atop the new Church and School Building. It powers lighting inside the structure, as well as provides for several electrical outlets.
Working with the kids at the school is always on our trip agenda. This trip’s work included photographing all 130 kids. The photographs will be used to update the Student Sponsorship link on the Hope Here International Ministry website, and as well be shared with each child’s sponsor.
The team also shared with the kids through activities. One activity was the presentation of a Christian Flag. Elementary classes were taught the pledge to the Christian flag.
On the last evening in Opiege before the team’s return to Delmas, Port-Au-Prince, the team joined in a worship service with the Opiege Evangelical Church. Our Haitian friends led in the worship music. The team led with the message.
Together, those attending jointly remembered Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross with a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. It was sign of the unity of Christ’s church by Haitian and American believers. It concluded with the church circling the team and praying for safe travels and blessings. The service was a fitting end to the visit.
Although most of the week was spent in the field in the remote mountain village of Opiege, there was plenty of activity when the team was at the House of Hope. The House of Hope in Delmas, Port-Au-Prince serves as the team’s base when not in Opiege.
On arrival Saturday, the team did not see much idle time. Soon after setting foot on Haitian soil following the flight from Miami, the team was blessed with being able to attend a Christian Baptismal service at the House of Hope pool. The service was conducted by Pastor Savine for new believers at his nearby church.
When, in Delmas, Opiege Mission teams worship at Pastor Savine’s Church. The pastor is a wonderful man of God, as well as great shepherd of his flock. The church always gives our teams a warm welcome. On Sunday, the team was able to be a part of the church’s Homecoming Service.
The balance of time on Saturday and Sunday is spent preparing for the early Monday morning deployment to Opiege in the rugged Trou d’ Eau mountain range. Preparation tasks including procuring provisions and other supplies for the stay in Opiege. Equipment, ministry materials, and personal gear must be loaded into our vehicles prior to leaving on the difficult drive ahead.
Our post-Opiege time is typically very busy as well. After arriving at the House of Hope on Thursday afternoon vehicles must be unload, cleaned up, then returned to the airport rental agency. This year, while at the airport, the team had the added task of taking a COVID test to ensure all were negative prior to the flight home.
Our Friday, the team paid a visit to the Jehovah Rapha Home. This is a home for special needs babies, children, and youth.
The team learned about the mission of the home and spent time with the kids. Team members hugged and held the kids. The amount of love and smiles returned from the kids was something that most team members never expected. We also were able to share items provided by two great sewing ministries that support our trips. These items included clothing, much needed COVID masks, toboggans, and blankets. Many of these same items had been shared in Opiege, as well as were shared with the Rev Home, another great children’s home in Delmas.
At the end of each trip, the team simply receives a blessing and God gets all the glory. This trip was no exception.
Despite not putting a mission team in the field, Opiege Ministries accomplished all its goals in 2020. God provided and through much prayer, while working with our Opiege partners, much kingdom work was accomplished.
Phase Two of the Church and School Building was completed and paid for. Additionally, a bathroom for use by the church and school was completed, several food distributions were made by the church, the school textbook goal was met, additional desk units were constructed, and school support was met all twelve months.
2021 KINGDOM GOALS FOR OPIEGE
Fund raising and to begin construction on Phase Three of the Church and School Building. The scope of work has been determined, material specs and quantities are being determined, and initial consultation with our Haitian contractor is underway.
TOP BUILDING PRIORITY
Phase Three related projects. Further water related projects are in the works, and to include additional solar power. Initial work on these needs was completed in April 2021.
SHORT-TERM MISSION TEAM ACTIVITY
Return mission teams to Opiege following COVID-19. The first team of the year served in the village April 10–17. Opiege Ministries is facilitating an EMT Haiti team that preparing to serve August 14–21. A third team is being discussed for late October.
OPIEGE EVANGELICAL CHURCH
1. Provide additional Bibles, gospel tracks and other materials needed to aid and increase evangelism.
2. Provide for more frequent food distributions, especially in times of food shortage.
1. With the new building, additional tables, benches, dry erase boards, etc. will be needed.
2. Funding for 2021-22 school textbooks needs to be provided by September 1.
3. Determine a way to implement a daily lunch program.
4. Double participation in the Student Sponsorship Program.
1. Continue to provide shipments of over-the-counter meds and first aid supplies.
2. Send medical teams to Opiege. The pending August team will conduct a Medical Clinic.
3. Repairs on the home donated for use as a Medical Clinic must be addressed soon. This is a project that can follow completion of the Church and School Building.
Each morning the students at Opiege School assemble prior to going to their classrooms. They line up in single file by class. They wear their blue and green uniforms. At assembly they quietly receive announcements and the days instructions. They are led by their teachers in prayer. Lastly and just prior to marching to class they sing the Haitian National Anthem as their flag is raised on a wooden pole.
Despite issues with self-serving leaders, foreign interventions, extreme poverty, and natural disasters, Haitians are extremely proud of their heritage.
Proud they should be. When Haiti gained its independence from France in 1804 it became the first and only successful slave rebellion, the first black republic, and the second nation in the Americas.
In hearing the children sing one can sense the pride in their voices.
Haitian Flag Design
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