A special thank you to our Supporters, from Jean Esdras Avril, a More Than Bread student.
It was November of 2006, when I and multiple members of my church family, boarded a plane that would take us to Miami, Florida; after which we boarded yet another plane that would take us to the Eastern side of the island that Christopher Columbus first landed on in 1492 when he “sailed the ocean blue”. This island, now commonly known as the Dominican Republic, would be me and my fellow team members home for the next 10 days, as we’d serve alongside the founder of TEARS (True Evangelism Always Require Sacrifice), Rod Davis. We were a group of 10 or so young men and women spurred on by the Holy Spirit to serve our Lord in a cross-cultural context.
Having never been out of the country other than a vacation cruise some years before, I had no idea what I’d see, hear or feel. I was “wet behind the ears”, completely naive to how people lived in poor 3rd-world contexts. My understanding of mission’s work and the life of missionaries was greatly informed after our 10-day stay as I walked alongside some individuals who are, even to this day, folks I look up to, strive to imitate and quite frankly are my heroes in ministry. However, let me be completely clear, it wasn’t until I myself became a missionary just 8 years later, that I TRULY understood what that, seemingly, short little stay could mean in the grand scheme of things. The missionary is a foreigner, one incompetent in language, one who is forever making cultural faux pas, one who never can blend in or even hide for a moment, one whose life’s work is to abandon his culture increasingly to acquire competence in another. You see, the full-time missionary’s life is accepting the role of outsider, becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable for the glory of King Jesus.
So, you can imagine what it means for a full-time missionary when servants from their sending church or partnering churches choose to sacrifice time and resources to board a plane to serve alongside their ministry partners abroad. It can be a fruitful and rewarding experience for the short-term team member, first and foremost, for the locals to whom they are going to minister to, and finally for, the oft-forgotten recipient of arguably the greatest blessing, the full-time missionary family who will most likely be hosting you for your time. For the missionary family, the short-term team is, as Clint Archer puts it in his book on short-term ministry, “a care package of human resources”.
On August 15, 2018, we received such a care package at our home in Grand Goave, Haiti! What a bountiful blessing it was spending time with five uniquely wrapped gifts: Ryan, Cyrus, Shea, Candace, and Micaiah. They each blessed our family, community, and church family in ways unexplainable. Leaving their comfort zones for a week-long stent in our impoverished context seemed to them a minor and insignificant sacrifice. They were ready to serve and give in any way they could, having prepared months in advance: raising funds and planning various activities for our church and community members, as well as preparing themselves for the challenges they would soon face as the high temperatures, humidity, bugs, mosquitoes, and other not-so-friendly aspects of third world life greeted them at the airport exit door.
It was a week jammed-pack with ministering to our community and church family. From a backyard Bible fun day with over 100 community kids, to a two-day Vacation Bible School for almost 90 children up the mountain at our local church, to a Q & A time at the young adult meeting, and finally to a fruitful day of fellowship at the beach spending time with the almost 30 young adults from our church and church community, the team served well. They worked hard to connect with those they served despite obvious cultural and language barriers, sharing the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
Thus, Haiti Team 2018 was a great success! There is not enough space to detail all of what happened in their short time with us, while they blessed the many children, church members and community members, they most profoundly blessed our family: Willio, myself (Neecole), Abby and Gabby. As we played games together after meals, joked, talked, laughed, and caught up on one another’s lives, Willio and I were encouraged. As they occupied Abby and Gabby’s time by working on jigsaw puzzles, singing, running, and playing with them, we were encouraged. You see, as much as the team comes to bless the locals that we, the missionaries, serve and interact with each day, they most importantly bless us as they our divinely prepared “care package of human resources” giving us a little boost, a little hug from our Savior, spurring us on to love and good deeds.
When the Bible Training Institute of Grand Goave honors its first graduating class in June 2019, it will be quite a blessed milestone for the Destin family.
“There are almost no words to express what that first graduation is going to mean to our family,” Neecole Destin says. “I’m going to be jumping out of my skin, and if I’m jumping out of my skin, just imagine Willio [Destin]. In God’s providence, this has been what his life has been about for the past 10 years leading up to this graduation, the first of which we hope of many.”
It has indeed been a labor of love for the Destin family for nearly a decade, and now the fruits of their labor are beginning to ripen just as other notable changes occur for the More Than Bread ministry.
Among those developments is an increased focus on outreach that the organization hopes will boost support and lead to financial sustainability for years to come. More Than Bread now has a completely revamped website that includes student bios and more information targeted to current and potential supporters. The Destins are proud of the new site that they say looks “polished and clean.”
“I am well pleased with the new website,” Willio says. “It’s very exciting. It allows our supporters to see what the Lord is doing, even though they’re far away from us.”
Neecole says the revamped site is a truer reflection of the MTB ministry itself, and an important tool to communicate its message with its international supporters.
“I’m proud of the work that’s happening at the school and proud of Willio and the staff; the students are proud of the school,” Neecole says. “I just like how the website is representing that.”
Another development for MTB includes a newly formed stateside execution team which partnered with a team of graphic designers and oversaw the creation of the new website. The former Facebook page is still active — although enlivened with new photos and more frequent posts — and a new Instagram page is forthcoming.
Chief among the new developments, however, is the upcoming graduation, set to take place June 21-23, 2019. Lukne Mestine, Enock Senevil, and Jeudi Bernard are expected to receive Bachelor in Theology degrees as they become the first-ever graduates of the Bible Institute of Grand Goave. The ceremony promises to be an emotional experience, to say the least.
“I am super excited about the graduating class because these brothers have been with us for five years,” Willio said. “During our short history in Haiti, I’ve known these guys and I’ve seen their growth.”
The graduates are emerging from diverse ministerial areas that represent the entire student body: a senior pastor, an assistant pastor, and a Christian education department leader who all serve in local churches. Willio describes them as godly, family men, all of whom are dedicated husbands and fathers. He says their completion of the course and the reputation of the school will give the churches in their communities confidence that their leaders are committed to living and teaching God’s word.
This first graduation will occur just five years after the Destins arrived in Haiti, and they are very excited to see MTB’s vision come to fruition. Willio sees the graduation as a turning point in the ministry and is thankful for the support that has led to this moment.
“The vision has been embraced even though we’re not in the U.S.,” Willio says. “Through our close friends, family, and supporters visiting us, it has allowed them to embrace the vision even more. As they get involved, it means it’s not only us promoting More Than Bread and promoting pastors to be trained in Haiti.”
Amid these years of challenges, joys, and growth, the grace of God has enabled the Destins and the MTB students to accomplish a great deal at the school. It is clear, however, that there is much more work to be done, both in Haiti and stateside.
More Than Bread supporters play an important role in the current phase of the school and beyond. Specifically, supporters are being encouraged to think of anything they can do to raise funds for the first graduation and the long-term goal of purchasing land for a new campus, Willio says.
His hope is that current and future champions of the ministry will continue to “Pray, give, and think of ways that you can connect other people to our ministry and other things you can do to raise support.”
We are excited to launch our new More Than Bread website.
We will be posting exciting news, updates, stories and perspectives on this blog. Check back here once a month to view the latest post.