In a country already paralyzed by environmental devastation and economic turmoil, Haitians are just not ready for the despair that Covid-19 brings. It’s a troubling time for people and the church across the country. But with despair comes a stubborn thirst for hope, and wills that are ready to surrender to something bigger, something greater, than a global crisis. Herode Guillomettre (or Pastor Guillo, as he is known) is a missionary in Haiti who has had countless encounters with people ready to quench this thirst.
Guillo was a seminary student and had already been in the field, planting churches and training disciples, when a Missions Door missionary saw his passion for advancing the Kingdom. He took Guillo under his wing and asked him to be his right hand in the ministry. After being mentored and trained, Guillo was officially appointed with Missions Door in 1991 as the Haiti National Ministry Coordinator. Since then, Guillo has planted seventeen churches and five schools across Haiti and currently oversees all of those pastors.
“When the virus arrived, we continued to work as we had before,” Guillo says. “The virus is a new reality.” The pandemic brings a major challenge to poverty, but Guillo and the other pastors continue to walk in the faith anyway. “This is what we do.”
Church services were banned after the first positive case of the virus on March 19. The Haitian President declared a state of emergency, and now gatherings of more than ten people at a time are not permitted, or legal prosecution may happen—though some churches do not necessarily follow these guidelines. All of the churches that Guillo has planted are now breaking off into groups of ten or less to pray, learn about Scripture, and be in community with one another. They all wear masks and take precautions. The tradition of the Church has always been to serve the people, and Guillo’s churches do this well. Everyone shares the food they have with those who are in need.
A Virus among Greater Worries
COVID-19 was slow to hit Haiti. Much of the world had already been severely hit by the time Haiti saw its first case. Many Haitians had been working in the Dominican Republic, the United States, and other countries to support their families from abroad, but as the number of positive cases grew globally, people were forced to leave and return to Haiti. Deportations are spiking the number of infections, overwhelming the healthcare system, and leaving many without the opportunity to seek medical assistance.
The virus is among greater worries, as new groups of violent gangs are erupting across the country. The gangs are equipped with strength, numbers, and weaponry—the national police force is not.
For many years, gangs in Haiti have been running the country right next to the government, and the nationwide fear and stress that the people of Haiti are currently under act as fuel for these gangs to grow stronger.
The gangs possess a particular threat against churches, swiftly stealing materials and taking over their residence. This hit close to home as one of Guillo’s friends, a pastor, was recently attacked by a gang. Speakers and other communication equipment were stolen and the gang forced him out of his church. The police are unequipped to fight back, so any pastor who loses his church to a gang has to pay large sums of money to lawyers in order to attempt to regain the church property.
A Binding Faith
Devastation, turmoil, and an unpredictable future foster worry and stress. But with utter confidence, Guillo speaks of the faithfulness of our Lord. “I see the face of God everywhere. He walks in different ways, in all circumstances. We cannot limit our God.” Guillo sees evidence of this everywhere and is certain that more people will be attending church when the buildings are permitted to reopen. More than ever, people want the church’s doors to be open.
Hardship is not a new concept for Haiti, but neither is a strong, binding faith. There is a common need for hope and prayer alongside disaster. Guillo says that “The majority of people are not Christian, but they do believe in prayer.”
Strangers come to Guillo’s home and office every day seeking food, prayer, and answers, knowing he is a pastor and recognizing the undeniable light that comes from his family. At his home and office, people are able to find comfort and relief from hunger.
The future of Guillo’s 17 churches is difficult to plan for in these times, but there is an evident spiritual growth happening in the hearts of all God’s people. They are learning to stay in communication with God. Families are praying together more. There’s a new drive to learn about the Lord’s relentless love. While church buildings have closed doors, more and more Christians are taking to the streets in order to share the Good News. Praise the Lord for this!
Support and Prayers Needed
Haiti is in a national state of emergency—but there is no emergency fund. With a crisis-filled history, the emergency fund has already been spent with little anticipation of replenishment. Even after seeing the country’s turmoil first-hand for years, Guillo claims that this is without a doubt the worst disaster that he has known. “It came to us as a surprise, and it’s a surprise that we have to manage.”
As the virus spreads and gang activity rises, Guillo worries for the safety of his family, his home, his office, and his churches. “It brings us confusion and stress. So much stress.”
What Guillo and his team of pastors are doing is a testament to the love that the Lord has for His people, but they are still in desperate need of prayer and support. Please join us as we pray for revival in Haiti. We boldly pray that the Lord’s hand will cover this country, restoring health in bodies and their economy. We pray for protection over Guillo and his family. We pray for wisdom as churches and schools have to restructure their programs. We also pray that these trials may become an opportunity for many to faithfully come to know the deep love of our Savior.
As you pray, if God prompts you to help Pastor Guillo and the church in Haiti, your gift for our Haiti Relief Fund (account #92770R) will provide much needed resources for food, medicine, psychological support and other necessities.