Haiti, 2010 — the ground begins to shake underneath Francklin’s feet, while objects fall around him with a loud clatter. He looks at his students and sees the fear in their eyes.
Francklin guides them downstairs as fast as he can, trying not to fall. Car horns and shouts for help fill the streets. Pieces of the house break off, crashing loudly. If he and the others can’t make it outside, they’ll die.
A Childhood without Parents
Francklin Alexis grew up in Haiti without a father. His mother raised him and his siblings on her own until she sadly passed away when he was fourteen. Thankfully, his aunt took him and his siblings in. She brought them to church and there, Francklin became a Christian and was baptized. God continued to guide him and place good people in his life, mainly his relatives. His family was able to pay his school fines so he could receive an education, a privilege many Haitians don’t have as there are no public schools.
Because Francklin understands what it’s like to grow up without a father, and eventually a mother, he has a heart for the children of Haiti. Not having a father figure in his life was incredibly difficult and he always felt like something was missing. If his relatives didn’t step in after he lost his mother, he knows his life would’ve been much harder. He’s thankful to God, but he knows there are many Haitian kids growing up without a father or mother. While relatives often step in (this is common in Haitian culture), Francklin still felt like he had to get involved.
In 2002, he began leading a church’s children’s ministry. By 2006, he became ordained as a Missions Door missionary and is now the head of children’s ministry in seventeen different churches in Haiti!
Children’s Ministry in Haiti
Francklin currently lives in Florida with his wife, but he still oversees children’s Sunday School and bible study curriculum in Haiti. He coordinates summer camps, Christmas events, and school tuition support for children. Last year, his ministry was able to help twenty-six students attend school! One of his most important roles is to train children’s ministry leaders. He’s glad to report that his leaders are now training other leaders.
Sunday School in Haiti is similar to America. Children are taught a bible story and sing worship songs. If the church can afford it, they may have snacks. Kids are always invited and a lot of times, their parents will come with them. Church camps in Haiti is like Vacation Bible School in America. They take place in churches for around three to five days, and the kids don’t sleep over. They’re taught bible stories, Christian songs, and play games. Typically, the last day of camp will end in a big celebration with the parents, like a concert. Christmas activities are also fun because the churches will get to see a lot of new faces.
One of the most important skills Francklin learned in seminary was how to train leaders. They are taught compassion, evangelism, and more. Some of the children Francklin used to teach are now leaders themselves.
What Haiti is Like
Like all nations, Haiti has its pros and cons. Haitians care deeply about their neighbors and family and are always willing to step in to help. The gospel can also be preached easily, and people are open to hearing it. Unfortunately, there is a lot of political tension, crime, and poverty in Haiti. Citizens feel the political leaders don’t have their best interests because they often invest the country’s money overseas. Poverty is one of the reasons many are abandoned by their fathers. Nearly every community is controlled by street gangs. Because of this, people live in fear and there are constant kidnappings. Young people are pressured to join these gangs for financial incentives; even cops will join gangs because it pays better. Last summer, the president was assassinated.
The dominant religion of Haiti is Catholicism at 56.8%, but Protestants also make up a significant part of the population at 29.6%. 2.2% of the population practice the West African religion Vodou, due to Haiti originally being a slave colony of the French. Vodou teaches polytheism and that everything is a god. In its colonial days, practitioners of Vodou disguised their spirits as Catholic saints, secretly syncretizing their beliefs with Catholicism. This is still observed in Haiti today as many Catholics are connected to Vodou. Many Haitians believe Vodou freed them from the French, and they’ll sacrifice cows to their gods.
One of the most devastating events to happen to Haiti was the 2010 earthquake. Over 220,000 people died as a result of the natural disaster. Many kids in the children’s ministry are parentless because of the earthquake. That day, Francklin was spending time with his students in a home used for ministry purposes. The home acted as an English class, computer lab, restaurant, and even wedding venue. Francklin and his students were on the upper floor when the earthquake started. Miraculously, they were able to evacuate the house unharmed. While the home was destroyed in the earthquake, the incident led to two of the students becoming Christians!
Pray for Francklin
Francklin would love prayer for his country and his leaders. The inflation around the world, caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has hit Haiti especially hard. Food has become very scarce and expensive. Many prisoners have died from starvation.
A lot of the children’s ministry leaders feel discouraged because of the constant political tension. Their country’s lack of peace and trying to provide for their families is proving to be stressful.
Pray for change in Haiti and for new politicians who love their country and the Lord. Pray that the ministry leaders can support their families, and for God to raise up new leaders to serve Him. Lastly, pray for Francklin to faithfully love and serve Christ. If you’d like to support indigenous missionaries like Francklin, you can do so at his page.