A Jesus Christ Bread of Life (BOL) conference planned and sponsored by the Baptist World Alliance® (BWA) brought seven groups, including two that are already member organizations of the BWA, to focus on holistic development as an expression of authentic Christian witness and evangelism. This is the first time in living memory that such a diverse group of Baptists in Haiti has met to participate in an event.
“It was a very good conference,” said BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, who presented a paper on the Haitian Baptist story within the broader context of Baptist history. Callam was impressed by the vision exhibited by Haitian Baptists and is of the view that Christian ministry in the Caribbean country has both a rich heritage and a bright future.
In his paper Callam, who is Jamaican, reminded Haitian Baptists of the strong historical links between Baptists in the Caribbean. He named a number of Jamaican Baptists who served as missioners in the French- and Creole-speaking country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic. “Here in Haiti, we celebrate the way God has blessed the church and we are thankful for the growth of the Baptist community,” Callam said.
Callam also updated Haitian Baptists on Baptist witness around the world, particularly in mission, the meeting of human need, and in the fight for freedom and justice.
The BWA general secretary and Fausto Vasconcelos, the BWA director responsible for mission and evangelism, reported that the seven groups represented at the conference decided to form an Alliance of Baptists for Haiti, an umbrella organization where the groups, while maintaining their independence, may share opportunities in fellowship and ministry. This is of significance, Callam declared, as Haiti has more Baptists than all of the rest of the Caribbean combined.
A well known Haitian Baptist was honored during the BOL conference. Emmanuel Feliz, a retired government civil servant and judge, served time in prison for his quest for human rights during the rule of François ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier. Feliz now distributes solar radios throughout Haiti, carries out a preaching ministry and focuses on training church leaders in personal evangelism. He is also a presenter on a radio station in Haiti.
The BOL conference, which ran January 30-February 2, was held at the Christian University of North Haiti in Haut Limbe. Presenters included Vasconcelos; Everton Jackson, BWA regional secretary for the Caribbean and executive secretary/treasurer for the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship; and Andre Jean, professor of Old Testament, Old Testament Theology, Hebrew and Pastoral Leadership at the university, among others.
Jesus Christ Bread of Life is an international training program by the BWA aimed at renewing Baptists’ understanding of the mission of God and to stimulate the desire to bear witness to that mission in each local context.
Previous BOL conferences have been held in Brazil, Paraguay, Nigeria and Cambodia.
Baptist World Alliance®
© February 6, 2013