Ordination is start, not finish for Haitian pastor (June 16, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Ordination is start, not finish for Haitian pastor

June 16, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0094}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

DAYTONA BEACH — The Rev. Luc Dessieux spends a few moments with Judith Pierre-Okerson, also a native of Haiti and chairwoman of the conference’s Refugee Ministry team, before being ordained an elder June 6 at the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event here. Photo by Geoff Anderson, Photo #04-0032.

DAYTONA BEACH — The Rev. Luc Dessieux considers being ordained an elder June 6 at the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event here the start of his ministry, but others may see his ordination as a significant milestone in a lifetime of ministry.

Dessieux, pastor of Hallendale Haitian United Methodist Mission and a native of Cap Haitien, Haiti, has literally traveled a long and sometimes dangerous path to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Haiti, Dessieux was the assistant pastor of a nine-congregation Methodist circuit and a school teacher, earning about $70 per month. All was going well for him and his wife, Jaccinette, and their five children until the Ton Ton Macoute, a rebel gang known for ruthless acts of violence, heard his three-year-old son singing a song mocking the group. The rebels rationalized that Dessieux was behind the ridicule. Fearing for his life and the life of his son, Dessieux fled Haiti in 1979, leaving his family behind while he sought a better life for them abroad.

“My wife was so afraid that they would come after me,” he said. “She was so afraid they would kill me.”

Dessieux spent eight months in Nassau, Bahamas, and eventually arrived on Florida’s Palm Beach coast where he was detained by the United States Coast Guard and surrendered to the United States Immigration Service.

After a two-week holding period in Immokalee Dessieux was released into the custody of family. Missing his church activity Dessieux contacted the Miami District superintendent in the fall of 1980 about the possibility of starting a Creole congregation in the area. Grace United Methodist Church in the Little Haiti section of Miami embraced the idea and secured funds from the General Board of Global Ministries, the Florida Conference and the district for clergy support.

Dessieux became the local pastor of Grace Haitian United Methodist Church, the first Haitian United Methodist congregation, Sept. 11, 1981. His family joined him in 1985. Shortly after he enrolled in the course of study at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, and in 1991 he was ordained a deacon and associate member of the Florida Conference. He was appointed to Ft. Pierce Haitian Mission in 1992 and Hallendale Haitian United Methodist Mission in 2001.

“I had a dream on the night I was confirmed when I was a child,” Dessieux recalled. “I dreamed a dove came down from the sky and carried me up to the sky. Then it let me go. I cried out and my mother came to see what was wrong. It was then that I woke up and told her my dream. She told me the Lord had called me for a special ministry.”

That interpretation has turned into reality for Dessieux, who said he is in a deep battle for winning souls for Jesus Christ.

“God never calls you to sit down,” he said. “Now that I am an ordained elder I can do more. This is a new beginning for me in the ministry. This is the most important part of my life.”

Dessieux said ministry to Haitians is close to his heart. He said he often compares it to the story of the Israelites wandering lost in the wilderness for 40 years and eventually reaching the Promised Land.

“The Haitian people will come back to God,” he said. “God will transform the situation. The Haitian people are not without hope; it’s a matter of coming back to God. God has a plan for the Haitian people. It is a plan of happiness, peace and prosperity. We just have to be open to the plan.”

Dessieux hopes to start more Haitian congregations throughout the conference.“It gives me satisfaction to be able to bring as many people as I can to Jesus Christ,” he said. “I want to attract more and more people to Christ.”

To view daily photos of the event’s activities and business visit http://www.flumc.org/ac2004/index.htm.

(Bishop J. Lloyd Knox contributed to this article.)


This article relates to the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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