Haitian pastor says God was with her in darkest hour



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Haitian pastor says God was with her in darkest hour

Sept. 6, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011 
tparham@flumc.org  Orlando {0734}

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

LAKELAND — The Rev. Marie Maude Hyppolite was driving to her sister’s house in Port-au-Prince late one afternoon, as she had done countless times before, when armed gunmen forced her off the road.

The Rev. Marie Maude Hyppolite, with the Rev. Montreuil Milord, chair of the Haiti/Florida Convenenat task force, attended the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event in June to shed light on issues affecting people in Haiti and meet with members of the Haiti/Florida Covenant task force. Photo by the Rev. Armando Rodriguez. Photo #07-0664.

They took Hyppolite, a native of the southern region of Haiti and a district superintendent with The Methodist Church of Haiti, to another car, where she was blindfolded.

With each passing minute Hyppolite knew her situation was growing more dire; yet, she says she felt the grace of the Lord upon her.   

Kidnappings often occur in Haiti, but victims are rarely held solely for ransom. Hyppolite says many times they are beaten or raped, but the young men never touched her that day in February 2006.

“I was confident God was always with me,” she said of the experience while attending the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event last June. “I was like Daniel in the lion’s den, but I knew Jesus Christ will never leave us when we trust Him. When we have trouble in our lives, he is here to deliver us.”

The men demanded a $20,000 ransom from Hyppolite’s family, friends and those who knew her in the community. While the amount seemed almost impossible to raise from people who struggle daily to survive, Hyppolite said she was confident God was “on her case.”

“I took great care never to look them in the face when I didn’t have the blindfold on,” she said. “I just prayed for my captors. I know that our God is alive; Jesus Christ is alive. Jesus Christ is the ultimate counselor, and I just went to him in prayer.”

The men didn’t know Hyppolite is a pastor with eight churches under her charge, but they may have thought it was strange the ransom was paid by 11 p.m. the very next day. Hyppolite didn’t — she knew it was all thanks to God.

“God was always in control,” she said. “That is the only reason I am here.”

United Nations police are working hard to lessen the number of kidnappings taking place, but they still occur. That’s why Hyppolite felt it was important to attend this year’s annual conference event. She shared her experience and other issues her country is facing with Florida United Methodists attending the conference and members of the Haiti/Florida Covenant task force.

“We are in the middle of serious issues,” Hyppolite said of the lack of amnesty being granted to Haitians. “We will not lose because we are more than conquerors, but we need our sisters and brothers here in Florida to be with us. Please do not stay indifferent.

“It is heartbreaking when you have mothers and children in little boats risking their lives because they are looking for hope outside of Haiti, but are returned. The spotlight is on Haiti with the covenant, and we need to take a real look at what’s happening.”

Hyppolite and covenant task force members also explored ways to expand and promote the relationship between both conferences, which became official with the signing of the covenant at the 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event.

Hyppolite says the main goal of the covenant for her is that it allow an authentic relationship to grow among Floridians and Haitians.

“We need to get to know one another,” she said. “We need to share the gospel. We need to learn from one another. I think it is going to be good for the Methodist Church of Haiti and the Florida Conference.

“We are one church. We share the Methodist heritage. We serve one God, the living God.”

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This article relates to Haiti/Florida Covenant.

*Parham is 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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