Haitian mission saturates community with message

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Haitian mission saturates community with message

By J.A. Buchholz | Feb. 23, 2009 {0978}

NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about churches that have experienced growth in professions of faith and average worship attendance, measures of two of the five practices of The Methodist Way. See related story, “Analysis shows conference churches making strides,” at: http://www.flumc2.org/FCNN/articles/000053/005343.htm

Guy Minivel doesn’t feel any shame in using his gifts and skills as a real estate agent to attract members to his church. In fact, the evangelism chairman at Bethesda, Méthodiste Unie Mission, a Haitian United Methodist mission in Tamara, Fla., relishes the notion.

The choir at Bethesda, Méthodiste Unie Mission, is part of the church’s mission to provide meaningful worship, which the Rev. Luc Dessieux says is a contributing factor to the congregation’s recent growth. Photo by Guy Minivel. Photo #09-1105. For longer description see photo gallery.

“Trust me, I use my Realtor skills to glorify the Lord,” said Minivel, who has been a member of the mission for 14 years. “I love God. He has blessed me. … I don’t think there is anything I can do to give back to the Lord, so I work for the church with all my heart in this way.”

What Minivel does exactly is personally send a letter written in French to every guest who visits the mission within 24 hours of that visit. He then follows up with a telephone call, asking for any prayer requests. Many of those calls, he says, result in home visits by a prayer cell of the mission.

The mission has also designated the third Sunday of each month as “Bring a Friend to Church Sunday,” and it offers a free concert every six months that is very much like a revival for the community.

People are hungry for God like they haven’t been. People are reaching, searching for something, and that something is God.”

Guy Minivel

The variety of ways the mission is reaching people in its area has had a big impact on the mission. The mission had no professions of faith in 2006; in 2007 it had 21. The average weekly worship attendance grew from 152 to 173.

The Rev. Luc Dessieux has served as pastor at the mission for two years. He cites a combination of the mission’s efforts in evangelism, outreach and meaningful worship as contributing factors to the mission’s growth. Because of that growth the mission added a second service in January that targets young people. It will be conducted in English, Dessieux said, because many younger Haitians no longer learn or speak Creole. Mission leaders hope this will help the mission remain relevant and present in young people’s spiritual lives.

Future plans include offering music lessons after school and possibly opening a child-care center. The mission also plans to increase its space. The congregation, Dessieux said, has been working diligently to change its status from a mission to a church.

Minivel said he believes more and more good things will happen for the church in the future, even as it faces tough economic times with the rest of the country.

“People are hungry for God like they haven’t been,” said Minivel, who spent four years in a Haitian seminary to become a priest before immigrating to the United States 19 years ago. “People are reaching, searching for something, and that something is God.”

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011, tparham@flumc.org, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a freelance writer based in Seffner, Fla.

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