It was approximately 5:00 PM on Monday, February 8th, 2010, as I was walking through the lectureship display area at the Freed-Hardeman University, that I was asked, “Can you lead a team of workers to the country of Haiti?” I said, “Okay.” It is amazing how your life can change with one word such as, “okay.” Wednesday at 6:00 A.M., I boarded the plane and we were on our way to Haiti. The earthquake of 2010 left about 300,000 people dead, 30,000 businesses destroyed, over 1,000,000 people living in tent cities, and thousands of children were without parents. The destruction, chaos, hurt, and task of helping seemed overwhelming, but God already had a plan. God was going to take the greatest tragedy in the world at the time and use it to His glory because He knew His children would respond with overwhelming love.
Christians from around the world sent financial aid for the people of Haiti. Approximately 2.5 million relief dollars were sent to the Estes church of Christ in Henderson, TN, and I was asked to help coordinate the distribution of funds. Thousands of people were fed and clothed, homes were rebuilt or repaired, church buildings and schools were given aid to help with reconstruction and medical aid was provided for thousands of people. God’s hand was working to open doors for the gospel to move forward.
Because God and His family, the church, heard the cry of Haiti, many had the opportunity to see Christian love in action and hear the gospel call of salvation. While many were looking only for the food, medicine and other types of aid offered, some were longing to know more about salvation. Thousands gave their lives to Christ coming to know that in Him, there is a better hope for tomorrow. To God be the glory for all who came to Christ!
I met regularly with some of the Haitian preachers to be sure all their needs were met. We found quickly that the needs were not being met for their spiritual growth. While it is great to report thousands were coming to Christ, the question arose, “How will we help educate and bring to maturity the new Christians?” While a few of the preachers had received some formal training, most had not. A plan was then formulated to begin a school of preaching in Port-au-Prince, the capital, a city of more than three million souls. The seed was planted, and the doors of International School of Theology (ITS) opened August 11, 2014. We have twenty-four students who are ready to learn and eager to teach others. We could have several more students but limited the number to give more individual time to each student. We offer forty-nine courses in the two-year program. Many of the students were hand-picked, and we hope to use some of them as teachers in the future.
International School of Theology is under the oversight of the elders of the Broad Street church of Christ in Lexington, Tennessee and I, Larry Waymire, serve as the American director along side a team of three Haitian directors. What makes IST so unique is the partnership we have with the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver and Freed-Hardeman University of Henderson, Tennessee.
Both of these schools will help provide teachers and serve as advisors for the school. This will help to ensure the highest quality of education will be provided for the preacher students. Representatives from both have visited IST and have addressed the student body; this has been such a motivation to the students.
While we have students who are eager to learn and teachers who are willing to give of their time, energy, and talent, there is a missing component – YOU. We need you to partner with us to keep the school growing. To pay rent, electric, Internet, and food for the students and to help aid the students with transportation money, school supplies, and other needed items require about $300 per student per month. So, we need congregations and/or individuals who will help us with monthly support or a one-time donation.
I appreciate brother Gary Fallis, who has been to Haiti and taught at IST, for allowing me to share this information with you. If you would like to partner with us or would like more information, please contact me at 731-798-0136 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can send support for this work to: International School of Theology – c/o Broad Street church of Christ - 131 North Broad Street, Lexington, TN 38351. May the Lord of creation continue to use each of us and may we continue to say “Okay” when the door of opportunity is presented.
Meeting a Biblical Need
The International School of Theology is an example of adapting the training of preachers to fit their particular situation. Like any country, Haiti has a critical need for greater Bible knowledge and for well-taught gospel preachers. Students in other Extension Schools live in a dormitory and study the Scriptures seven hours a day for Monday-Friday. The Bible school in Port-au-Prince is composed of older men who are employed in providing for their families. For this reason, their classes begin at 2:00 P.M. and continue until 7:00 P.M. four days a week. They also meet on Saturday from 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M.
The willingness of these men to commit this amount of time per week indicates a holy yearning for the Word of God (Matt. 5:6). They are at different stages of spiritual growth, but each one recognizes his need to increase his faith and service to God, and that begins with knowledge. This is why the American and Haitian coordinators selected faithful men with spiritual qualities.
Larry Waymire seeks experienced Christians to teach one or more of the forty-nine Bible courses in the curriculum. I was one of the first teachers to volunteer in our meeting in Jackson, TN in February. One reason for that is because I knew I wanted to teach the Scheme of Redemption. I have recorded this course in the World Video Bible School, preached it, and taught it in various Schools of Preaching during my ministry. In addition, this is a natural course to teach in the beginning of someone’s study.
The primary purpose of the course is to show the seamless story of the Bible—the purpose of God before the world began, tracing the Messianic promises and prophecies through the Old Testament to their fulfillment in the New Testament. I knew that French was the official language in Haiti, but that Creole is the most widely spoken language. With the help of Google Translate, I inserted French words in the place of English in the numerous charts I use in teaching the Scheme of Redemption. Even though the course was actually translated in Creole, the French translation was helpful. I intended for the students to know the historical time-line in their sleep. Their own notebooks at the end of the course showed that they had learned much of what I had emphasized – even if gentle persuasion was needed on occasion.
A seven- teen year old young man served as my translator. His skill is exceptional for this age. He is being reared in a Children’s Home that I had the opportunity to visit on two different occasions. A Christian lady from Tennessee, Roberta Edwards, is caring for twenty-two Haitian children ranging in ages from a few months to twenty-two years. The children meet on Sunday evening and Wednesday evening in a tabernacle on the property. I taught from John chapter four concerning Jesus’ discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well, emphasizing the spiritual change in the woman and also the disciples.
I also had the opportunity to visit two congregations. Each of these churches has begun a Christian school to provide a quality education in a Christian environment in a country where illiteracy is common and moral principles are needed. Each congregation has a large, comfortable building for the church to grow.
However, the primary ministry of Bear Valley, Freed-Hardeman, and all involved is to teach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and to equip the saints for work of ministry (Eph. 4:12).
God Gives The Growth
Paul wrote to the church of God in Corinth which was divided rather than united. The primary reason for that was exalting men rather than God. They were denominating themselves. They were one church in name, but not in practice. Paul instructs “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgment.”
While they were baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:13), they were now exalting worldly wisdom and power. This was evident in Corinth in the juvenile use of spiritual or miraculous gifts (Chapters 12-14). Paul reminds them that God did not call the wise, the powerful and the noble so that “no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:29).
Paul did not come to Corinth with great oratory or human wisdom, but “preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2). The reason is stated: “so that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5).
The apostle continues his instruction, even rebuke, in chapter three when he is forced to address them as carnal rather than spiritual (1 Cor. 2:1-2). The proof of their immaturity is there was envy, strife and division among them. Paul says, “They were behaving like mere men.”
This worldly immaturity was evidently manifest in their evangelism because Paul says, “Who then is Paul and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believe, as the Lord gave to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:5-6). All the emphasis is on God and Christ—“We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9). Paul further teaches they are the temple of God in-dwelt by the Spirit of God. God destroys anyone or anything that defiles this temple (1 Cor. 3:16-17). Immorality can obviously defile this temple, but so can the obsession for human wisdom or power.
May each of us be diligent to seek and preach the wisdom of God, for this is the very thing God ordained before the world began (1 Cor. 2:7).
To see Gary’s report with pictures please click here.