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Video and story: In neighborhood plagued by violence, Haitians honor God



New on The Christian Chronicle’s website, you’ll find a story and video from the Bolosse Church of Christ in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I visited the congregation during my reporting trip to cover the one-year anniversary of the devastating 7.0-earthquake that destroyed much of Port-au-Prince.

Erique Bathard (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

I heard that the Bolosse church was rededicating its building, and thought that the congregation had stopped meeting there because of the earthquake. Erique Bathard, a minister who works with several congregations throughout Haiti, picked me up at my hotel before the service.
I tried to get some background information about the church from brother Bathard, his wife, and the two other Haitian ministers in the car. Their English was a bit hard to understand (although it was much better than my Creole) but it was clear that I didn’t have all the details right.
So I decided to just go along for the ride and see what happens.

 

Attendees of the Bolosse building rededication stand across the street from the church building, in a heavily graffitied neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

We drove into a heavily graffitied neighborhood — rough even by Port-au-Prince standards — and arrived at the Bolosse church building. The two-story facility stood in stark contrast to the nearby buildings. It was a newly painted, pristine beacon of light, with the words “L’Eglise du Christ de Bolosse” (“the Church of Christ at Bolosse”) emblazoned on its side.

The refurbished meeting place of the Bolosse Church of Christ. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Inside, after a long process of fiddling with the rented sound system, the service began. I took photos and video of the speeches, songs and prayers, not understanding a word of what was said. I still had no real idea what all of this was about.
Luckily, I shook hands with Pelissier Antoine after the service. He’s a member of another Church of Christ in Port-au-Prince, and he spoke fairly good English. He explained that gangs — not the earthquake — caused this building to close years ago, and now the Bolosse church had reclaimed it and refurbished it. The service was attended by members of Churches of Christ across Port-au-Prince (about 30 congregations) and community leaders. (Brother Antoine made a point to tell me how grateful he was to the Estes Church of Christ in Henderson, Tenn., which provided funds to help rebuild his home after the earthquake.)
Armed with new information, I was able to ask a few more questions in the car on the way back to the hotel. Bathard filled me in on a few of the details about the history of violence that has plagued the Bolosse neighborhood and the church’s exodus from the building about seven years ago.
After I returned to the U.S., Harry Hames of Healing Hands International (who arranged my trip to Haiti) forwarded me an e-mail from longtime missionary Joe Worndle that filled in the blanks.
Worndle described the Bolosse building as “our biggest, grandest and most important building in Haiti” (though he emphasized that the “church” is the people, not the building). Gang violence was one factor that led to the closing, but church politics and jealously also played a role, Worndle said.
After the rededication, Bathard wrote a message to Worndle and said, “All people (in the) Bolosse area were so happy to see the church is coming back.”
See the story for more details.
All in all, I am glad I was able to attend the ceremony. For me, it was a lesson in patience. It also was a reminder that not all of Haiti’s woes are due to the earthquake.

  • Feedback
    Nice story. I hope they can maintain a fruitful presence in that neighborhood now.
    Adam Gonnerman
    April, 13 2011

    Praising God! And may He bless these peoples working for Him.
    Teresa Kerr Lewis
    April, 13 2011

    Dear
    servants of God:
    Receive warm and lovely greetings in the precious name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I went through your website, it really touched my heart. It has greatly spoken to my inner being. I was refreshed by my language and wonderful message in your website. May you be blessed and let God bless the works you are doing.
    I am francis mangera ombogo from Kenya. I am overseeing two churches totaling 160 members.I take care of 80 orphan children whose parents died during the crisis violence election here in my country.
    francis mangera ombogo
    April, 16 2011

    Enjoyable read!
    Georgie May
    May, 9 2011

Filed under: News Extras Photos and Videos Travel Reports

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