Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
When a seed is planted in the ground, it isn’t an investment in that day’s dinner. It’s an investment in a better, healthier, more delicious future. It takes time, care, patience, the willingness to deal with setbacks and pests and finally… harvest time comes. The bounty is ready.
Ministry is often the same. It takes years of planting, nurturing, weeding and pruning, but the harvest is beautiful.
And so it was nine years ago, after the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Pastor Larry Forsyth, of Joshua Ministries, Chatham, through his partnership with Pastor Wilner Cayo, of Église Évangelique Baptiste Smyrne, and Franky Narcisse, of UÉBFC, began to help grow healthy food in Haiti. They began by installing five wells and drip irrigation in a community outside of the city. While the project enjoyed some successes in growing good food, there was one significant challenge: the pump required diesel fuel, which was often too expensive or unavailable, rendering the system itself unusable.
And just when it seemed like an insurmountable problem, the wind of the Spirit blew right into Larry’s dreams with the vision to install a windmill to pressurize the irritation system, making it fully sustainable (and less attractive than expensive solar panels to thieves). Larry began consulting with local Canadian farmers—a readily available resource in Chatham—to find out if it would work. The answer was yes… but where to put it? Larry connected with Wilner Cayo, who had done some preaching at the North University of Cap Haitian—a university that was founded by Baptist missionaries. Through the university, they began to build a relationship with a Haitian Baptist church, Église Baptiste de Trou-du-Nord and its pastor, Josué Jacques. His church began to develop a co-op of farmers to participate in the project.
Meanwhile, Larry began sourcing the equipment that would be needed to build the system. He consulted with an expert in Pennsylvania. He sourced some equipment from Ohio. He developed a relationship with a drip irrigation company and things were progressing.
And once again, just when everything seemed to be going well, the irrigation company Larry had connected with began to falter in its interest in the project. While it was discouraging, at this point in the story it should be evident that Larry Forsyth is not one to give up. Undeterred, he went to another company in Mount Bridges for assistance—Heartnut Grove. Not only did they want to help out with equipment; they wanted to send people along.
Larry’s persistence was tested once again, when it took two years to get everything into the country. Thankfully, Pastor Josué knew several customs officials, who ensured that nothing went missing along the way. At last, nine years later, with countless hours, prayers and dollars behind them, everything was ready to go.
Four people from Joshua Ministries and five from Heartnut Grove headed down to Haiti for an intense sunrise-to-sunset five-day work project. Using his background in welding, Larry and his team built the windmill tower, employing a local Haitian welder to assist in the project. With just one hour left to go before the team needed to head back to the airport, it was finished.
The wind blew. The water flowed. And after nearly a decade of love poured into the project, everyone cried.
The local church is now managing the five acre co-op. Ten percent of the food is returned to the church to be distributed to those in need, including a local seniors community. In addition to food, the farms provide local employment; the farmers receive payment for use of their lands, and a microeconomic community has been established. And the future is bright! Unlike its diesel predecessor, the windmill is sturdy and self-sustaining, it could continue to run for nearly a century with minimal maintenance.
The church in Trou-du-Nord hasn’t forgotten its calling to share the Gospel; it has more fully embraced the true religion of caring for those in need, ensuring that physical needs are met as well as spiritual ones.
Sometimes the seeds that God plants through us grow slowly, but every seed he plants produces a harvest.
To find out more about this project, contact Joshua Ministries Chatham.