Breaking Free

Traffic on the airstrip at Port-de-Paix, Haiti. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

Traffic on the airstrip at Port-de-Paix, Haiti. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

MAF partners with a school in Haiti to introduce youth to Christ

“No Longer a slave to fear.
I am a child of God.”

In Port-de-Paix Haiti, a student at Sonlight Academy woke up singing these words from “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music. She had sung it with her classmates during her school’s Easter “BreakOut” conference led by visiting team from Southland Christian Church of Lexington, Kentucky, this past March. As the words spilled from her lips and resonated through her heart, she knew God was calling her to a deeper relationship. Later that day she pledged her life to Him through baptism.

During Easter break each year, the Sonlight school hosts a three-day conference for its junior and senior grades. There are three morning sessions in English for Sonlight students, and three evening sessions in Creole for the local youth. Visiting teams often come to help serve in a number of roles, from leading worship, to speaking, production, and more.

Sonlight Academy students attending Breakout sessions. Photo courtesy of Sonlight Academy.

Sonlight Academy students attending Breakout sessions. Photo courtesy of Sonlight Academy.

MAF partners with Sonlight by bringing in 20 groups and some 200 volunteers a year, including the group from Southland church. MAF flew the team of 12 from Port-au-Prince to the other side of country—a 45-minute flight covering almost 200 miles.

Worship leader Matt Edin has served on several BreakOut conferences in the past, and he did a lot to organize this team and the conference sessions. He appreciates being able to fly there with MAF. “I’ve ridden the bus before to Port-De-Paix,” said Edin. “It wasn’t fun and it took eight hours to get there. Our trip was only five days in country with three days of sessions, so having less travel time really helped us.”

A team from Southland Christian Church leads worship during the Breakout conference, March 2016. Photo courtesy of Sonlight Academy.

A team from Southland Christian Church leads worship during the Breakout conference, March 2016. Photo courtesy of Sonlight Academy.

The conference has had a lasting impact, not only on his team, but on the school teachers and the students.

In talking with some of the teachers later, Edin and his team were encouraged to learn that the conference had a more lasting impact than they knew. He says the students had really been thinking through what was taught and how to apply it to their lives. While there were two baptisms during the week of the conference, several more surrendered their lives to Christ in the weeks following the conference.

David Hausknecht of Southland Christian Church plays a game with Vasthie, a Sonlight student, during one of the Breakout sessions. Photo courtesy of Sonlight Academy.

“One of our junior boys baptized his girlfriend who goes to a different school, said Carmen Niehaus, director of Sonlight Academy. “It’s amazing to see our students evangelize!”

Sonlight graduate and Breakout conference attendee Kervchy Joseph was baptized by Jonathan Wessel. Photo courtesy of Sonlight Academy.

Evangelism is the main goal of Sonlight Ministries, which includes the PK-12 academy, a college, and a church. Teaching is the tool by which that happens. Teachers have 14 years during which they can speak into the lives of the PK-12 students. But even teachers can get worn out or a little discouraged as the school year goes on. According to Edin, based on talks with the teachers afterwards, taking part in the conference and being able to worship throughout the week really had an impact on them. It gave them a second wind.

Because of the support of people like you, MAF is able to partner with Sonlight year-round to fly its teachers in and out of Port-de-Paix, and bring ministry teams and volunteers to serve with the school’s staff, helping them accomplish their goal of teaching and evangelizing Haiti’s youth.

“Groups are important to us. They support us financially and get to see firsthand what we do. And join in!” said Niehaus. “MAF is our only way to fly them up. We’re so grateful for what they do in Haiti. They make our work so much easier and our groups possible.”

1 Comment

  • Avatar Cara Wimpelberg says:

    Thanks for such a well written and personal article. We love MAF, the pilots, and all that you do for us and for others all over Haiti.

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