Haitian pastor tries to lead congregation by example

January 26, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - Pastor Sanousse drove his tap-tap truck down a dry creek bed steeper than Parksville Knob. There is no road, but there are piles of creek gravel the size of softballs.

He was bringing local missionaries Bruce Thompson, Steve Runyon and Barry Harmon to lead a revival at his church, Black Mountain Number One. As the truck bumped along the rough rock, several local boys jumped on the back of the tap-tap truck, which is a pickup outfitted with benches in the bed. It's called a tap-tap because when passengers want out, they tap on the side of the truck or the top of the cab.

As the truck finishes its descent, Harmon shines his industrial-sized flashlight on goats and pigs on the rocks feeding on garbage piles. Little boys run up on the truck and hang on for the ride.

When the truck stops the missionaries head up a hill into a neighborhood, through alleys and past two black pigs to get to the church. It, like most buildings in Haiti, has cinder block walls, a cement floor and a tin roof. The concrete posts have nails in them that serve as candle holders.


The church is in a new neighborhood. Sanousse said he and his church members visit people when they first move to the area.

People are already singing when the group arrives. Pastor Sanousse's congregation is young. He has organized a youth service on Sunday, and he encourages them to find boyfriends and girlfriends within the church, so that they can get married. Sanousse sees this as part of a good Christian life.

He said that he preaches often about how to lead by example, how to love and the need to stop going to voodoo services. About half of the population in Haiti practices voodoo, a religion based on spirits, curses and sacrifices.

There are now 120 members of Sanousse's church. He also runs a school for 130 students, and has six teachers. In Haiti, every church must also provide a school. Black Mountain Number One has outgrown its present building and has started construction on a larger church.

His people have a tough life, Sanousse said. In Haiti, the rich can find jobs and don't have to get up until 9 or 10 a.m. Everyone else struggles.

This is a good week for Sanousse's church, he said, because they are honored to have the missionaries here.

Runyon testified about how he was saved as a small boy, about the same age as the kids.

Harmon sang "Amazing Grace," and Thompson preached about separation of church and state in America and how the wage of sin is death.

When he called, 21 people came to the altar to be saved or pray. They knelt on the concrete floor while the church sang and prayed over them.

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