A Christmas Message from Haiti

This message is written by one of our students at The Torch Christian Academy  Haiti about the meaning of Christmas. 

Christmas is the day  we celebrate the birthday of God’s only Son, Immanuel.  Christmas comes with Good News. Each time we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, it brings the news that God is with us in this world.

My Papa tells me, no matter the suffering we might be in, we don’t run away from it.   We have to embrace it, just as Jesus did. Just as Jesus taught us to do. He never ran away from his suffering. Do you know why? Because he knew that His Father was, is, and will always be with Him.

I feel discouraged because of the hurricane. My family finally had a nice house. We had clothes and places to put our important papers. After the hurricane, we had nothing. I think suffering is meant to make us lose our focus on the reason Christ came into the world. When I let myself feel discouraged, I know it is trying to destroy my faith. It is trying to make me forget that God is with us – Immanuel. Christmas comes to remind us that God is with us.

I do not know how other people live. I wonder what it might be like to live somewhere different, to see the world I see in my books. My Papa tells me that people suffer everywhere in the world and many suffer far more than we do. No matter what we suffer from the meaning is still the same. Through it all, the pain, the loss, the sadness, the hunger, the thirst, the fear, and the dark, God is with us.  The meaning of Christmas is encouragement to a world that is scared. During the hurricane when I was so scared, my Papa whispered to me over and over, “God is with us.”

Christmas is God’s whisper to us, “I am here.”  

 -Johanna, The Torch Christian Academy

Christmas in Haiti

Pastor Mike Thomas’ voice echoed the excitement of his team as he told us the container had arrived and should be released through customs today. Please be in prayer for this release because it contains all the necessary equipment to replace the roof on the church at The Torch Campus.

The devastation in Haiti couldn’t be more apparent, but the hope and love of Jesus Christ flows through the streets. Our Torch Haiti Team arrived safely and began work immediately. Two of our favorite people – Ms Phylis of Our Father’s Guest House and John 8 joined our group to travel to Deyemone to help. Pastor Mike laughed as he explained, “Ms. Phylis never stops! She can work circles around the rest of us!”

Three of the churches that were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew now have temporary sides and a roof – thanks to our team! Congregations have continued to come to services despite the lack of any comfort. They worship our Savior in the rain, in the heat, with no roof, with no place to sit, and with no music but the sounds of their own voices fill the open air. This Sunday they will be excited to see what has been done.

The school is doing tremendous good for the students who are learning so many skills. Please be in prayer for the Principal of the school in the loss of his sister. Also, one of our Pastor’s wives is very sick and requests our prayers.

The desperation of the people for food and water is heart wrenching. Many still do not have a place to call home. We are excited in the plans to build 10 houses for members of our congregation/pastors. We continue to look up for God’s help and direction.

Thank you for being a sponsor. Thank you for your donations and the love you have for our congregations in Haiti. We are believing great things at The Torch Haiti Campus.

Cleaning Up

Have you ever stood in your garage and thought – how did all this get here? And what am I going to do with it?

Most of the things that we don’t use – someone else can!

95% of the area of Deyemone, Haiti, was wiped out by Hurricane Matthew. For people who had very little to begin with, it is difficult to fathom how they are even moving forward – but they are – with God’s help through you and me.

We have a container we are shipping to Haiti next week. If you have tools, working equipment, tarps, or instruments you no longer play, we want to bless our congregation in Haiti. Since you have been meaning to get that garage cleaned up – or the shed cleaned out – would you consider donating your items?

This shipment, we are looking for construction materials such as windows, doors, folding chairs, tables, generators, chainsaws, blowers, tarps, counter-tops, school supplies, 55 gallon drums, empty propane tanks, vegetable seeds, solar panels, electrical wire,  clean 5 gallon buckets with lids, ladders, chair hoist, straps, ROPE! (we need rope!!), Come-a-longs, and twin mattresses and beds, clean blankets, pillows and sheets, and instruments for our Praise and Worship Band at our churches (drums, guitars, amps, keyboards).

Because of the hurricane, we lost 4 of our 5 churches. As with any disaster, the process is slow and tedious; but, we are believing and hoping to restore them by the end of the year. We are in the process of building new homes for members of our congregation as well as building a new orphanage for our children (since ours was destroyed).

If you are interested in purchasing some of these items or making a donation so that we can purchase them – simply earmark the donation “Haiti Supplies.”

Contact Nora Almazan or Mike Thomas at The Torch 706-778-4063 or via email mthomas@thetorch.net or nalmazan@thetorch.net for more information or drop off times.

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Help join us in being the change that makes the difference in the lives of people.

Home from Haiti

Today I am home from Haiti. Like most anything, there were moments when I felt things were moving forward and moments when I felt things were moving as slow as a sloth.

People are beginning to re-piece their lives even though materials are scarce and money is hard to come by. Aid is slow to get to Deyemone, and it is a constant push from us to let sources know where we are and how much the people in the community need support.

Even now, in all that must be done to restore and rebuild the lives of the people in our congregation in Haiti, I see God’s Hand. I was walking down the road which leads to our Campus. Two boys around the age of 10 were kicking an aluminum can back and forth. They were singing but I was unaware of the song until a familiar chorus floated through the air in front of me. It was “Good, good Father.”

I smiled to myself. Although the words were in Creole, it still resonated in my soul. He is a good Father to me, to you, and to two little boys kicking a can on a dirt road.

A Chance to Change the World

We want to invite you to share our video of Hope in Haiti. Even now, there is a team in Deyemone helping to start the rebuilding process and the restoration of lives. Join us in our Haiti Relief Efforts.  By sharing our video, you are giving those who want to change the world the chance to do so. It starts simply by improving the life of one.  www.thetorchhaiti.com or www.thetorch.net/Haiti

Chainsaws are a Blessing

A Word From Pastor Mike Thomas in Deyemone…

We left Friday to return to Haiti. This time, I carried a chainsaw donated to help us rebuild the Campus and community. 95% of all homes are gone.

I’ve drawn quite a crowd with the chainsaw, cutting up fallen trees and removing debris. I don’t know if its the noise or the ability to cut through so quickly, but everyone wants to watch me use it.

In all the clearing and removing, nothing hit me like the sight of Pastor Onell’s home. I’m not sure how that happens, but emotion can come at the most unexpected times.

Pastor Onell is one of our ministers here in Haiti. I’ve watched him proudly building his home in Deyemone using the salary money he receives as one of our pastors and also the offerings of materials we give him. Each trip I’ve made back to Haiti, Pastor Onell has proudly shown me the progress on his house. His family consists of his wife and children and people in need. The numbers continue to grow – a homeless young teenaged mom with children – an elderly lady. His love of people is tremendous.

Several months ago, he took me to see his house and as he walked around the cement blocks, he explained each area. He stopped suddenly in a square of space and smiled up at me, “This, Pastor Mike is your room…”

Today, his home is no more. Taken by the roaring winds of Hurricane Matthew, all that was is gone. His possessions, his dreams, everything but his life and family.

Restoration in the community of Deyemone will be tough; and yet, there are faces of hope. As I stood with Pastor Onell and looked at what once was, he put his hand on my shoulder. “We will build again, Pastor Mike, with God’s help. You will see.”

“We will build again…” 

If you are interested in contributing to the Haiti Relief Efforts from Hurricane Matthew, please visit http://www.thetorch.net/Haiti or http://www.thetorchhaiti.com.

Word from Haiti

We spoke with Pastor Mike Franklin and Pastor Mike Thomas earlier this evening. They have been working to accomplish many things despite the impending storm. Pastor Mike Franklin has been training the pastors currently on staff for the 5 Torch churches, offering encouragement and helping in leadership foundations. Pastor Mike Thomas and Charles Parker have been focused on the water filtration system as well as purchasing welding equipment and the building of our new orphanage. Daniel Usher, our media specialist, has been taking pictures and video of the experiences of the team. All four members of the team are seasoned travelers.

The government closed schools Monday and Tuesday because of Hurricane Matthew. While the storm looms, our team has stayed focused on the reason they are there — to serve. Pastor Mike Thomas assured us the team is safe and in good spirits. He wanted us to know, our prayers have been felt as they prepare for Hurricane Matthew.

We will keep you updated on the storm and its impact on our congregation in Haiti. Please continue to pray for protection, provision, and favor.