Climbing for Christ Mission Haiti and Dominican Republic 2005 (June 24-July 2, 2005)
Purpose: Climbing mission during which team members will witness and distribute Spanish Bibles and tracts in the Dominican Republic and Creole Bibles and tracts in Haiti.
Climbing For Christ member Johnathan Esper was the student coordinator of a Messiah (Pa.) College mission trip to Hato Mayor from June 10 to 24. A team of 15, mostly students, helped build a half-constructed student center for a church. The team also worked with the youth enrolled in the center (there are 270 children registered, 90 of which are 17 or older). Hato Mayor is a large city located in the northeast of the Dominican Republic.
After the student mission, Esper was going to stay in the Dominican Republic, where he was joined by other Evangelic Expedition members to climb the highpoint of DR (10,127-foot or 3,087-meter Pico Duarte) and Haiti (8,793-foot or 2,680-meter Peak de la Selle). The team intended to share Jesus with whomever they encountered while traveling to each mountain and during climbs. "Explaining our purpose for climbing to those who intimately know the mountain because they live on it, along the trail or are climbing it is not only a natural thing to do, but is a perfect opportunity to share Christ," Johnathan Esper said.
The trip was expected to be spontaneous (read: Spirit driven). "I often say that traveling in another country forces you to more fully rely on God, and truly have faith," said Johnathan Esper, who has climbed all 116 of the 4,000-foot peaks in the Northeastern U.S. as well as highpoints in 43 states and eight countries (Andorra, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands and Romania). For Esper, this mission trip was a chance to go back to the place where he re-committed his life to Christ.
Mission Final Report (by Gary Fallesen)
As we bounced along the rocky road leading us to Soliette, Haiti, the people stopped and watched us pass. Three white men riding on the back of motorcycles, wearing large backpacks, going in the opposite direction than most non-Haitians.
While others were fleeing this troubled Caribbean country, we were entering. We followed the directions of our Lord, all the while thinking we were going somewhere else. We thought we were going to climb a mountain – Peak de la Selle, the highest mountain in the nation at 8,793 feet or 2,680 meters – but that was not what God intended. He brought us to the hilltop village of Jeantilhome on our way up Peak de la Selle. We would need to go no higher.
As three of the four Climbing For Christ members on the Mission: Dominican Republic team entered Jeantilhome, we were ushered to the “church” – four thatch walls with no roof – to meet Pastor Meristaire Tresin. Pastor Tresin was wearing a tie and sport jacket despite the oppressive heat and humidity on the last Sunday in June. “I have prayed for two years for God to send help,” the pastor told me in Creole, as he shook my hand earnestly and looked deeply into my eyes.
Haiti, so heavy on my mind for so many hours, days and weeks, became the clear purpose of this trip. Hiking 28 miles to the rooftop of the Caribbean – 10,127-foot (3,087-meter) Pico Duarte in the Dominican Republic – became an afterthought. It it was a personal joy to share that summit of Pico Duarte with my son, Jesse; with a Dominican friend, Jose Veras, who had invited me to climb Pico Duarte seven years earlier, and with Johnathan Esper, who had the original idea to go to DR. But God made clear why He brought us to Hispaniola. It was not to see the Americas' oldest church, built in Santo Domingo by Christopher Columbus' son, Diego, in the early 1500s. But to show us where He wants a new church built. In a village on a hill.
We spent only a fraction of this Evangelic Expedition inside the borders of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and nation awash in turmoil. (Two days after we left Haiti a Red Cross worker was abducted and killed, bringing to more than 700 the number of people slain in 10 months in the wake of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's exile. The Peace Corps had pulled out of Haiti just before we arrived and U.S. entry visas reportedly were only being offered for students and medical emergencies.) We entered Haiti from the Dominican Republic without incident. What followed was the most important part of this mission trip. It gave us a reason, a focus, a fulfillment of what Climbing For Christ is about:
To minister to those in need - in both physical and spiritual ways - in places where other missionaries will not or cannot go. To “go and make disciples of all nations,” as we are instructed by the Lord in Matthew 28:19.
I have pledged to Pastor Tresin and the people of Jeantilhome that we will help them build a church. It is our hope that one day that church will also be used as a school, since there is no school for the children in that remote village. (There is also no medical care in this place.) I have remembered the words Pastor Tresin first said to me and the help that I promised him each day in prayer. As it says in Deuteronomy 23:21 and 23: “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. ... Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.”
Source: The material here is taken from Climbing for Christ's website at http://www.climbingforchrist.org/Default.aspx?tabid=885, and is written by Gary Fallesen.