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Amid Church Closures and Surge in Violence, Thousands Are Baptized in Haiti

Despite the surge in gang violence in Haiti during the past months, which has significantly affected normal church operations there, recent evangelism efforts have resulted in thousands of baptisms, church administrators said.

IAD| Libna Stevens

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Despite the surge in gang violence in Haiti during the past months, which has significantly affected normal church operations there, recent evangelism efforts have resulted in thousands of baptisms, church administrators said.

“The impact of this situation and the activities and operation of the church and institutions is big,” said Pastor Pierre Caporal, president of the Haitian Union. Four of the five local conference and mission fields have been directly affected, including the headquarter offices of the church stationed in Delmas in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

At least 55 churches are closed, said Caporal. “The number is increasing week after week.” Many of the offices of the schools and institutions cannot operate fully.  “The personnel of the union office for instance continues to work in three different locations,” he said. Caporal and other leaders work from their homes or other nearby locations when it is possible. They meet on the Zoom platform and talk over the phone to be updated on the life of church members across the territory and try to minister to their regional leaders as much as possible, he explained.

Late in January, armed men entered the campus of Adventist University of Haiti in Diquini, Carrefour, prompting officials to send their dorm students home and close the campus for nearly four weeks.


“There are more than 2,000 Adventist families displaced, including 18 pastoral families, conference administrators and hundreds more who have lost their belongings,” explained Caporal. “I am very concerned for the safety of our church members, many of whom have left their homes and are living anywhere and everywhere,” he expressed. Church leaders are seeing many church members and their families fleeing in search of safety, and violence and uncertainty is part of daily life, said Caporal.

Churches that are open for Sabbath worship services do so only a few hours during early afternoon to allow enough time for members to return home before sundown. Others meet in sheds, home, rented spaces or outdoors. Others watch church services online or tune into Radio Esperance, the church’s radio station.


Some of the largest Adventist churches with over 800 members, like Auditorium de la Bible, Temple No. 1 and Eben-Ezer—which has always held two services each Sabbath–have closed their doors. They are the closest to the downtown area by the national palace, where armed conflicts are a daily occurrence, church leaders said.


Moving short distances from one place to another is not safe, stated Caporal.

Amid the violence and challenges around, God continues to watch over His people, said Caporal.

“We see God’s mercies every day on behalf of the church and His people,” he said.  The church has seen an unprecedented number of people getting baptized. More than 4,000 have been baptized since the start of the year.  There are some places that are more favorable than others where the church can minister and bring their friends and neighbors to learn more about the gospel. The 172 churches and 186 companies in the north part of the island nation are able to meet regularly every week.


All in all, the passion of the gospel is still very present in the hearts of church members, said Caporal. Church leaders have organized four days of fasting and prayer, Apr. 3-6, pleading for God’s protection over the membership and the country. This is the second time this year that days of fasting and prayer have been organized nationally by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Haiti.


“The days ahead of us continue to be worrisome, but relying on God is something we will continue to do,” Caporal said.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Haiti has been assisting thousands of displaced families with food and necessities across critical communities in the country for several months now. ADRA International and ADRA Inter-America are providing educational programs and supplies for children in several communities for the next two months.

David Poloche, ADRA director of the Inter-American Division (IAD), said that a special fundraising campaign among regional Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) chapters throughout the territory will benefit displaced Adventist families in Haiti.


“We want to help church members go back home to their provinces when it will be possible to be relocated and help them with food and basic needs,” said Caporal.

There are more than 500,000 church members spread out in the five conferences and missions in Haiti which oversees 1,230 churches and congregations. The union operates a hospital, several clinics, a university, and dozens of primary and secondary schools.

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