Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The "Good News" Comes to Haiti

The following info & photos are from the 1994 Yearbook

(Congregation at Vieux-bourg-d'Aquin, in mid-50's, pg 122)

Good News Comes to Aquin (pgs 119-120)
Recollections as to how the good news of God’s Kingdom first reached Haiti are hazy. As early as February 1887, Zion’s Watch Tower lists Hayti (or, Haiti) among the places from which letters written by interested persons had come. However, it was not until decades later, during the winter of 1929/30, that a Witness, a pioneer, who devoted her full time to witnessing to others about God’s purpose, spent several months here.

Then, in 1938, a lawyer named Démosthène Lhérisson somehow obtained in Port-au-Prince the books Creation and Prophecy and the booklet Cause of Death. He took these home to Aquin, on the south coast. What was the result? From what he read, he became convinced that these publications pointed the way to true Christianity...After the lawyer died, his nephew invited friends to study the books with him, and they did so regularly...About 1943, in Cayes, a large town to the west of Aquin, a traveler who had returned from Cuba had several Watch Tower publications in his possession. That literature got into the hands of Solomon Sévère, who lived in Vieux-bourg, about six miles [10 km] from Aquin.
In time the interested ones in Aquin and those in Vieux-bourg got together. But some of them adhered to the teachings of a minority religion known as Christianism, or Solomonites, and certain ones of its practices, such as plurality of wives, definitely were not Christian. Those sincerely seeking the truth came to realize that they needed to break their ties with Christendom and to quit sharing in its practices.
By 1944, seven individuals in Haiti were having a part in preaching the good news to others...The following year, five more joined in the field ministry...Near the end of the service year, two well-trained missionaries became part of this group.

(photo of Maxine Stump & Betty Wooten, pg 161)

I also wanted to include the experiences of these 2 sisters (in harmony with today's text) since they both faithfully served Jehovah and spent many years in the ministry work, despite advancing age. (And one didn't even get started until she was in her mid-50's!)

To Serve Where the Need Is Greater (pgs 160-162)
In addition to the missionaries, there are many who have personally taken the initiative to come to Haiti to serve where the need is greater. Among these are Maxine Stump and Betty Wooten, who have done productive work in Pétion-ville and Thomassin. Maxine was located in Thomassin, a community many thought would not produce any Witnesses.

At 55, she was beginning to feel her years. Her husband had forsaken her and Jehovah’s organization. Yet, she endured 23 years in that mountain territory, in the face of local opposition. Her limited French and Creole sounded more like English. Maybe people had to listen more carefully to understand her; but her warm interest and sincerity attracted them. Many studied with her and became Witnesses. She served as a regular pioneer in Thomassin until 1992 when, at the age of 75, she could no longer cope with the mountains. She returned to the United States for medical attention, and now she serves as a pioneer in Florida.

Betty Wooten started “pioneering” the day she got baptized in 1962. She did not realize that she should submit an application! She was actually appointed in 1967. Since coming to Haiti, she has served in Pétion-ville as a special pioneer. She is black, exuberant, and looks much younger than her 57 years. Sometimes in the intensity of explaining the Scriptures, she slips out of her imperfect Creole into English. But her sincere presentation of the truth and her forceful reasoning make people listen and respond.
While John and Inez Norman were visiting the Canada branch office in 1982, someone in the subscription department asked them, “Who is Betty Wooten?” The department was processing dozens of magazine subscriptions that she had obtained. Why this success? She is always preaching. Her formal field service is an extension of her informal witnessing. In shops, when she goes to a restaurant, at gas stations—anywhere, anytime is an opportunity to offer magazines, books, subscriptions, and Bible studies. She can now look back over her 22 years in Haiti, satisfied that she has shared in helping more than 70 people to take up Jehovah’s service!