How would you describe the mission of our partner in Guadeloupe?
The Reformed Protestant Church of Guadeloupe exists, as most churches do, to be a community for believers and non-believers to come together and experience the love and grace of Christ. However, beyond worship services and small group gatherings, the church also runs an organization called Men a Lespwa. Men a Lespwa exists to aide vulnerable populations – particularly people in jail or those reintegrating into life outside of jail. This is done through programming and chaplaincy work in the prison as well as programming, partnerships, and services outside of prison.
How do you fit into their mission?
I work in both prisons on the island as a chaplain – meeting with prisoners individually and leading Bible studies. Currently, I am primarily working with English speaking prisoners – an under-served population in the prison. Beyond that, I am responsible for working with Men a Lespwa as they work to establish and develop local partnerships as well as doing the week-to-week things to help run the organization. I am also helping to provide leadership for an English speaking “house church” type of group as an extension of the life and ministry of the Reformed Protestant Church.
What led you to engage in this calling?
I had my first international living experience in China when I was 15 years old. It captured my heart and mind in ways I never could have imagined. Since then, I have gained more and more experience in living internationally and my love and passion for international life, work, and mission has grown immeasurably. While going through a serious discernment process in seminary at Brite Divinity School, it became clear that I was being called to international life. I connected with Global Ministries… and here I am! It has been a journey and blessing.
Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?
Lately I have found myself reflecting quite a bit on Psalm 46. In working in the prisons you hear stories and face realities that seem to be filled with insurmountable obstacles. Psalm 46 is an excellent reminder to be “Be still and know” that God is God. God is big and powerful enough to handle everything, even if I am not. It also brings to mind Matthew 19:26 – “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’” (NRSV) These are passages I find myself regularly calling upon.
What are some of the challenges facing the people of Guadeloupe, RPC or yourself?
There are many organizations in Guadeloupe serving vulnerable populations (the homeless, prisoners, abuse victims, the unemployed, ex-prisoners, etc.), but many of these organizations do not communicate and work with each other. This sometimes results in some populations being under-served and others being almost over-served with several organizations trying to do the same thing. The RPC is working to partner with some of these organizations in order to support the work already being done and determine what projects and programming might be most beneficial/needed. This can be very challenging, but also very important.
What is a lesson you have learned from our partner that you feel should be shared with churches in the U.S.?
Our partner, the Reformed Protestant Church, treats prisoners with such admirable compassion and love. It’s really spectacular. In the United States there sometimes seems to be a fear of and/or disgust toward prisoners, but within this congregation that is not the case. The church sees prisoners as human beings and children of God. Children of God who may have broken the law, but still children of God first and foremost. Their attitude and practice of Christian love is certainly worth emulating.
Which books have influenced your understanding of your country, work, or theology?
Jesus and the Disinherited – Howard Thurman
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