By Blake Tommey
His given name is Lucien Gede, but most people in Grand Goâve, Haiti, know him as Dyak Lucien — “Deacon Lucien” in Haitian Creole. Perhaps his formal title as leader of Mount Sinai Baptist Church rubbed off on his entire mountain community. Or maybe he has earned it. Besides, the word “deacon” not only denotes a servant, but is said to literally mean “through the dust,” referring to the plume of dust stirred up by a busy helper or messenger. And Dykan Lucien is a “through the dust” kind of man.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Jenny Jenkins recalls first meeting Dyak Lucien as she began to connect with local Haitian congregations and learn about the needs in Grand Goâve, especially opportunities to help rebuild homes. As Lucien accompanied Jenkins and her team on a tour of his community, they encountered scores of homes battered by wind, rain and earthquakes, Jenkins says. So she put the question of where to begin to Lucien.
“Out of all of these people that you’ve shown us that need carpentry work and a little bit of help,” Jenkins said, “which one would you pick to help?”
“Oh, I would do Madam Madeleine’s home first,” Lucien replied, without hesitation.
“Why would you choose her?” Jenkins asked.
“Well, because she’s not a member of our church,” Lucien said, “and we need to serve her.”
That’s the kind of leader Dyak Lucien is, Jenkins says, and the kind that CBF places at the center of its work in any country and context. After Jenkins was commissioned to Haiti in 2010, she formed together with Lucien and other community leaders to discuss their dreams and desires for the people of Grand Goâve, who continually endure impassable roads, damaged homes, a poor education system and debilitating health problems like diabetes and hypertension. Added to all this was the fact that Mount Sinai Baptist Church could no longer support its work under a makeshift tent.
Subsequently, Jenkins and her team committed the resources to construct a building for Mount Sinai, all of which Lucien and his contracting team planned and assembled. The church now worships in their new building, complete with a set of doors made by Lucien himself and also hosts Jenkins’ monthly blood pressure clinics. With the completion of multiple construction projects as well and with the Grand Goâve Education Initiative underway among local teachers, Lucien says his community is breathing easier.
“We collaborate,” he says. “There is no fight between us. We continue the way our ancestors started, by putting our heads together to live with love. This is how we are living. Other people in the community look at us as a model. That is the way we are in this zone. And Nurse Jenny never neglects to give her service to the community. We are happy. We appreciate that.”
Supported by the CBF Offering for Global Missions, Jenkins continues to partner in renewing God’s world in Haiti through life-saving health clinics, home reconstruction and ongoing training for teachers. Yet, relationships with leaders like Lucien must come first, Jenkins says, and the Offering for Global Missions ultimately gives her that opportunity through years of listening and learning. In the end, Jenkins adds, development work in Grand Goâve, Haiti, is possible only through local leaders like Dyak Lucien, a government-recognized development worker through whom God is already working.
“I look at what God is doing in this world and in my community. And once again, God has allowed me to come alongside what God is already doing,” Jenkins says.
“I can’t fix Haiti, and that’s not my job. That’s not what God called me to do. God is already active and present, and still God invites us to come alongside and be part of that work. Through the CBF Offering for Global Missions, the presence of field personnel is supported, allowing us to join God and stay in the countries where we are so needed. That allows us to develop relationships in those communities, to hear the needs and develop the respectful conversations that open the doors to changing lives.”
Watch a video story about “Deacon Lucien” and Jenny Jenkins’ ministry below:
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