Adventist University in Haiti Reopens as Church Members Fast and Pray

Church leaders call members to press on amid daunting challenges.

Jean Carmy Félixon and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
Adventist University in Haiti Reopens as Church Members Fast and Pray
Adventist University of Haiti reopened its campus in Carrefour, four weeks after armed men entered the campus on January 23. [Photo: Alexis Ginel/UNAH]

The Adventist University of Haiti (UNAH) in Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, has reopened four weeks after armed men entered the campus on January 23.

“We have opened our doors back again, trusting in God for protection, because we have to continue educating,” UNAH president Sénèque Edmond said. “The threats are still there, for we know anything can happen, but God spared us.”

Most students returned to the campus and dormitories, university officials said. “A few are still unable to return because they are still stuck in some provinces across the country,” Edmond said.

The reopening of the university on February 21 saw administrators, teachers, staff, and students participating in a four-day national fasting and prayer called by the Haitian Union Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Students, teachers, and staff prayed together several times during the day at UNAH’s auditorium to plead for deliverance from the escalating violence that has affected church members, schools, churches, and institutions across the nation.

In a statement to church members, Pierre Caporal, president of the Haitian Union Mission, said that they are not alone and that the church administration understands their suffering and that the Lord can hear the cries and pain they are going through. “God has a plan for each of us, for His church and our country which is in turmoil,” Caporal said. “Fix your eyes on Him today more than ever, and pray to Him with persistence, constancy, and a lot of fervor and faith for the deliverance of the country.”

Caporal invited church members and their families to pray in their homes, small groups, churches, schools, and institutions, claiming God’s tender care. Local churches throughout Haiti took part in the prayer and fasting on February 24.

Elie Henry, president of the Inter-American Division, which includes Haiti, encouraged leaders and church members during an online program on February 24. He asked members to continue pressing on even amid uncertainty and distress and to seek God in prayer every day. “I invite you to continue to meditate on God’s Word, reflect in His goodness, and pray to Him daily,” Henry said. “Sometimes we expected God to reveal Himself through great things or great events in our life, but God comes in a gentle breath to speak us,” he said. “We must turn our eyes towards God, and we will be radiant with joy, for He comes into our hearts to soothe our torments and give meaning and direction to our lives.”

According to Yonel Bissainthe, communication director at the Bethlehem Adventist church in Pétion-Ville, Haiti, dozens of church members filled the church to pray, confess their sins, and pray together for God’s presence. “Many were so happy to take the time to lay their burdens at the feet of Jesus and left reassured that God would bring about rest from the violence,” he said.

Marie Carmen Alvarez, a member of the Shékina Adventist church in Port-au-Prince, followed the program both in person and online throughout the four days of fasting and prayer. “Only God has the last word. We can do nothing but rely on Him through prayer and wait on God’s intervention, for we know that the situation will not last forever,” Alvarez said. “I believe that God will work on our behalf.”

For months, Adventist churches across Haiti have had to adjust their services to morning or early afternoon to allow members to be home before dark. Church leaders reported recently that 15 churches have closed, and more than 3,500 church members have been displaced.

Addressing the church members who have been displaced because of the violence in their communities, Edgar Etienne, dean of the School of Theology at UNAH and pastor of the university church, urged them to rely on God every minute of the day. “We must pray to follow God’s plan for our lives,” Etienne said. “If we must flee our homes, it is God who must show us where to go. Let us not run without God.”

More than 500,000 Seventh-day Adventists in Haiti worship in 1,330 churches and congregations organized in one conference and four missions. The union mission operates a hospital, university, and dozens of primary and secondary schools.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.

Jean Carmy Félixon and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News