Ministry within Florida Baptist Haitian churches was celebrated as people gathered for the Haitian Pastors and Wives retreat at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center during the last weekend of April.

John Voltaire, Haitian church catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, said that 275 pastors and wives joined together for the event, which offered them opportunities for fellowship and refreshment. Voltaire said many pastors told him that this year was a particular success for several different reasons.

One of those reasons was the presence of the Confraternité Missionnaire Baptiste d’Haïti (CMBH), a delegation of seven pastors from Haiti who are ministry partners of the Florida Baptist Convention.

Guest speakers included:

  • Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, who was the event’s special guest speaker
  • Al Fernandez, South Florida catalyst for the FBC
  • Gary Townsend, North Florida catalyst for the Convention
  • Myles Dowdy, lead catalyst for missions and ministry for the FBC

“Dr. Green delivered a great sermon on Friday night to challenge and encourage the pastors,” Voltaire said. “Many came forward for a moment of prayer at the end of Dr. Green’s message.”

Jacques Dumorney, pastor of the First Haitian Baptist Church of Pompano, was in attendance as he usually is. He said that he’s only missed two retreats in the last 20 years, both as a result of illnesses.

“If I’m still alive I plan on going again next year,” the 82-year-old quipped.

Dumorney said it’s always good to have the ability to get together with other pastors and share experiences, be ministered to and just get away.

Dumorney also said he was thankful for the different breakout sessions offered and the ability to choose the talks that were most relevant to his ministry.

“The presentations were perfect,” he declared. “One pastor told me he wished it would last for a week!”

One of the most memorable moments was when the group paused to take up a special Cooperative Program offering, which totaled $ 10,469.62. Voltaire said the delegation from Haiti was the first to contribute and gave $500 from the churches in Haiti who wanted to give in order to impact missions around the world.

Some of the most memorable moments for Voltaire were seeing people he knew had been through recent tragedy make the retreat a priority and show up against all odds. Two of those people were Pastor Osaldo Lacombe from John 3:16 Baptist Church in Boynton Beach, who had recently had a stroke and was going through rehab but chose to come because of what this time at Lake Yale means for him and his family. Also, Mrs. Charles Manite, who recently lost her husband, Pastor Manite, who pastored University Haitian Baptist Church in Tampa. She made sure that she came as well because of what this retreat has meant to her and her late husband.

Voltaire said many of the pastors he spoke with are already looking forward to next year’s retreat, which will take place April 25-27, 2019.

“I simply want to thank God for the leadership of our Executive-Director, Dr. Tommy Green, and the staff of the Florida Baptist Convention for the continued support to our FBC Haitian churches that are often doing ministry in less than optimal conditions,” Voltaire said.

By Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, May 4, 2018