Day of learning and sharpening draws Haitian church leaders together

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LAKE WORTH—Stormy clouds and rushing winds did not deter the faithful from gathering to sharpen their ministry skills during the Haitian Leadership Conference on Saturday, March 12 at Peniel Haitian Baptist Church in Lake Worth.

The one-day meeting drew 920 Haitian Florida Baptists from South Florida together for a time of training, fellowship and worship.

“The March conference was very successful in all aspects,” said John Voltaire, Haitian church catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention. “We had a great lineup of practical breakout sessions and presenters for all participants.”

Photo taken by Jerry Cerphy

The annual conference featured a dozen workshops on a diversity of topics including pastoral ministry, deacon’s ministry impact on church life, church administration, strategies for effective Sunday school growth and sustainability, leadership development for men, and next-generation ministry training.

One of the most popular workshops for lay leaders was led by Keny Felix, pastor of Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church in Miami. The session focused on the dichotomy between mental health and spiritual warfare.

“A pastor and a psychologist on their own can miss the big picture…we need to look at the person biologically, spiritually, and emotionally,” he said.

Photo taken by Jerry Cerphy

As an example, he said, “Our churches tend to place a lot of focus on violent crime, but the statistics show us that more people are taking their own lives than being murdered,” noting that suicide is a mental health issue as much as it is a spiritual issue.

Felix said a fear exists among believers that if “we go beyond the spiritual, we’re not trusting God. But we must use all the tools that God has given us.”

The day of learning, encouragement, and sharpening ended with a worship celebration led by the Peniel worship team. Old and young alike worshipped to the music, lifting their hands high in praise.

As the groups climbed into cars, vans, and buses that brought them from other South Florida locations, they expressed how helpful the conference was and the need for such training for believers.

“Many pastors and church leaders said to me that this was one of the best conferences they had attended in a long time,” said Voltaire. “The curriculum shared will surely help their ministries grow and move forward in many ways.”

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