Where exactly is Hope for Today Outreach currently serving in Haiti?

Where exactly is Hope for Today Outreach currently serving in Haiti?

Many of you supporters of Hope for Today Outreach are wondering where exactly is this ministry currently serving in Haiti? Well, our ministry provides basic life essentials to the poor, the needy, and underprivileged families  in the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Our ultimate objective is to contribute to the country’s long-term and sustaining development–both in the material and spiritual sense. At the moment, we are currently serving in Corail, a municipal of the town of Port-Margot.

Port-Margot is a commune in the Borgne Arrondissement, in the Nord Department of Haiti. Based on the 2013 census, its population is about 100,000 people. The rural town of Port-Margot is less than two hours (if you drive by car) away from the city of Cap-Haitien— a major port area and the second largest city of Haiti. The town of Port-Margot is located between Limbe and Borgne.  Like other parts of the country, Haitian Creole is spoken by the majority of the population; the French language is spoken only by the educated few. The three major practicing faiths in the region are Roman Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, and Vodou. The oldest Church in Port-Margot, Sainte Marguerite Parish, was founded in 1711.

Most of the people who live in Port-Margot and the surrounding areas such as Corail, Bayeux, etc. are farmers and illiterate. It is estimated that more than 65 % of the population is unable to read. The complementary information below is provided by the Organization for the Development of Port-Margot (ODEP):

“Port-Margot, city founded by Bertrand d’Orgeron in 1625, is located 35 km from the city of Cap Haitian, the principal city in the Nord department of Haiti. Historically, it was the first French establishment of Saint Domingue with the “boucaniers” and “filibustiers” around 1630. It was a flourishing colonial region. The municipality is composed of two big neighborhoods: Petit Bourg and Bayeux, and six sections, namely Bas-Petit Borgne, Haut Petit Borgne, Bas-Quartier, Bras Gauche, Grande Plaine and Corail.

Today, Port-Margot is home to about 50.000 Haitians with mostly all Faith representatives (Catholicism, Adventist, Wesleyan, Baptist, Methodist….). There are several Kindergarten schools, elementary and high schools and a parish hall for social events; the Dominique Batraville library has severely limited services; a few health centers offer services, yet they are limited due to a lack of resources. Transportation is underdeveloped but is worth the effort as Port-Margot is one of the locations of the most captivating beaches in the country. Business is also underdeveloped. Most state institutions are present: the tax collector’s office, the town hall, two courthouses, the civil registry office, the Communal agrarian office, the Haitian National Police, and the Regional Board of education.

With a topography characterized by hilly ground in the east and west, Port-Margot is a predominantly agrarian region where seasonal agriculture and small-scale fishing are used. The fields were once green and production had increased considerably. Each parcel of land was cultivated according to the needs of the community, and the surplus sold to the big cities. Unfortunately, what appeared to be a terrestrial paradise gradually changed. The lands were devalued due to deforestation. Approximately a quarter of its mountains are still green and wet but we observe less production of several precious commodities like coffee beans, cocoa and other food plants. The river frequently changes its bed. During the drought season, it has only a thin filament of water, but in the rainy season, it terrorizes the whole region along its path. The migration towards the metropolitan cities or Dominican Republic, unemployment, intensification of a lack of basic necessities (drinking water, electricity, public services, communications, etc.) and lack of healthcare has contributed even further to the economic recession of the region…

Despite the problems, Port-Margot still maintains its charm, with an average temperature of 29 degree Celsius, modern recently-built houses and an abundance of activities to satisfy almost everyone. Chouchou Bay, is known for its white sand and vast coral reef that can be reached and appreciated by divers and enthusiasts about 10 to 15 meters from the surface of the water. It is also surrounded by an array of luscious mountains. In this slice of paradise, it is only you, your feelings, and imagination. Whether you choose to come by boat, car or on horseback, you will find it hard to leave this dreamlike paradise. It’s also worth mentioning other beautiful beaches: Coup de Sable or Cabaret, Pass Kannot, Coco. It is awesome to visit Basen Waka in Novion or Djambou’s fall in Bas Petit Borgne for a cool shower. One can also enjoy a romantic sunset at Morne Coplan, and camping site and family picnics at l’Ilet. The coastal municipality also has its share of annual beach festivals. Every 20th of July, Port-Margot residents, visitors, and the entire neighborhood celebrate the feast of Sainte Marguerite, in honor of the town’s patron saint. Every 4th of September, we celebrate the feast of Saint Bertin in Petit Bourg; on June 13th we celebrate the feast of Saint Antoine de Pardoue in Aria, and on August 24th we celebrate the feast of Saint Louis in Novion, near Chouchou Bay.”

We also reference this short essay by the  Organization for the Development of Port-Margot (ODEP).

“Port-Margot past and present”

By Staff
Organization for the Development of Port-Margot (ODEP)

Origin

The origin of the name “Port-Margot” is unknown to us. Port-Margot was the first French settlement in Saint Domingue and it already bore this name when the buccaneers came to settle in. As of 1630, the French, chased out of the island of Saint Christophe, had joined forces with the Pirates from Ile de la Tortue to venture toward the coast of Port-Margot to establish dins, i.e. temporary establishments where they roasted meats or preserved them by smoking them.

Limits

The boundaries of the town of Port-Margot are: in the Northern side the sea, in the Eastern side the town of Limbé, in the South the town of Pilate, and in the West the town of Borgne.

A few hundred meters from the eastern side of Port-Margot’s cove, towards the North-West side is the refuge aka. The islet is located a few cables’ length away from the Rocher d’Orgeron, which the pirates had used as a prison.

The municipality of Port-Margot is divided into six sections, the last five of which are only slopes of mountains or just mountains, they are:

Bas-Quartier – Grande Plaine – Bas Petit-Borgne – Corail – Haut Petit Borgne – Bras gauche

River

The Port-Margot River traverses the commune vertically. It begins from the hills of Margot, then snakes its way through Petit Bourg, Grand Bourg and ends up at the sea just East of Bayeux.

On its way to the sea, it connects with several other brooks that add to its strength. They are the river of Petit Bourg on the left; the river of Corail connected on the right by that of Corneille, and the river of Petit Borgne that merges upstream from that of Bayeux.

The Port-Margot river is on a flood zone. During the drought season it has only a thin filament of water, but in the rainy season, it terrorizes the whole region along its path.

Major roads

The municipality of Port-Margot is located along the northern coasts of Haiti approximately 35 km (22 miles) from the city of the Cap-Haitian via a road that goes through the town of Limbé, then national highway No. 1. It is connected to the town of Borgne,  20 km (12 miles) away, via a road that passes through Bayeux and connects with the town of Port-de-Paix.

Fertility of the municipality

The municipality is one of the most fertile in the northern region of Haiti due to its many rivers. Approximately a quarter of its mountains is still green and wet and produces several precious commodities like coffee beans, cocoa and other food plants. The rainy season starts in August up to including January.

Economic situation

Around 1900-1980 unemployment was almost nonexistent. The fields were green and production had increased considerably. Each parcel of land was cultivated according to the needs of the community, and the surplus sold to the big cities. Unfortunately, what seemed to be the terrestrial paradise gradually and completely changed. The lands were devalued due to deforestation; the agrarian layer was diminishing daily and moving towards the sea, thus reducing cultivable space. Moreover, the river frequent changes of its bed caused enormous losses to the population. Adding insult to injury, the migration towards the metropolitan cities, unemployment, and lack of healthcare had contributed even more to the economic recession of the area.

Entertainment

In spite of these difficulties, Port-Margot still keeps its charm and abounds in activities that satisfy almost everyone. Its beaches are among the most beautiful ones in the country: Chouchou Bay with gilded white sand, Coup de Sable or Cabaret, Pas Kannot, Coco. It’s also worth mentioning Basen Waka in Novion on the Thibaud residence. One can also enjoy a romantic sunset at Morne Coplan, a camping site, and action-packed family picnics at l’Ilet.”

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Seeing God in the Gospel of Matthew (5:8)

The motif of “Seeing God” is a significant concept found in various NT texts (Mt. 5:8; 18:10; Rom. 1:19-20; 1 Cor. 13:12; Col. 1:15; Heb. 12:14; 1 John 3:2,6; 4:12, 20; III John 11; Rev. 4:2f.; 22:4). The greatest difficulty is to understand each writer’s theological interest in employing the concept. Is it possible that these NT writers who promoted the concept and wrote about it shared a common theological interest?

For example, the name Israel means “the one who sees God.” The ancient Rabbis taught obedience ultimately brings reward to the law and enables one to see God. There’s a sense of “moral uprightness” in response to the Torah. The concept is also developed largely in Exodus chapters 33-34 and Isaiah’s encounter with God, (Is. 6). The motif, however, points to an eschatological transformation and hope for the Christian (1 John 3:2) in the age to come. It also expresses especially a proper ethical behavior that Christians exhibit towards God (I John 3:6). Seeing God motif envisions a future promise, an eschatological realization based on one’s prior performance in life (Mathew 5:8). In addition, the concept of seeing God is associated with the invisibility of God (I John 4:12; John 1:18; a direct allusion to Ex. 33:20) and intimately linked with the Christian ethic of love (I John 4:20), in which love is ascribed as the highest human expression towards God and one’s neighbor.

In the Gospel of Matthew, particularly in 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” here the Matthean “vision of God” is depicted as an eschatological hope. It is a divine promise, a provisional one, in which a pledge is made on behalf of the righteous in the future age, the messianic era. Nonetheless, in the history of exegesis, there has been considerable tension among scholars and theologians, attempting to discern the proper meaning of Matthew 5:8 and its relation to 18:10. Some scholars emphasize the first part of the verse, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” others stress the latter, “for they shall see God.” However, some people insist that we should not divorce both parts of the passage but argue that “Blessed are the pure in heart” and “for they shall see God” should be interpreted connectively and complementarily.

In his commentary on Matthew, Hill interprets the Mathean motif in this respect, “To ‘see God’ is a pictorial expression indicating the bliss of fellowship with God in the Kingdom (cf. Ps. 17:15; 42:2; 4 Ezra 7:98–‘for they hasten to behold the face of him whom they served in life and from whom they are to receive their reward when glorified’ (David Hill, The Gospel of Matthew, 113). For Donald Hagner, the concept should be understood provisionally; that is, as an eschatological promise/hope. Keener provides the OT background by associating the phrase with the first Exodus and last Day of Judgment, “The ‘pure in heart’ (Ps. 73:1) were those in Israel whose hearts were “clean,” or undefiled, those who recognized that God alone was their help and reward (Ps. 73:2-28). The righteous would see God on the Day of Judgment (e.g., Is. 30:20), as in the first Exodus ( Ex. 24:10-11)” – (Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, 56). Morris, in his classic commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, emphasizes the ethical aspect of the passage and contrasts the “pure” to the “impure” in heart. He writes, “The pure in heart see God in a way that the impure never know.” Reversely, Morris points us to the ultimate epistemological experience that the believer has with God. Morris also construes that the Matthean vision of God not only points to an eschatological hope but also stresses a present reality for the Christian. However, he maintains that the main emphasis here is eschatology, pointing to “a vision too wonderful to be fully experienced in this life but that will come to its consummation in the world to come” (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew, 100).

Blomberg in his work on Matthew sees “pure in heart” as a reference both to “moral uprightness” and “ritual cleanliness.” The latter was commonly enforced in Judaic practices. Blomberg writes, “…As with “righteousness” in general for Matthew, what Jesus of his disciples is a life-style characterized by pleasing God (see comments under 1:18-19). The “pure in heart” exhibit a single-minded devotion to God that stems from the internal cleansing created by following Jesus.” – Craig Blomberg, The New American Commentary An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture: Matthew, 100). It is evident here that Blomberg stresses “the pure in heart” but sees this attitude as a prerequisite for entering God’s presence, fellowshipping with him. In other words, for Blomberg, “for they shall see God,” points to the ultimate experience and intimate fellowship which believers will enjoy with God.

In his excellent commentary, R. T. France suggests the following interpretation, “…Those who are qualified to “ascend the hill of the Lord” and “stand in his holy place” are characterized by “clean hands and a pure heart,” which is then defined in terms of truthfulness and of an active “seeking” for God (Ps 24:3-6). The meaning is thus not far from that of v.6, with its emphasis on a longing to live the life God requires. In the context of first-century Judaism, with its strong emphasis on ritual “purity,” the phrase “pure in heart” might also be understood to imply a contrast with the meticulous preservation of outward purity which be condemned in 23:25-28 as having missed the point of godliness; but no such connotation is likely in Ps.24, on which this beatitude is based. The vision of God which is the goal of the pure in heart (Ps 24:6; cf. Ps 11:7; 17:15; 27:5; 42:2), and which is here promised to them, is sometimes expressed in the OT in terms of an actual “seeing” though these are clearly marked out as exceptional. More often the invisibility of God is stressed (Ex 33:18-23), and this is strongly reinforced in the NT (John 1:18; 1 Tim 1:17; 6:16). There may be visionary experiences in this word which includes “seeing” God, as for John on Patmos, but “seeing God’s face” is a privilege reserved for the new Jerusalem (Rev 22:4 cf. 1 Cor 13:12; 1 John 3:2). Meanwhile, it is the “angels” of God’s people, not those people themselves, who see his face in heaven (18:10). Here on earth the people of God may find strength “as if seeing him who is invisible” (Heb 11:27), but such “seeing” remains only a foretaste of God’s true vision of God in heaven” (R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, 168-169).

Finally, in my opinion, Gundry provides a more contextual reading of this passage, as his observation caught my attention. He writes, …”Besides the obvious similarity between Matthew and the psalm so far as purity of heart is concerned, we may also note that Matthew’s “blessed” corresponds to “blessing from the Lord” in the psalm and that the promise, “they will see God,” corresponds to seeking the “face” of God, who comes into view later in the psalm by entering through the gates as the King of glory (cf. Ps 17:15; Rev 22:4; 2 Esdr 7:98). Since Matthew has identified Jesus as “God with us” (1:23), he may intend his readers to understand the blessed vision of God in the future as the sight of Jesus returning in glory (24:30; 26:64; cf. 28:7. 10)”- (Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Handbook for Mixed Church under Persecution, 71)

In conclusion, the Matthean vision of God calls for a closer study of the Gospel and its milieu, particularly its religious setting. It might also be of great significance to explore the motif in relation to Matthew’s concept of the “kingdom of heaven” and the Parousia of the Son of Man. Perhaps an investigation of the concept of deeds and rewards in Judaism as both subjects look forward to and pertain to the messianic age and the last day might provide substantial cues.

October 2015 Free Resources: God Loves Haiti (Book) or “Remember the Poor: God, the Poor, and Generous Justice” (Audio CD)

October 2015 Free Resources

For the month of October, 2015, Hope for Today Outreach is giving away  two free resources: Dr. Joseph’s new book:God Loves Haiti: A Short Overview of Hope for Today Outreach,  and the audio CD: “Remember the Poor: God, the Poor, and Generous Justice” by Dr. Joseph.   Request your free copy today! 

  1. God Loves Haiti: A Short Overview of Hope for Today Outreach (Book)

God Loves Haiti BookCoverImage

Book Description

God Loves Haiti: A Short Overview of Hope for Today Outreach provides an outline of the philosophy of Hope for Today Outreach and the organization’s work in Haiti among the poor and the needy. Based on biblical principles and theological insights, it articulates a forceful argument for engaging in Christian mission and social outreach in our communities and beyond our geographical borders in overseas—with the goal to empower individuals to reach their full potential and to contribute to their social and spiritual development. More particularly, God Loves Haiti makes a strong statement about the biblical mandate to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10), clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, and care for the oppressed, the sick, homeless, widow, elderly, the orphan, etc.

The book is based on five biblical principles and imperatives that reflect God’s character and active participation in the human drama, and the overarching liberative message of the Bible: (1) God’s righteousness and heart for justice, (2) care for the hungry and afflicted is a public demonstration of living out the justice of God, (3) Jesus’s clarion call to individual Christians, churches, Christian organizations and leaders to do the work of social outreach and justice, (4) care for the poor is a fundamental Christian practice and a public demonstration of the love of Christ, and (5) the imperative of putting faith in action.

Faith-based organizations and humanitarian groups will find this little book helpful as it provides a concise overview of the history, religion, culture, the health and economic conditions of the Haitian people, as well as Haitian migration to the United States. The book also includes selected historical landmarks that would appeal to first-time visitors to Haiti. An appendix of recommended readings is included to inform interested and curious readers about Haitian history, culture, society, politics, religion, women and human rights issues, and health and development concerns.

The love and glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ is the vehicle that motivates us to “remember the poor,” show acts of kindness and compassion, and to walk in solidarity with the hungry, the oppressed, and the disheartened. We help these individuals realize that they are created in God’s image and that they matter to God. By restoring their self-worth and human dignity, Hope for Today Outreach is committed to fostering a life of sustaining hope and holistic development.

2. “Remember the Poor: God, the Poor, and Generous Justice” (Audio CD)

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Product Detail

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you.” — Proverbs 3:27-28

In Part 1 of the Three-Part series entitled “God, the Poor, and Generous Justice,” Dr. Joseph discusses some biblical texts that reveal God’s heart for the poor and attitude toward justice and economic justice. The same way God remembers the poor and the oppressed, followers of Christ are called to diligently serve the poor and the needy, and to remember the unfortunate and the underprivileged in our churches, communities, and the world at large. Further, Dr. Joseph invites us to consider five biblical and theological principles that encourage and ultimately urge Christians to be engaged in social outreach and social justice ministries, and to empower and care for the poor and the needy; this attitude is a reflection of God’s character and the loving message of the Gospel.

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*To request your free book or audio CD, simply send us an email message @  customers@hopefortodayoutreach.org or call us: (239) 349-4981.

We apologize for the inconvenience that at the moment, Hope for Today Outreach does not ship items to international addresses.