Finish What You Start

In an effort to escape the heat last night, Cathy and I retreated to the deck after dinner. I don’t know how successful we were, it seemed that the conversation flowed more than the breeze. We discussed our children, friends, the Olympics, and even the upcoming presidential election. Regarding the election I made the comment that my friend Fenold, from Haiti, even weighed in on the upcoming election on his Facebook page. That steered the conversation toward Haiti and thankfully away from the election.

Just the day before we had held our annual Building the House of God 5K which goes toward building the church in Lestage, Haiti. We’re warming up (pun intended) to another trip to Haiti this December and will hopefully put the roof on the church. I commented that they’d actually be able to use the new church, even if it isn’t fully completed yet. I also mentioned how sad it is to see so many unfinished churches in Haiti. Many church groups go down to Haiti, start a church, and then for whatever reason, never finish. It reminded me of the parable that Jesus used for those that would follow him but not count the cost and can therefore not be his disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30* saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-29)

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(one example of an unfinished church in Haiti)

The relationship with Lestage began in May 2011 when a few members from New Hope Lutheran Church, in Hudsonville, MI visited the village for an afternoon. This little village particularly touched their hearts and they hoped to some day return.

Two years later in February 2013 five people travelled to Lestage. Those five people from St. Paul, Caro and New Hope, Hudsonville were the first white people that ever spent the night in Lestage. They made plans for building a sanctuary, did evangelism in the village, and basically solidified the relationship between our churches here in Michigan and our sister church in Lestage. We agreed that we would:

  • Pray for our sister congregation,
  • Send members on mission trips to support their ministry,
  • Encourage the building of a new sanctuary where ministry may occur,
  • And (as we are able) financially support the training of professional church workers and the building of their new church sanctuary.”

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On December 29th, 2014, eight members from St. Paul, Caro travelled to Lestage. While in Haiti they not only celebrated the New Year, they also celebrated a new start for the people of Lestage. The expectation of celebrating a groundbreaking ceremony was far exceeded as the construction of the church began. The foundations were dug and the foundation walls were begun while they were in Haiti. In March of 2015 we started receiving very exciting pictures on the progress on the church from Pastor Touloute. In his own words: “I was trying to surprise you a little bit at a time with the way the construction project has moved on, but your words, sincerity, and commitment have forced me to send you some of the pictures…we have moved way beyond what you and I had expected!” They have now completed the walls and are ready to put a roof on the new sanctuary.

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The next leg of this journey will take place in December 2016/January 2017. It is our hope to:

  • Place a roof over the new church
  • Introduce the people of St. Matthew Lutheran Church, Grand Rapids to the church in Sejourne, Haiti
  • Deliver gifts of garden seeds, evangelistic literature, health kits, clothing, tools, etc.
  • Invest in the people of Lestage through our presence
  • Encourage the spiritual growth of the mission team members

It has not been an easy journey, or “quick” for that matter, to build the church in Haiti. However, Cathy says that I’m like a bulldog, and Lord willing we’ll finish this church!

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About gregarnett

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10) I've been told that the above verse comes to mind when people think of me. I strive to use all of my gifts to God's glory in all the ways He's given me to serve. I serve him in my day job as a Director of Christian Education. I currently serve St. Paul Lutheran Church in Caro, Michigan. At St. Paul I am responsible for the ministry to and with youth, grades sixth-college, and the educational ministries of the congregation. I also lead the contemporary band, organize mission trips and Servant Events. Besides my day job I also am an entrepreneur that runs an Etsy online shop. Basically I make unique items out of wood and broken hockey sticks. You can find my Etsy shop here: www.etsy.com/shop/manland I have been married to Cathy since 1987. My grandpa joked on his 50th wedding anniversary: "that's a long time to be married to one woman!" They made it to 64 years, so Cathy and I are just starting! Together we have three children: Nathan, Ben and Emily. I like to play guitar, bass guitar, cigar box guitar and the djembe. I also enjoy woodworking, hunting, gardening, backpacking and participating in sports. Racing triathlons is my current sporting passion and mid-life crisis buster.
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