A brief overview of the development and future prospects of the work in St. Lucia.
For a moment, we invite you to step into the shoes of Brian Owen as he arrives at the doorstep of a very old and run down Castries Gospel Hall in May of 1977. Small granules of asphalt shingles drop down his neck as six believers, all over seventy years of age, greet him. These faithful few represent the entire assembly testimony on the Island. They recall with fondness the day when almost thirty of them sat down to remember the Lord for the first time in 1923 as a result of the labors and teaching of Mr. W. Rolands from England.
Now, if you dont mind changing shoes another time, we invite you to step into ours as we approach the Foresteire Gospel Hall, on Oct 2, 2000. The nicely designed and well maintained hall is packed with more than two hundred who have gathered to hear the Word of God. Theyve come from six assemblies around the Island: Castries (1923), Ciceron (Apr 80), Soufriere (Jun 82), Foresteire (July 82), Lagare (May 84), and Micoud (Nov 97). We can only bow our hearts and give thanks to God for, "this is the Lords doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!"
The scene calls to our attention the diligent labor, during the previous 23 years, of many dear brethren and sisters. The arrival of Mr. & Mrs. B. Owen in 1977 was followed by Mr. & Mrs. J. Nesbitt in 1978, Mr. & Mrs. J Gould in 1982, and Mr. & Mrs. S Maze in 1983, all of whom still make regular short-term visits to the Island. Then there are the national full-time laborers, Mr. & Mrs. Lewis Paul and Mr. & Mrs. John Honore. It was our privilege to observe, firsthand, the results of years of faithful planting and watering to which God had given the increase.
The Lord had directed our attention to the small assembly in Ciceron. During the early years of assembly testimony in that village of twenty six hundred souls, there were as many as twenty-four in the fellowship. The little company enjoyed the rich teaching and caring shepherd heart of our late brother Hazel Marius. However, God called our brother home in 1992, at the age of forty-one, leaving his widow, two young daughters, and a gaping hole in the assembly. When we arrived, there were ten remaining in fellowship, five of whom had originally gathered at the commencement of the assembly. It was touching to learn that, for the previous twelve months, several of the sisters had been praying that the Lord would send someone to assist them and that our name had been mentioned. Perhaps you will supply an additional answer to their prayer?
Like harvest fields in every other land, this one had its share of stones (boulders!), weeds, and debris that had to be cleared out. Brothers Moses Stephen and Benedict Edmond, with the periodic help of a few others, had been laboring for the previous three years to finish building the new hall. These brethren had labored long and hard, with few resources and had brought the hall to about eighty percent of its completed state. For obvious reasons they were tired. So immediately we set about to assist them finishing the details. During the course of the next eighteen months we, together with the local brethren, and along with the help of many others from North America, removed an old shed from the front property, excavated (by hand) from underneath the hall for a future service room, erected a concrete fence along the perimeter of the property, installed eave troughs, painted the inside and out, and basically watered every inch of the soil with sweat!
However, even with all that work done on the hall, the brethren were still plagued by a constant string of break-ins. More work needs yet to be done to secure the hall and the property. Remember that eighty-eight percent of the children are born illegitimately. Therefore, you have many young men who roam the streets without having had the influence of a father. Thefts and random acts of violence are every day occurrences. Christ is the only solution for this desperate need.
In addition to the physical work during the day, we started three weeks of nightly street meetings rotating through five different areas in the village. During this time, the attendance of visitors in our Sunday night gospel meeting increased from an average of three to sixteen. It was obvious that they needed to hear the gospel nightly.
First we had a brief and appreciated visit from our brother Albert Hull. Foresteire hosted a two-week series of teaching meetings to which all of the assemblies came. It was a challenge to pack up to sixteen believers into our small van and then sing as we wound our way past steep cliffs and hairpin bends, but it was a delightful time!
From January to March 2001, we held nine weeks of tent meetings in upper Ciceron. We enjoyed the help of many brethren who were visiting from Canada and the US, and rejoiced to see one hundred and ten people come from the community with several souls professing faith in Christ. One of these was a daughter of one of the overseers. She has subsequently been baptized and, along with others, added to the number. Please pray for her husband and three children who are not yet saved.
Porch meetings in the adjacent community of Goodlands followed this gospel series. Again, God kindly opened His hand in blessing with the salvation of the twenty-three-year-old son and restoration of the twenty-four-year-old daughter of the same overseer. This family has many connections in the community. Its an area that appears to be ripe for further work.
The brethren in Foresteire were exercised to begin tent meetings in the community of Trois Pitons. Brother Jerome Joseph and his wife had witnessed a faithful testimony in this community of about six hundred people for the past ten years. In order to create a level spot big enough for only a 20x30 tent we had to excavate a large portion of a hill. Halfway through this project, and before we had dug runoff ditches, it poured rain and left us with quite a mud hole. However, with a bit more gravel and a lot more sweat we had a nice site ready to go. We started on Sep 3, 2001 and continued for ten weeks. Over 180 souls from the community attended. Very able, local brethren assisted us and God, once again, kindly gave us souls, the majority of which are going on well. Please remember the Josephs as they seek to continue the work in this community through the erection of a library, which they intend to use to reach the community with the gospel.
Finally, we pitched the tent on the front lawn of the Ciceron Gospel Hall for seven weeks. Our brethren Bryan Joyce and Dr. David Brandt (WA) helped us during this series. Other visitors helped us staff a small tract distribution booth we had erected. We had cause to thank God for still others stepping into the kingdom.
BUT ... there is still so much to be done! Ciceron is a community that is spread over a one-mile section of road starting at one thousand feet above sea level and ending at the sea. Since few have their own cars, meetings held at the top of the hill seldom attract those who live at the bottom. Our first series was centered in Upper Ciceron. Our second was in middle Ciceron. Our brethren are looking to God for assistance as they seek to complete the rotation by planting the tent in Lower Ciceron this coming January.
We covet your prayers for the work of the national laborers. Brother Lewis and his wife, Petrolina, have focused on the southern part of the Island, which has gone largely untouched by intensive efforts in the gospel. They were used by God to see the assembly planted in Micoud and more recently in Laborie. Ruth and I were delighted to sit with the believers there, as they broke bread for the first time on June 9th of this year. Lewis and Petrolina live with their five children in the village of Augier, which is a suburb of Vieuxfort, the second largest city on the Island. They would certainly appreciate assistance with these two young assemblies and the large field of Vieuxfort. John Honore regularly brings the gospel to the crew of the many ships that come into the Castries harbor and to secondary school students during the "Christian Education" portion of their studies.
Now, you can put your own shoes back on, get the sickle, and get to the fields. Theyre white! Remember that the quickest way to get to the field is to get on your knees. "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest...."