In 2016, Winebrenner Seminary and the Great Lakes Region of the Churches of God, General Conference (CGGC) began sending instructors to Haiti to provide theological education and ministry training to our fellow ministers there. The Haitian students are able to attend the week-long classes thanks to a generous grant from The Foundation of the Great Lakes Conference (CGGC) and designated donations coming through Winebrenner. The instructors have been a mix of CGGC pastors from the Great Lakes region as well as Winebrenner staff, and the curriculum has been guided by Winebrenner’s Academic Dean. To date, six week-long sessions have been offered, attended by a group of 18-23 students per session.
Recently the instructors gathered in Findlay, Ohio to share stories from their teaching experiences and to dream about the future of the program. When Pastor Paul Rutledge from Risingsun Church of God taught in 2018, it was his first time out of the U.S.A. He had the privilege of teaching on youth ministry, something very near and dear to his heart. What really struck Paul were not the differences between the Haitian pastors and himself, but the deep similarities. After a week of doing life with his hosts and the students, he remarked that the Haitians are “living life the same way we are.” Paul observed, “While our cultures and languages differ, we ministry leaders are asking the very same questions: ‘Who is going to pay for this and will anyone show up?!’”
Many instructors remarked on the eagerness and deep attentiveness of the students themselves. Dr. Earl Mills, Regional Director, Great Lakes Region CGGC, taught with Pastor Rutledge in 2018. He recalls that the pastors would travel for hours from their regions to arrive in time for class. They listened attentively to every word and at the end of their long days, actually would request homework. The next morning, the homework would be completed in full. Each day, the pastors hungrily received the teaching and role played their new skills with diligence. The Haitian pastors’ discipline and sincere fervor humbled the instructors.
Winebrenner is currently making plans for further courses in 2019. For more information on how to pray for this initiative and/or financially support Winebrenner’s efforts there, contact Dr. Brent Sleasman at 419-434-4200.
Dr. Kathryn Helleman
Director of Institutional Assessment & Planning
leaders for service
in God’s Kingdom