Monday, April 28, 2008

Quote of the Week

"So then, as members of this royal priesthood, we must have a concern; a concern for and an interest in human rights. God has caused us to see that Christians in their acts, who deny the dignity of their fellowmen, also deny Jesus Christ in spite of all that they may profess to believe. Therefore, we Christians want to safeguard human rights in a just Bahamian community. The very nature of our convictions causes us to be concerned about the dignity and freedom of men everywhere. Men created by God in His images and His likeness."

R. E. Cooper, Sr. (1913-1980), Founding Pastor
Mission Baptist Church
Nassau, The Bahamas

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Angels Watching Over Me

As I (Estela) arrived at the church to meet with the women on Tuesday morning, Elsa met me at the door and said, “Madam Daniel, you know that even though I am not a Christian yet, God looks over me and I think that is because we take time to pray for each other everyday.” Then she added, “I was supposed to be in this group that had the tragedy last Sunday night on the ocean. But because I missed my connection with the guy who was planning the trip, I had to stay and now fifteen of them have drowned, three are in the hospital, and ten are still missing.”

was referring to the small migrant boat that capsized Sunday night en route from Nassau to Bimini, a story that had dominated the airwaves since it first broke on Monday morning. Like so many who have gone before them, these migrants were using Nassau as a jumping off point to get to the “promised land” of the United States. Many of them came to the Bahamas from Haiti years ago and had finally saved up enough money to make the last and final leg of their trip. For most, it turned out to be a dream that would not come true.

Please pray for the families of those people who lost their lives, many of them who don’t yet know whether or not their loved one is dead. Pray for the many children who have been orphaned by this tragedy. Pray for the salvation of Elsa. And pray for us, that we might be able minister effectively to Elsa and the many other women like her.

For more information about this tragedy, see the Bahama Journal or the Nassau Guardian.

This story was written by my wife Estela Schweissing for the 26 April 2008 edition of News from Daniel and Estela Schweissing. The painting, titled "Hope I - Haitian Boat Migration" was done by P. Neko Meicholas, a local Bahamian artist.

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Friday, April 25, 2008


to my colleagues Anne and Jim Lawlor of the Bahamas Historical Society on the long awaited publication of their book The Harbour Island Story.
The Harbour Island Story is a well documented, informative and entertaining account of the island which was once second in importance to New Providence within the Bahamian archipelago. Drawing on new material from official, church, oral and private sources, and containing numerous illustrations, this book adds greatly to our knowledge of Harbour Island specifically and The Bahamas generally and is a significant addition to Bahamian historiography. The Harbour Island Story is a must for Bahamians, visitors, scholars, students and the general public.
While I anticipate the entire book will be a worthwhile read, I am especially interested in the chapter Jim did on the religion of Harbour Island which, I hope, I will provide additional insight into the historical development of the church in the Bahamian Out Islands.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I've been tagged!

I was tagged by Observations of Africa.

The rules are:
1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about himself or herself.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What was I doing 10 years ago:
Teaching English as a second language at ICPR Junior College in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

Five things on my To Do List today:
1. Get a repair estimate from the auto body shop.
2. Clear last semester's clutter out of my office to make way for incoming summer session clutter.
3. Write and send our April missionary newsletter.
4. Attend Tuesday evening Bible study at Emmaus Baptist Church.
5. Develop my listening comprehension by spending twenty minutes listening to the Bible on cassette in Haitian Creole.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Set up endowed funds to finance Christian peacemaking efforts and cross-cultural missions efforts around the world.
2. Send my nieces and nephews to college.
3. Attempt to live simply so that others might simply live.

Three of my bad habits:
1. Country Music
2. Progressive Talk Radio
3. U.S. Presidential Politics

Five places I’ve lived:
1. Denver, Colorado
2. Durango, Colorado
3. La Romana, Dominican Republic
4. San Germán, Puerto Rico
5. Nassau, Bahamas

Five jobs I’ve had:
1. Fish Cleaner
2. Painter
3. Homeless Shelter Counselor
4. English as a second language instructor
5. Theology professor

Five books I’ve recently read (or am currently reading):
1. Michael Craton, Pindling: The Life and Times of the First Prime Minister of The Bahamas, (Oxford: Macmillan Caribbean, 2002).
2. Ray Bakke, The Urban Christian, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1987).
3. Justo L. González, Three Months with the Spirit, (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003).
4. C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya, The Black Church in the African American Experience, (Durham, NC: Duke, 1990).
5. Harvie M. Conn and Manuel Ortiz, Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City & the People of God, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2001).

The five I tagged:
1. Earth as it is in Heaven
2. Mental Slavery
3. Christ My Righteousness
4. Blogworld
5. Ponderings on a Faith Journey


Monday, April 21, 2008

Update on Haiti Debt Cancellation

An update from Haiti Reborn . . .

House Unanimously Passes Hastings Amendment Calling for the Cancellation of Haiti's International Debt

April 16, 2008

Washington, DC - The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed an amendment today authored by U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) calling for the cancellation of Haiti's international debt. Representative Hastings offered his amendment to H.R. 2634, the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation of 2008. The bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to work with international financial institutions to provide debt cancellation to low-income countries.

"With the passage of my amendment, Congress goes on record supporting the cancellation of Haiti's international debt to help alleviate poverty and increase stability throughout the country. This is an important initial step toward finally freeing Haiti from its onerous debt," said Representative Hastings. "I remain committed to helping provide much needed resources and protection for Haitians in Haiti and within our own borders so that they may contribute to their country's recovery from years of political, economic, and environmental turmoil and put the nation on a sustained path to development."

Representative Hastings is a leader in the fight to end double-standard immigration practices as they pertain to Haitian migrants. He is the author of H.R. 522, the Haitian Protection Act, legislation which would designate Haitian nationals in the United States as eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Representative Hastings has been calling for the extension of TPS for Haitian nationals for years. Just yesterday, Representative Hastings wrote to President Bush demanding an explanation as to why Haitian nationals have not yet been granted TPS. The most recent letter follows 2 months of correspondence between Representative Hastings and the Bush Administration on the topic of TPS for Haitians. Despite Representative Hastings' strong urging, the Bush Administration continues to refuse to provide an adequate explanation.

"The situation in Haiti - a nation that has historically been afflicted by violence and natural disasters - is increasingly desperate and volatile," Representative Hastings said from the House floor today. "The United States government can not turn a blind eye as food prices escalate out of control in the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere."


Monday, April 14, 2008

In Memory of Julio Laporte: Pioneer Haitian Baptist Pastor in the Bahamas

This weekend, my wife and I received word from the American Baptist Haitian Alliance that Pastor Julio Laporte has recently passed away. While the official press release from the American Baptist News Service (see below) emphasizes Laporte's accomplishments as a Haitian Baptist pastor in the United States, those of us in the Bahamas also remember Laporte as one of the first pastors to serve Emmaus Baptist Church in Nassau, the oldest Haitian congregation in the Bahamas. Laporte's tenure at Emmaus, which lasted from 1968-1973, was the subject of an interview that my colleague Charles Chapman conducted with Laporte last summer and will be available when the forthcoming issue of the American Baptist Quarterly is released in the next few weeks.

Laporte's pastorate coincided with the first significant waves of modern Haitian migration to the Bahamas back before the overwhelming influx of migrants had made immigration the pressing social crisis that it is today. During Laporte's ministry in the Bahamas, most Haitian migrants chose to attend Roman Catholic mass at the handful of parishes where it was offered in Haitian Creole and, when Laporte left Nassau for New Jersey in 1973, there were only two or three other Haitian Protestant congregations besides Emmaus. Since then, Haitian Protestantism has made significant inroads into the Bahamian religious milieu and, today, Nassau alone is home to at least twenty-five or thirty separate Haitian Protestant congregations.

In addition to his pioneering role as a Haitian Baptist pastor in the Bahamas, Laporte’s life and ministry illustrate an important development in twentieth century global Christianity—the increase in non-Western missionaries serving in former missionary sending countries. Beginning his ministry as a pastor under the supervision of the American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) in Haiti during the 1950s, Laporte concluded his ministry as a commissioned missionary of American Baptist National Ministries (formerly ABHMS) over five decades later. As the Christian church continues to decline in North America and Western Europe, we will no doubt see an increase in two-thirds world missionaries, such as Laporte, serving in former missionary sending countries.

While my wife and I did not know Pastor Laporte well and, indeed, only had the opportunity to meet him personally on one occasion, we are thankful for the way that God has used him to minister in Haiti, the Bahamas, and the United States during a half-century of change and migration.

ABCUSA: American Baptist Home Missionary And Former National Ministries Staffer Dies

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 04/14/08) - Rev. Dr. Julio Laporte, former national coordinator for Haitian Ministries at National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA passed away on April 10. He was 73.

A leader among American Baptist Haitian congregations, Laporte served the Haitian American Baptist community through National Ministries from 2000 to 2003. During that time he supported Haitian churches through pastoral training and networking opportunities such as annual conventions, monthly pastoral meetings and more.

National Ministries' Executive Director Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins III remembers Laporte as an "esteemed elder" among Haitian Baptists in the United States and Haiti. "He was an effective urban pastor," Wright-Riggins says, "as well as a voice of advocacy for Haitians and a bridge-builder between National Ministries and the Haitian Alliance and congregations."

Most recently Laporte served Bethel Haitian Baptist Church in East Orange, N.J., as pastor. During the 1980s and 1990s, when there was an influx of Haitian refugees in New Jersey, Laporte provided pastoral support to the resettlement effort and, in some cases, sponsored refugees in conjunction with his church.

Laporte also worked as a social worker for the Essex County Welfare Board in Newark, N.J., and as a health representative in offices of the New Jersey Health Department in Trenton and Newark. Early in his career, he pastored local churches in the Bahamas as well as Haiti.

Commissioned as an American Baptist home missionary in 2001, Laporte was ordained in American Baptist Churches USA in 1958 and held a Ph.D. in Christian education and a master's degree in theology, both from Lighthouse Christian College in Beebe, Ariz. He also held a B.D. from Theological Baptist Seminary in Limbe, Haiti.

Laporte is survived by his widow, Rev. Dr. Anne-Rose Laporte, who currently serves Bethel Baptist Haitian Church, and six children. Prayers for the family and friends will be appreciated.

Services are scheduled at Bethel Baptist Church, 320 Springdale Ave., East Orange, N.J. 07017-4532; (973) 673-1731: the viewing on April 18, 6 - 9 p.m., and the funeral on April 19, 9 a.m.

Andrew C. Jayne American Baptist Churches USA Mission Resource Development

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Quote of the Week

"The proclaimer who stands diametrically opposed to the furtherance of his education will discover, in the long run, that his impact upon the kingdom will always come short of his fullest potentials. God's disciple must be a man in pursuit of continuous learning, international exposure, discipline and intellectual development. It is most unfortunate that many within current ministerial circles have been able to collect quite a good number of certificates, degrees, and titles without complying to the blessings, through rigours of seminary training within the classroom setting. The internet, correspondence courses, or an occasional honour being bestowed upon a faithful servant of the Word by mere mortals, should never, especially when youth is on their side and countless opportunities for scholarships are available, substitute for not 'sitting at the feet of Gamaliel' in structured programmes to armour one to be fundamentally prepared for the tasks of ministry. While not all will be able to attend Seminary, it is my prayer that God would continue to touch their hearts to take advantage of other opportunities for training within their local settings."

R. E. Cooper, Jr., President
Atlantic College and Theological Seminary
Nassau, The Bahamas

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Can you see us?

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