Rev. Hopp in Post-earthquake Haiti
April 21, 2010
Benjamin K. Hopp (MDiv 2001) and his wife, Heather (Cert. in Christian Studies 2001) and their three children arrived in Haiti in June, 2007. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) has been working in Haiti since late 2002 and called Ben to the work in 2007 following the death of the Rev. Matthew D. Baugh on the field in a motorcycle accident. Ben had previously been pastoring an OPC church in rural South Dakota for almost five years.
The Hopps have been learning the local language of Haitian Creole, getting settled and building relationships with Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) missionaries who have also been working in Haiti to build a reformed and presbyterian church. Ben's main focus has been the island of Lagonav, situated in the bay northwest of Port-au-Prince. This rural island is home to approximately 110,000 people. The Hopp family lives on the mainland where boats cross to the island, allowing Ben to visit the island and the churches regularly.
While Protestant churches have grown very quickly over the last 50 years, Haiti has never had a reformed and presbyterian church committed to the Westminster Standards. The level of training among ministers in Haiti overall is poor to non-existent. Ben's calling as a missionary evangelist is two-fold: preach the gospel and train indigenous pastors and elders to lead Christ's church. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church along with several PCA missionaries in Haiti have worked hard over the last two years to lay the foundation for an indigenous presbytery.
With the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, much has changed. Diaconal needs, already a huge need in this poorest country in the western hemisphere, has taken on an even larger role. The desire is to ensure that efforts are focused first on those of the household of faith and then on their neighbors. Everything is done in the name of Christ and His church.
But much remained unchanged as the building of the church moves forward. The establishment of a Haitian presbytery is still at the forefront of the work. If the church in Haiti is to be self-governing she needs leaders who are godly, well-trained in the Bible and willing to serve their church.
Westminster Theological Seminary prides itself on providing tools for graduates as they teach and preach the Bible wherever God has called them. Ben happily reports that these tools have been invaluable during his nearly three years of ministry in Haiti. The ongoing training of leaders will remain a focus of the ministry. Post-earthquake he has taken teams to Lagonav to train the church leaders in counseling for trauma victims. Biblical exegesis and application are taught in order to minister to those suffering most from the groanings of the creation and the effects of the Fall.