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Couple Serves God Faithfully in Haiti Despite Challenges

June 27, 2019

HAITI (INS)— Since they started Living Word Ministries in 1989, Patrick and Barb Lataillade (see photo below) have faced numerous obstacles—especially the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. But despite such challenges, the Lataillades have followed the Lord faithfully and built LWM into a successful ministry reaching Haitians with the Gospel. 

Barb Lataillade was born in Illinois in an Amish family, as she wrote in her autobiographical book “Under the Rubble.” Her parents were strong Christians, and the Bible was the foundation of her family. At 13, she gave her life to the Lord and was baptized.

When Barb was 21, she travelled to northern Ontario and spent a summer working among First Nations people. “This was an enriching experience and my first mission effort,” she wrote in her book. “At 28, I moved to Florida. God led me in various steps toward a lifetime in mission work. I never dreamed God had plans for me to go further south. Because the church I was attending had a work in Haiti, I became involved in their mission.

“After I had been in Haiti for several years, I met Patrick, a native of Haiti who is now my husband. We have two children who were raised in Haiti but now live in the States.” Barb has now worked for about 38 years in Haiti.

Patrick Lataillade grew up in Haiti, where he was raised by his grandmother and later his aunt. As a boy he went to a Catholic school and church, but in his teens he turned his back on God, Barb reports in her book. But when he was 19 he found a Bible at home and read it with great interest. As he read through Ecclesiastes, he gave his life to God. Soon he began preaching and teaching the Word of God.

Patrick and Barbara Lataillade started Living Word Ministries in 1989, and have partnered with Intercede for more than 20 years. Their vision is to train and disciple Haitian missionaries, who then preach the Gospel and plant churches in unreached areas.

Through discipleship training, church ministries, child evangelism, and clinical healthcare, Living Word Ministries provides a unique opportunity to grow in Christ. Focused on Haiti’s rural southeast, Living Word is committed to raising up men and women of God to become leaders in their communities and country.

Living Word has planted churches in five different villages on the southern coast of Haiti and surrounding mountain areas. The mission also established a medical clinic. The mission “hub” or compound is in Mayette, where LWM hosts conferences for churches and pastors in the large conference centre. Patrick and Barb have served together on the field for more than 28 years. Patrick serves as pastor/teacher to the pastors of five churches that LWM planted. Barb works in the office, and has hosted mission teams, and provided medical needs.

The Life-changing Earthquake

Then in January 2010, a massive earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, killing more than 100,000 people, and making many more homeless.  The Lataillades’ house was destroyed and collapsed on top of them during the earthquake. After a few hours local Christian friends were able to free Barbara from the rubble but it took another 15 hours before they were able to free Patrick from the wreckage. They were both taken to the centre of Port-au-Prince to the main hospital where they lay on a sidewalk with thousands of other victims, as the hospital itself was heavily damaged. At a critical point doctors there knew that unless Patrick got medical treatment not available in Haiti at that time, he would soon die. They approached the only available plane at that moment, which was a Canadian Air Force jet. Thanks to the compassionate and quick response by a Canadian Air Force crew, who went out of their way to airlift them to a hospital in Florida, their lives were saved. Both needed immediate surgery. Barb’s right leg was amputated halfway between the ankle and knee. Patrick’s right arm had to be amputated at the shoulder and he spent three weeks on a ventilator and on dialysis, close to death. Doctors at times were not sure if he would survive.

Later on, when a nurse questioned Patrick about returning to Haiti, he smiled and said, “Why not?” The nurse said, “You don’t have a house or any belongings! You can’t go back!”

Patrick looked at her, still smiling, and responded, “God will provide. The work is not complete. Of course I’ll go back.”

Since the 2010 earthquake, there have been changes in the ministry. In spite of the challenges, Patrick continues to travel in Haiti often, while Barb manages the office in the Miami, Florida area. The churches have grown, the work more difficult, but the blessings are greater, report the Lataillades.

A Voodoo Stronghold

Voodoo is a very prevalent force in Haiti. Voodoo was formerly unlawful, but flourished underground because people considered it a religion, and performed “religious” marriage ceremonies in it. But in 2003, the Haitian president made voodoo an “official” religion, giving it equal footing with Christianity, and twice publicly recommitted the country to voodoo.

While some Haitians greet LWM missionaries with hostility, others display an amazing openness to their message. An evangelistic team once climbed a mountain to bring the Gospel to the village of Rena, and met people on the path waiting to come to Jesus. While they were praying with a few people, another joined them. “I need the Lord, too,” he said.

Today a strong church stands in Rena, and people continue to come to the Lord.

Three churches were planted in one 10-month period, all in remote villages of Haiti where there had never been an evangelical church before. Each time a church is planted, at least one person tells these missionaries, “You must go to the village where my parents and family are; there’s no church there. They need the Gospel, too.”

“We love to see God at work in the villages,” Patrick Lataillade asserts. “Every time we go out, we hear more testimonies. The churches are growing not only in number but spiritually as well. The church in Mayette is the hub of all the villages.”

Raising Up Tomorrow’s Leaders

The foundation of LWM’s church-planting success is the in-depth leadership training it offers to young men and women. LWM holds training seminars for three to five days in a village. Neighbouring church leaders are also invited to participate so they can be strengthened in their ministry.

Classroom training at the Bible school is supplemented by practical field work. Teams of trainees go to unreached villages for evangelism. To get to these remote villages, they travel for many hours by public transportation and by foot. Many local people come to Christ when they see the “Jesus” film.

Kingdom Kids Successful

Kingdom Kids is a Bible program for village children that this mission launched in 2013. “Every Saturday children will come for Bible stories, worship, crafts, games,” explains Barb Lataillade. “Children are hungry for knowledge and love to learn. Let’s give them God’s Word! We have had children’s classes every Sunday morning, but this will be more detailed and will involve more time with them.

“The heart of a child is tender and has a built-in desire to learn. They will learn whatever is put before them, be it TV shows, movies, church. So why not provide what is good and immerse them in God’s Word? This is the purpose of Kingdom Kids. We have felt a burden to become more intense with training the children. They are not yet steeped in the voodoo practices nor in the traditions that are so strong in the Haitian culture—most of which also has voodoo roots.

“The children always arrive at Kingdom Kids filled with energy and ready to start the day,” explains Lataillade. “Many have walked far. Others have been up since 5 a.m. to go to the spring for water for their mother before they can go to class. In spite of those things, they are ready to sing, learn and play. We always serve a snack, even if there isn’t a hot meal.”

Medical Ministry

In 2009, Living Word Ministries opened its first clinic in Mayette. People walk as far as four to six hours to come for medical help. “The clinic nurse is a native of Mayette, and had always wanted to grow up to be a nurse to serve her village. We praise God for her dedication,” writes Barb Lataillade. The clinic serves surgery, medical, and dental short-term mission teams. The clinic has two exam rooms, one post-operation room, a pharmacy, and storeroom for pharmacy and surgery items.

Mobile clinics also serve other villages that are without a clinic. There are opportunities for short-term medical teams to serve in this capacity.

“Medical help is very limited in the rural regions of Haiti,” reports Barb Lataillade. “We have had our clinics under trees, in classrooms, and on porches of private homes. Most people never go beyond the witch doctor for a cure. The witch doctor cannot help them, but usually tells them someone has cast a spell on them. Our medical teams serve not only in medicine, but also in evangelism. Each patient who comes to the clinic is prayed for and also offered a new life in Christ.”

“Children of God should accept suffering as a joy,” Barb Lataillade asserts. “As Patrick preaches in the churches, we should be warriors. Let’s not be entangled with this world’s affairs. Let’s be a light in this dark world. We all have a neighbourhood that needs a light for Jesus. Be that light!”

Let’s be that light. Pray for God’s continued blessings on the Lataillades, as they share God’s light with the people of Haiti.

Photo (above): Patrick Lataillade visits a child and her sponsors.