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Pastor Obelto smiles

Tens of thousands of Haitians have fled to Florida in recent years. So has your Resonate missionary. But God is at work.

You’re likely familiar with the challenges facing Haiti. The country has struggled with economic poverty for a long time and has been ravaged by hurricanes and earthquakes. Following a presidential assassination, gang violence and kidnappings made daily life dangerous. Resonate made the difficult decision to evacuate your missionaries alongside the Haitians leaving the country.

It’s hard to pin down an exact number, but recently tens of thousands of Haitians have been fleeing the country every year in search of more stability and a fresh start. Many have found a home in Florida and other places in North America.

But life isn’t necessarily easier.

“It’s a marginalized group that’s coming here for a dream, coming here because they think life is better. And it’s very tough,” said Johnny Gryglewicz, one of your Resonate missionaries who served in Haiti. “In Haiti, the need is so great that you can’t look away. You can’t avoid it. You can’t escape it. The need in North America here can be just as great, but we can escape it because we can move to a part of the city where we don’t have to see it."

God sees the Haitian communities in Florida, however, and he’s at work through your giving to make a difference in their lives. You’re working alongside Johnny and a local pastor from Haiti to support these communities—by planting more Haitian churches.

Pastor Obelto talks with Resonate missionary Johnny Gryglewicz and Resonate director Kevin DeRaaf
God brought together Resonate missionary Johnny Gryglewicz (left) and Pastor Obelto (center) to help minister with the communities of Haitians living in Florida. Together, they're able to make a greater impact than they could alone.

A Missionary Who Calls Haiti Home

When you sent Johnny and his wife, Kim, to Haiti in 2018 to serve as missionaries, they never thought they would be leaving so soon. But in 2021, it was no longer safe for them to be living in the country, and Resonate had to evacuate them. Johnny, Kim, and their daughters joined the thousands of Haitians moving to Florida.

“Haiti was our home,” said Johnny. “Everything in our life was kind of thrown up in the air. How do you move forward when you don’t know what’s going on?”

In Florida, Johnny was still able to support your Resonate programs and ministry partners, but he was devastated. He missed his daily in-person interactions with Haitians.

But then God brought him and Pastor Obelto together.

Haitian CRC's building in Florida: a brick building painted two different shades of blue
Pastor Obelto started the Christian Reformed Church in Haiti. When he moved to Florida, he saw a need for churches where Haitians could worship and grow in their faith in a language they understood and a culture that was familiar to them. So he started Haitian CRC and has a dream to plant more churches.

A Haitian Pastor with a Calling

Pastor Obelto Cherubin has left Haiti twice.

In 1980, he moved to the Dominican Republic, where he met Resonate (then Christian Reformed World Missions) missionaries who saw his passion for church and sharing the gospel. Cherubin fell in love with the Reformed worldview, and in 1987 he moved back to Haiti—this time with a Resonate missionary. Cherubin felt called to plant churches. He felt that there was something special about Reformed theology, and while churches in Haiti were governed by only the pastor, Cherubin liked how Christian Reformed churches raised up leaders in the congregation.

“I love working together—teamwork,” Cherubin said. “I like to see people decide together.”

So Cherubin started the Christian Reformed Church in Haiti.

He worked hard sharing the gospel and equipping leaders. In less than 20 years, he planted 23 churches. But he wanted his children to have better opportunities, so in 2005 he left the churches in the capable hands of pastors he had trained and moved with his family to Florida.

He took a job at Disney World to make ends meet, but he also saw a need for churches that supported the Haitian community. Many of the Haitians whom Pastor Obelto met in Florida did not speak English fluently, or at all. They longed for a church where they could worship and grow in faith speaking their own language and observing their own cultural traditions. So, in between work shifts, Pastor Obelto planted a church and started training Christian leaders.

Over the years, the Haitian church plant has grown. About 120 people attend worship every Sunday, and the church owns four dormitories where Haitians can find subsidized housing. But with so many Haitians, there’s a need for more Haitian churches—and Pastor Obelto has a dream to plant 10 churches in five years.

“A lot of people are coming from Haiti. . . . We need people who can help them,” said Pastor Obelto.

You’re helping him work toward that dream. With your missionary Johnny in Florida, that work is growing all the more possible.

A congregation of Haitians singing and dancing during worship
Haitian CRC in Orlando is a lively place of worship on Sunday morning. The congregation often dances and sings worship songs in  Haitian Creole.

A Need for More Haitian Churches

Johnny is able to help bridge the culture gap from Haiti to the United States. Johnny’s unique skills have helped make it possible for Resonate, CRC churches, and Pastor Obelto to work together in a new and exciting way to plant more Haitian churches.

This work is just getting started. So far, you have helped to provide a salary for Pastor Obelto to quit his job at Disney World and focus on planting churches and raising up leaders. He’s already meeting with and mentoring a dozen Haitian leaders. 

Your missionary Johnny also meets weekly with Pastor Obelto, and Johnny helps to advocate for him and the Haitian communities. Sometimes that means providing funds for a new church plant. Sometimes it means providing a printer, toner, and paper so that Pastor Obelto can produce training materials.

“[Pastor Obelto] is a great teacher . . . but he also understands that a lot of leadership is caught and not taught. You can only catch leadership if you’re around a leader, and this is what he models,” said Johnny.

Pastor Obelto stands smiling with his arms raised in the hair while he teaches leaders in pews
With your help, Pastor Obelto is training and mentoring a dozen Haitian leaders to plant more churches.

Thank You for Empowering Haitians

Thank you for helping to make this work possible! Johnny says this work has made him excited again. These churches are so important for the Haitian communities in Florida.

“The church is very much seen as a resource," he said. "A lot of the work that the church will do is helping to meet physical needs—clothing, food, finding jobs. What we’re doing by empowering Haitians is . . . we are reaching that need. We are reaching a group of people who are unseen right now in the eyes of society."

Your help is needed to help make Pastor Obelto's dream of planting more Haitian churches a reality. Right now, you can double your impact by giving to Resonate's "Where Most Needed Fund." A generous donor will match your donation dollar for dollar.