The Online Bridge: Spring 2006
Issue 13, April 2006

making a difference through obedience, faith, and love

     

Guadeloupe Sonrise
by Steve Sutherland

     
Guadeloupe's cuisine mirrors its many cultures. The local Créole specialties combine the finesse of French cuisine with the spice of African cookery and the exoticism of East Indian and Southeast Asian recipes. Fresh seafood appears on most menus. Other specialties include shellfish, smoked fish, stuffed land crabs, stewed conch, and curry dishes. Guadeloupe is considered one of the true culinary capitals of the Caribbean, with some 200 restaurants recommended by the Tourist Office. Some are in hotels, some in lovely settings by the sea, and some on the front porches of the cooks' homes (from www.caribbean–direct.com).

GuadeloupeIn a land famous for its food, it’s not surprising that Campus Crusade anticipated a bountiful harvest as it sent a team of 17 missionaries from Alberta and BC to present the recently translated Jesus film alongside local churches. Taylor alumni Bert and Myrna Harsch (’62) were a part of this team.

Bert and Myrna (née Schalin) attended Taylor in the early 1960s when it was still Christian Training Institute. They met at the school and were married the year after Bert graduated. After farming for two years, they went to the U.S. for further education, after which Bert became a pastor—first in Tacoma, Washington, then on to Prince George, BC, and then to Northgate Baptist Church in Edmonton where he served as the Associate Pastor. During this time Myrna supported the family in a variety of positions and spent much time at home raising their two children. Very sadly, one of those children was taken home far too soon due to a battle with cancer. The Harsches chose to move from church ministry and serve God in the secular world after Bert had pastored for about 10 years. He went on to a career in sales and then with the Workers Compensation Board for 16 years. Due to health reasons, Bert chose an early retirement and continues to serve God in a lay capacity.

Bert and Myrna’s commitment to Christian ministry led them on the trip to the French Caribbean with “Guadeloupe Sonrise” (the name chosen for their latest missions trip). The team left on October 15, 2005 for a two week venture to join the ministry of 20 different evangelical churches that are working to establish an evangelistic program for the island. Four of the team also went to a smaller island—45 minutes away by ferry, called Marie-Galante. Bert was one member of this smaller team.

Work focused on assisting the local churches in their evangelistic outreach using the Jesus film. Although the cultural make-up of Guadeloupe is diverse, the common language is French Creole, into which the Jesus film was recently translated. On this trip the Jesus film was shown 15 times to audiences ranging from 100 to 1000 per night. At each screening the attendees were asked to fill out a comment card as well as go through the 4 spiritual laws. The local churches will use the comment cards as a way to follow-up with those who attended the screening and continue to minister to them and support those who have chosen to accept Christ. Exact numbers are unknown at this time, but the response to “Guadeloupe Sonrise” was excellent. The team returned to Canada tired, but encouraged.

Myrna tells of one evening that she went out to show the film. “I was stretched in many ways. One specific way I was stretched was by having to take a leadership role in setting up the screen and projector. One night there were only two of us ladies sent to a showing and I had to be the team leader. As many of you know, I am not a natural leader, but God gave me the ability to carry out this responsibility. I also had to give my testimony through an interpreter. It was also difficult having to communicate to people who only spoke French or Creole when no interpreter was available. But God saw me through it all.”

Bert describes a rainy night that ended positively. “One night it rained almost through the whole showing yet people stood in the rain to see the film. After the showing I saw at least one lady being counseled and she prayed to invite Christ into her life and we know that there are more who also made commitments.”

In their report back to their family and friends, Bert and Myrna list a number of positive results from the trip:

  1. The people have numerous contacts as a result of the comment cards, which they will be following up on and trying to incorporate them into the local churches.
  2. The people have had some training in presenting the gospel to others with the use of the 4 spiritual laws in the French language.
  3. Many copies of the Jesus film have been given to the churches there, and the churches have equipment for showing this film. We presented the film in the major cities. There is a real desire on the part of the people to get out into the smaller villages and show this film to the people. What the result of all this will be, only God knows.
  4. There were a number of people, pastors and church members who were skeptical concerning this project. But when they saw what was happening they threw their weight behind it and got enthused about continuing to present the gospel to many more people through the use of this film. So you could say we were an encouragement to the Christians of Guadeloupe!

As is the case with most short-term missions trips, the positive impact on the team itself was evident. Answers to prayer strengthened the faith of those involved. The trip happened right during the middle of the rainy season in Guadeloupe, yet only one of the shows (all were held outdoors) had to be cancelled. In one case, the rain would have forced a cancellation, but the screening was able to be moved into a gym that just happened to be adjacent to the rained-out location. The team also faced spiritual warfare. “This island has a lot of witchcraft. There were a couple of incidents where there was a disturbance by one of these and as a team we would huddle together and pray. The Lord answered by calming the person down or he would just leave.”

For Bert and Myrna, the trip had a significant personal impact. Myrna found herself stretched to provide leadership and God worked through her faithfulness—in spite of her discomfort. Working through a translator to share her testimony was an experience that has given her confidence in sharing her faith to others. Bert also found that the experience of working cross-culturally has renewed his excitement to share his faith, and he hopes that God will open doors for him at home to share the Gospel and lead others to Christ, as he was able to do in Guadeloupe.

Bert, Myrna, and the “Guadeloupe Sonrise” team survived the heat and humidity and look forward to future trips. They challenge every Christian to stretch himself or herself through cross-cultural ministry, and encourage those who are interested in the Jesus film to contact Ken Priebe of Campus Crusade for Christ in Kelowna, BC about future trips.


If the first paragraph of this article made you as hungry as it made me, see below for a recipe for an authentic French Caribbean chicken dish. Bert and Myrna enjoyed many fantastic meals, and they assure me that the dish below is typical of the wonderful food they experienced while in Guadeloupe. Do you have international recipes that you’d like to share with your fellow alumni? Send us the recipe and the missions story behind it, and we’ll include your contribution in a future edition of the Online Bridge.

Chicken Colombo

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds chicken
4 tablespoons colombo powder (see Note below)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups peeled and chopped onions
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped chives
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped Scotch Bonnet pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 cup peeled and chopped bananas
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (optional)

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter. Stir in the chicken and colombo powder. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until brown.

Add the chicken broth, onions, 1/2 can of coconut milk, garlic, lime juice, thyme, chives, parsley, Scotch Bonnet pepper, salt, and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Stir in the remaining coconut milk, the bananas, and pistachios.

Serve hot with Creole Rice.

Yield: 6 servings

*Note: Colombo powder is a French West Indies curry powder - a mixture of cumin, coriander, brown mustard, Malabar black pepper, cloves, fenugreek, and turmeric. Check gourmet shops and ethnic sections of your market. A recipe for Colombo powder (along with a French Caribbean Traditional Christmas Stew recipe) can be found at www.sheepscreek.com/recipes/colombo.html.

Recipe taken from: French Caribbean Cuisine by Stephanie Ovide (Hippocrene Books)