On a mission for God

PASSAGE ministry travels to Haiti to lend a hand to residents


Pastor Johnny Boswell, head of the Global Missions Ministry at PASSAGE Family Church, and his wife, Palenthia Boswell, both standing center back, with others in Haiti on a mission trip earlier this month. (Special to the Guardian)

Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 3:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 3:33 p.m.

Members of PASSAGE Family Church recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti with a new perspective on life and the importance of mission work.

Pastor Johnny Boswell, head of the Global Missions Ministry at PASSAGE, said 14 PASSAGE members, two members of Compassionate Outreach Ministries in Gainesville and one woman from California traveled to Haiti Nov. 2-9 for mission work.

Boswell said the group visited five churches and a facility that houses elderly residents with no known relatives, distributed 38 soccer balls to children and spent about $1,000 on oil, rice and spaghetti, which was provided to residents.

"We also bought enough school supplies to donate to five different schools," said Boswell, adding that the group also spent money to build bathrooms.

The group is funded as much as possible by the church and asked for a special donation from the church to help fund the recent trip to Haiti.

Boswell said the group has been doing mission work in Haiti for the past five years because "God has placed it on our hearts to do so." He said Pastor George Dix, senior pastor at PASSAGE, is serious about mission work and has traveled to Africa on numerous occasions to do mission work. Boswell said the mission group, which also has been to the Dominican Republic, is planning to visit India and the Philippines in the future.

Boswell said the mission group's recent trip to Haiti took on a different twist because the group went with the intentions to empower the Haitian communities it visited.

"What we try to do with our mission work is to try to not make them dependent on us," Boswell said. "We try to do things to make them independent."

Boswell said the group hires people who live in the communities to work so they can earn money to buy food for their families and develop a sense of pride. He also said the group is planning on raising money to build a bread bakery in the province of Benzin in Haiti because Haitian people love bread.

"Bread is a staple there and having it means the world to the people there," Boswell said. "We want to teach them a little bit about business and let them own the bread bakery."

Dr. Shari Robinson, a PASSAGE member and a Gainesville psychologist, said the recent trip to Haiti was very inspiring. Robinson said it was her fourth mission trip to the country and it furthered her belief that she is "blessed to be a blessing."

Robinson said the mission group began being mentored several years ago by a mission group at Grace United Methodist Church in Gainesville, which has been doing mission work for many years. She said officials from Grace introduced the PASSAGE group to a concept known as Missions Dilemma this year. She said the premise of Missions Dilemma is to teach people how to become self-sufficient.

"What we've learned going through this Missions Dilemma curriculum is how to help people become able to support themselves and be self-governing," Robinson said. "Our approach this time was very different from the other three mission trips we had taken."

Desiree Waters, a PASSAGE member who also went on the trip, said it has had a tremendous impact on her life.

"This trip opened my eyes to the culture of Haiti and how we as a culture in America are lacking in a lot of ways," said Waters, who had already been on one other mission trip to Haiti. "Though we have a lot more material things than they have, they have a lot of love for each other and they love to help each other out more than we do in America."

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