Together with IUDI, a Christian university in Cameroon, Verre Naasten organized the International Course 2017. The theme of the course remained the same as in 2015 and 2016: ‘Living in God’s Kingdom: called to joy and suffering’. New this year were the location (Yaoundé, Cameroon instead of Zwolle, the Netherlands) and the language (French instead of English).
French being a truly international language, the 28 participants came from 18 countries in 4 continents. The entire group was accommodated on campus. This gave a deep sense of togetherness and fellowship. What a joy it was to learn each other’s hymns and to pray together! It was also insightful to share experiences and to hear more about God’s work in various countries. One such story takes us to the island Haiti.
Two course participants, Esther Morose Sidor and Harry Michel Casseus, live and work in Haiti. In recent years, Haiti was struck by multiple large natural disasters. The earthquake in 2010 had devastating effects, especially for the poor. A succession of such catastrophes causes traumas and a general sense of hopelessness. Esther says that people sometimes don’t feel like humans anymore. As a consequence they stop taking responsibility. Foreign aid seems to increase this apathy. Harry and Esther want this attitude to change: “We should become proud of our country and of what we can do ourselves. Because we have received much from God, also in Haiti!” Esther and Harry believe that education is important to achieve this objective. When children have a daily school rhythm and receive education, (psychological) wounds can heal and the new generation can learn to take its responsibility.
Most inhabitants of Haiti are descendants of African slaves. During the slave trade men, women and children were separated, thereby destroying family structures. This negatively affects the Haitian society up to today. When Harry shared this with the group during the International Course, Dr. Moussa Bongoyok, IUDI’s principal, was deeply touched. He stood up, walked towards Harry and said: “This was also the sin of our forefathers here in Africa. Our forefathers have contributed to the deportation and the selection of the strongest persons for the slave trade.” Dr. Moussa kneeled down and, on behalf of all African participants, asked forgiveness for these sins of the past. Then he stood up to hug Harry. It was an emotional moment, not only for Harry…
More photos from the International Course: