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Pastor leads multilingual worship


Luc Jasmin connects local church with Haitian orphanage.

By Marijke Fakasiieiki

Luc Jasmin started the multilingual, multicultural Jasmin Evangelical Ministries/Eglise Evangelique Maranatha in 2019, gathering English, French, Swahili and Creole speakers for worship and to minister to needs of the Haitian and African refugee community in Spokane, as well as support an orphanage and clinic in Haiti.

"God has always been there for me along the way. Haiti has always had a place in my heart, because I always went back and forth," he said.

Luc lived in Haiti through secondary school. At 16, he received a scholarship to study at New York University. Unable to understand classes, he went to Thomas Jefferson High School for a year and returned to NYU.

After five years, he returned to Haiti to work for the Bank of Nova Scotia a few years. After marrying, he went to Northeastern University in Boston and earned a bachelor's in accounting.

He lived there 35 years, teaching English, starting an accounting business, becoming regional vice president for Primerica Financial Services and teaching people about personal finance.

His four children are Luc III who recently ran for City Council, plus an engineer, school teacher and police officer in Boston.

Called to ministry, Luc started studies at Gordon Cromwell Theological Seminary in Boston and graduated from Whitworth University. For five years, he was mentored at Calvary Baptist Church. He was ordained two years ago and started Jasmin Evangelical Ministries/Eglise Evangelique Maranatha.

Luc also runs Simon Center of Hope for Destitute Children, an  orphanage in Frères, 20 minutes from Port Au Prince, Haiti, where eight staff care for 32 orphans from the streets.

"It's rewarding, to see these kids grow," said Luc. "The oldest is 14. Older children help younger ones with school work.

"Some are orphans because parents died, but some have a single mother who can't take care of them," he said. "Sometimes neighbors take them in. Some are abused and would rather be in the streets."

With so many street kids having no one to care for them or teach them ethics, some become delinquents.

"We provide a home for them," said Luc.

They started with two children, then took over an orphanage that was closing. They have a three-story building with two apartments, one for girls and one for boys. Eglise Evangelique Maranatha funds the orphanage.

"One fourth of our resources stay with our local congregation and 75 percent help the orphanage and a clinic in Haiti," said Luc.

Eglise Evangelique Maranatha serves many Haitians who didn't previously have a church. If they don't speak English, they can't worship in English, so we provide the place for them to worship in their language," said Luc.

At the 10 a.m. Sunday worship, 20 attend, but now fewer. A 4 p.m. Sunday worship in English draws more—mostly Americans. The church includes some Africans from Congo, who speak French or Swahili.

The church also has an afternoon music program for children to come and learn how to play instruments. They have a reading program, encouraging them to read self-improvement books.

"We seek to understand the cultures of everyone who comes and provide an outlet for them," said Luc.

He invites people who are not going to church, aware some have been hurt by a church. He listens to understand.

"The church does much good, but sometimes people in a church harm others, so I try to be a neutral ground and see what's going on because a church should be inviting, receiving and forgiving, a place to rest, not a place to be criticized or put down," Luc said.

"Before COVID, more people came. Since COVID, I receive phone calls from people who say they can't come and are scared of the disease. We try to inform them," he said. 

Luc, who has also served as the Spokane Ministers' Fellowship's treasurer for four years, said that group educates people how to take care of themselves in COVID with masks and vaccinations. They have offered information sessions and 14 were vaccinated at a recent vaccination clinic at the Martin Luther King Jr Community Center.

One African member who had COVID now goes to churches to tell people how it is to have COVID. She had been reluctant to be vaccinated, but now she lets people know, COVID was no fun.

On racism, he said many white people who are not racist go places with him, but he knows that some parents—white and black—tell their children to "stick with your own kind."

"New York was considered a racist place, but I had white and Spanish friends. It is a question of how we relate to people," said Luc, who saw racism in Boston,  and learned "we cannot blame one group. People there were involved with each other, because there were many students from around the world."

"In Spokane, people tend stay to themselves," said Luc. 

In Eglise Evangelique Maranatha, Spanish, African and white people are respectful.

"I love everybody. Wherever I am, I am at ease because I am a citizen of heaven, and wherever I am is a piece of heaven," said Luc

"Whenever I can, I share a message of hope. The world needs to pay more attention to God. God is love. If we pay attention to each other, we can help each other overcome harm, disease, earthquakes and more," he said.

 "Am I my brother's keeper?" Yes, I am my brother's keeper, whether my brother is White, Black, Chinese or whatever. If we practice love, life will be easier. Love calls for action," said Luc. "COVID teaches us we are together in this mess, and we better help each other."

From childhood, his parents taught him ethics, how to behave towards other people, how to not intrude in other people's privacy and not impose his beliefs on other people.

"God created each one of us," said Luc. "My calling is to help people understand that God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. When we are thinking, acting and speaking, God is there," said Luc.

Particularly since the earthquake and flooding, Haiti needs financial help.

"It's a small island, it's always been put down," said Luc. "It takes a brave nation with a great heart to invest in infrastructure with billions of dollars for jobs.

Instead of talking about Haitian people being in the mud and leaving them there, let's help them get out of the mud," he said. "Instead of investing billions in war, let's invest in people."

He invites the U.S., the richest country in the world, to invest in its neighbor, Haiti, the poorest.

When he last traveled to Haiti on July 8 to see the children at the orphanage, he had to go through the Dominican Republic on a back road and go back to the Dominican Republic to sleep at night because of safety concerns after the president was killed.

Luc started a clinic in a little building in Chardolette. It was damaged in the Aug. 14 earthquake. Doctors are seeing patients outdoors. Twice a year, Doctors without Borders comes.

Recently, even though Luc had sent $800—normally enough for two weeks—the orphanage manager said the food was gone.

Haiti produces 30 to 40 percent of the food the people need, but prices went high because some took advantage of the situation and stocked up to make more money.

People holding the wealth impoverish people when they don't make it available for everybody, said Luc.

"I have good people over there who want to serve," he said.

Through Jasmin Ministries, he is able to send funds to Haiti.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, October, 2021