SWU graduate ministers to Upstate Haitian community
For a little more than half a decade, First Haitian Evangelistic Wesleyan Church has actively engaged a small but diverse community with roots in the island nation.
Pastoring the church is Patrick Gue, who recently received his master of ministry degree from Southern Wesleyan University in Central.
Gue was called in 2007 by Pastor Dan Irvin, missions director in Haiti for The Wesleyan Church, to begin a new Haitian church in the Greenville area. Gue was hesitant to accept the offer, since he was serving as the education director in Carrefour-Feuilles Wesleyan Church. After praying about it, with his wife Mirianne in agreement, Gue accepted the offer. On Nov. 3, 2007, Gue and his family moved to Mauldin. The first service was held the following day, attended mostly by their family members. In a few short years, God has blessed First Haitian Evangelistic Wesleyan Church with attendance recently exceeding 100 for an anniversary service at their church, located in Mauldin.
Gue feels blessed to have been raised by a strong Christian mother, who taught him and his siblings how to pray and walk close to Christ.
“When I decided to follow the Lord by myself, I was 15 years old. I prayed, read the Bible, fasted and meditated by myself without the help of my mother,” Gue said. “After my baptism in 1986, I became a preacher for the children in my local congregation in Cap-Haitian. Later, the church chose me to be the president of the youth choir.”
“Patrick has such a heart and passion for Jesus, within moments of speaking to him his smile lights up the area,” said Joy Bryant, Southern Wesleyan’s director of alumni and constituent relations. “He and his family minister to those in their community to offer hope and encouragement.”
“The Haitian community in Greenville is a small community made up of physicians, nurses, administrators, psychologists, engineers, educators, various school and college students, manufacturing workers and ministers,” Gue said, adding that the local Haitian community is united, yet diverse in their religious background. Haitians in the Greenville area have denominational ties to the Catholic Church and many mainline denominations, including Methodists, Baptists, and Nazarenes. Several have ties to Pentecostal churches. Gue noted that services at First Haitian Evangelistic Wesleyan Church address this diversity with worship service that appeal to differences in their members.
“The world has come to us and we need to be more intentional about ministry to various ethnic and people groups in South Carolina,” said Buddy Rampey, superintendent of the South Carolina District of The Wesleyan Church. Rampey noted that outreach to the Haitian community began with a congregation that met on Southern Wesleyan’s campus in Central in Ellenburg Lecture Hall and later moved to Anderson. He added that a church building in Mauldin became available, making possible a church that serves the Greenville area.
Gue and members of his family periodically return to Haiti on visits and mission trips. This past January, he helped the community library in Cange during a trip sponsored by the Mauldin Rotary Club and led by Rotarian Dr. Sara Mansbach, a Rotarian, who trained teachers and parents.
Gue is optimistic about Haiti’s long recovery from the 2010 earthquake.
“I saw a new airport in Port-au-Prince, road projects are being undertaken and progress being made. Electricity is better. Industry is planted outside of Port-au-prince. New houses have been built in Port-au-Prince. I feel a wind of change is in Haiti now,” he said. Despite the progress, he adds that there is still widespread poverty and the need for individuals with expertise to rebuild where damage still exists. He is also seeking financial help for the shipment of two ambulances to Saint-Raphael, Haiti.