WHAT’S IN A DREAM?  Some of history’s most significant events were born out of dreams. God sent dreams which launched the Presberrys into missions and set a blaze in their hearts for Haiti. Hope for Caribbean Kids, Inc. was established in 1999 and incorporated January 7, 2003. The founders worked ten years to support the activities of New Missions and their students in Haiti. The Haiti earthquake served as the transitioning event which launched Hope for Caribbean Kids, Inc. into its destiny and calling.

Serving in Haiti or any other country was the last thing on the minds of ministry founders, Richard and Iva Presberry in 1970. Nevertheless, a vision that came to Iva during the first year of their marriage would place a permanent marker on their future. Iva was a junior and Richard a senior at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.

In a night vision, she saw the image of a person who stood at the foot of their bed. A very bright light shined behind the image forming a silhouette which made it impossible to know if it was male or female. The image spoke and said, “You are to be a missionary.”

The next day, Iva, who was very disturbed by the vision shared it with her husband who suggested that they talk with Baptist Student Center Director, Rev. Robert Parker. He reassured them there was no need for alarm and reminded them that all Christians are called to be missionaries.

After graduation they moved to St. Louis where they worked, started their family, and were faithful members of Antioch Baptist Church. They completed advanced degrees in education and administration. Yet, Iva was always keenly mindful of how shaken she was by the vision.

In 1985 Richard was promoted to a state level administrative position with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education which required them to move back to Jefferson City. They joined Second Baptist Church. From there they united with Refreshing Spring Church where their pastors, Philip and Jerri Rodman, provided intense instructions in the Bible and Christian living. The senior pastor, Philip Rodman, delivered a series of sermons on God’s calling for every Christian to do the work of ministry. His foundational Scripture was Ephesians 4:11-12 which states:

“And he [Jesus] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

He clarified that not everyone is called to one of these positions in the church. One may simply be called to “carry the briefcase.” We have a responsibility to know what God’s call is on our lives and to get busy fulfilling it. The image and message of Iva’s vision returned stronger, more vividly and maintained an intense presence during every waking moment. Finally, on February 15, 1994 after much prayer, long talks with her husband and spiritual unrest, she yielded her will to God and accepted her call to be a missionary. What would this mean? What would come next? What would she do?

The dream that defined the focus of the ministry occurred in 1995. During a night dream Iva saw a place. It was as if she was looking at a very large movie screen. She was aware that she was there, yet she appeared to be watching from a distance. The place was rural, with brown vegetation and dark-skinned people sitting on top of a short structure with their legs hanging over the side. For years she referred to the structure as “a chicken coop” since she was familiar with them from where she grew up in Hayti, Missouri. Yet, the structure was too short for a chicken coop. Then, as if someone shook her, she woke up. Knowing the dream was from the Lord, she prayed, “Oh, Lord, show me what this place is. Please show me what this place is.”

When she went back to sleep the exact scene reappeared. Only, this time written across the sky in wavy heat ray style letters was the name HAITI. Again, as if someone shook her, she woke up. This time she prayed, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!”

She knew that her call was to serve people in Haiti, but how and where in Haiti? So, in 1999 she and Richard traveled to Haiti for the first time. They served in a short-term mission trip at New Missions, an excellent ministry that started in Haiti in 1983. It has grown from 12 students to more than 10,000. The Presberrys were able to work with them and observe the excellent way they conducted their ministry. Richard and Iva often talked about the dream and inquired about places that might look like the place in the dream. They were told that there were some brown areas of Haiti in the mountains.

Almost immediately the Presberrys formed a Haiti support organization and started raising funds to help in Haiti. They became sponsors of two Haitians boys and signed up sponsors for more than 100 children over the course of their 10-year affiliation with New Missions. Through the help of God and loyal supporters, they built two houses, provided funding toward school building projects, provided food, animals, clothing, computers, and assisted in many other endeavors. Through door to door village evangelism with various teams, they help lead a large number of people to Christ.

On January 7, 2003, Hope for Caribbean Kids, Inc. was incorporated. On February 23, 2003, the Presberrys were licensed as ministers/missionaries and on March 11, 2004 the organization became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. In late 2004 Refreshing Spring Church disbanded and the Presberrys became members of First Assembly of God in Jefferson City in February of 2005.

A fall 2009 article in the Catholic Missourian launched the Presberrys onto the path toward their true calling. The titleof the article was “I Just Watched Them Die.” These had been the words of a mother describing her anguish as she watched her 2 1/2-year-old twins starve to death. She had nothing to feed them. She just watched them die. The troubled area, Baie d’Orange, was in the southern mountains of Haiti. A hurricane in 2008 had destroyed their crops. It was followed by a drought and more than 40 people had died of starvation, mostly children. [Read the original article] 

Of all the tragedies the Presberrys had witnessed in Haiti, this one grieved Iva the most. They set out to fund a project to help by providing temporary (yet sustaining) relief. They hoped that fruit trees, animals and food would add to support garnered by the article’s appeal. The greatest hindrance to the organization implementing this plan was the difficulty they experienced locating the people.

Finally, on January 11, 2010 they located them through Bill and Dorothy Smith, Assembly of God missionaries, who had been serving in Haiti for more than 20 years. Bill served as the coordinator of Latin American Child Care. However, on January 12, 2010 the earthquake struck Haiti as the world watched in horror. Thankfully, the southern mountains were not damaged by the earthquake. They simply had to endure while the world focused on the needs of the masses. The Presberrys had planned to continue serving under the umbrella of New Missions, but God had other plans. New Missions discontinued receiving evangelists because they needed to bring medical and construction teams to help them recover from the earthquake.

Therefore, in the summer of 2010 Iva served in Port-au-Prince, Haiti with Grace Evangelistic Ministries. The backdrop of the photo is Titanyen, Haiti’s tent city for thousands of earthquake survivors. During this trip she met Pastor Wisny Exima who would become Hope for Caribbean Kids, Inc.’s representative in Haiti. He currently serves as the organization’s translator, trip planner, and oversight coordinator. Throughout the year he assists with three-way planning phone calls as Hope for Caribbean Kids, Inc. directs and funds projects for the children of Marre Blanche through the school director, Pastor Jean Thony Perime.

In 2011 the Presberrys took the first trip up the mountain to the Baie d’Orange area and visited the Church of God. No relationship developed with that congregation. Nevertheless, God’s specific appointment was close at hand. The main guide in this trip would become the current pastor and director of our school there.

The next summer, 2012, the Lord lead the Presberrys to travel further up the mountain where Jean Thony Perime, our 2011 guide, had just been appointed as pastor. The church is Assemblee’ de Dieu de Corail Lamothe Commune Bell-Anse, an Assembly of God congregation (which is perfectly aligned with the denomination the Lord lead the Presberrys to join in 2005, First Assembly of God in Jefferson City). Iva believes every part of their ministry journey has been orchestrated by the Lord. That includes, delays, missteps, disappointments, tragedies like the earthquake, roadblocks, abandonments, learning curves, learning pains, favor, support, spiritual growth, greater focus on Jesus, clarity of vision, and dependence on God.

This ministry’s assigned church and school location are at Marre Blanche near Belle-Anse, Haiti. It is one mile up and so remote that hardly anyone in Haiti knows where it is.

Iva is not the only one connected to this mission assignment in response to a dream. God still speaks through dreams. When our school director, Pastor Jean Thony Perime, was a teenager, he had a dream that changed the course of his life. In the dream he saw a woman distributing food to people. She said to him, I choose you to be the pastor of the church until the day of your death. He argued with the woman because he did not want the overwhelming responsibility. Finally, he was convicted by her persistence, so he accepted. He wrote his dream in a book and later shared it at a church service.

The senior pastor referred him to the head of missions in Port-au-Prince where he received leadership training. His church made him the secretary of the church and used him in other leadership positions. On March 12, 2010 the senior pastor died shortly after attending a church conference. The following year, February 26, 2011, the assistant pastor died from typhoid fever. Because of his leadership training and good character, Pastor Calixte Fleuridor, General Superintendent of the Haiti Assembly of God, appointed Jean Thony as the pastor of the Marre Blanche church.

For the very first mission trip to Marre Blanche in 2012, the Presberrys were supported by Haitian oversight coordinator, Pastor Wisny Exima, and translator, Yaguel Nerat. From the United States, they were accompanied by Jon DeSha, a member of First Assembly of God and college soccer coach. He conducted soccer clinics and bonded with the kids.

On the last day of their 2012 visit, Iva spotted it on the playground of their school. The poorly made building they called a school had once been a storage room. On the playground, dark skinned people were sitting on a short structure with their legs hanging over the side—just like in Iva’s dream. This was the placed and people God had called them to serve.  The structure was not a chicken coop at all. It was a crypt. In the crypt, two pastors of the church are buried. They had been praying for someone to come and help their people since 1995, the year their school was established and the year of Iva’s dream. The Presberrys were told that they were the first people to come to help. The senior pastor and assistant pastor who died in 2010 and 2011 are buried in the crypt.

God made his appointment and assignment clear. The timing was exactly as God had planned it. If the Presberrys had arrived before 2010 the crypt would not have been there as a marker of God’s assignment.

…”The one who calls you is faithful…” 1 Thessalonians 5:24