By Carl Stagner
One of the most devastating earthquakes of the century struck the land, and they were there. When political and economic upheaval ensued, they were there. When crime didn’t decline, and poverty remained, they remained, too. Facing busy schedules and fatigue, they nevertheless lent a hand when other missionaries and ex-pats were in need. Exemplary Church of God missionaries to Haiti for the last thirty years, John and Jodie Ackerman let the compassion of Christ flow through them to the “least of these” under less-than-ideal conditions. Though they’ll soon be retiring from career missionary service, a legacy of compassion will no doubt carry on.
Chief among John’s pursuits has been ministry through medicine at the Church of God medical clinic in Prospere, while Jodie has served with excellence at Quisqueya Christian School. While it is true that they’ve blessed and taught others, God has also blessed and taught them. “Even though you know you are called and think you know what God wants you to do, things are never cut-and-dried and easy to sort out,” Jodie and John reflect. “It takes learning the culture and talking to people, and a willingness to fail. It requires a certain humility that you don’t have all the answers, perhaps even spiritually, as well as practically. We have also learned that the boundaries and categories we tend to use in the U.S. don’t apply here. We need to be open to how God is working and whom he is using. We are not the ones with all the answers!”
Of all the accomplishments God has brought about through John and Jodie, a few rise above the rest in their minds. Besides the day-to-day medical support, John recalls specific miracles, such as helping one young girl receive heart surgery in the United States. Jodie thinks back over her teaching career and the glimpses of God at work among the children. Both see their support of other missionaries and ex-pats as vital to their presence on the island nation. Whether they offered these fellow men and women medical attention or hospitality in their home, they were blessed beyond measure to do so. “Haiti can be a difficult place to live and work, so community is very important to all of us,” Jodie explains.
When John and Jodie began serving in Haiti in January 1986, they had no idea what they were getting into. The political leader was ousted, protests were ongoing, employees went on strike, and the overall climate just wasn’t very welcoming. John and Jodie describe what happened as a “series of coups and political problems” that they simply weren’t expecting. But they knew they were called. As former missionaries Phil and Lonnie Murphy explain, John’s sentiment was, “The Haitians cannot leave, and if they cannot leave, why should I? And it is in the tough times that they need us the most.”
Other missionaries who have worked closely with John and Jodie Ackerman since 1986 are quick to affirm such a legacy of compassion:
“Whether it be tending to people’s physical needs and diseases one person at a time, or making a lasting impression on a classroom of little ones over a school year, John and Jodie have made an enduring mark on at least two or three generations of Haitians, and international families serving Haitians.” —Larry Sellers
“Regardless of the situation or circumstances, John and Jodie always showed compassion by rolling up their sleeves and doing what they could to help. They both have huge hearts full of compassion.” —Art Clawson
“John genuinely cares for the poor and marginalized of this world. When we think of Jodie, we think of the word dedication. Haiti will miss them, but the seeds they have planted will continue to grow and produce fruit.” —Phil and Lonnie Murphy
“John and Jodie are fixtures in Haiti who have been there to pave the way for others. Our story is not unique. As we talk to others from the village of Prospere to Quisqueya Christian School to our place where we worship together on Sundays, John and Jodie have made a difference and have been there for so many.” —Mark and Kathy Fulton
Mark and Kathy Fulton carry on the vital work of medical missions in Haiti for the Church of God. John and Jodie explain in their farewell letter, “We are very happy to have Mark and Kathy Fulton here in Haiti now to carry on the medical ministry through the Church of God clinic in Saintard. If you would like to continue to support Haiti and healthcare here, please consider transferring your support to the Fultons.”
Following the evening session at the Regional Convention in Anderson, Indiana, on Tuesday, June 21, Global Strategy will host a reception to honor John and Jodie. Plan now to attend, and register for the convention at www.chogconvention.org.
To transfer support to the Fultons, please contact Global Strategy’s Debbie Taylor at 800-848-2464, ext. 2129 or DTaylor@chog.org. To give online, or to learn more about Global Strategy, visit www.chogglobal.org.