Our Missionaries Serving Haiti and Niger
This year, the Presbyterian Church is celebrating 180 years of international mission work. Today, nearly 130 mission co-workers in 70 countries are engaged in these vital ministries, working alongside global and ecumenical partners and U.S. Presbyterians. In these deep relationships with sisters and brothers across the globe, we begin to mirror Christ’s transformative relationship.
Mark Hare and Jenny Bent serving in Haiti and the Dominican Republic
Mark Hare and Jenny Bent Hare are mission co-workers to Haiti and the Dominican Republic who are sponsored by our church. Mark is the son of Frank and Catherine Hare who live in Amesville, Ohio, and he and his family have visited our church several times. Mark and Jenny have two daughters, Keila and Annika. They currently live in the Dominican Republic.
Mark, formally trained in agriculture technology, commutes across the border to Haiti where he helps them learn how to grow more food on their land. He continues to teach them how to conserve soil, land, and water and how to grow vegetables in raised beds made from old tires. The tires keep animals from eating their precious produce. They have planted erosion barriers of Moringa trees, whose leaves are very nutritious for people and animals. They have prepared cisterns to catch and hold rainwater to be used to water crops during dry times.
Mark works in partnership with MPP, or Farmers’ Movement of Papaye, as he teaches and encourages Haitians living in this mountain region to farm in creative and economical ways. Haitians in his program then teach friends and neighbors and improve on systems they learn from Mark. In this way Haitians can become self-reliant and healthier. Mark just finished helping with two weeks of exchange visits in more remote areas. Travel included motorcycle taxis and lots of difficult walking up and down mountains.
Jenny serves as a community health consultant in partnership with the Evangelical Cominican Church. She strives to improve the health and living conditions of Haitian sugar workers living in company towns. She also holds down the home front with their two daughters while Mark spends time in Haiti.
Mark’s and Jenny’s visits to churches in the USA have inspired others to travel to Haiti. A group from Royal Oak Presbyterian Church in Michigan included a dentist and dentist in training, who presented puppet shows about dental health and tooth care. Then they distributed toothbrushes and toothpaste they had brought along. They even wrote a song that was tranlated into French Creole. Their pastor, Tom Rice, commented, “We in the United States know very little about who Haitians are and how beautiful their culture is and how faithful they are. We are called to be witnesses and take part in what God is doing with and through the people of Haiti.” (Mission Crossroads, Summer 2012)
Here is Mark’s blogspot, where you can find more information, stories, and pictures:
Jim & Jodi McGill Serving in Thailand
Facilitator for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Programs
Jim occasionally returns to the U.S. and is available to speak to congregations. Email him to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Jim McGill’s ministry: Jim serves with the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN) and the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) to ensure sustainability for clean water and sanitation at both community and user levels. He works with the church in being a strong participant in the rural development of Niger and South Sudan and an effective advocate for the health of its people. Jim and his wife Jodi previously served together in Malawi and more recently in Niger where Jodi served as a nursing and public health educator with the EERN to train and staff church run health clinics and to educate students in its new nursing school.
Country Context: Niger is often called the gateway between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of the continent’s most economically impoverished countries and is at the bottom of the UN’s human development index. Niger has the highest fertility and population growth rates in the world. Fewer than 50 percent of children are enrolled in school, and its annual per capita gross domestic product is only about $800.
Farming is limited by frequent droughts, and the country’s vast desert regions are growing because arable land is falling victim to droughts, excessive cultivation, overgrazing and deforestation. While 95 percent of Nigeriens are Muslim, the government is secular and there is openness to the Gospel. Most non-Muslims in Niger are Christian or adherents of traditional religions.
The Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger is the largest Protestant church in the country and is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. In recent decades, the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began working as partners in mission.
About Jim: Jim began mission service in 1995, working alongside Jodi with the Church of Central Africa in Malawi. He worked in the areas of water and sanitation while Jodi worked in the areas of health and nursing. Although Jodi is not able to join Jim at this time as he serves the EERN in Niger because of family responsibilities, she continues to be an abiding inspiration and support in Jim’s ministry. Together the McGills continue to serve God with the people of Niger and the PC(USA).
Jim received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Wake Forest University and his master’s degree in geological engineering at the University of Arizona. Prior to his service as a mission co-worker, Jim spent many years in Africa as the child of Presbyterian missionaries to Congo and doing geophysical research with the Geology Department of Duke University.
Jim and Jodi are the parents of six children, twins Jason and Michael, Salome, Selina, and twins Joseph and John. They are members of Columbia Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Georgia, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.
Mission Service Start Date: January 1, 1995