Although Helene Hwang is a recent addition to our Fellowship International team, she has been a missionary for 10 years serving Haitian people in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We had a chance to speak with Helene about her calling as a career missionary and the ministry she is leading in the Dominican Republic.
Fellowship International: How did you discern your calling to serve as a missionary?
Helene Hwang: I was 16 when I first encountered Jesus and received Him as my Saviour. My whole life changed. I began to pray to God to show me His vision for my life and He answered my prayers with images of children. The same year, I heard for the first time about missions and missionaries from my pastor. Years passed, and at the age of 24, God reminded me again about the visions He gave me. I was convicted and left my work to go to Africa. What was meant to be a four-month trip turned into two years. When I returned to Canada, I had my heart set on returning to Africa for missions one day, but in 2010, following the devastating earthquakes in Haiti, I was asked to serve alongside a local missionary there. It was a short two-week trip, so I simply said yes. I didn’t know then how God was going to move my heart to the people of Haiti. After returning home from my trip, I quit my job and moved to Haiti to begin my life as a career missionary.
I never thought I would end up in the Dominican Republic. It was through another unique chance that God showed me the marginalised Haitian migrant population in the Dominican Republic. I have been here since 2015 serving the Haitian community alongside my Haitian team in the Dominican Republic.
Fellowship International: How have you seen your ministry advance the goal of making disciples of all nations?
Helene: There are lots of Haitian migrants who are living in the Dominican Republic without any [government] papers. [As a result] the children who come here with their parents can’t go to regular schools and have no benefits here. The families go to Haitian churches, but there is no Sunday school program for kids. My primary ministry focus is with the kids, which is what led to the [development of the] Joy Foundation. I’ve been here almost eight years, and more than 20 kids have received Jesus as their Lord through our ministry. We teach them what living a life like Christ means, and we pray for their future because without God, their lives have no guarantees.
Fellowship International: What is your current vision and next step for your ministry?
Helene: This year, I am starting a new project: a nursery school. Up until now, we’ve only served the Haitian people, but this nursery school will be for Haitian and Dominican kids. I always ask God to show me the next step and last year, God provided an answer: it starts with the kids. After the Haitian students graduate from school, their future is uncertain and turbulent. The Dominican and Haitian kids must learn how to love one another from an early age. That is my hope and prayer as we prepare for this new nursery school.