Haiti: A holiness journey

Michelle McLane
Monday, November 28, 2016

ImageHoliness or entire sanctification as a term confounds description to some degree. For Franckel Formétus, a Nazarene leader in Haiti working closely with JESUS Film, holiness is best described not with words, but with your life.

Franckel began his faith journey in a family that was already dedicated to the Lord. His father had been a pastor in another denomination, but found that he couldn’t reconcile his beliefs with that church’s doctrine.  He began studying Nazarene theology and discovered he agreed strongly with what he learned. Shortly after Franckel was born, his father became a minister for the Church of the Nazarene and planted a church. Holiness was an integral part of his father’s decision.

“The holiness doctrine was part of what attracted [my father]. Since we were at the church, he usually talked to me about that (holiness), so trying to convince me to go and study theology.”

ImageFranckel had an understanding early on that his salvation was a matter of personal choice. At about seven years old, he made the decision to accept Christ’s sacrifice and become a Christian.

“Some people [believe] when you are born in a Christian [family], you are really a Christian. You don’t have to accept for yourself. I remember they had a worship service, and then after they had preaching. And then after the preaching they asked if someone would like to be a Christian. If they would like to accept Christ and make a commitment with Christ, they can come and kneel down and so we can pray for them ... That day I came to the front, and so I did, and they prayed for me.”

Franckel describes his experience of entire sanctification (Nazarene Article of Faith 10) as a journey. As he matured in his faith, he valued what was godly above submitting to temptations or challenges, and he accepted the guidance of the Holy Spirit. His witness to others was more important to him than fleeting temptations. This was obvious to the community around him. At one point, Franckel’s close friend encouraged him to engage in wrong behaviors with women. Franckel told his friend that he couldn’t do anything immoral, and his friend supported him.

“This is what my friend said to me; he said, “Franckel, I don’t want you to do anything that is wrong or bad. I would like you to live a holy life because it is very important [that] you are a model in the community—that everybody can see you as someone that is very special in the community.”

Within his school Franckel found the greatest challenges to his faith. In one philosophy class, a teacher asked him to prove that God exists. Franckel studied and looked for an answer that would satisfy his teacher. He opened his Bible to Genesis chapter one and was reminded that God created everything. Only the one true God could create the world. The proof that God existed was in His creation. By this scripture, he was able to bring the reality of God to his teacher through an argument that the teacher appreciated.

The key for Franckel to discerning God’s direction in daily decisions was rooted in the time he spent with God. Through prayer and Bible study, Franckel learned to know his Heavenly Father and find hope for the difficult times. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom.

“I had all the time to stay home, and pray, and ask God [for] direction, and ask God to give me strength and to empower me, and then to fill me with the Holy Spirit, and then to have me to understand everything better. So I realized day after day I was becoming someone who is understanding things better. And so, I discovered that in God when you’re studying the Bible and then you apply the principles of God in your life, you will know quickly that you have [a] direction to follow and your life needs to be a holy life. And then you will know that even though things are difficult—you will have difficult challenges to face—you will not have a big problem to face them because you have the word of God in your life you have the power of the Holy Spirit of Christ in your life.”

ImageEventually, Franckel (pictured with his wife, Philiona Derissaint), through the advice of those near him and self-discovery, realized God’s calling on him to be a minister. Now, through his experiences, he knows what he would say to someone if they asked what holiness means to him. It’s something he feels passionately about and wants everyone to experience.

“Holiness and entire sanctification is the work of God in us … in order to transform us in order that we can look and be like Jesus. We can feel that Jesus is living in us. We can see that Jesus is alive in our life.”

“For me I think that it is very important as [a] Christian to be all the time with Jesus, to be all the time hav[ing] a life that is important for God, to live a life that is holy, to seek the face of Jesus. Seek the face of God all the time. We have only one God.”

Today, as JESUS Film coordinator for Haiti, Franckel oversees 55 JESUS Film zone planters and their teams. Through this ministry, the Church of the Nazarene in Haiti has doubled its churches in the last 12 months, to 785 preaching points (groups of believers not yet organized as churches). This is more than the current number of fully organized churches in the country, according to Tonya Kucey, a missionary in Haiti.

“He is not one that draws attention to himself or seeks to self-promote,” Kucey wrote in an email. “He is a joy-filled, gentle man … one who shows good leadership with his area of ministry.”

-- Interview conducted by Gina Pottenger