Converge missionaries confront poverty, crime and natural disasters in the Bahamas

Karazim Ministries

The Bahamas often is a stop on a cruise, with white sand beaches and serene water. Although the islands are beautiful, many who live there struggle with poverty, unemployment and no access to education. Raoul and Karen Armbrister set out to offer opportunities and hope through their ministry, Karazim.

It started with The Chart House to feed locals. Raoul noticed malnourished children with distended bellies. He went to the parents, who said their children were eating. The problem is what they eat.

Karen visiting with children on Grand Bahama

“The thing is they only eat rice or bread. They are missing the nutrients they really need,” Raoul said. “So we prayed about it and decided we needed a garden to grow fresh produce.”

He and Karen started God’s Garden on 18 acres of land, which happens to have brackish water ponds. Another idea came to them: Fish farming. They will begin farming tilapia to help the children eat more protein. All they need is 12 tilapias.

“This will be a model so people can work, learn and then take the fish and sell them,” he said. “We also want to do the same with the produce. We estimate we can have 72,000 pounds of vegetables every season.”

The Converge Missions team taking a look at the fish ponds

This project is in line with the Armbristers’ mission, to help people go from dependence to independence and to lean on Jesus Christ. Recently, Raoul witnessed the transformation of young men who have been caught up in legal trouble due to minor infractions. He says now they can't find work and are looked down upon by the community for being charged or incarcerated. 

“Most of these young men come to us because of our community outreach program,” Raoul said. “As we go into different areas of Grand Bahama, and interact with young men just sitting around every day or spending excessive amounts of time at a park, we get the opportunity to learn their stories and to share Christ with them.”

A lot of youth come from broken homes, raised by single mothers, and they haven't graduated from high school. Raoul says they find themselves in legal trouble by committing crimes like petty theft or selling drugs, and more serious charges such as assault and battery. He says the men don't know how to communicate properly, and they must face the consequences.

Raoul talking with young men about discipleship classes 

“However, immediate transformation can be seen once we connect with them and they give their lives to Christ," Raoul said. "There is a change in the attitude to learn more about God and a zeal for Christ.”

Glenn Herschberger, Converge director of mobilization, recently witnessed the impact Raoul has on his community, while they drove around Grand Bahama.

“We stopped several times, and people came out of their broken-down homes to engage with Raoul and Karen,” Herschberger said. “One young man was lovingly confronted by Raoul, who asked him why he hadn't shown up for discipleship class. This young man promised he would show up next time. Raoul responded that if he brought four friends, he would pick them up.”

Just one of the many houses damaged by hurricanes

Herschberger was also surprised to see the amount of damaged homes on the island. When hurricanes come through, they decimate anything in their path. The Armbristers are working to restore these homes, leaning on short-term missions teams for help.

“It was amazing to see the damage caused by the hurricanes that hit these islands frequently,” he said. “As we drove around, we saw severe poverty and so much need. People living on an island depend upon imports for food basic necessities. There is a great need to help these people.”

Raoul and Karen Armbrister

Karazim is always open to any teams who would like to come and work. If you’re interested, contact Susan Herschberger susanh@convergeww.org. Learn more about Karazim Ministries.

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    Point - Fall 2017

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