Collectivity of Saint Martin
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Saint-Martin (French) is part of an island in the Caribbean Sea encompassing an area of slightly more than 53 sq km (20.50 square miles). The other half of the island is known as Sint Maarten (Dutch) which is part of the Netherlands Antilles. Saint Martin also incorporates several small islets, the largest of which is Tintamarre. The 2004 population of Saint Martin was 33,102.
Saint Martin has been a French possession since the seventeenth century. On March 23, 1648 it was divided by France and the Netherlands. For many years it was a French commune forming part of Guadeloupe. Recently, French Parliament passed a bill granting separate overseas collectivity status to both Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy thus on February 22, 2007 Saint Martin officially became the Collectivity of Saint Martin. Louis-Constant Fleming became President of the Territorial Council, the governing body, at that time.
Saint Martin, like Guadeloupe, is dependent upon French aid. Tourism is an important industry. Given the French domination of the island for more than 400 years the major Christian religion is Roman Catholicism.
Reggie and Esther Thomas of White Fields Evangelism tell the inspiring story of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ beginning in Saint Martin. The Stone-Campbell Movement in Saint Martin owes its beginning to two small boys born in Haiti. These two children, Phillipe and Jean lived across the road from Haiti’s Mapou Christian Orphanage. Growing up they watched Christ’s love in action as American work teams came to Haiti to build the orphanage and church buildings. The boys attended the Mapou Christian Church where they heard the Gospel and were baptized into Christ. Later, when the two boys grew to manhood they fled to Saint Martin from Haiti, becoming illegal aliens.
On Saint Martin they contact Reggie and Esther Thomas and invited them to establish a Christian Church there. In 1991 Reggie traveled to Saint Martin and succeeded in planting a church which met in the home of Paul Vanius for two years. In 1993 White Fields sent a work team to Saint Martin and built a church building for the congregation. Two years later, in 1995, a hurricane destroyed most of the island, including the houses of every church member. Amazingly, the building of the Christian Church was not destroyed or damaged. This fact became a great testimony for Christian witness on the Church in Saint Martin. A $10,000 grant from International Disaster Emergency Services helped to rebuild homes. In 2000 Reggie Thomas reported that the church had outgrown the capacity of the building and was averaging an attendance of 137. In 2007 the church averages more than 250 per Sunday and a second building has been built to accommodate the crowd. Paul Vanius, a native of Haiti, is the minister of the congregation. The Lord is blessing the work in Saint Martin.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Mac Lynn, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1101 19th Avenue, South, Nashville, TN 37212-2112 (USA)
Telephone: (615) 327-1444
Website: http://www.discipleshistory.org (provides links to other historical sites and databases).
Online catalog: ALEX