When I arrived back home in Canada I began to pray and ask the Lord, “what next?” I always said, “Don’t send me anywhere easy Lord!” Well as you may know, our Lord answers prayer – “Welcome to Haiti!”
When I first arrived in Haiti I was so overwhelmed by the lack of well, everything. The adverse poverty of the people was immense. I witnessed children competing with pigs for food from the same garbage piles; I had never seen anything like this before in my life. So there I was in a town with an unemployment rate of 85%, no infrastructure whatsoever and I want to run a business that is supposed to support my ministry and the local community! I felt that it would not work, so I said “I’m out a here.” The next day I asked the airline if I could change my ticket to go home the following day, (trip was supposed to last 2 weeks), and they said no problem.
The next morning I found myself in the back of a van headed for the Port-au-Prince airport. Prior to leaving, I was told by my Haitian chauffeur to keep the doors locked, windows closed and not to take any pictures. As we threaded our way through Port-au-Prince we got caught up in one of its famous traffic jams. Sitting there, I noticed a man looking up at me from a car below smiling with those bright white teeth. I sensed he wanted to say something to me, and to the shock of my Haitian occupants, I rolled the window down and stuck my head out. In perfect English (which surprised me because all I had heard was this Creole stuff) he said to me “Jesus loves you!” He then started to drive away and I yelled back to him “He loves you too!”
Next thing I knew, the Haitians riding with me were pulling me back to my seat yelling “You stupid Blan (White guy), you’re going to get us shot!” As I sat there pondering on that man’s words, I said to myself, “That’s right, He loves me!” I then tapped my chauffeur on the shoulder and told him to get me back to Grand Goave.
One day a local government official, Wouillio, who now is one of my closest brothers, asked if I knew anything about running a gas station. I said “of course not, but let’s give it a try!” I signed a one year lease, however 6 months into it I realized that the gas station business in Haiti was something that a Christian should not be involved in, but God had a plan! I went to meet Wouillio one day, and as I walked into his house I noticed a teary-eyed man sitting at the table talking with him. I immediately felt drawn to this man. I sat down and introduced myself to him, I asked my friend “Why is this man so upset?” Wouillio told me he was from the mountains and that the schools in his district were going to close because they had no money to pay the teachers. I asked Wouillio if he could do anything for him and he said “no, the government has no money to give them, so the school will close.”
I should tell you about how I decide if I should help someone, if I have to think about it for more than 3 seconds, I won’t do it. Instantly, our Lord put into my heart the desire to help this man. I told him “I will come to your school and pay your teachers.” Soon after, I thought to myself” What did I just say?” I don’t even know how many teachers there are, or if I even have enough money!
That Monday, Wouillio and I are on the back of my Kawasaki heading up a mountain road which I thought would get us to the school in about 30 minutes. Five hours later, on the back of a mule, we arrived! I was the first white person the children had ever seen. I couldn’t believe this, but as I came to find out later, mountain people in this region do not take their children to town as the trek is too steep and dangerous. I was able to pay the teachers, and I continue to do so today. The only stipulation that I gave them with the money was that we needed to teach the children about who Jesus is. Because over 80% of the mountain people practice voodoo, all the children knew about was the devil (jab is what he is called in voodoo circles). Jab was well known, but they knew almost nothing about who Jesus was. The children participated with the adults in voodoo ceremonies, witnessed animal sacrifices, and everything else demonic that goes on during these rituals.
I told the school director that if we were going to continue paying for the teachers, we would have to be allowed to introduce Jesus to these children. This was easy since we were now paying the teachers and essentially keeping the school open. Every morning before classes begin the children are told a bible story and are asked to memorize verses. It took about one year before we started seeing the fruits, but the changes in these children have been such a blessing to me. I was able to get them some Creole Bibles so they could memorize their verses.
During one of my many treks up the mountain, we met a woman who had sacks of beans tied to her donkey, or as I call them “Haitian Hummers.” I asked her what the beans were, and she told me they were coffee. Now I drank coffee, but I didn’t know a good bean from a bad bean, so I bought about 5 lbs from her and sent them to a friend in Canada who knew about coffee. Shortly after, he got back to me and said the coffee was delicious. He asked me how much I could send him and that he would buy it all! Soon we were selling green bean and roasting coffee that I bought directly from the families whose children go to our school! Coffee sales through ebenezerdtc.org has helped to provide for my family and many of our ongoing mission projects.
Living here in Haiti I am confronted daily with hungry men, women, and children. My heart is burdened to do something about this and that is why I am here. I believe that the physical hunger we find in Haiti is connected to spiritual hunger. That is why we must feed them physically AND spiritually through the teaching of God’s word. The gospel must be at the center of everything that we do in Haiti.