A House Built on Solid Rock
Elianie leads us back to the campus after visiting her home. We stop to talk with a few gentlemen who had just started their fire under a nine foot high pile of wood that will burn all night to make charcoal they will sell at the market. As I listened to RoRo speak with the gentlemen as if they were old friends, I realized one of them was Claude’s (our loyal and devoted driver) father, Bernadite Charles. He was discussing with RoRo the status of the village after the earthquake and hurricane. He is a very thin man with evidence of a life of hard labor and resilience on his face. Despite his hard exterior and the trials he was experiencing (though he never mentioned), he beamed with the compassion of Christ.
During the discussion, another man became visible on the path. This man immediately caught the attention of Dr. Allen (one of our board members), myself, and Elianie. Elianie immediately pointed out what I had already determined in my mind, this gentleman had suffered a severe stroke at some point. With little use of his left arm and limited use of this left leg, the man walked along the uneven, rock-strewn path at a slow and methodical pace. My mind went straight to all the rehab a person typically has to go through after having a serious stroke. There is no rehab like that in Peredo, Haiti, let alone the entire southeast department of the country. Honestly, I personally am not aware of a rehab facility that one could even go in Port-au-Prince.
It was Claude’s dad that made it very clear we needed to go visit this man’s home. On our way, we gathered that his name was Jean Baptiste and his son was fifteen year old, Jean Louis. Jean Louis is one of the boys who have been a constant on the Peredo campus, visiting with teams, playing soccer, and hanging out at the gazebo. It is just Jean Louis and his father. Standing in front of Jean Baptiste’s tiny home, I could see a line on the house that was left from mud that had piled up against it. It was two feet high in some places. Listening to Bernadite Charles describe how he and four other men had to rescue Jean Baptiste from his home, I realized we were standing in the river bed which was now less than ten feet from the front door. Claude’s father described how the water was up to Jean Baptiste’s shoulders by the time they got to him.
No doubt we needed to help Jean Baptiste and Jean Louis build a home at a higher elevation and with more solid building materials. We knew Jean Baptiste was not going to be able to do the construction himself. As if he were reading our minds, Bernadite Charles stood beside Jean Baptiste and declared he would find the land and build Jean Baptiste’s home. He then went on to describe his relationship with Jean Baptiste. Both had lost their wives several years earlier and after Jean Baptiste had had a stroke, Bernadite Charles took it upon himself to care for Jean Baptiste and his son. Any meal that Claude’s father eats, he shares it with Jean Baptiste and Jean Louis. Daily, he checks in on them and even tries to help keep Jean Louis on the straight and narrow. We prayed over each of them, the home, and plans for the future of this family and made our way back to campus.
A couple of days later, Bernadite Charles, Jean Baptiste and Jean Louis sat down with RoRo and I to discuss the plans. Jean Baptiste told us of how he gave his life to Christ in 2014 and three months later, he had a stroke. He described how difficult it has been for him to provide for, keep up with, and take care of his fifteen year-old son, without the help of Claude’s father. He was truly grateful for the compassion and love his friend has for him. Bernadite Charles described that this is what we are called to do for one another. No matter how little we have, if our brother is without a shirt, we give the one and only one we have if needed. Then Claude’s father turned to RoRo and vowed that whatever God provided to build this home would only go toward the building of Jean Baptiste’s home. He said, “This is God’s gift. And I am responsible for answering to Him.” He then told RoRo, he would bring all accounts to RoRo for record.
I would be lying if I said I was not taken aback by his devotion, loyalty, and obedience to God. Not because I didn’t believe this man would follow through to the “T” with everything that he was saying, but just the opposite, I had no doubt he would. What shook me was that I know, and anyone looking at him would know, Bernadite Charles has lived in desperation for a long period of time. With the earthquake and then the hurricane, there is no end to this desperation anytime soon. Food is more scarce than ever before, the economy has continued to plummet and resources have just stopped flowing through the country. Yet, this man’s obedience to God and his faith that God will provide for their needs has him standing on a Solid Rock. So solid, that when he is entrusted with this responsibility, the first thing he says is, “This is not mine, this is God’s gift. I am responsible for answering to God.” Bernadite Charles has built his house on Solid Rock. Even when the torrent waters come, the house does not crumble.
As RoRo, Jean Baptiste and Bernadite Charles bound the promise by shaking of hands, Jean Louis, with tears in his eyes, gave me such a strong hug that he almost knocked me off my feet. He said, “Mesi pou batik ay nou an!” (Thank you for building our home!) I pray this home is not just walls and a roof to keep Jean Baptiste and Jean Louis out of the elements and safe at night. I pray this is a symbol of God’s love, and grace and mercy! I pray that all who live in and enter this home will come to know God through those who live there and those whose hands and feet will make it possible. May this home be a house of God! A house built on Solid Rock!
If you would like to partner with Haitian Christian Outreach to rebuild homes like Jean Baptiste and Jean Louis’s home, please visit our website and designate your gift to Disaster Relief and Development. Each home costs approximately $8,000 to rebuild. Together we can make a difference and help our brothers and sisters rebuild while giving hope in the Name of Jesus.
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