Building a Firm Foundation

August 01, 2013

Benjamin Pierre witnessed some of the worst human suffering imaginable when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shook his beloved island nation to the core three years ago. Life has never been an easy ride for Haitians anyway, and the disaster only magnified their misery and seemingly insurmountable poverty.

But that´s not what this stalwart servant of God wants to focus on. He prefers to talk about the positive changes he has observed in his country. Without fuss or fanfare, he is quietly leading a revival to build a new Haiti—one whose foundation is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ.

“The country was very shaken. Most people lost their homes. There were dead people lying in the streets,” said Pierre. “But after the earthquake we saw something else, something remarkable.”

Long before the earthquake, the sight of neglected and destitute children wandering the streets was commonplace. Pierre and his wife worried that these youngsters were not getting an education and would have no chance to escape poverty as adults.

They sought the Lord´s help and felt led to open a primary school in the town of Petit-goave, located 42 miles from Port-au-Prince. That was in 1982. Over 30 years later, those first students now serve their communities as teachers, police officers, doctors, and lawyers. One of them is a pastor at a church in Petit-goave.

Since then they have established ten more schools currently attended by 1,114 children.

The school buildings are far from impressive. In one mountain village the structure is a primitive assembly of wood slats that beckons a few rays of light and a slight breeze. At first glance it looks more like a barn than a classroom.

None of the 11 schools, including the ones in the urban districts, has running water. The rural schools lack electricity. Not surprising, the teachers receive little or no salary. They stay anyway because they consider their work with the children an important investment for the future of the nation.

Despite meager resources that often come out of his own pocket, Pierre also runs a weekend feeding program for children whose families are still trying to recover financially and emotionally after the quake. On Saturdays their meal consists of rice and beans with some meat and juice. The children eat sandwiches, cookies, and juice on Sundays. They receive spiritual nourishment, too, as the children hear Bible stories and sing worship songs.

“Our ministry starts with children, giving them an understanding of who Jesus is and how much He loves them. Because of this, we are seeing more young people than adults come to Christ,” said Pierre.