For many Haitian pastors, they easily talk about dreams, visions and times that God has led them to this life of caring for orphans and advocating for their education. Pastor Jeannot, who ministers at the end of a very arduous road in the same village he grew up in, is no exception: “Before I started, I had a dream a long time ago and saw that there was a UN (United Nations) guy in a car and he was going to Desire. He gave me a chocolate, and he said I needed to give the chocolate to everyone in the community. And when there was chocolate left, the UN guy said that I could keep it to continue helping everyone in the community. I was 9-10 years old when I saw that in a dream. When I explained it to my mother and father, they laughed and said I had the dream because I ate well that night. After my parents laughed at me when I told them about my vision, I forgot about it as I was growing up.”
How many times could anyone say the same? Feeling a leading from God and being told it couldn’t be real? Or worse, that it wasn’t from God? But it is the moments you don’t allow those voices to define your calling that matter. In 2006 Pastor was reminded of that dream when he was a young boy, “I was sitting and I thought about that dream I had, so I met with people in the community and gathered some kids and asked people to help them so they have some activities. I decided to go to the minister’s office at the UN and they told me they were already coming to Desire that Friday, then in the same way, in the same place, I saw a soldier giving a child a chocolate and I was reminded of the vision I’d had as a child. At that point I thought, ‘God approves of what I am trying to do.’”
That affirmation led Pastor to start housing children at Desire on July 2, 2006, and with a school on property since 1988, there was already a means to educate the kids Pastor identified as orphans. His father had started the school when met with the reality that the kids in the community did not have an opportunity for education. Pastor Jeannot then started the church after taking the leadership from his father in 1999. “The people in the community didn’t have nice clothes to go to church, and didn’t have a church close by, so I started a church so they can come however they are,” he shared.
The time spent caring and providing for the kids at Desire has not been free of struggle in a community plagued by lack of resources, in now what is a desert area after decades of using the surrounding forests to make charcoal for profit. When Global first met Pastor Jeannot, the kids and mamas were living in tents on property. However, Pastor is adamant about one thing, “When God calls someone, the person is supposed to follow God, because if you don’t want to follow God it’s not going to be good for you and God can do whatever he wants to make you follow him. You will meet some difficulties, but it should not stop you from doing what God asks you to do.”
The commitment to his calling and the community of Desire continues to be firmly rooted in sharing the Gospel with not just the kids in his care, but the community kids as well. It is not unusual for the community kids to come hang out with visitors at Desire, and they know they are welcome in church, with and without shoes, despite Haitian society’s expectation that church attendance requires shoes, slacks and collared shirts for boys, and dresses, or skirts, with no bare shoulders for girls.
Pastor Jeannot’s commitment extends to all ages in the community of Desire. Last summer, a movie night in the church starring a popular Haitian comedian brought out the entire community in a way Pastor had never seen before in his church. Outreach to the community has become a priority to Pastor, and also provides a unique opportunity to creatively welcome in a new way beyond the church body, which mostly consists of kids in Pastor’s care.
“When I see the kids going to church and worshipping the Lord, it makes me very happy because some of them would have never been able to go to church. When I see them reading a book, and I know that I am the one investing in their education and their learning how to read. It makes me very happy,” Pastor Jeannot said.
The Lord has led GO Project to support the leadership of Pastor Jeannot as he cares for economic and social orphans at his village in Desire northeast of Gonaives. At GO Project, individuals or communities can contribute to life care and education costs of the orphans on a monthly basis or through long-term support of the pastors.