For many pastors in Haiti, they never imagined themselves as being a pastor. In Pastor Isaac’s case, it elicited significant feelings when others would look to him as though he was expected to be a pastor.
“When I was growing up I didn’t expect to be a Pastor. I thought being a Pastor was hard, because you have to always have something to share and wisdom to give. I thought that someone being a pastor should have a lot of money so when people come and ask for help, you have money to share with them. When I was a kid, there was a man that called me pastor, and it made me really mad. Anytime missionaries came to my church, they called me pastor. Sometimes I was really sad, because it didn’t want to be a pastor. When I was in 9th grade, I remember one time when all the kids were playing around calling me ‘Little Pastor,’ and I said, ‘God if you want me to be a pastor, I don’t want anyone to call me pastor until I have enough money to help people.’ After that, no one called me pastor, and I forgot that I had said that to God until I was much older.”
Pastor continued through law school, started school for education and was taking theological classes when he and his wife moved to Marmelade from Gonaives. However, they were unable to find a church that fit their desire for worship, and started having a prayer meeting in their home in 2001. The meeting continued to grow until their home was too small. The people suggested moving into a classroom to not only have their prayer meetings, but also church on Sunday mornings with Pastor leading them. He kept telling them no, and putting it off, then he says, “I had something in my head that I couldn’t explain to my wife or myself. I was in a bad situation. I felt like God wanted me to start a church, but I didn’t want to. I felt like there was something in my heart that I could not resist. One afternoon, when I came back from Gonaives it was a Saturday afternoon and I said to my wife, tomorrow we are going to worship in the classroom of the school. So when I went to church on that first Sunday we had 7 people. My son who was 2 years old, he represented all the kids in the church. And my wife represented all the women in the church. And my friend who could come represented all the people that could come. And the 2 ladies who came represented all the people who do not know Jesus. Out of the two of them, one of them stayed.”
The same year the prayer meeting turned into church was the same year the school opened at Pastor Isaac’s village after having been at a different location since 1995. Pastor didn’t start housing kids at the village until 2012, though he had already been helping kids through school while they were still living with their families since 1992. Seeing students gain an education is a big passion of Pastor, “Another thing that gives me joy is how the kids are doing in school. Some of them like school and they will finish well. Some of the older kids, I would like to see them finish high school and go to university so they can help themselves. I know that not all can finish high school, and those I want to see them go to professional school so they have skill to make a living.”
Creativity in teaching the kids is a big component of not only school during the week, but also music lessons on Sunday mornings with their Sunday school classes. Inspired by several students who grew up in Marmelade and were taught classical music to gain good jobs as musicians in the capital of Port-au-Prince, Pastor has two congregation members who give their time to train the kids at Marmelade in theory and classical music. Observing the class on a Sunday morning, or catching a one-on-one lesson with the kids is a beautiful image of God’s people pouring their love, gifts and passions into the next generation.
As a local judge, Pastor was continually confronted with people from the community who were at a loss of how to care for kids who had lost their parents. Aunts, uncles, no relatives wanted to take them in, so Pastor would assign someone to care for them in situations that were not always the best for the child. After years of many people seeking him for wisdom as a pastor and having to make rulings as a judge, he felt a solution was to create a home for the kids that needed someone to champion their future. “In Haiti, if you are the one with innovative ideas, you are always the innovator,” Pastor frequently says when talking about why he began to care for kids in the community of Marmelade.
Although for Pastor Isaac, caring for the kids is rooted in a place he continually points his congregation to through his Bible studies creatively disguised as sermons on Sunday mornings, “I was always thinking about what the Bible says that we need to take care of the widows the orphans and the strangers, but I didn’t have money to support them yet. While you are preaching the Gospel it is good to do some action, by doing action you preach the Gospel as well. The Bible says that when you support someone who doesn’t have any other person to help them you are helping God himself. That is all the motivation I have to do something for the kids and change the community as well. Another thing that motivates me, when I see people I used to help and today they have become someone helpful for society, that is another motivation I have to keep doing what I am doing.”
The Lord has led GO Project to support the leadership of Pastor Isaac as he cares for economic and social orphans at his village in Marmelade east of Gonaives into the mountains. 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.