By Jackson, shared at Graduation June 2014
It is a pleasure to share my testimony and about the power of God and the work He is doing in my life. I want to share with you Matthew 16:24. Then Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." After I read this I said to myself, I shouldn't be alive because God says you need to leave all your sins and all your bad things in your life and follow me, so you can be my son. God really loves everybody, it must be true, because people always say that.
When I was growing up, my mom and dad practiced Voodoo. They used to give me money to go and buy them alcohol, and candles so they could do these things. In March 2002, my mother left Haiti and that is when things began to get more difficult for me. When I passed my exams, I started to skip school to drink alcohol, smoke and fight on the street with other students. But while I was doing these bad things, no one in my home or community knew. They thought that I was very respectful and quiet. Five years later, I was in 10th grade and things got worse for me. I argued with my father and said many bad things to him. That is when my community realized that I was a bad guy. I began to come home late, drunk and making bad friends. I knew all the bad guys in the ghetto and it was my pleasure to get drunk with them. While I was drunk I would throw empty bottles at the police cars and fight with people. I used to enjoy when I heard shooting. I was happy when someone died where I lived and when it was one of my gang members who shot them. I was happy when my gang was fighting with the police or some other gang. My community was very dangerous and because of the bad things I did, I had to run away from the police and the other gangs. There were some places I could not go, because I was in danger.
I got to a point where I was not myself anymore, and I asked myself, "is there any other way my life can be than the way I am living right now?" God listened and sent two friends who told me about Haiti Teen Challenge. I decided to apply and they called me in for an interview. While in my interview I accepted Jesus for my Savior.
After one month, they called me to enter the program. In the program I started to know about Jesus. My life is changing, I spent the whole time at Haiti Teen Challenge for the transformation right now. Because that change in my life, I can start thinking about my future. I love people. My vision now is to change my community and to change the bad guys quality of life. I want to teach them about Jesus, but using the same transformation I have been given in Haiti Teen Challenge. Brothers and sisters, give your life to Jesus. He loves you and he has plans for you. May God bless you. Jackson's story is not unique. Many of the students in Haiti Teen Challenge come from lives of violence and addictions. Each student has their own story of how their lives have been transformed through Haiti Teen Challenge.
Jackson graduated from Phase 1 of Haiti Teen Challenge in June 2014. He brought a group of people from Minnesota to visit his home and community prior to graduation. The people in his community are so proud of who he has become and the vision he has for his community. While at his home, his father said thank you to Haiti Teen Challenge and said that he wanted what Jackson had. Jackson's father and sister accepted Christ because of the transformation they saw in him.
We ask that you continue to pray for Jackson, his family and community. Also pray for the many of young men like Jackson that want to change their lives from violence and addiction.