I grew up in Bolosse. My parents never got along, they were always arguing and my father had to made all kinds of bad deals to take care of us. When I was 11 he was put into prison for 3 years, this was a punishment on my whole family. I could no longer go to school; people in the neighborhood pointed at us, made fun of us and humiliated us. When he was released my dad promised that he would never return to his old life, but months passed without him finding a job and he started doing bad deals again.
In February of 2014, my father was shot and killed. It caused me great pain. I saw my father as a failure, he destroyed our lives and left us no inheritance, it was difficult to even eat. I began to use drugs and alcohol and sought happiness in all kinds of sexual pleasures. I was trying to fill the void inside of me, and creating even more pain for my mother. I quit visiting her so I would not see her cry any more.
I was now the failure, I thought I was nothing, but I called on God to help me.
A friend told me about Haiti Teen Challenge and I signed up for the program. It was really difficult at first, but I learned how much God valued me and I asked him to be my Lord and my Savior. From that moment I felt liberated, God took me out of the prison I was living in. I was no longer afraid and I lost my desire for alcohol and drugs.
I couldn't have imagined that my life could be different from my father's. I just graduated with the Promotion 11 class. I am getting closer to God, I trust him, and I pray regularly now. A verse that comforts me is: Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me."
When I go home to my community I want to be a light. Bolosse is a really, really dark place, I want to bring light. People love rap music and I want to use rap to bring glory to God. People may laugh at me, but I cannot wait to share Jesus. Jesus changes lives.
Thank you. God bless you!
Sunday morning, the chairs are filled as alumni and students of HTC, their families and people from all over Port Au Prince show up to study God's word and worship at Rendezvous Christ Church a community outreach component of Haiti Teen Challenge. Jhonny, an HTC graduate leads a Sunday school class on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and Kenlove, a student in the HTC Women's Program, is helping to teach children about Jesus through stories and songs. Here is her story.
My name is Kenlove, and I didn't grow up with a mom or dad. I lived with my sister and her husband who couldn't keep me from hanging out with gangs, thieves and murderers. Sadly, they were the ones who taught me how to live. They influenced me to follow their lifestyle of many sexual partners, drugs, alcohol, smoke, and prostitution. I didn't have any respect from my neighborhood and I was ashamed when people talked about me. I stopped going to school because I preferred partying, pleasure was the center of my life.
But when my sister witnessed the changed lives in the young men in our community who had gone through Haiti Teen Challenge she worked to see if I could come into the Women's Program. I was placed with people who loved me and my life changed through the words of God. I asked God to forgive me for everything I did in my past and now I have salvation. I lift up my hands and thank God, He is now the principal actor in the movie of my life.
Nothing can make me go back to the life I used to lead. This June I will be graduating. Please pray for me as I return to my neighborhood to share with them what I have learned about God and a better way to live.
June 3rd will be the 10th Men's Class and the 1st Women's Class to graduate. As the number of graduates grows their impact is increasing, the "ripple effect" has begun. Just like the early church, Christian community is growing within neighborhoods long forgotten by those in government and even the local church. In the next three years Haiti Teen Challenge has great plans. Our Strategic Plan focuses on 5 Key areas.
1. Program: Ensure program is relational and intimate in nature, and transformative as a result. Measure success in terms of student outcomes.
2. Development: Increase awareness of and grow financial support across the U.S. and in Haiti. Through fundraising that is cost effective, goal-oriented and growth-oriented build a sustainable ministry and fund the growth vision.
3. Leadership Capacity: Grow HTC and build an army of godly leaders in staff and students strictly adhering to the mission and values yet recognizing the great need of the nation.
4. Economic Engines: Evaluate and launch business opportunities, which utilize HTC students and build an income stream for the HTC ministry.
5. Finance: Function with the utmost integrity, accountably and transparency, and support the strategic plan of HTC.
6. Governance: Provide documented processes with a biblical view that fosters high performance and support for the HTC Board, HTC Foundation Board, and the HTC management in achieving the mission and vision of the organization. To ultimately transfer all design, planning and decision making to HTC Foundation and Haitian.
Thank you for supporting Haiti Teen Challenge in our mission to,
"Build godly leaders of integrity, so that Haitians are empowered to rebuild their nation."
This past month Haiti Teen Challenge welcomed our second class of 12 young women. These young women came from the streets. Abused and filled with despair no longer, they are being immersed in God's forgiveness, grace and mercy, growing to understand their purpose and value, and gaining life skills and an education that will transform their lives.
Dropping off his daughter one father proclaimed that God had answered his prayer. He knew that his daughter was prostituting herself and no matter how hard he beat her, again and again she returned to the streets. He said that her life had been save for he was convinced that without Haiti Teen Challenge he would eventually have killed her.
The ninth class of young men graduated from Haiti Teen Challenge. On graduation day M. Hillaire Jackson, Commander of the Haitian Police challenged the graduates to use their gifts to be all that God created them to be, to show others the love of Christ, and to serve their communities.
M. Hillaire Jackson said, "The vision of HTC is to produce leaders of integrity and that means that you must be lights, a blessing for Haiti. God is looking for champions and you must stay righteous in the most difficult situations, to have the same life in private as you have in public. Your goal must be to honor God's word, to be trustworthy, and to leave a legacy by transferring your knowledge to others."
To become fully equipped leaders the next step for these HTC graduates is to complete their education. They have received a mentor for guidance and accountability, and scholarships to achieve certification in a trade or to obtain a degree that helps to meet the needs in their nation.
Haitian helping Haitians. Since the direct hit of Hurricane Matthew on southern and western edge of the nation Haiti Teen Challenge has been packing and distributing food and water, cleaning up debris, and repairing homes. Over 650,000 meals have been provided for those in need and over 50,000 families have been helped.
When a team of Haiti Teen Challenge students and members from the Haiti Teen Challenge Rendez Vous Christ Church traveled to the devastated area of Port Salut they were the hands and feet of Christ. As they walked though the neighborhoods passing out food and water, they witnessed about Christ to those who were affected by the Hurricane, and as they reconstructed a roof on a house, which belonged to a family of seven, they wrote on every piece of wood a scripture verse that would bless the home.
For the next year Haiti Teen Challenge will continue to send teams to serve the hurricane victims, and with partnerships will focus on rebuilding the community of Coteaux. In this community 85-90% of all the buildings were damaged or destroyed, and all agriculture, including the livestock, were wiped out. Part of HTC's plan is to put a roof on two churches and a school and help 40 families repair or build their homes.
Your support is what is making this possible. We are deeply humbled by your sacrifice so that young men and women can be transformed by the power of Christ, equipped to lead and mobilized to serve. Thank you
HTC's Graduation Festivities
It was again a great joy to travel to Haiti for the 8th promotion. I wish that you all could have been there to see the fields ripe to harvest and experience the power of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is palpable and when you are in His presence you have no desire to leave. My words are so inadequate to express what I saw and experienced.
In spite of a blinding sun and daily temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, often without air conditioning; the events surrounding this graduation, daily devotions, chapel messages, foot washing service, communion and fellowship was life changing. To see and hear testimonies of both Phase I and Phase II graduates was inspirational. At graduation the HTC men and women students performed a dramatic dance demonstrating our broken relationship with God and how death and destruction is conquered by the love and redemption of Christ. The Haitian audience exploded into cheers and tears. Truly, the message of deliverance in this drama transcends language and culture.
We were also privileged to witness our group of HTC ladies choreograph and sing a rousing rendition of Bill Withers famous tune "Lean on Me". The Women's Program in less than one year under the leadership of Suzette Volcy is truly astounding and the power of the Holy Spirit is evident in the countenance of these wonderful young women.
Bolosse and Rendezvous Church
Many of our students and graduates come from the poverty ridden and violent community of Bolosse. The Lord has directed us as a ministry to adopt this community for Christ. It is very clear that our students are making an IMPACT in this community by their EXAMPLE. They have erected solar lights, basketball standards, painted and striped the courts, cleaned the soccer fields, set up a community center for preaching the gospel and regularly involve the community in neighborhood cleanup. Upon our arrival at the HTC Impact Club in Bolosse it was evident that the Holy Spirit is transforming hearts and lives of those who live there; smiling faces of adults and hordes of little children following us and holding our hands. This reception is markedly different than our first visit. Our young men will soon be erecting playground equipment in a cramped courtyard for the children to enjoy - can't you hear the children's laughter and voices echoing through the streets?
Shortly after our visit Julio and Suzette led a team of HTC students to conduct a sports camp in Bolosse. It was attended by over 400 kids, with at least forty raising their hands to receive a new life in Jesus Christ!
Finally, HTC graduate and seminarian Samuel Sydney has accepted the assignment to be a Pastor on the streets of Bolosse - preaching the gospel, discipling baby Christians and serving the community with prayerful service.
Pastor Julio Volcy, HTC Executive Director, sensing that the fields are ripe to harvest took the initiative to construct a 4,000 square foot chapel expansion at the Phase I Men's Center in Delmas. More than 700 attended the first service on June 19 at Rendezvous Church with twenty five committing their lives to Christ 18 baptized.
Thank you all for sowing into the ministry of Haiti Teen Challenge. It is an honor and privilege to serve the Lord in this way and SEE the fruit that He is producing through the obedience of Julio, Suzette and the staff.
HTC Board President
It was my joy to have such an experience at Haiti Teen Challenge's first ever in country fund raiser at the La Reserve restaurant in Petionville just over one week ago. The evening was highlighted by liberating student testimonies and Ruth François' powerful vocals which penetrated the evening air. "Waiting here for you" evoked an emotional response from all in range of hearing.
A soaking rain began to fall at the start of an ASK. To the human mind it was a bad thing but God knew much better. The hundred or so in attendance huddled in together under the only covering available as envelopes were passed out. The
Lord was well pleased with the sacrificial offering given from the hearts of cheerful givers that night. The seventy five guests gave the equivalent of ten years wages of the average Haitian! No one seemed to be in a hurry as we all lingered in the presence of the spirit where language and backgrounds were irrelevant. We enjoyed a fellowship amidst the unique Haitian interpretations of famous hymns performed instrumentally with sax, keys and drums. It is the first time on my many trips to Haiti I said within myself - Lord if you want me to stay here I will".
The Lords does not ask us for anything that we do not have. He asks only that we are willing to let go of what we do have trusting that he can multiply it by faith. It was breakthrough for me to see that the Haitians understand this Kingdom principle of stewardship. The Lord has given us all that we need to accomplish his purpose.
As Thanksgiving approaches we at Haiti Teen Challenge pray for the peace and health of your loved ones, knowing that all good and perfect gifts come from the Father above. The really important things on this journey are not material at all, they are Faith, Family and Friends.
Thank you for you for being a part of our Haiti Teen Challenge family. We pray that you will share God's joy with our Haitian brothers and sisters as you celebrate his goodness with your family and friends.
Haiti Teen Challenge, President
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.
Port au Prince, Haiti
A spirit of humility saturates the air as visitors bow down before the graduates
and wash their feet, the graduates in turn wash the feet of the other students, the impact evident on all faces. Jesus is present as the love for one another is exemplified through this act of service.
Proud young men march in cap and gowns to received recognition for their achievement. The chapel is full of family, friends and supporters, former graduates are there to cheer them on, they are brothers, fraternité.
A local businessman cries as he listens to the stories of change, the stories of redemption, the stories of vision. These are young men who are courageous, willing to get out of the boat and walk, willing to risk it all. Once gang members, once abusers of alcohol, drugs and women they have chosen a new way. They know they have purpose, they know they have forgiveness and they want to share their joy, their talents with their families and neighborhoods. They have caught the vision of restoration and leadership.
A visit to a graduate's home sparks great interest in the streets. He shares his vision for his community as we stand outside a boarded up Voodoo temple,his old base of operations. He is the former gang leader of this place in Port au Prince and several of his old members surround him as he speaks. They want to see and hear from him. He is different, he astonishes his neighbors and his father, they want to know more. His father says, " My son is a new man, I want what he has." way. They know they have purpose, they know they have forgiveness and they want to share their joy, their talents with their families and neighborhoods. They have caught the vision of restoration and leadership.
These victories are because of your gifts and support. Our hope is that your heart will be moved to offer a future to the many young men who are waiting in line to enter Haiti Teen Challenge by making a contribution and that next time you will be here to celebrate with us!