A few decades ago Bolosse was a top destination for Haiti's wealthy families; however, due to political unrest, failing governments and fatherless families this beautiful hill on the sea became a place of despair, misery, and one the poorest places in Port-au-Prince. The youth, turned toward violence, sex and drugs in search of finding a sense of purpose and gangsters ran the place.
2013 HTC graduate Jackson was one of those gangsters in Bolosse.
"I began life as a quiet and respectful boy, but growing up my mom and dad practiced Voodoo and when our mother left us things began to go very bad for me. I skipped school to get drunk and spent time with the bad guys in the ghetto. I became the leader of a gang. It brought me pleasure to start fights with the police and other gangs, and I felt powerful when it was one of my gang members who shot or killed someone. My community forced me to leave because I had become so dangerous.
I shouldn't be alive but God led me to Haiti Teen Challenge and my life is no longer the same. I learned that God is my Father and that I need to leave behind all my sins and follow Him. Jesus commands that,
"Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."
God really loves everybody and he wants me to tell others about his love. I am now welcomed in my community where with my HTC brothers and sisters work with young people who, because of their age, condition and academic levels cannot enter the HTC residential Program. Through the HTC Impact Club we bring them Hope, Love, and Encouragement that they can only find in God."
In Haiti 80% of people living in urban areas live in poverty. Life is hard in Bolosse,
but radical and sustainable change is occurring through the work that Jackson and other HTC graduates are doing at the HTC Impact Club. Every week over 90 people come to study God's word. They are studying the book of Romans and learning about what the foundations of a family are according to the heart of God. On Saturday evenings they gather together to worship. Like Jackson, the graduates of HTC are dedicated to teaching the hundreds of kids on the street about Jesus. They are also teaching math, English and computer skills and working with community leaders to help their neighbors have a better quality of life.
Haiti Teen Challenge believes that Haiti will not change until Haitian young men and women are transformed by Christ, equipped in the things of God, skills, training, and education, and mobilized with purpose to rebuild their cities. Recently visitors from the US offered their perspective after visiting Bolosse; on previous trips to Haiti they had spent most of their time "doing things for" the people in Cite Soleil (a community like Bolosse) and they were surprised by the comparison between the two communities. In Citi Soleil, they said, there is a lack of ownership of their problems, the streets are filthy, and visitors are mocked and distained. In Bolosse the community received them with a warm welcome and smiles, the streets were clean and Haitians are leading the initiatives.
St. Louis Jhonn from Bolosse says, "It is not easy to grow in the right direction in my community. I often made the wrong decisions when it came to making friends and fighting was my favorite game. One day a friend named Benedict, who had graduated from HTC, called me and said, "John instead of fighting I am inviting you to a club." I asked him if it was a football club he said, "No the name is HTC Impact Club. They teach young women and men to know their value and how to serve their community." I eventually visited them and I liked it. At the HTC Impact Club we pray together and discuss the needs of our community. I am different than I used to be, I have stopped the bad things in my life and people have started to trust me and respect me."
Thank you for your continued support to:
"Build Godly leaders of integrity, so that Haitians are empowered to rebuild their nation for God's glory."
HTC Impact Clubs bring Haiti Teen Challenge into the community and are fully lead by HTC graduates. HTC Impact Clubs are currently located in Bolosse and Fort Medcredi.
My name is Daïna and I am 16 years old. I grew up in a violent home where my dad beat and cursed my mom, claiming that we were not his children. Three years ago when my brother died my dad blamed my mother and threatened to kill her. They could not live together because of the abuse and anger.
At a young age my dad introduced me to addictive substances and I began to smoke, drink, and use cocaine. My mother cried every night because of my choices; I would beat her in response and finally left her house. First I went to my father's, but he demanded I earn money every night, refused to care for me and I felt threaten by his friends who wanted to use me sexually. My dad didn't want me so I left to live with my grandmother, but she would not feed me so I eventually ended up living in a ghetto. I was fatherless, homeless, and lived with a gangster who stole and killed innocents. I was 14 years.
One day I ran away from him, but my bad choices were only beginning. For $50.00 I was lured to a beach with some other Haitian women and on to a boat by some American men, I thought everything was going fine until the police came and put me in jail, and the FBI arrested the men. The story made the news and my reputation became even worse, so I created a new version of me. I called myself crazy and started a clan called the Piranhas. I was the leader of the group and every Saturday we would go partying. One night I met a guy, he told me that he was going to leave Haiti, had money to give me and told me to come get the money. I decided to go meet him at his office but when I got there he showed me his police uniform and a gun. My heart skipped a beat as he started to touch me. I begged him not to rape me he but he had his way with me and sent me home in a taxi. I never told anyone what had happened.
I was struggling at school; I used marijuana and after several failed semesters I was kicked out, I went to take the government exam for my last grade and didn't pass. I spent my days fighting, smoking crack, and taking other women's boyfriends. I got pregnant by a man, even though I didn't really love him, because I felt loved and had all his attention and affection, but at 4 months I aborted the baby.
My life was bad and I knew that I needed to be changed and renewed. I thought about a place my cousin had told me about called Haiti Teen Challenge. I wasn't sure I wanted to go, but I was living in the darkness, I was blind and could not see how to get out of the life I was in.
I have now been in the HTC program for six months. I have learned how to forgive, how to obey but most importantly I have accepted Jesus Christ. Knowing God has been the best choice I have ever made. He died so I could be in the place where I am now. Through His mercy He gives me a new life, He gives me light, He rescued me and accepted me into His family.
I am learning to love people and live with people around me. I still struggle with my addictions, the drugs, alcohol, and sex, but the morning chapels and the classes are redefining my future. When I graduate I want to continue my education in order to go back to my community to make a difference. I really love children so I want to teach them about how much God loves them, and about all that I learn here at HTC.
I want to say a big thank you to you, because you gave me the opportunity to be part of Haiti Teen Challenge. With Jesus by my side, I am working hard to become the best version of the person He created me to be. Please pray for me.
"Building godly leaders of integrity,
so Haitians are empowered to rebuild their nation."
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."
School is starting in Haiti and I am pursuing my dream to become a chef and attending Culinary School! This past summer I have enjoyed serving and sharpening my skills as I prepared the food for the children's Sports camp in Bolosse and for the VBS programs in several communities. This is only because of what God has done in my life, without him I would be in prison or dead.
My name is Innocent Jean Rodrigue Junior. I grew up with my day and stepmother in a community where most of the people were living a bad life. My parents worked hard so that they could give me a good education and a better life, but I made many bad decisions and never listened to them. I smoked, drank alcohol, did drugs, raped girls and stole things.
Everyone in my community knew that I was doing bad stuff and they called me crazy. Because of my choices to take all kind of drugs, I would overdose and passed out. I lost my self respect and the respect of others around me. My friends avoided me and my family turned their backs on me.
One day a good friend, a graduate of Haiti Teen Challenge, came to me and told me about the HTC program. He believed that I could change, but I thought he was joking, because my life was too far gone. He persisted and talked to my parents, my family, and my girlfriend. He asked them to encourage me to go HTC. With their encouragement I finally decided to go with him to fill the application at HTC.
I was accepted into the program. When I got there it wasn't easy to handle. I was always mad because I didn't want anyone to approach me, I was hard. The staff talked to me about my attitude; they told me they would like to help me discover a new way to live by following the word of God. With their help I choose to follow Christ as my Lord and Savior. Galatians 6:17 says,
"From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus."
Thank you for giving me the change to discover a new life, a new hope and now the opportunity to attend culinary school.
My name is Jenne-Love and I am 20 years old. I was born in a Christian family, but my Dad left, leaving my mother with 4 children. Because he had been the bread winner my mother had to find ways to care for us and feed us on her own. I came to learn that my Dad had many other women and because this life style of multiple women was so important to him he left the church. He died when I was about 8 years old.
With no father to protect me, I was abused by many men from an early age. This led me to live a sexually active life. I partied every weekend. I smoked, drank alcohol, and did whatever I wanted. I became a prostitute because I thought I could help my mother care for the needs of my siblings.
I hated many things in life including myself and my family, but God pulled me out of the abyss and put me where I am today. My transformation started when my big brother Stanley started in the Haiti Teen Challenge Men's program. The new life I saw in him and his encouragement convinced me to change my life. In November of 2015 I enrolled in the Haiti Teen Challenge Women's program.
This is the best choice I have ever made. God is doing extraordinary things in my life. I have confessed my sins and accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. He is now my guide. I have learned that God forgives me and will always be faithful to me.
Through my daily morning and evening mediation, I am getting to know my identity in Christ. I have learned to be honest. I now recognize that I cannot do anything good without God's help. The love of God is in me and His love changed me. God gave me hope, and I now have love in my heart for my family. I am a new creature and now I live for God.
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.