Last month we told you the story of how God divinely crossed the paths of Jacques Merine and Pastor Jeff Riedel (director of Haitian Christian Projects) during Source of Life’s transition from the suburbs of Carrefour to the Gressier area of Haiti. That encounter was only one of many times God has supernaturally put people into position who have played significant roles in developing and supporting SLM’s work in Haiti. When Jacques thinks about these people, the owner of Battery Warehouse in Lancaster, PA comes to mind who he describes as “being with me since DAY ONE.” This month we share that story with you…
Joe and Sue Luers, owners of Battery Warehouse in Lancaster, PA, began supporting the work of Jacques Merine in Haiti before Source of Life Ministries was officially formed. Their first association with his work was when he spoke at Calvary Assembly of God Church in Hanover (now known as Captivate Community Church). The goal of Jacques and his wife Marie was to raise funds to help a group in Haiti known as “the prayer warriors” to build a church in the area of Lamondrit, Haiti. The congregation at Calvary A/G was inspired by Jacques’ humble spirit, and they committed a sizeable amount of money to build the church in Haiti. Shortly afterward, the Merine family decided to make Calvary Assembly their home church.
Truly no one at Calvary Assembly of God imagined, but the course of history was actually being changed when they welcomed Jacques Merine to speak to their church.
Jacques had entered the USA years earlier “with a ticket and the shirt on his back.” He didn’t like his native country and often found himself embarrassed to answer when people asked his nationality. In fact, he despised Haiti so much that he had moved from Florida to Pennsylvania in an attempt to distance himself from anything close to the country, but God kept presenting him with needs in Haiti and tugging at his heart to help. He responded to God’s prompting to raise funds for the church in Lamondrit, truly hoping it would be the end of his work in Haiti.
Jacques often explains that for two years a voice in his head told him he should open a children’s home to help “street children” in Haiti. He wrestled with the thought for a long time, giving God every possible excuse why he could not establish a children’s home in Haiti. Finally one day he scheduled a meeting with Pastor Vern Annis, sincerely believing that his pastor would confirm that he did not have training or natural talents to lead such a ministry and would agree that the thought was not plausible. Then Jacques thought he could say, “See God; I tried!” Instead Pastor Vern said, “If God is telling you to do it, then you better do it.” Plans began to be made to open a safe house in Haiti. When the new ministry plans were presented at Calvary A/G, Joe and Sue Luers’ hearts were touched, and they began to talk to God about what He wanted them to do about it.
…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” Isaiah 46:9b-11
The safe house was opened on February 6, 2009. Eleven months later, the home was damaged when a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, making it necessary to move the children into a smaller, undamaged home nearby. Three weeks later, Joe made his first trip to Haiti when he, Jacques, and Pastor Vern flew into the Dominican Republic, then made their way across the border into Haiti. The goal of the trip was to provide money, to help find food and water for the staff and children, and to encourage Jacques’ brother, Jean, who was the “father” at the safe house. The three men slept inside the safe house at night, however most Haitians were afraid to sleep inside buildings after experiencing the earthquake and ongoing tremors. Thankfully before the end of their visit, the men were able to talk the children into sleeping inside the house.
Joe remembers a very funny moment during the visit. As the men sat inside one day to discuss the situation, the children were supposed to stay outside. He remembers little faces peeking around the corner from time-to-time and finally wiggling their way into the room where the men were meeting. Some ended up on laps and began running their fingers through the white men’s hair, which was so different from their own. Then the children lifted up Joe’s pant leg, and Jacques began to laugh. They were checking to see if Joe was white down there too!
After returning from Haiti, a newspaper in Lancaster printed an article about Thirsty Souls Ministry (the “umbrella” for SLM), Source of Life Ministry, and Joe’s Battery Warehouse. An electrician with the city of Lancaster who happened to see the article in the newspaper came into Joe’s store, gave Joe his business card, and said to let him know if he could help in any way. (Keep that in mind!)
In the coming months, as plans began to be made to move the children out of Carrefour to the new property in Gressier, Joe was elected to figure out how to create electrical power on the property without running generators 24/7. Remember, Joe owns a battery warehouse, so he knows batteries, but he had no knowledge of solar power or electricity. A solar business associate helped Joe figure out the number of batteries and number of solar panels that would be required, but they still needed an electrician to help tie the plan together. Joe describes what happened next as 110% God.
Remembering that an electrician had given him his business card, Joe decided to contact him. The problem was: after looking in all the safe places where he routinely stored important information, the card could not be found. One morning, he decided he was not going to work until he found that card. After searching for hours with no success, Joe relented and went to work late. Are you ready for this? That same day, a man walked into Joe’s store. He looked familiar to Joe, so he kept looking at the man, wondering if he was the electrician who had given his business card to him almost a year earlier. Yes, it was Chris Brosey, the electrician from the city of Lancaster!
Joe explained about the need to create electrical power completely off-grid, then he offered Chris a so-called deal: “You get your own passport, buy your own air ticket to Haiti, and we’ll give you a little food and a place to sleep on the floor.” (A deal no one could pass-up, right?) Chris agreed to pray about it. We’re not going to tell you much about that now because we’re planning a sequel to focus on Chris’s story! By the way, Joe saw that business card lying in a very obvious place when he returned to his home that night!
In months following, a generator, solar panels, batteries, wind turbines and other equipment necessary for the electrical system were shipped on a container to Haiti. Joe, Chris, and a team from the Four-Square Church in Gettysburg, PA went to Haiti in December of 2013 to set up the system and work on other projects. The result of their work is a sophisticated power system that is not often seen in Haiti. Twenty-four hours a day, electricity is available to power a refrigerator, pump water from the well, provide light, operate fans, and even charge phones.
In Joe’s words,
“All of this to help make life better for children living in a very desperate place; their home has become a quiet oasis in a very chaotic country.”
“Both Sue and I relish watching as the children grow into adults knowing Jesus as their Savior while receiving good nutrition, health care, and a good education. We can’t wait to see what God is going to do through their lives to further His Kingdom in Haiti as they help others come to know Jesus and work to improve their country from within.”
Joe says, “There is very little reason to focus on me; the focus is on God. He has blessed us and given us the ability through our business to provide funds to help Source of Life Ministries. This is the story of God connecting a young Haitian man who previously hated his country, a husband and wife who own a battery business, and an electrician who was afraid to go to Haiti to make a tremendous impact on a group of children in a very poor country. We can’t wait to see what God is going to do next. Stay tuned!”
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24