Wednesday, February 5th, 2020
In 2009, Jacques and his younger brother, Jean, co-founded the Source of Life safe housein the capital suburb of Carrefour with ten children, officially opening the doors on February 6th. Following the earthquake in 2010 and his brother’s death in 2012, Jacques continued to lead the home; he has persevered, and God has given him strength to meet every obstacle. We give Glory on this 11th anniversary for what God has done in helping Source of Life Ministries rescue and raise 18 children at our home!!!
Safe House damaged in Earthquake
As the earth trembled on January 12, 2010, the 3-bedroom safe house where 10 children and staff lived in Carrefour swayed back and forth as though it might topple. When the shaking ended, the house was still standing, but the walls had cracked. A tsunami warning was issued for Haiti, so Jean escaped the coastal area of Carrefour with the children and staff to a nearby mountain overnight. They returned to Carrefour the next day and took refuge in a small unfinished house several blocks from the original safe house. It did not have enough space to properly accommodate everyone, but it had not been harmed by the earthquake.
Neither the children nor staff were willing to go inside the house as at least 54 more tremors shook the ground in the days following the earthquake. Weeks were spent living in the “street,” placing blankets on top of the dirt where they sat in the daytime and slept at night. This was common for many people in Haiti as a result of what they felt during the earthquake and the damage all around them afterward. (We say “street” because it was not like a street in the US. In the picture on the right, you can see the stones and dirt in the “street” where the children and staff slept.) Eventually the children and staff ventured onto the 10’ x 10’ porch at night to sleep, then moved inside the little 2-bedroom house after some months passed.
The Path from Carrefour to Gressier
It became clear very quickly to Jacques that the little family needed to be moved somewhere outside the suburb area. Yes, the children had a stable roof over their heads, food and loving care, but the location was not ideal for raising children, and they had nowhere to play outside. Jean began looking for land outside Carrefour. After he located some properties that were for sale, a group of men, including Jacques and Pastor Vern, flew to Haiti to consider them. They looked at several properties, then went to the one in Gressier and immediately felt the peace of God about it. They negotiated with the owner and agreed to purchase the land.
There were many obstacles to overcome in order to move the safe home to the Gressier property. First was the financial issue. A successful large fundraiser in May 2010 provided the money for a very large down payment on the land. Monthly payments were set up with the owner. Fundraising continued, and God touched the hearts of people to begin to donate toward the new home. Praise God the entire debt was paid-off a couple years after moving into the home!
The move from the Carrefour area was critical for the children’s upbringing, yet it was difficult for the ladies on staff as they considered it. For over 3 years (2010 until the move in 2013), the children had nowhere to play outside except the small porch on the front of the house. But the ladies had lived in the Carrefour area all their lives and felt like they were moving from the city to the desert. After all, the land on the new property was so barren that there was not even a small tree to provide shade for Jacques and Pastor Vern while they talked on their first visit at the property. Still Jacques promised the ladies they would like the home in Gressier and be safe there.
Before construction of the safe house could begin, access to the property needed to be created. When the men initially visited, the existing “road” ended long before the edge of the property. (And we say “road” because it isn’t as good as some farm roads in the US. It could only be used by a vehicle if it had not recently rained.) Walking from the existing road to the property was almost impossible. Even motorcycles that are commonly used on paths in Haiti were not able to make the trek to the building site. In addition to the rough terrain, there was a stream at the bottom of the hill which created very muddy conditions.
Caterpillar bull dozers began digging the ground to create a road in May 2011. Truckload after truckload of stone and gravel were dumped on ¼ mile of the existing road plus on the new road being built to access the property. An immense culvert was built and transported to the site to create a bridge across the muddy gully at the bottom of the hill.
Construction began on the new home and dining hall in January 2012. It definitely was not a rapid process! There were funds to raise, normal delays that come with building projects, and the reality that almost nothing happens quickly in Haiti! As June 2013 arrived, Jacques considered the options. If the children did not begin the next school year in Gressier, it would become necessary to delay the move until the 2014 school year. A decision was made to move the SLM family to Gressier in August even though the buildings were not complete. Staff and children had been sleeping on the floors in a 2-bedroom house for 3-1/2 years (17 people total). In Jacques’ words, “I was thirsty to get them out of Carrefour, and the house was livable. It had a roof and doors.” Permanent floors had not been laid, and there was no electricity, but the well had been dug and was providing running water. The bedrooms were large enough to fit beds for all the children, toilet and shower stalls were ready to use, and the dining hall was also usable.
The reaction of the children on moving day was astounding. Though Jacques felt a little frustrated that the home was not as complete and nice as he wanted it to be, they filled a big truck with everyone’s belongings, loaded the children into another vehicle, and headed to Gressier. When the little caravan arrived at the new Source of Life property, Jacques was anxious to begin unloading the truck, but the children had all seemed to disappear. Then looking to his right, Jacques saw something that he will never forget. The children had spontaneously formed a circle with one another, were raising both hands in the air and singing and praising God for moving them to their new home! At the end of the day, after the work was completed and each person was lying in their “very own” bed, Dinia’s voice could be heard floating above the rafters saying, “Papi Jacques, I feel like I’m in paradise.”
Praise and Glory to God
The book of Zechariah in the Old Testament spoke of the time when God’s Temple was being rebuilt in Jerusalem after Israel’s return from exile. The work looked overwhelming, and the beginnings were disappointing in the eyes of the older people who had seen the glory of the former temple. During that time, God gave two important messages to Zechariah,
“It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies…”
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”
Zechariah 4:6 & 10
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has clearly been at work. On this 11th anniversary of the founding of the safe house, we give praise and glory to God for where He has brought Source of Life Ministries. He lifted the ministry out of the crowded conditions of the Port-au-Prince suburb of Carrefour and established a new dwelling in the middle of open territory in Gressier. Though the beginnings looked small, through God’s power and the faithfulness of His people, the work has continued. The initial buildings have been completed, a wall surrounding the property was built, a second dorm building has been completed, a church and children’s pavilion have been added, and a large guest house is under construction. The adjoining property has been purchased, providing over 2 more acres of land to develop as God births dreams and moves Source of Life Ministries forward in the coming years. Let’s rejoice together! May Jesus’ name continue to be honored as ministry continues in the lives of our children and the community of Gressier, Haiti.