From Rural Haiti to Eastern University

Meet Campolo Scholar Berdy JeanMary: In His Own Words

Berdy and the boys from the orphanage shining shoes.

I grew up in rural Haiti. As a child, I attended church with my mom, but I didn’t really know God. All of that changed on February 20th, 2010 – a day that I will never forget. I had been living on my own since the January 2010 earthquake that made it unsafe for me to live in my mother’s home. I often slept on the roof of my aunt’s house. On other days I stayed with friends. But on this particular afternoon, I heard a young preacher share the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that awakened my spirit. I accepted Jesus as my Savior and became a new person. I got involved with various ministries, such as Shoe Shine (cleaning people’s shoes on Saturday to invite them to church), Kids Club (using donations to feed children a hot meal and share the word of God), and Movie Night (using movie night as entertainment for the community to discourage them from visiting illicit clubs).

While I enjoyed each of these ministries, my favorite was working with children. I became a translator for mission teams and received donations from American churches who witnessed the impact my friends and I had on kids. With these funds, we were able to continue the meal programs and began teaching English and Bible studies. Last year, God called me to open a home for eight boys, ages 6-11, who used to live in the streets. He led me through all of the things that go into creating a loving home: raising money, purchasing a house, hiring staff, and much more. My goal as a mentor to these boys is to provide health, security, and education so that they may grow up to do the same. I want to mobilize disciples that will conquer Haiti for God and help our country to rise out of an economic and spiritual crisis.

I believe that faith is the greatest gift. In Haiti, I didn’t sit idly by and wait for things to improve – I learned to discern God’s call and act on faith. I taught myself English because my clothes were too dirty to sit with others in a free English class in the village. I got occasional work as a translator. Little by little, I found myself on a path. I am not too dirty now to sit with students from different countries and cultures, receiving an education in the United States. God made this possible because he has a plan for me. Today in Haiti, more than 90% of the population is unemployed, and 85% live on less than one dollar per day. Even though I now live in the most powerful country in the world, God has called me to one day leave all that I could have in America to return to Haiti to make a difference. And, I trust in him and his plan – he has brought me this far.

Berdy JeanMary and children he helps serve in Haiti.

Berdy and children he helps serve in Haiti.

I have many ideas to bring change to my homeland, to alleviate suffering and grow disciples, but I know that I need skills and strategic planning to accomplish my vision. Nothing is too big for my God. I hope I can learn to be able to teach what I have learned to young men in my country who do not have the opportunity to attend college. I visited Eastern University for the first time this fall and immediately fell in love with the Christian community and commitment to leadership development in ministry. And when I saw that their Economic Development studies focus on undeveloped areas, I knew that God had led me right here.

I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to be a Campolo Scholar at the Campolo Center for Ministry – to learn from these leaders and be a part of something that is bigger than me.

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