Collecting the stories of our students is the part of my job that most forces me to count my blessings. I say “force”, but to be fair, their stories bring gratefulness upon me effortlessly.
I am just so thankful of God’s gracious pursuit of us.
There might be lots of differences. I may have no dreams or witchdoctors or prophets in mine, like many in other parts of the world do. But each story captures the same image that is resounding in mine: Jesus with his arms outstretched in great love, in great sacrifice, waiting and ready and alive and well, from before we were born until today.
When there was NOTHING good, He was there. When everything was incredibly broken, He waited and met and healed. When there was nobody, there was Jesus. When there was no good plan, there was His. When the cycle of self and sin and death and destruction was begged to be broken, He broke in, Mighty.
Short of this amazing truth, I just don’t now how in the world Kervens and his scrawny, beautiful self is with us today.
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save.
Meet Kervens, and rejoice with me.
When I was a child, I was born into a non-Christian family who didn’t know God at all. My mother and father were two people who fell in love, but my father was already married to another woman and had children with her. My mom became pregnant with me, gave me to her parents as soon as I was born and left, and she and my father split up.
So I grew up in Au-Bois, calling my grandmother and grandfather mother and father. My grandfather was a witchdoctor, and many of my aunts and uncles also lived there. They paid for me to go to school, and everything else I learned was with them.
In 2009, my grandfather died, and as soon as he did, people from the local church were always coming to our house to talk to my grandmother and aunts about Jesus. My grandfather would never let them do that before. Men and women were always coming, asking to pray for our family, telling us about following Jesus, telling us about sin, telling us about salvation, about heaven.
And every single time they left, even though they weren’t ever talking to me, I thought about everything they were saying, and thought about how I wanted to do that…how I wanted to follow Jesus.
In 2010, I finished middle school, and there were almost no schooling options in the village where I was. So, my grandma sent me to Cap-Haitien to finish my schooling, and I moved in with my father and his wife. That was a really awful time in life, things were really rough in that house. I did seventh grade, but at the end of the year, I went back to Au-Bois to live with my grandma and aunts and uncles, and my mom had moved back in, too. There was a big crusade going on in the church next to my grandfather’s temple, and it was a Saturday, on July 17, 2010, that I was on a truck on the way back to Au-Bois, alone, and I said this to myself:
“I’m done. There is nothing good for me in this life. When I get home, I will borrow a pair of pants from my friend, and I am going to that crusade, and I’m going to turn away from the life of my grandfather, from the life of my father, from the life of my family, and I’m going to follow Jesus.”
I got home, put on the one white t-shirt I had, borrowed pants from my friend, and did just that.
I came straight home after the crusade and told the whole family about my new life in Christ, and nobody fought me. And since then, there have even been people in my family who converted.
Once, my aunt gave her life to Jesus, but after a few months, she returned to voodoo, saying the demons of my grandfather were too strong, and she became a mambo (female witchdoctor) and took over my grandfather’s life and temple. A different time my grandmother repented and converted for a time, but then one of my uncles became ill, and she quickly returned to Satan and took him to a witchdoctor for healing. To this day, I am the only person in my family following God.
I continued school, and in 2013 I had to come back to Cap-Haitien because there were no high schools in our whole area. I stayed with one of my mother’s sisters, and I finished all my schooling. I had this pastor from Cap-Haitien who came to my church in Au-Bois from time to time to preach, and when I moved to Cap-Haitien I found his church and that was where I stayed. That is the church I am still in now.
When I accepted Christ, it was just me. And I thought maybe God could use me, like Paul. Maybe I could bring Jesus to my family. Maybe I could give Jesus in many dark places. I grew and grew in this church, and many people saw I was hungry to know Jesus and the Word more.
I saw that God had shown me a great grace to be in Christ and to stay in Him. While my family flounders and lives in darkness, seeing some light but continually falling away, God gives me grace and strength to remain faithful. And I figured God must have had a reason to give me this grace, to stay in Him. And my church was confirming that.
I was (and still am) a part of a small group, a prayer group for young men coming from several area churches, and the leader was Jopnel, who is a student at Emmaus. When he saw me growing and learning and asking questions, he told me all about EBS, and brought me to visit. Even though my mom is far from Jesus, she helped me find the money to come, and now she helps me all that she can each semester.
Finally, I have a home with believers. I finally live with brothers, with sisters. I’d never touched a computer before, I’d never spoken a word of English, I’d never learned how to study my Bible, I’d never learned how to teach it, how to share it well. I am learning SO much, and I still have SO much to learn, both in class with our teachers, and in the dorm with my brothers, in chapel and at meals with my family.
I don’t know what God’s going to do with me, but I really love to teach others as I am learning, and that really burns in me. I love that. I know God will show me His plan, His good plan, as I grow. I am the secretary of my church now and teach a Sunday School class.
Pray for me. I am young, and I am from a faithless family. Pray that God would hold me firm and faithful. Pray for the people in my family, that they might come to know God.