Kervens Saintil

Kervens Saintil

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.

Support a student like Kervens.

Testimony Tuesday: God’s Ability

Testimony Tuesday: God’s Ability

By Stacey Ayars

I do the finances ’cause somebody’s gotta do it.  I teach English because it helps me build great relationships with the students.  But learning and sharing people’s stories is just my very very favorite.

As I was reading the to the girls tonight about the Israelites, right before Joshua died, our hearts beat faster with the Israelite people as Joshua reminded them about God and Abraham.  About God and Isaac.  About God and Jacob…and Joseph…and Moses…and.

When the people REMEMBERED the stories, remembered THEIR stories, they were impassioned for God and committed to His commands and inspired for His service.

It was when they forgot, when they spent more time with secular encouragement than inspired encouragement, when they stopped reminding each other of who God was and what God had done, when they wanted what everybody else had more than they wanted the One True God that they fell away.  That they disobeyed.  That they suffered.

Joshua reminded me how important it is to tell and re-tell and pass down our stories.  From Adam on.

Here’s Wisly’s.

I was born into a very poor family, but they sent us to school as best they could.  I had two sisters and one brother, and I’m the first born.  My family wasn’t a Christian family…we were raised in the Haitian Catholic church and practiced Voodoo, though we weren’t very involved with either.  But the family that lived right next door to us was a pastor and his wife and their kids.  They were always kind to us and reached out to us kids, and over time, we all came to really love and respect Pastor Clide and his family.

When my little sister was 11, she asked them to please teach her how to follow their Master, and she became a Christian.  Not long after her, I asked them the same thing, and she and I grew under their leadership, friendship and at their church.  I was nervous about giving Jesus my life because I always felt like there were still things I didn’t understand.  But Pastor Clide assured me that even though I didn’t understand everything, I could give Jesus my all, and little by little He would teach me.

Not long after I started following Jesus, my mother came to the Lord.  Then my father.  And my parents led my other siblings to Jesus. Because of Clide’s family’s faithful testimony in our lives, today my whole immediate family is following Jesus!

After I converted, I was always following Pastor Clide, always asking him questions and wanting to be like him.  When I grew up, I wanted to be like him and study like he did, in theology.  When I was in high school, I was firmly set on that…and I really grew in my desire to go into theology.

But there was a problem.  I had thought through my family’s financial situation. And the difficulty in finding work. And the costs of university.  I came to a point of complete despair.  No matter how much I wanted to study God’s Word, and live it and give it like Pastor Clide does, there was simply no way it would ever be possible.  We had nothing.  I was nothing. I knew no one who could help me! I was so depressed.

I was speaking to Pastor Clide about that one day, and he said, “Listen.  If you’re desiring to follow God, and you believe God has a call of ministry on your life, then you are looking the wrong places.  You are trying to see what your parents can do for you, what your church can do for you, what you can do for you.  Instead, look to God.  He provides for His calling, He alone is almighty, by His power and by His strength we are to find our hope!  This isn’t about our ability, but about HIS.  Do you trust Him?”

This new perspective encouraged me greatly.

Pastor Clide went to Emmaus Biblical Seminary, and I wanted to be grounded in the Gospel like he was.  So I got together my papers and all my trust and the tiny bit of money I had and I went to Emmaus Biblical Seminary.  And with a happy heart I can tell you that I have now completed one semester at Emmaus, and little by little, payment by payment, God has provided for me!

I was also afraid that maybe I wouldn’t have the mental capacity to study here, because classes are taught just entirely differently than the norm.  But again, I remembered what Pastor Clide said, and realized that this wasn’t about my ability to learn and grow and succeed.  This was about God’s ability to help me, to form me.

My favorite class so far was the Christianity and Voodoo class.  I did one day at a time, and God helped me so much to grow and to understand and to be surprised by such new perspectives on things I simply always thought.   I didn’t have to worry about my capacity, but relied on His ability.

I also loved the preaching class!  I teach Sunday school at my church, and help lead the service, and preach every few weeks…the things I learned in that class about how to pray through and develop and deliver a sermon have already been SO helpful in the ministry I’m already doing!

Pray for me, that God would give me the strength to do His work, give me the energy, give me the ability.  I know that because of Him, I can do and be whatever He wants me to do and be!