After 20 years of investing…
Let me start with a story: Here is Thony in 2000, studying in the Barefoot School in Port-au-Prince.
And here is Thony today, studying at STEP, the seminary in Port-au-Prince.
Judy says that looking at these two pictures gives her chills. No one ever would have thought that the boy in the first picture would one day be the man in the second picture.
Thony became a part of Lemuel’s ministry in Port-au-Prince when he was 9 years old. Years later, in 2011, he came to work as a teacher on the Plateau. As he spent time here and was active in Lemuel and the church, the Lord began to lay on his heart a desire to study the Bible and come back to the Plateau as a pastor. Today, he is in his third year of seminary studies, still with the plan to return to the Plateau and take responsibility in the church.
Investing in people is a long process, and it can be fraught with heartaches and frustrations. But, it also has its great rewards. After 20 years, it brings such joy and encouragement to see some of the young people in whose lives Lemuel has invested growing and maturing into strong, active, and effective leaders.
One recent circumstance in which this became vividly evident was when the Lemuel administration left the Plateau to travel to the US for Lemuel’s 20th anniversary celebration. With all of the administrative staff gone, the responsibility to carry on the work on the Plateau fell directly to the department leaders in our staff.
One of these is Almaïs. Many of you know Almaïs as our school director today. But did you know that he has been active in Lemuel since 1998? (Below you can see him as a kid in Port-au-Prince. He is wearing the striped shirt.)
His first introduction was through the soccer club that Lemuel once ran in Port-au-Prince. After that, he started attending Lemuel’s kid’s club in Port. When Lemuel’s focus shifted to the Plateau, Almaïs came and worked for a year in 2007 as school director and bookkeeper. He returned again in 2014, after graduating from university. Below, you see him today, sitting in his office in the school.
A second of our leaders left in charge was Williamso. Judy and I (Krischelle) were recently commenting on the fact that relatively few of Lemuel’s friends overseas actually know much about Williamso. He has somehow managed to remain rather inconspicuous on a visible level. Yet, he has played a significant role in Lemuel’s work at various times. In fact, it was Williamso that Manis left in charge as his representative in the role of general director while the rest of the administration was away.
Williamso is a Plateau native, and first began really getting involved in Lemuel in 2005 due to an initiative to encourage kids who worked hard in school. You can see him as a growing youth in the photo below, although I’m not sure what year this was taken.
Lemuel helped to sponsor him through school. As the years went by, he attended kid’s club and participated in various Lemuel activities and community work projects. In 2010, he began working as a teacher in Lemuel’s school.
During that year, Manis really began to get to know him and understand his character and his vision. Lemuel decided to sponsor him through university as well. During vacations, he always returned to the Plateau and got involved in whatever work or activities were waiting for him. After graduating in 2015, he returned to work for Lemuel full time.
But DON’T MISS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:
What thrills us is not the simple fact that these young men have ended up working for Lemuel. They are KEY leaders. They have a deep understanding of what Lemuel is about that comes from the experiences they had and the people who invested in them over the years. They have a desire to develop and invest in others as well.
Almaïs does an absolutely incredible job not only of running the school impeccably, but of encouraging, caring for, and unifying his staff. He voluntarily runs kid’s club with a passion to invest in the spiritual growth of the kids, as well as their social and intellectual development. Thought it demands tons of his energy and time, he does it of his own free will, considering it his ministry.
Williamso has a level of seriosity and sincerity that have made him invaluable in leadership roles. As a native of the Plateau, he is known and respected, and he intimately understands the people and their needs.
Thony not only has a desire to teach God’s word, but he also has an incredibly compassionate and tender heart for people. Even though he is from Port-au-Prince, he was readily accepted and respected by the Plateau community.
All three of these young men are active participants in Lemuel, in the church, and in the community. They keep work departments running smoothly, help educate others about the values and principles of Lemuel, organize activities and outreaches, invest in the lives of people around them….changed lives that change lives. Disciples discipling others.
Today, we had a meeting with the directors to review the past weeks. (You can see both Williamso and Almaïs around the table.) After thanking them, Manis used the example of Jesus and of Paul, both of whom prepared others who would carry on the work after they were gone. He quoted 2 Timothy 2:2, “…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Manis reminded them that Lemuel is here to train leaders who can carry the work on into the future and that the jobs they have to do cannot be done apart from the wisdom, guidance, and help given by Jesus Christ.
As a community development organization working in a poverty stricken area, Lemuel’s work encompasses many things. But, in the midst of all that we do, our heart never stops beating to invest in the PEOPLE we do it with as we do it.