To impact lives by investing in people as whole beings in order to help them break the vicious cycle of poverty and become mature and active members of society who are able and eager to reach out to others.
That is Lemuel’s purpose statement. But what exactly do we MEAN by it? What is “investing in people as whole beings?” What does that look like in practice?
Today, we will begin a series of blog posts highlighting what investing in people means to us and how we live that out through the many varied ways in which we serve our community.
Before we begin, however, I would like to start with a framework.
Everything that Lemuel does comes out of our heart to share the love and message of Jesus Christ with others and to point them to Him.
We serve people from all walks of life. We serve them through many varied ways. Most of the posts that will follow in coming months will describe activities that are not in and of themselves “spiritual.” However, they flow out of our deep belief that the Gospel changes everything and that we are called to bring God’s Kingdom values to bear in all aspects of life.
As people are drawn to the positive difference Lemuel is making in education, in reforestation, in job creation, in _(fill in the blank)_, we point them to Jesus Christ. We are clear in our message that everything we do and accomplish is a result of the love and power of God. We encourage people to put their trust in Him (not in us or in other people), because it is He who is reaching out to them through us.
So, as you read each post, understand that this Gospel thread is woven inextricably–even if not explicitly stated–through each activity.
Because, it is simply who we are.
Now, to begin!
In honor of the freshly started school year, let’s start with one of the most straightforward examples of investing in people: EDUCATION.
As a child, Lemuel’s founder, Manis Dilus, was much like many of our students today. When his father was killed at sea, his mom was impoverished overnight. She could not afford to send her kids to school. One day, a group of missionaries passing through Anse-Rouge chose Manis as one of the children they would sponsor through grade school. In his final year of grade school–which also marked the end of sponsorship–the students would talk about what their plans were for continuing their education. When they got to Manis, they all laughed, because they knew he could never afford to continue. Manis prayed and asked God to make a way for him to go to high school. He promised that if he could “make it,” he would then help other kids like himself.
Manis, when he had completed 6th grade
God touched the heart of an older cousin in Port-au-Prince who took him in and paid his way through high school. After graduating, Manis was able to get a good job. With his wages, he supported his mother, and put his siblings in school. Years later, while on assignment for his job as a videographer, Manis zoomed his camera lens in on a group of kids and realized they were sniffing glue to cover their hunger pains. He remembered his promise. Soon after, he took an all-or-nothing leap of faith and left his job to start Lemuel.
Manis with some of the children from Lemuel’s early days in Port-au-Prince.
Manis, knew that it was God, through education, who had enabled him to get to where he was and to be able to take care of his mom and younger siblings. He wanted to offer that opportunity to others – to show them love by investing in their good. Through God’s grace and the education he received, he has been able to reach hundreds with the love and message of Christ – helping them create a brighter future.
2005–Lemuel’s school on the Plateau started as a “one room schoolhouse” in a borrowed church building.
Education was a focus for Lemuel from the very beginning. As is clearly demonstrated through Manis’ story, education is a door to opportunity; it offers hope for the future in a practical sense. When one child gets an education and is able to get a job, it affects their entire family. Education is one way of showing love to people by giving them a way – a hand up so to speak – out of abject poverty.
Not only this, but education is also a fundamental means of impacting society. When done well, it teaches people to think and can transform age-old destructive mindsets. Education helps to shape the next generation.
2016–fifth grade class
In our school, we aim to deeply impact the way our students see and interact with the world around them. We do this by giving them a Biblical foundation, by striving for high quality education, by involving them in activities that open their eyes to new things, such as reforestation efforts.
Kindergarten students learn about watering trees.
We hope that our students will grow into well-educated, well-thinking people–“mature and active members of society who are able and eager to reach out to others.” We pray that they will believe the Gospel they hear and will influence their world from a Christ-centered perspective. This is what we are working towards every year.
This is the first post in a series entitled “Investing in people means…” Education addresses one aspect of a person’s “whole being.” It is one way in which we live out our purpose to invest in people. In coming weeks, we will tell you about some of the other ways we do this in our community.
A few extra notes
1. The school directly invests in lives through the education it offers to the students. However, it also invests in people indirectly in other ways. For example:
By providing a solid meal to all the kids and staff every day
By providing jobs to teachers, who are then able to support their own families
By offering personal and professional development opportunities to teachers and staff
By reaching out as they can to students and families who are in particular need
2. Lemuel invests in people through education, not only via the school on the Plateau, but by financially assisting other students who are in high school or university. In a country where the majority of people are looking to escape their community, we have several youth who are studying hard with a heart to come back and use their education and knowledge to serve their community. As we help our community to develop itself into a place people can and want to live, we are encouraged by this shift in mentality.