THE STORY OF GRACE CHILDREN’S HOME
Over 40 years ago my wife and I started orphanages to care for children in need. Our hearts have been with the children since we began our ministry.
My wife Doris was raised in sunshine home orphanage since she was 5 days old.
At the age of 14, she was brought to the Gospel Crusade orphanage which was
built and run by pastor Henry Brunk and Dr. Gerald Destine. She became a
sponsored child to the Derstines. I met her at the Gospel Crusade orphanage
where she lived until we married.
As we prepared to get married, she told me, when we have a home, “I would like
to run an orphanage to help homeless children.” I said “no”, I do not think an
orphanage will be part of our ministry. The reason I said that is because, I didn’t
like the way orphanages were being ran in Haiti. For example, they would raise
the children from early childhood to 18 years old and then return them right back
into the streets often to become unwed mothers. After we got married, she
continued to share the orphanage dream of her heart for more than 7 years and
my answer was the same; eventually she stopped talking about it.
THE MIRACLE OF THE GIRLS HOME
In 1980 hurricane Allen swept through Haiti causing devastating flooding and
resultant mudslides which killed hundreds in the towns of St. Jean-du -Sud (South
department) of Haiti. I called on my pastors association to collect funds and
purchase food and medical supplies in order to bring relief to the hurricane
victims. We collected enough money to buy supplies to fill up a big semi-truck with them. Renting a truck, a few pastors and I traveled 6 hours away from Port-au-
Prince to distribute the relief items. During the distribution, a heart breaking scene hit me. I saw many children being stepped on by adults who were fighting to get
the relief provisions. I inquired about the children and found out they were mostly orphans of the hurricane, completing the distribution we returned to port- au-
prince, but these kids remained on my mind and it was difficult to sleep for many days.
We collected additional funds, bought more food and supplies. Three weeks later
we returned to the site of devastation for another distribution. This time it was
even more heart breaking to see little 3-year-old girls, in rags, dirty and fighting to
gather some beans that had fallen on the ground. The people were begging us,
“please, take home some of these little children, save their lives, don’t let them die
here.” No, we answered to them, we do not have an orphanage to bring them to. I
also continued hearing the voice telling me in repetitiously,” what would Jesus do?
What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?” I tried to dismiss that voice until we
completed the distribution and hopped in the truck to return to Port-au-Prince.
The truck started up but the voice implored me. “save the lives of some of these
children. Do not leave them down. Do not let them die.” After a few miles starting
on our journey, I could no longer resist the voice and the compassion that melt my
heart down. I asked the Truck driver to turn around and go back to the distribution
spot, I jumped out and ran to ask the adults to tell me whose children they wanted
me to take?” They replied there was no one of their families left to help them. I
realized they would die if I did not help. I found a number of homeless orphaned
girls wondering, in shock, among the devastation; their parent’s having been
swept away by the deluge. I rescued 15 little girls and took them with me back
home. These girls were sick, hungry, dirty and scared. Some of them were
coughing badly. I prayed that they would survive the long and arduous 7 hour
journey to safety.
Bishop Joel rescued and brought home many frightened and life challenged orphans of hurricane Allen…
DORIS HAD AN INSTANT ORPHANAGE!
Upon arriving back home my wife Doris come out to greet us and was surprised,
when she saw the children disembarking from the truck. She asked me: who are
these children and where are you taking them?” Remembering her dream and
earlier desire to run an orphanage; I replied, “here are some girls for your
orphanage you desired before and after we got married.” She retorted, “you
rejected my request for so many years until I stopped talking about it. I am not
ready now, take these girls back where you found them.” We argued back and
forth. My response was, “you asked for an orphanage, so here it is.” Her argument
was, ”you always said you didn’t want to get involved with an orphanage, I am not
ready for one right now.” To end the argument, I left her, alone with the girls, for
more than an hour.
THE BEGINING OF A NEW LIFE FOR THE GIRLS
THEY FOUND A LOVING MOTHER, A SAFE HOME AND NEW HOPE
FOR THE FUTURE
When I returned to the house the children were eating and she was cutting sheets
to make some dresses to clothe them with. We had four very young sons but no
garments for girls. This certainly was a very big leap of faith. we were unprepared, with inadequate provisions, and no promises of help from anybody. God miraculously started opening doors. “Gospel Crusade of Bradenton, Fl led by Dr. Gerald Derstine” gave up some bunk beds from their recently closed orphanage. Brother R.W Schambach brought us more beds and began supporting our new orphanage with donations for food.
A few months after we started the home for the Girls. I was speaking at Christian
Retreat Gospel Crusade in Bradenton, Florida. I spoke about worry free living and
mentioned the needs of our new girls’ Home and how we were depending on God
to miraculously provide for them. After the service, a dear sister approached me
with a check for one thousand dollars. Later on we became acquainted with our
new donor; Mary Tobias and her husband Jim from Lyons, Kansas. A few months later they come to Haiti and brought, sheets, clothing, towel and everything the girls had need of. They invited my wife and me to their home town in Kansas where we met their family and friends; the purpose of this visit was to explore the most effective way to support the orphanage. Sitting with them in their living room, we formed a corporation that we named ‘ “Haiti love and faith ministries.” Soon, doctors, farmers and other concerned citizens, joined the cause and were able to raise enough money to contribute toward purchasing land and building a very nice home, for the girls, at Lamentin in carrefour, Haiti.
This was just the beginning of a long succession of children, both boys and girls,
whom we would rescue from dire circumstances. Many of their parents were
infected with HIV/ aids, tuberculosis, Malaria and other diseases; often dying
violent deaths in the poverty-stricken maelstrom which has defined Haiti as the
poorest country in the western hemisphere. These orphaned children were left to
become wandering waifs. One child led to another and before long our home was overflowing with children so we opened building as a boy’s home. Eventually the girls, now numbering 55 got their own home adjacent to our church on Rue Lamentin in Carrefour. God blessed us with one of the nicest homes in Haiti for Girls.
BUILDING A TRANSITIONAL HOME FOR THE YOUNG GIRLS
God blessed us with a major gift from a Board member of our Ministry to build a
separate Home for the girls that reach high School and vocational level to be
trained before leaving Grace Children’s Home. We need more funds to comple the
project for the girls to move in. Every gift is welcomed.
THE MIRACLE OF THE BOYS HOME
We had no vision or plan to start or run a boy’s home in parallel with the girls
home, our load already being too heavy; but God had other plans.
Here is how it came about: Virginia Louis, an americain missionary lady had
established and operated an orphanage for both boys and girls for a few years in
carrefour. It became urgently necessary for her to leave Haiti and she asked my
wife and me to consider taking the children into our new orphanage. We said
”NO!’ we had no room; no means and we never accepted the idea of mixing boys
and girls together. At her insistence, with only three days to decide, we went on
our knees, crying out to God. He answered: ”Take them, I will provide.”
She left the children in their rented house under our care; we moved her girls to
our girls’ home and kept the boys in that same rented house for about six months. We shared the boys home vision with our good friend Bill Moore who ran an organization named Evangelical family Services (EFS), who helped put a committee together in Telford Pennsylvania with members from Grace Chapel Missions, Branch Creek Fellowship, Bill Hooper, Clint and Leanne Miller, Pastor Lee Miller and others to handle the sponsorship and building program for the boys.
After a couple of years, they helped raise the funds to purchase the property and build a home, for the boys, next door to our church property in Waney. Today,
some of the boys have gone on to Bible colleges in Christ For the Nations Institute
and other schools in Haiti, Canada and United States; some are married and living
a good life. All the glory goes to God! Our extended family of children arrives from the mean streets of homelessness but with God’s nurturing grace, the support of their North American sponsors and our faithful partners; they grow up spiritually, physically and emotionally healthy. All the boys and girls go to school and are fed and clothed the best we can provide. All the boys and girls go to school and are fed and clothed the best we can provide. All the Glory be to God!