Stories play a central role at EMI. From the histories of the ministries we serve to team member testimonies, God uses each trip to write new, exciting chapters in our lives. Arriving at Grand Goâve, we jumped headfirst into the story of Haiti ARISE. EMI has been in it before—we were the fourth EMI team to visit.
The Haiti ARISE story starts with founder Marc Honorat’s childhood. “My parents were heavily involved in Voodoo. My dad was the Voodoo priest,” Marc shared with me. With 15 children and family resources spent on Voodoo sacrificial ceremonies, Marc and his siblings lived without many things we take for granted. “They weren’t able to send us to school, feed us, or put clothes on us. So, when I was five years old, they gave me away.”
Marc spent the next seven years of his life as a restavec—a child slave. He did not attend school; he ate one meal a day. Looking back, Marc sees God’s hand at work during that difficult time. “God knew what He was doing. If I had stayed with my parents, I don’t know if I’d be serving the Lord today. One day, the lady who owned me took me to church. At five years old I gave my heart to Christ.”
When he was 12 years old, Marc was rescued by his brother and placed in a children’s home in Grand Goâve. There, he received proper care and an education, which led to Bible school in Jamaica and Canada. He had a strong desire to serve God and his people. Years later, Marc and his wife Lisa, already established in ministry in Haiti, received a fitting vision from God: They were to build a children’s home. It was then that Marc and Lisa first connected with EMI. The first team completed designs for the ARISE Children’s Village in 2011. During that trip and subsequent trips, EMI completed master plans for both campuses. EMI designed school buildings, a church, a technical school, and workshops.
But things can change fast in the mission field. So EMI will revisit projects and adjust designs as circumstances, vision, and goals change. On this visit to Grand Goâve, we updated designs for Haiti ARISE’s church and provided advice about flooding issues at the site. There was also design towards a new vision—a birthing center.
“We were learning about cases of infant mortality and mothers dying in labor in our local hospital. We felt it was important to do something about that,” Lisa said. My first EMI trip was to Haiti. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the need, by how many stories would have unhappy endings. And I felt powerless to do anything about it.
“You know, the needs are so great here—you don’t even know where to start.” Marc says. “But we believe in changing one life at a time. That’s what happened to me, so we want to do that for someone else.”
That’s what happened with the first child accepted into the children’s village: A little boy named Carley. “One of our staff members saw this baby at the neighbor’s house—very malnourished, just left in the dirt. It looked like he’d die within a week if someone didn’t rescue him. He was 14 months old. He couldn’t sit up, he couldn’t lift his head, and his belly was protruded. We brought him in and got him medical care. More than 70 worms came out of his little body. From day one in the children’s village, his new parents fed him and picked him up. Now he’s running around here with this twinkle of mischief in his eye. He’s such a delight.”
These stories of restoration sum up perfectly why I do EMI. Marc told me, “We want to raise up the next generation of leaders for Haiti. One day when I’m an old man I’ll hear, ‘Carley is the prime minister of Haiti,’ or, ‘Joseph from the children’s village is a pastor in his community.’”
That, we hope and pray, is a future chapter of this story.