Thousands in Haiti Embark on the Greatest Journey

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Climbing up the steep hill leading to Eglise Croisade Evangelique
Internationale, 10-year-old Stephany smoothed her satin peach-colored
dress nervously. Her mother warned her not to splash mud on it or brush
against dusty earthquake remnants, no easy task in this area of
Port-au-Prince.

The Delmas district, where the church is located,
was hard hit by the earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010.
Stephany’s dad and older sister were both killed that horrible day.

As
she continued her climb, Stephany rehearsed in her mind how to walk up
the aisle during graduation—a very special occasion in the girl’s life.
The cermony marked the completion of a 12-lesson Bible study called The
Greatest Journey, a discipleship program developed by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and
Samaritan’s Purse for children who receive shoe box gifts through
Operation Christmas Child.

After children complete the program,
they are presented with a personalized certificate and a special New
Testament in their own language.

On this day, known as Happy
Children’s Day in Haiti, more than 10,000 children graduated from the
discipleship course in churches throughout the nation.

Stephany’s
friend, 12-year-old Emmanuel, met her at the church door. The two
exchanged excited chatter before one of the volunteer teachers hushed
them with a stern but amused glance.


Emmanuel’s family was spared
during the earthquake, but his life has not been easy. His father—a Voodoo priest—abused him regularly in his younger years. His Christian
mother left and tried to take Emmanuel with her, but his father would
not permit such mutiny—at first.

Finally he relented, and
Emmanuel joined his mother in a safe place. He started coming to church
with her a year ago and eagerly joined The Greatest Journey class.

“I like the story of Job,” Emmanuel said. “He suffered like me and my brother.”

Emmanuel’s
brother, 7-year-old Christophé, is recovering from cholera, which has
spiked in Haiti after seasonal rains. “I tell him stories from my
lessons,” Emmanuel said. “And now I can read from my new Bible.”

Close to 140 children graduated with Stephany and Emmanel on June 12 at Eglise Croisade Evangelique Internationale.


Katie
Simon Deshlouches, one of The Greatest Journey teachers, said the
program has touched the entire community around the church. “It has
brought a lot of new people here. They are now enthused to come to
church and everyone brings their Bibles.

“And the children are better behaved. They are more respectful and not as unruly,” she said.

Teacher
Marceline Marcilus Tergené said her pupils loved the colorful books:
“They especially liked the creation story and, yes, reading about the
faith of Job.”

The lessons encouraged the children, said one of
pastors, Lamar Charles. “The kids came very eagerly to learn about
Jesus. As we teach them and they grow, they will go in the right way.

“In
the streets, there is disorder and chaos, but the Word of God will
guide them. Jesus will continue working in the lives of these children,”
the pastor added.


Used with permission of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

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