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A God Thing

One man’s dependence on God, and an organization changing lives

by Brad Miller

I sat across from Pastor Esperandieu Pierre in a spacious, nicely air-conditioned boardroom. The founder of Nehemiah Vision Ministries is not an easy man to catch. In the few weeks I had spent on NVM campus, Pastor had been meeting with church leaders and officials in three different countries.

He had driven and ridden and flown hundreds of miles, and shepherded the countless tiny crises that occur in any organization, but all of it with his eyes fixed on a singular purpose: to bring people from darkness to light, and from hopelessness to eternal life.

I felt lucky to have a few minutes of his time.

With the multiple organizations and efforts he manages, with the incredible expansion and progress going on, it would be easy for him to take credit. But from the very beginning of his story, Pastor Pierre set a different tone.

“I could not do what is happening on my own. It is a God thing, not a Pastor Pierre thing.”

And he wasn’t kidding. God’s direction in Pastor Pierre’s life went way back before Nehemiah Vision Ministries. In fact, it began before Pastor Pierre was even born.

A Father’s Trust

Pastor Pierre comes from a poor Haitian family. His father was a Christian, a very rare thing in their community at the time. When Pastor Pierre’s mother became pregnant, his father refused the blessings and rituals of the local Vodou witchdoctors.

The whole village was confused and frightened by his father’s decision, and the Vodou practitioners warned that evil would befall his child. But Pastor Pierre’s father did not waver in his faith in Jesus. He refused the rituals.

Pastor’s mother gave birth. And within days, the baby died.

Some time later his mother became pregnant again. This time the witchdoctors came forward, fully confidant that Pastor Pierre’s father would have learned his lesson. But he did not budge. He still refused the Vodou blessing, holding to his faith in Christ.

Pastor’s mother gave birth a second time. And within days, the baby died.

A third time his mother became pregnant, and a third time his father refused the blessing. By now, everyone thought he was crazy. Family members even tried to sneak his mother Vodou potions, and the witchdoctors went so far as to say,“If this child lives, WE will convert to Christianity!”

Pastor Pierre’s mother gave birth a third time. And this time, God told Pierre’s father to boil the stream water before they gave it to the baby. They did.

And this baby lived. The third child of the man who would not waver in his faith in God, this baby was Pastor Pierre.

Call of Nehemiah

As I heard Pastor Pierre’s life story, I felt like I was hearing something straight out of the Bible: the miraculous birth to a faithful family, Pierre’s rise in respect and stature in the Christian community, and the call God placed on his heart. There, at the top of Campus Crusade’s national program, he felt a nudge from the Spirit to take action.

Pastor Pierre looked around and noticed that Campus Crusade was doing little to address Haitians’ physical needs. Having come from an impoverished background himself, he knew how vital this was.

“It’s hard to do spiritual work while ignoring the daily social need.”

He received Campus Crusade’s blessing to get additional training and start a social branch of their ministry. Pastor Pierre and his wife went to get additional development training in Kenya. When they returned, they began looking in Haiti for a place to start.

Before long, their search took them to the tiny desert village of Chambrun.

“When I came back to Haiti, I was praying for the right place to start this… we saw this community very similar to where I studied in East Africa. When we came to visit we found a young girl, thirteen, breastfeeding her baby. That really grabbed our hearts, so we started a school. And from the school has come all the things that you see.”

From that school grew a clinic, a church, leadership training, economic empowerment, even a growing agricultural program. But it didn’t happen overnight.

“They were very skeptical at the beginning,” Pastor Pierre told me. Having seen many charities come and go, often leaving half-finished projects in their wake, the villagers were reticent to jump on board. But it wasn’t long before they realized what set NVM apart.

“It is a native perspective, it is an indigenous philosophy. It is birthed out of a Haitian. I was born and raised in poverty, hoping I could help my own… It is the only thing that will create true sustainability.”

When the villagers saw that NVM truly cared, that they were staying for the long haul, they responded. Now there is more interest and involvement than NVM can handle!

A God Thing

BAM-3424 smallLooking around at what happened, it would be so easy for Pastor Pierre to see himself as invaluable or take credit for the program’s success. But over and over again, he points to the same thing: God’s provision.

He points to his birth – not as an example of how special he is, but how dependent he in on God. If not for God, he would be nothing.

And when he talks about the life change that has happened at NVM, when he talks about the new students learning, the lives saved in the clinic, the hearts transformed in the church, his single refrain is obedience and humility.

“When God gives you a vision, be obedient. The provision will follow. I could not do what is happening on my own. It is a God thing,”