Kicking the Butt and Taking the Names

by | Oct 31, 2018

Jean Rene sitting on the Twa-Moto

Sitting on a blue, Hadjin motorcycle, I ask Jean Rene, “Jene Rene, what are we going to do today?” In a thick, heavy Haitian accent, Jean Rene answers back, “We are kicking the butt… and taking the names!” I bust out laughing, as Jean Rene knows very limited English and this is one of the few phrases that Liz has taught him. A huge smile comes across Jean Rene’s face, beaming from ear-to-ear. The little man, all 5’6”, 145 pounds of him, has become a gentle giant in the Kingdom of God, built on the strong character of humility and integrity. I love Jean Rene.

“…he [makes] wise decisions on how best to use and maintain that entrusted to him.

The ministry was introduced to Jean Rene Deforge in 2014, after we left Savanette and needed a place to stay. We had a mutual friend in Jude Augusma, who had a house near the airport in Pignon and graciously let our long-term missionaries and short-term mission teams call it home for a season. With Jude living in Iowa for the majority of the time, Jene Rene was the caretaker of the property and driver of Jude’s vehicles. When we had teams, we would hire Jean Rene to drive us around, allowing us to see his character in action. He was a great steward of Jude’s resources, which says a lot for a man in his position in Haiti. He treated Jude’s property as his own, making wise decisions on how best to use and maintain that which was entrusted to him. When we finally had our own property and moved to Sylvain, all of our staff said, “Boy, we sure hope Jean Rene can come with us. He is the BEST!”

By the grace of God, we had the perfect project for Jean Rene and we desperately needed his help. In 2016, through a partnership with Lutheran Church of Hope, we had a big, hairy, and audacious project to install 787 cement floors in homes, utilizing local labor and supplies, and sharing God’s love to all the family members. The goal was to start this project in February and finish in early December. This was a lot of money, a lot of influence, and a lot of details to manage. Who could we trust? The answer came pretty quickly, Jene Rene, the one who had shown his integrity in small ways for the past year. He and his team did a fantastic job, completing all 787 floors on-time, on-budget, and with love. To gain some perspective on the scope of this project, we purchased 12,524 bags of cement, prepared 40,000 yards of hand-mixed concrete, and provided over 3,000 opportunities for daily employment. Each family was given a Bible and prayed with during the dedication ceremonies. Because of Jean Rene and his team’s witness, 75 people from 33 different families gave their lives to Christ, all through pouring concrete into homes. Simply amazing!

Liz Clarke (left) and Jen Rene (center) measuring a home for the ‘Do Something Concrete” project.

Recently I was asked, “How do you not become cynical of the work in Haiti, after all that you have seen and experienced?” My answer is pretty simple – because of people like Jean Rene. He is one of the sincerest and most caring men of integrity I know. If I or any of our staff was in trouble, I know he would do anything in his power for us, including risking his life. And he would do it with a smile, bringing peace in a God-honoring way. As we work in Haiti, God continues to reveal people with His heart, to serve in obedience to meet the challenges of the day. We have hope because God has gone before us, preparing and anointing people like Jean Rene to transform with us, to be love in action, in this broken world.

Jean Rene explaining the Goat program to a family receiving a goat

Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of Jean Rene Deforge, who serves with a smile on his face, quietly working with humility and love to transform his community.  This tiny man is a giant in the Kingdom of God. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. And more importantly, we will see God in them. Jean Rene truly is kicking the butt and taking the names for the Kingdom.

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