The day before Jude, Barbie and Vanessa—all Haitian siblings—left their home country and their parents to travel to the United States of America where they could complete their high school education, their father reminded them it was the Lord’s plan.
“I can still hear the voice of my dad with authority and firmness responding to our repeated question ‘Why do we have to leave tomorrow for the United States of America?’
“‘You are leaving tomorrow because it is God’s plan for you to leave tomorrow,’” Jude recalls his dad saying the day before they left Port-au-Prince.
Yet no one in the family expected the plan to entail the harrowing journey ahead.
“None of the five of us knew that that night would have been the last night the five of us were to be together on earth,” Jude says. “Two months later, on the nights of Nov. 22 and 23, 2013, my father, pastor Serléus Simon, president of the Evangelical Union of Haitian Baptist Churches, was kidnapped in the back yard of our house, tortured, murdered, and his body was dumped in a corn field not far from our private residence. My mother, Margarette Simon, was shot and left to die while the bandits were looting the house.”
Jude’s father died. His mother, although badly wounded, survived.
Making its way across the ocean and up the Eastern Seaboard to Coastal Christian School in Maine, where the three Simons were studying as international students, the news quickly created an upheaval out of what had moments earlier been an average day.
“Confused, my sisters and I were speechless, breathless and full of questions to ask God,” Jude recalls. “I felt [I was] being engulfed by a cloud of darkness bringing to my mind all kinds of thoughts such as hatred, vengeance and the likes. I did not feel like talking to God, to people [or] even to myself. I wished I could become Superman, then fly to Haiti at the moment and destroy all those who have caused so much turmoil in my life.”
Little by little, God supernaturally replaced Jude’s anger with peace and forgiveness.
“I bowed my knee,” he recalls. “I said, ‘God, you gave, you took away. Blessed be your name.’”
Though the gravity of the tragedy is never far from Jude, he said the Lord has allowed him to have eyes that see the bigger picture and a glimpse at the perspective God has from heaven—one he acknowledged does not always make sense to those on earth.
Jude says the Lord has worked through their entire journey to bring his sisters and him to America where they can become equipped to return to Haiti to educate the people and continue ministering to them the way their father did up until his death. The three completed their schooling in Maine and then made their way to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, where they recently graduated from the English Intensive Program. All three have received scholarships to begin studying in the College at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in August.
While in Fort Worth, the siblings have been able to live with friends their father made before Jude was ever born—Azer and Johane Lilite—and become part of Travis Avenue Baptist Church, which the siblings consider their “big family.” Jude says the Lord has faithfully demonstrated that his sovereignty extends into every aspect of their lives.
“[The Lord] is in control,” Jude says. “He never sleeps, and he never slumbers. He is omnipresent. Nothing can surprise him. He knew he was going to call my father home. He knows he is not failing me despite the greatest uncertainties invading my life.”
With this trust in the Lord and his goodness, Jude now sets out to train as a minister of the gospel at Southwestern.
“I’m sure that God is calling me to ministry,” says Jude. “Even to go back to the place where they killed my dad, to have a ministry there. They did something bad, but I truly believe God will change everything for his own purpose.
“No matter how bad the situation is, we know for certain God never fails his children, and he knows what he’s doing.”
Even as he looks forward to returning to Haiti where his widowed mother still lives, Jude says his real hope is in Christ’s soon return. That knowledge, he says, keeps his heart from going “down and depressing.”
“This is a big thing to me,” he says. “I know that God saved me, and I will be with him someday.”
That is the message Jude has been sharing with international students at TCU and that he will one day share among those whose injustice forever changed his earthly family.
This article first appeared August 4, 2015 in the Southern Baptist Texan, the news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.