Sunday, January 17, 2010

What a difference a day makes.....

One of the reasons I love being at the Jamaican Bible College is because I have a college student in the states. When I take our students brownies, in the back of my mind, I am praying that someone will show kindness to Ryan. When I teach my students, I see my sons reflection in their beautiful faces. When I have the students at my house here in Jamaica I am praying that someone will invite Ryan to their house.

On Tuesday, January 12, the thought occured to me, if something tragic happened in Jamaica, what would Ryan feel and sense if he were not able to reach us because of the phone and internet service being down? Every emotion that a mom could feel hit me all at once when we heard the tragic news of quite possibly the worst earthquake to hit our planet and it hit only 296 miles from me. They tell us that the tremors were felt in Kingston.

Tragically if an earthquake of such magnitude were to hit Jamaica we would be in the same position as the Haitians because of the lack of building codes and the infrastructure of the island is in many ways like that of Haiti.

When this tragedy was made aware to us we immediately thought of our Haitian students, Patrick Collins and Cherley Fabiola. Our last class at the college was December 4, most of our students went home, but 6 students remained. Patrick and Cherley were 2 of them. They were unable to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with their families. Most of our students are not able to do many things because of financial situations.

Immediately we made contact with Patrick and Cherley and of course went over to the college to be sure that they were okay. They were not. The day we arrived, they were both standing on the veranda gazing into the sky. I immediately asked why, they couldn't answer. My guess is that they were envisioning their homeland and yet hadn't heard anything from their families. I can't imagine the turmoil of just longing to hear dad or mom's voice. They waited a couple days. On Thursday Cherley's father was able to cross the DR border for cell service and made contact. He told Cherley to tell Patrick that his dad was fine. This is all Patrick knew until his aunt called on Friday.

Cherley's family survived, the home did not.

Patrick learned from his aunt that his dad made it out "narrowly" but his mom and 17 year old brother did not. Patrick's dad is a pastor and the Church on the Rock has a Bible college. School would have been over at 5:00. The earthquake hit before 5. All 30 students...dead beneath the rubble.

Collins Patrick Jean Jacques is a beautiful student. Here he is on the veranda at our college. His birthday is June 25 and that is a special date. It is my parent's anniversary so it is easy for me to remember Patrick's special day. Patrick came to Jamaica January 2009 with only French in his mouth! I will never forget his first semester. His eyes were like deer eyes in the headlights! He had to grasp English and Patois all at the same time as well as the disciplines of the college. Oh they were tough days for him, but he survived and today speaks beautifully in 3 languages!

Patrick at our house for a cookout. He is a true joy. A special student. A man of God. He and Cherley have become Renee's tutors in French! They have helped her grasp their language and excel in her French studies.

This photo is from Patrick's facebook with this caption. I quote so you can get the full impact of his words, heart and grief. Patrick is on the left with his mom, his cousin and his brother.

"Farewell my mama and my little brother! You play a big role in my life. Alas, an earthquake you leave me, but in my heart you will always be alive...the LORD has given, the Lord has taken. The name of Jehovah be'll always be in my memory. Farewell...."

This caption is under this photo of his dad.

"My daddy and me in 2006 Church on the Rock, Haiti"
"Eben Ezer, the Lord help us. It has helped my father the Tuesday 12 janvier 2010 in this terrible earthquake. My soul bless the Lord that everything that is within me bless His holy name. Thanks for the blood of your son Jesus Christ who has been paying on Wood Calvary."

On another photo of his mom, Patrick writes:

"Mom, you were everything to me your angel face I cannot forget because it is engraved in me, my mom once again I love you, my little brother you cannot know how I'll miss you, When I go to bed watching you're not. God give me strength because I need the divine power that comes from you to get there."

On Friday at 5:28, 3 days after the quake, Patrick wrote on his facebook:

"The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, The Alpha and Omega. I say thanks because if you have saved my father narrowly, in this terrible earthquake Haiti, I wish to say thank you, whatever happens you'll always be my God. My soul bless the Lord that all that is within me bless His holy name."

He writes to us:

"Hi Miss, I thank your family and friends to the United States, praying for my country. Once again, thank you very much specially for your family. May God bless the USA and your family abundantly."

As I type this blog tonight my eyes are full of tears. We are spending our lives investing in Bible college students, not knowing that at any moment, their entire life can be turned upside down and forever impacted by a tragedy. Patrick I love so much, to see His faith in the moment of desperation has proven again that our up and coming pastors/ men of God truly know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is not some game they are playing, they will serve Him no matter what comes.

Patrick, I honor you. You have shown faith in the midst of incredible uncertainty. You are walking a life of faith in our God who holds every tomorrow. Your faith has spurred me on to complete the race because one never knows what a difference a day might make.


  1. Debby, The tears you shed while writing this blog have traveled many many miles, even to PA, we read this blog in tears of joy while readding Patrick's testimony and feeling his tremendous faith for his God. As we read we continued it prayer for his comtinued financial support eneabling him to continue his work for his Lord and Savior!!!!!
    MOM & DAD

  2. Thank you Debbie for that very powerful (albeit sad) posting which reminds us thay (as in 2 Corinthians 4:18) what matters is not the temporal, but the eternal.

  3. This is a moving testemony.Well shared well inpacted in my heart.Thank you.I will keep you in prayer and pray all will catch the faith you have in Jesus.We need HIM