HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) — What a difference a few decades can make.
Some 35 years ago, Jim Greene was doing construction in Haiti, helping to build a sugar mill for then-President Jean-Claude Duvalier. Today, the 77-year-old High Point man is helping build something much more important in the Caribbean island country — people’s lives.
“I get such pleasure and happiness and joy from helping these people,” says Greene, whose ministry — Children’s Redeemed International, or CRI — has unofficially adopted Rang, a remote mountain village in Haiti. “They have very little, but these people are smart and they’re productive — if you just show them what to do, they can do it.”
Greene, the longtime owner of the Coins & Stuff pawn shop on E. Lexington Avenue, had been praying about a new ministry opportunity when he says God laid it on his heart to create a children’s outreach ministry. So in 2015, he founded CRI and began partnering with two churches — Cathedral of Faith Christian Center in Summerfield and First Wesleyan Church in High Point — to host family-friendly festivals with food, music, bounce houses, games and other activities, all aimed at sharing the message of Christianity with area children.
The following year, however, Greene added a new dimension to his ministry after meeting John Pierre, a High Point pastor who is originally from Haiti and has a ministry of his own there.
“When I found out where he was from, it touched my heart,” Greene recalls. “He’s from this little village called Rang, and he wanted to build an orphanage there.”
The orphanage hasn’t been built yet, but in the meantime CRI has undertaken a number of other projects to help change lives in the village. The first, and one of the most important, was the provision of clean drinking water.
“For generations, they’ve never had clean water in their village — they always had to walk a mile and a half away to get water from a spring in the mountains,” Greene explains.
In December 2016, the ministry sent PVC pipe and fittings to be installed, which would allow clean water to be piped directly to Rang. With proper direction, the villagers installed the pipe themselves, and within three months they had clean water.
“On March 24, 2016, water began to flow through the pipe, and the whole village came out with their containers to catch the clean drinking water to carry back to their homes,” Greene wrote in a report about CRI’s accomplishments. “Praise God. Can you imagine the joy and thankfulness of the people who received this gift God provided for them?”
Greene’s ministry also has purchased a block-making machine and shipped it to the village. This equipment allows the people of the community to make their own concrete blocks, which they can sell for money and/or use to build a church, a school and an orphanage. Construction of the 60-by-100-foot church began this past week, according to Greene.
CRI has also provided the village with a 22-foot box truck with a lift, a cement mixer, a pressure washer to keep the equipment clean, a generator, wheelbarrows, tools and building supplies. The ministry has also provided sewing machines and is helping convert an old church into a factory for making clothing, and plans are in the works to send down several leather-sewing machines — and more than a ton of donated leather — which will be used to make sandals for children in the village. A class has been started to teach adults to read, with books and supplies furnished by CRI.
The ministry has even bought several motorcycles for the village, which Greene says is the easiest way to travel in the rough Haitian terrain.
According to Greene, all of the provisions CRI has given to the village have resulted in providing something else to the people there — jobs.
“We’ve been there 18 months, and right now we’ve got 120 people employed,” he says. “None of them had a job, and now they do.”
Greene, whose ministry is funded entirely through donations, says the work of CRI has blessed him beyond measure.
“Jesus said if you do it to one of the least of these, you’ve done it unto me,” he says. “The Lord laid it on my heart that these people need help, so that’s what I’m doing, and it’s such a joy. I’m doing what the Scriptures say to do, and it brings me so much joy and peace.”
Information from: High Point Enterprise, http://www.hpenews.com