Teach a Man to Fish…
Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf! Psalm 66:5 (NIV)
Sandra Fils-Aime looked across her Haitian congregation in Tampa, and knew she was looking at people who needed meaningful employment. The local cigar factory had recently laid off fifteen people from her congregation. Limited education and language barriers meant many could only qualify for low-paying, menial jobs, mostly in custodial positions. Some families had already moved north, in search of work.
“They were looking at me as if to say, ‘What are we going to do?’”
At that point, she says God gave her a vision – and a goal.
“The goal was to disciple the people, to teach them there is hope in Jesus, and to show them that no matter their level of education, they can be trained for meaningful work.”
Herself a Certified Nursing Assistant, Pastor Sandra drove a group of students to New Port Richey, an hour each way, for training. Students came from as far away as Orlando and Winter Haven, meeting at the church to share transportation. Through her contacts with a certified trainer, they were able to offer the class at a minimal cost for materials and the instructor. She often helped teach the class herself, while translating for the non-English speakers. She also offered free classes in CPR at the church fellowship hall.
“At the end of the training time, thirteen students, men and women, graduated with their Home Health Aide certification,” reports Pastor Sandra. “Five passed the state boards and are ready to get jobs.”
Pastor Sandra says one graduate who passed the state boards is now tutoring others who plan to take the test. “She has a good job now, and she’s started tithing, supporting the church financially.”
Pastor Sandra’s sister, who relocated to Tampa following the Haitian Earthquake, is a recent graduate as well. She has received her license and is working with hospice.
More importantly, three students started attending church and gave their hearts to Christ.
Word has spread through the Haitian community via the church radio program, aired Mondays and Thursdays at noon on the local Haitian station and online. Classes have begun for a second group. The program has been expanded to offer training for a license in hair braiding.
“When God is moving you just have to work with Him,” says Pastor Sandra.
The long-range effect on the congregation and Haitian community is yet to be seen, but Pastor Sandra is confident that God is working through the training program.
“I’m so blessed to be able to show my people that there is hope in Jesus. Through Him, our dreams can come true.”