Over thirty years ago, after spending a combined total of eight years at Voice of Calvary (located in Jackson, Mississippi) under the discipleship of John Perkins and his pioneering message for holistic Christian community development — Reconciliation, Relocation, and Redistribution — Jean and Joy Thomas founded the Haiti Christian Development Fund (HCDF) and launched a comprehensive holistic community development endeavor in Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti with the following goals:
HCDF witnesses the love of Jesus Christ in word and deed. The churches and theological training programs teach the truth that Christ came to attest to. They address the issues of superstition which has kept the people enslaved to their own fears, as well as model the love and concern for the oppressed and poor in tangible ways. Starting with a small congregation of four people, the Fond-des-Blancs church has grown to eight congregations with a combined membership of over 1000. Every community in the greater Fond-des-Blancs area has increased in population, thus creating an even greater need and opportunity for sharing the good news of Christ in word and deed with the poor.
To break the cycle of poverty, HCDF has been offering a quality education to the children of the community since the 1980s. L’Exode schools have developed an excellent educational program as exemplified by the high student exam scores. Parents are eager to enroll their children in the L’Exode schools, which currently include over 1,500 students in HCDF-supported schools across seven campuses. Responding to the tragic destruction of so many high schools in the 2010 earthquake, HCDF launched its own high school in 2012, partnering with University of Tennessee Knoxville in the US to assure the buildings are durable in earthquakes and other storms. The academic standards at L’Exode schools are as high as any in Haiti. HCDF extends even greater opportunities for its top high school graduates by offering university scholarships to advance beyond high school and then return to the community in leadership roles.
HCDF wants to empower the residents of the community to maximize their resources and community infrastructure required for self-sufficiency. Through cooperative efforts, HCDF has been engaged in road improvement, livestock production, agricultural ventures, reforestation, water purification, malnutrition aid, and the establishment of a credit union. Their first project was to cap a spring and pipe the water to a convenient point along the road. This project brought clean, healthy water to the town. They have supervised the construction of 200 miles of road through the mountains. They organized the planting of millions of trees – reforesting the formerly barren hillsides. They have established a credit union and instigated a pig-breeding program, replacing local pigs decimated by a swine flu. Thanks to generous support from a donor and the test plot projects sponsored by Covenant World Relief, HCDF is launching its most ambitious agricultural project yet, focusing on irrigated production that rewards the efforts of local farmers with high yields and brings a great supply of nutritional foods to the local market.
HCDF is ensuring the success of the projects by preparing the next generation of leaders. HCDF prepares the graduates of its educational programs to return to the community in leadership roles. Today the entire administrative operations of HCDF’s ministries in Fond-des-Blancs are in the hands of indigenous leaders. To assure that there is a new generation of leaders for the community development programs, the churches, and the schools, HCDF has begun the “Caleb Project” – a three-year, intensive training program for six promising young leaders. They have selected areas around the perimeter of Fond-des-Blancs where there are no schools, churches, and development projects and in two years will have been positioned as leaders in that work locally and in other similar ministries.