Five years at the helm: Roger reflects on persevering in leadership for JiHM

On October 1, Jesus in Haiti Ministries will celebrate five years with Roger Carole as JiHM’s director of operations. 

From his first day on the job, Roger’s heart as a leader has been to invest in people. In his introductory Q&A from five years ago, he shared this principle:

“If your vision is for one year, you plant wheat; if your vision is for 10 years, you plant trees; but if your vision is for a lifetime, you invest in people.”

These last five years have proven Roger’s heart in this matter, as you’ll see in his responses to the questions we asked him on his milestone work anniversary.

Thank you, Roger, for your commitment to lead JiHM well through all the ups and downs of ministry.

Do you remember your first day back at JiHM?

The first thing I did was go to Victory Bible Church. Dan Neal (Board member) introduced me and I gave a little speech, nothing brilliant, but just to let people know that we are all in this ministry together to make it great. To provide education for kids and provide the good Word of God so people can be trained and understand their purpose in life, what God is expecting from them and preparing for them. Together we will make a great impact in the lives of students and families at our church.

Roger addresses the crowd at Grace Emmanuel School’s first graduation in 2017.

What was the most challenging thing about your first days/weeks/months on the job?

Well, there were a few things.

First, working through all the conflicts between coworkers and between different departments. There was always another issue coming up.

Then, increasing the capacity of our staff. So many were doing things routinely, the way they had always been done. I had to fight against that because it’s not good to live your life in routine, you have to always look at what needs to be done to improve yourself and your work.

And sadly, corruption. We needed better financial tracking. Everyone needed money for something, and when we were not seeing where the money went, it was corruption. I had to fix that. That resulted in not having a lot of people like me, and many people were saying bad things about me. 

When you have to do things that are hard but good, you bathe in Scripture, seek what the Spirit is telling you, and know you’re going to have people that don’t like you. I had people tell me they had a dream that someone was planning to kill me. “Don’t shake hands with people,” they warned me. I said, “Well, God gave me hands to shake, so I’m going to shake people’s hands.”

I spent a lot of time praying and seeking God’s guidance and wisdom through those changes. Some people ended up leaving over the conflict. What they expected about how they would continue to use money at work or do their job was no longer an option.

Roger and his wife, Kerline

Have there been any moments you wanted to quit? How did you handle that?

Oh yes, of course. It was only God holding me. If it was me and it wasn’t God, I’m telling you I would have already quit, many times. I’ve worked on my resignation letter. I’ve called the Board chair and said, “I think that’s enough, I’m going to quit.” But he talked to me and got me help when I needed, and God has just placed wonderful people on my way to help me persevere or show how we can solve some issues.

My wife in particular. We see things so differently. She is tough, and will just say, “C’mon, man. You’ve got to stand.” Or “Well, you go talk to God and if God says quit, you quit. But if God says keep going, you keep going.” She didn’t let me listen to the words of staff who would work alongside me and then gossip about me. I prayed. God kept showing me how to treat them in return, how to work with them. So I’m still here.

What have been some highlights from the past five years?

One of them has been the way we’ve focused on deepening relationships with people. Going to houses to visit families and students and having fellowship time together, and going door to door to pray for people. The people love that, knowing that other people want to be with them and talk to them and hear their problems and the things that matter to them. When they see that, it’s really good. 

That was one of the things we started with groups that come, encouraging them to see the kids’ houses and how they live and start relationships. That’s one of the best tools we use in order to bring excitement to people and the knowledge that someone is there for them.

Another has been in the church, thinking outside of the box in how we can bring joy to the church and not just routine. We are not religious, we are Christians following Christ and we need to bring joy. In the church we used to keep the benches all the same way, now we move them around sometimes so people can face each other and smile at each other. We have fellowship nights with a topic we all talk together about or share testimonies. You don’t see churches do these things in Haiti.

Roger, Frisner, Ralph and Chicanot pack meals for families during Peyi Lok in February 2019.

Is there an achievement you are most proud of? Why?

I think so. I’m proud of the staff I have right now because they show they understand the vision of this ministry and they give their lives to it. I’m proud of the way the teachers are treating the kids right now, it’s way better than what they knew to do before. And I’m proud of all of the employees, the way they enjoy themselves when they are together at work. There’s a lot of things I’m proud of in where we are right now. It used to be about me – me – me. What do I get? But people don’t see things that way anymore. The staff is moving forward together. To know together we can do more. And I expect more to be happening in the next few years. If Jesus hasn’t returned.

What is your biggest source of encouragement?

The kids at Grace Emmanuel School. I see those kids playing and hear their laughter, see their smiles as they ride on the bus, waving their hands. That’s one of the biggest encouragements that I’ve found as I’m doing this, because when I see that, I know I’m not doing anything to please man, but to please God through those kids, because what I’m doing brings joy to them. And that’s really what matters.

Have there been any moments in the past five years where you had no solution and God just stepped in and provided one?

On many occasions, I rely on my own capacity and knowledge. In trials, I think, “I can fix that, I can do that.” But in reality I’m way at the bottom of the ladder and it’s really God getting me through those things.

I had an issue with two employees. Everything I did, everything I tried to figure out, all of my conversations with them weren’t accomplishing anything. It became worse. I leaned on my own understanding to talk to them. I said, “God, I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to work with them but they’re not willing to change. There’s nothing I can do, I’m just going to let them go.” Other people were also telling me, just let them go. Fire them. 

But I got to thinking, there has to be a better way. Because when you let people go, it often becomes personal, and it’s not a win-win. It’s not good for your reputation, and the Bible says in Proverbs 22:1 that having a good name is better than great riches. 

One of the employees went so far as to tell one of our pastors that they thought the best thing that could happen would be for me to go to hell. That was shocking. Shocking. The pastor afterward told me he thought this person was the problem. That person was a poison. 

Well, you know what, I don’t believe anyone is a poison. I could see satan was working behind this person, and so I knew God had the solution. I prayed and asked other people to pray. And God showed me how to put people in place to work with this person, and things are going much better. They even greet me now and talk to me and sometimes laugh. I’m like, “Okay, God, what’s going on? You made this happen!”

Pastor Derson

What are you most excited about in the next 5 years for JiHM?

I’m excited to see the kids have more opportunities to grow, as we have the capacity to provide more privileges at school. We’re going to shift focus from university to instead helping kids develop a skill that God has given them. We will support them to give more opportunities to read. 

And great progress physically and spiritually. I love how I see Pastor Derson leading the church, developing people and reaching out in the community.

And maybe in 5 years we might have a general office building. 

With so many organizations working in Haiti, why should people support JiHM?

JiHM is doing something unique. I don’t want to say completely unique, but it is uncommon. We invest a lot in the kids at school because we care for them. They can’t learn if they’re hungry. And not just giving food, but health. We dedicate ourselves to help them, even though we don’t have a hospital, we care about them no matter what it costs to give them life. We even help moms and dads with cancer, etc. We love people and really care about them. And that’s one of the areas we’ll invest in more. We’re not building a name or reputation, it’s all about the kids. If there’s a way to be part of the change of Haiti, it’s by investing in those little ones.

How has your family changed in the last 5 years?

Roger with his family in early 2020

I have two sons now. Carlton is 6, and Carter is 2. My wife, Kerline, has finished medical school and is doing her year of social service (required by the Haitian government) right now at Saint Michel Hospital in Jacmel. She was in Thiotte, close to Dominican Republic, but life was not good at all there. Lots of crime, violence against women in particular, and really bad sanitation. I was worried about her and asked if she could transfer to a different hospital. God made that possible and it’s going well in Jacmel. She will finish that in March 2021, and then she will do a specialty for 3-4 years, I think in gynecology. She is a general practitioner right now.

Our extended family has been really supportive and great to help out during these busy years for our family. When I’m not available to pick up Carlton from school, someone always can. Praise God, He has put some great people in my life to help take care of the kids and take care of the house. They are a huge, huge help for me. Kerline’s sisters and my brother and sister are always there for me, even just to make me laugh. They guide me through decisions I need to make. 

What do you do in your free time?

I think a lot about what needs to be done, what else I could be doing. What if I did this? How can I improve? Things like that.

When I’m home with my kids, I think, I’m doing such and such for them. What can I do better for these other kids?

Fun is not really in my calendar. I try to get it in, but for some reason it’s just not happening. 

Sometimes I read, too, to get refreshed and get new ideas.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I feel blessed to be part of this ministry, and really, I’m living the dream. At the end of 2009 when I was in Bible school, the teacher gave us an assignment to set a vision for the ministry we were then doing. I dreamed of a compound for JiHM where we could have the school, the church, and also have a family house. The teacher prayed over the homework, that this vision may come true in our lives. 

That teacher, who is now a doctor in theology, ended up coming to our mission awhile ago. He runs a seminary and asked to use our school building on Saturdays to host one of the classes. As I talked to him, I said, do you realize that this mission is what you prayed for years ago back in 2009? 

He was like, “Oh my gosh! Yeah, I prayed for you for this!” 

Yes, this is the dream. I’m living in the dream right now. Just like the Bible says, all things are possible with God. When you think this is not going to be possible, it’s just a dream, guess what? Dreams can come true. I’m so grateful to God and to those who give. There’s no better ministry than the one I’m serving here.

Encourage Roger

If Roger’s story has had a positive impact on you, would you take a moment to send him a note to encourage him today?

Kristi Bucher has served as Communications Manager for Jesus in Haiti Ministries since 2014. She currently lives in Minnesota with her husband, Nathan, and two kids. Kristi and Nathan lived in Haiti from 2012–2014.