Let me tell you about my friend Leon Dorleans. You will probably never meet him but he is worth getting to know. He is almost 70 years old now. I met him about 20 years ago. He is a pastor from Haiti that I got introduced to at a time when our church was looking for an opportunity to do some mission work in that country. We struck up a friendship which began a great relationship between us but also between our church and his ministry – Haiti Outreach Ministries. There is much that I have learned from him over the years. Here are a few things that I hope you will learn as well:
Your early life does not define the rest of your life – Leon was born in one of the poorest countries in the world. Even today the per capita income is less than $800 per year. Most Americans make more than that each week. He had nothing materially but he did have a mother who insisted that he get an education. And it was his education that gave him opportunities to be a difference maker on behalf of the kingdom of God. He has been used to influence thousands of young men and women in Haiti and to bless the country of his birth – even when he easily could have left Haiti and lived in the comfort and ease of America.
Vision separates great leaders from good leaders – Almost 30 years ago Leon started a Bible Study with a few people in the Cité Soleil area of Port-au-Prince. But he did not allow the success of that study to keep him from thinking bigger. Much bigger. Out of that Bible Study has come 5 church plants reaching over 3200 people each week and 4 schools providing an education to over 1500 children. A medical clinic. An orphanage. And a vocational school. Leon’s vision continues to fuel Haiti Outreach Ministries with the power of possibility as he holds onto the promise that “nothing is impossible with God.”
Enthusiasm is contagious – You do not have to be around Leon for very long to recognize that he is passionate about the work that God has entrusted to him. And he has a gift for communicating that passion very enthusiastically. People are drawn to be a part of the work God is doing in Haiti because of his excitement. As you grow up, my prayer is that you will find a God-ordained passion and unashamedly tell everyone you come in contact with about it with unbridled enthusiasm.
Investing in people pays huge dividends – Leon realized early on that there is much more profit to be gained by investing in people than money. The dividends that are being reaped are eternal and are growing at a rate far beyond what a healthy portfolio could ever produce. Take note of the way that other people invest their lives in you as you grow up and then make it a life long pursuit to invest your life in the lives of others. This is a gospel mandate – to make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples.
I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to introduce you to my friend Leon. If not, make it a point to learn from men like him.
And by the way… never ever forget that you are very loved!