Jacques Merine is a Haiti-born U.S. citizen who emigrated from his native land in 1986. Although born to loving parents who saw the value in educating each of their six children, Jacques grew up poor and not always knowing when his next meal would be. He dreamed of the day he could escape his country and begin a new life elsewhere.
He found that Florida had too large a Haitian population for his liking and joined his older brother in Gettysburg, PA in 1989 at the end of the apple harvest season. As time wore on, Jacques made annual trips back to Haiti to visit his wife Marie and eventually his son Carson. When Carson was three, he and his mother were finally able to join Jacques in the U.S. in 1996.
In 1999, he and his younger brother Jean worked together to help build a church in the southern Haiti village of Lamondrit. Later they added a school and feeding program and drilled a well for clean water. Thinking he was finally free to put Haiti in the past, Jacques found that God had other plans for him. He heard the call to help Haiti, but continued to ignore it until he could do so no longer. In 2009, Jacques and Jean opened the safe house in the capital suburb of Carrefour with ten children.
Following the earthquake in 2010 and his brother’s death in 2012, Jacques questioned his ability to move forward. He was given strength to meet every obstacle and his perseverance was followed by blessings in the form of goals achieved.
In July 2014, Jacques began his latest chapter in the service of the Source of Life Ministries. He left his job of 13 years, his family’s sole source of income, to give his full time and attention to the ministry and the children it serves.
Through natural disasters, tragic loss and the struggles that come with personal sacrifice, Jacques has only grown in his trust and respect for God’s will. He has found within himself a deeper love for Haiti than he ever thought possible.
In loving memory of Jean-Erol Merine
Jacques’ younger brother and co-founder of the safe house, Jean Erol Merine, was the overseer of the home and the father figure for the children in his care. He was a natural fit for the position as he was happily married to his wife Martha of nine years with whom he was raising three sons.
Jean had his bachelor’s degree in theology from the New Life Theological Seminary in Port-au-Prince as well as a diploma in communications and photography. He became vice principal at the most prestigious school in the community of Carrefour in 1998.
In 1999, he joined with his brother Jacques to form the Source of Life Ministries, which worked to build a church and later a school in Lamondrit in southern Haiti. The safe house opened in 2009, and his primary role was to manage the children’s education, spiritual and social orientation as well as any nutritional needs or healthcare issues that might have arisen.
While driving from his own house to visit the children at the safe home on the evening of April 29, 2012, Jean was fatally wounded by a gun shot. It was a random act of violence, believed to have been sparked by unrest caused by reports of rioting in the nation’s capital. Jean went through the night without a doctor’s care and died the next morning.
The way he lived his life and served those less fortunate than himself was a testament to his love of God and his belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. He was truly a blessing and we are especially thankful to have had him as part of the Source of Life team for the time that we did.