The Book of Job is the 18th book of the Hebrew Bible.  It is considered the first of five books of poetry in the Old Testament:

  • Job – teaches us how to suffer
  • Psalms – teach us how to pray
  • Proverbs – teach us how to act
  • Ecclesiastes – teaches us how to enjoy life
  • The Song of Solomon – teaches us how to love

Job – a good man – loses everything including his health.  The narrative acknowledges that bad things happen to good people, and that good things can happen to bad people.  Through his adversity, Job maintains his faith in God, but not without questioning why bad things happen to him.  The answer to his questions is never clear, but the mystery behind it does not destroy his faith.  When all is said and done, Job’s health is restored and his final days are more prosperous than those of his youth.

The lesson central to the story is simple:  keep the faith…  continue to believe in, trust, or support someone or something even when it is difficult to do so.  How many times have you offered that simple advice to a friend or family member, “Keep the faith.”  The three words are easy to say but challenging to live by.  It may not always be easy, but it always works… ALWAYS.

Keep the Faith

The story of Job continues to move in my life.

Gail Rongen tours Foi de Job with Touta in 2016

My most recent novel The Faith of Job [©2020] is titled on the name I chose for a school prominent in the story set in WWII Holland.  I named the school in the novel “Faith of Job” after a school I worked with in Haiti – Foi de Job – in 2017/18.  My friend Touta was the principal of the school, and Touta’s brother owned the school building.  Working with my Haitian friend Justin five years ago, we were able to enroll 50 students in Touta’s school.  The school has long since closed, and Touta and his brother have moved to Miami.

Earlier this year, Justin and his friends at the Guepard Boxing Club of Cité Soleil (GBCCS) opened a school for street children.  They call it the Barefoot School.  I like the way it sounds in creole, “Lekòl pye atè.”

the Barefoot School teachers

Within one week of opening the doors, our planned student body of 100 had grown to 300.  Fortunately, we have been able to increase our staff to nine:  a principal, six teachers, a disciplinary prefect, and a computer instructor.  Three people work in the kitchen to prepare meals for the students at the end of every school day.  Six other young men train the children in boxing skills on Saturday.  The school is operated by GBCCS which is managed by my friend Justin and his able assistant Benoit.  None of the staff receives compensation or pay, and each acts from the moral justification that burns in his or her own heart.  Good people are capable of extraordinary things.

Back to the Book of Job… Since February, we have been using an existing school building owned and operated by another school.  The other school holds its classes in the morning and allows the Barefoot School to use the building for three hours in the afternoon.  Last month, the principal informed us that he had other plans for the building that did not include us.  We would have to leave at the end of May.

Touta and GBCCS kids in 2018

Like Job, something bad was happening to good people.  Keep the faith.  As we looked for a solution, we remembered our friend Touta and his school in Cité Soleil, Foi de Job.  We have maintained contact with our friend since his move to Miami, and we reached out to him:  what is the status of the school building in Haiti?  We learned that the school is closed, the building is vacant and under lock and key.  Keep the faith… Touta and his brother have agreed to rent the building to the Barefoot School for one year – June 1, 2022, through May 31, 2023 – at a generous price that reflects their continued desire to help the children of their homeland.

Justin inspected the building.  It is empty and in need of some repair.  More importantly, the furniture, tables, and benches for the students are gone.  Keep the faith…  Gail Rongen and the Nicole Megaloudis Foundation came to the rescue again to fund 30 benches and tables to accommodate 150 students.

The positive impact of having a school building 24/7 is immeasurable.  Our plan is to run a morning session and an afternoon session, which enables us to serve 300 students every day.  The building acquisition also allows us to consider additional services, services like adult education in the evenings.  An added feature:  our new building is closer to our kitchen and the training grounds we use on Saturdays for physical education.

Like Job, we may not have understood why we were losing our original building, but we did not allow our lack of understanding to destroy our faith.  We believed there was a way and we believed we would find it.  We keep the faith and work together to find a solution.

Keep the Faith

Mitakuye Oyasin

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  1. This is a really inspiring story. Another added perspective is that God is affirming what people are doing in regards to the school. That can give even added confidence about the future. Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”