Ten years ago, Julio Volcy was a pastor in Florida, helping young Haitian Americans find jobs and a positive direction in life. When the earthquake of 2010 shook Haiti, killing up to 230,000 people, the devastation rocked his soul.
A few months later, Volcy moved back to his native Haiti, the land he’d left as a teen in search of a better life, and founded Rendezvous Church.
He started with 40 people, sweltering in a small building in Delmas, a community in Port au Prince, the nation’s capital. Today, the church has more than 1,600 members.
Volcy’s success is driven by cultural change. He told the poorest of the poor in Haiti that God loves them. The people without shoes were welcomed in the church and could stand side by side with the well-heeled.
The church built a school for 600 and created the Daily Bread Bakery, a local jobs incubator. He built collaborations with the local and regional government to improve roads, electrical output and forge a waste management squad, locals who pick up trash. Many of them without pay, but who do it as way of restoring pride to the community and themselves.
Volcy’s most proud of his Haiti Teen Challenge, an initiative that takes in the orphaned and homeless youth, providing them shelter from gangs, prostitution, destitution, and offering hope through leadership training and counseling. In Haiti, where 65 percent of the population is under 25, Volcy believes to “change a youth is to change a nation.”
He is strengthening souls to prepare Haiti, individual by individual, for the long battle against inequality and poverty.