July 21, 2010 Philadelphia, PABernard Sejour, a Haitian, says he always wanted to make a difference in his country. He thought about being a news reporter or a lawyer but eventually became a human rights worker. In October 2000, he was forced to leave his country.
Bernard says he remembers Anna, a Mennonite Central Committee worker who worked for the same human rights organization he did. He noticed something different about Anna and learned she was a Mennonite.
Years later, in the United States, after he was forced out of Haiti, he tracked down Mennonites and was drawn to Anabaptist theology. After a couple of years of training at Hesston College, he has now begun a new church for Haitians in Philadelphia.
Through a Haitian Relief Fund grant from Mennonite Central Committee, Bernard works with Lutheran Family Services to provide case management for Haitians arriving in this country following the January 12 earthquake in Haiti.
Bernard serves 23 families and helps them navigate the system in this country for legal and social services. He says this job has given him the possibility of learning to know many Haitians in the Philadelphia community he would not otherwise have met.
"The way Mennonites have received me, I feel I belong," Bernard reflects. His work and his love for Jesus are paying dividends in the Solidarity and Harmony Church in Philadelphia.
For me, Bernard, shows us once again, as our Anabaptist forbears did so many years ago, that our words and deeds are integrally related. "In the name of Christ," we say in MCC. Its an apt accompaniment for our work in relief, development and peace.