Developing Haitian Leaders
Wadestrant (Wawa) Jean-Baptiste is a man with a strong love for God and for Haiti – he has said “Everytime I pray, I pray for better days for Haiti.” When Wawa and his five siblings were young, they attended Catholic church with their family. At the age of eleven, however, everything changed. Wawa’s mother became ill and instead of taking her to the hospital, Wawa’s father took her first to one witch doctor and then another, hoping the cast out the “spirit” that was causing the illness. This is a common practice in Haiti, a country steeped in the practices of Voodoo. When she didn’t get better, Wawa’s father took his wife to the hospital but it was too late – she died of Typhoid Fever. Less than a year later Wawa’s father became a witch doctor and then a Voodoo priest. Wawa and his siblings did not attend church or school again as children. Eight years later, a girl that Wawa knew invited him to a week-long evangelistic conference, and his older brother went along with them. Wawa admits to only going in order to impress the girl, but, while they were there, Wawa heard about Christ’s love and both he and his brother gave their lives to Christ.
After becoming Christians, Wawa and his brother were persecuted most by the person who should have loved them best – their father. He beat them, tried to kill them, and finally kicked them out of the house for good. They went to live with a cousin and while they were there, his brother was killed during a military uprising. Wawa’s father blamed him for his brother’s death, making it unsafe for Wawa to continue staying with his family. So he sought shelter with American missionaries. There Wawa found answers to his questions about why he was suffering so much, and his thirst for God’s Word began to grow.
It was this thirst for the Word and the desire to share what he had learned with others that took Wawa back to high school. He graduated at the age of 26. Wawa then attended the Evangelical Seminary of Port-au-Prince (STEP) and then Dallas Theological Seminary. While in Dallas he met and married his wife Josette (they now have two daughters, Christine and Michelle). After earning his masters degree, Wawa and Josette returned to Haiti so Wawa could teach at STEP. His heart is not just to be a professor who instills knowledge in his students, but to open his heart and his home and to mentor his students. His goal is to point his students to Christ in the hope that they will then do the same for others, and Haiti will be impacted by the love of Christ.
In January 2009 Wawa’s father called him and shared that he had come to Christ – Wawa’s many years of prayer had been answered! Wawa prayed with his father and provided him with books to read. A year later Wawa’s father asked Wawa to plant a church on the very spot where he had spent so many years practicing Voodoo.
Wawa is currently the President of STEP and continues to teach and mentor students and lay leaders.