Back in their home country of Haiti, Marie–Mona Jeanty had been a college-educated professional with a career. But when the government could no longer protect its citizens from crime and gang violence, she, and her daughters Molane and Koraly knew that leaving Haiti was their best option.
On October 27, 2021, the family arrived in Philadelphia, Pa. Every day after taking her daughters to school, Marie–Mona explored the city, either on foot or by bus. She would go into supermarkets and walk the aisles for hours with a shopping cart, unsure of her next step in life. She did not know anyone in her new city and spoke little English.
“But the Lord had plans for me,” says Marie–Mona. “Trust in Jesus; He knows your needs better than you.”
Marie–Mona opened her heart and mind to the Lord. In turn, He introduced her to The Salvation Army. She was only slightly familiar with it in Haiti. But something drove her to call the Philadelphia Citadel Corps and leave a voice message. Envoy Zuheil Barton, who at the time worked in social services at the Citadel, returned her call. She invited Marie–Mona to attend services at the corps on Sunday.
Says Envoy Zuheil, “From there, we found different ways to help her and her family. We gave them vouchers for our thrift store. I drove Marie–Mona around to find a permanent home. We also connected her to the Pathway of Hope program at the Philadelphia Kroc Center.”
This past April, both Marie–Mona and Molane enrolled as senior soldiers at the Citadel. Captains Seo-young Yoo and Hwang Kim, corps officers, asked Envoy Zuheil to perform the ceremony. Although she had been transferred to The Salvation Army in Norristown, Pa., she was delighted to participate. The new senior soldiers were happy and surprised to see the person who had helped them take their first step towards The Salvation Army.
“You could see on their faces that they were amazed at how far God’s grace had brought them since they came to this country,” says Envoy Zuheil. “They were so proud.”
Marie–Mona says that becoming a Salvation Army soldier gave her life a new purpose and transformed it into something that she never imagined.
“This experience has taught me that the Lord waits for you to take one step, because He is ready to make the 99 others,” says Marie–Mona.