“In June of 1972, I was discouraged because a year had gone by since I had graduated from seminary, and I hadn’t raised a penny to go back to Haiti, which had been my goal. So after preaching at a church in New York City, two ladies asked me whether they could join my wife and me for a night of prayer. We agreed, and I said, ‘Please ask the Lord to tell me what to do! I heard the call for the ministry, but now I have been trying to raise funds to go to Haiti and I cannot raise any money. If he has something else in mind, let me know.’”
Soliny Védrine was born in L’Asile, Haiti, one of seven children of a tailor, Sauveur Védrine, who, at great financial sacrifice, sent Sol away to school in Port-au-Prince at age 14. Sol eventually graduated from the university with a law degree, married, and came to the U.S. to study at Dallas Theological Seminary. But then, Sol hit an impasse.
“By the time the two ladies left, we were tired and hungry. We were glad we prayed, but we were glad they left! That afternoon, one of the sisters came back and said, ‘We have found the answer to your prayer.’ I wondered, was it Haiti? Miami? The sister said, ‘Boston.’
“‘Boston!’ I said. ‘How do you know?’ She said, ‘Mr. Jean-Pierre, who lives in Boston, just came to spend the weekend with us. And he keeps complaining that Haitians are pouring into Boston by hundreds yet there are no churches. So I tied up his complaint with your request!’
“She put me in contact with Mr. Jean-Pierre, who said, ‘Come to Boston! We need you. Haitians are coming from New York to Boston. You should come, brother. Come!’”
Six months later, Sol and Emmeline obeyed God’s call to go to Boston. There they found two small Christian fellowships serving a rapidly growing population of Haitians. Assuming their full-time job was ministry, Sol and Emmeline began to meet with Haitian families to share the Gospel and their dream about starting a church. But when their first baby was due and they had no money, Sol took a secular job as a welder for eight months and then as a bookkeeper for eleven years, while working many hours developing the church.
Meanwhile, Haitians continued to move to Boston, and by the 1980s, new churches were starting every few months. Marilyn Mason, a missionary with EGC, began to build relationships among the Haitian pastors, and soon recognized that Pastor Sol had a strong vision to see pastors working together for effective, city-wide ministry. She asked Doug Hall, EGC’s director, if he couldn’t find a way to help Sol leave his accounting job to dedicate himself full time to helping grow Haitian churches. Several Haitian leaders said the same thing, so Doug made the call.
“We met for lunch and Doug talked to me about whether I would be willing to leave my accounting job and come by faith to the Gospel Center to begin these connections,” Sol says. “The strange thing was that that was my prayer, too! It was my dream to create a forum where pastors could have fellowship and discuss problems. On November 4, 1985, Sol joined EGC as Minister-at-Large to the Haitian Community.
Today, Boston has the third largest Haitian community outside Haiti, behind Miami and New York City. There are about 200 Haitian churches in New England, with about 60 in Greater Boston supporting a population of over 70,000 Haitians. EGC’s Haitian Ministries International works to encourage and strengthen Haitian pastors in Boston and to facilitate Haitian churches working together to serve others.
Pastor Sol’s work includes counseling and consulting with pastors and ministry leaders in Boston and across the Haitian diaspora; assisting Haitians immigrating to Boston, especially since the earthquake; and organizing evangelistic, discipleship, and training programs that serve the Haitian community in Boston and beyond.
Pastor Sol also teaches seminary classes for emerging Haitian leaders at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Boston campus, and he continues to serve as senior pastor of the Boston Missionary Baptist Church, which he and his wife founded in 1972.
by Steve Daman