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The Renée You Never Knew

Sunday, May 19, 2024

I thought I would share a little with you about my route to Jesus this week. I will give you some updates from this past week at MOHI, and then, if you'd like to learn a little about the Renée you never knew, keep reading.

Let's start with the fun stuff in Haiti. Saturday was Flag Day - a holiday celebrated with the colors of the Haitian flag and parades. Our preschoolers made little flags and learned songs to sing as they marched around the yard on Friday.

It's good that we can have fun at school and work hard...

...and eat well, too.

The little ones in Haiti are enjoying their meals.

Thanks to our partnership with Bless Back Worldwide, students and our neighbors can take full advantage of the Thozin Clinics.

By the way, the US Marines are in Port-au-Prince. They have secured the international airport and have been bringing in cargo jets with various supplies. They are also building camps to house the international forces that should be arriving in Haiti soon. Please keep praying, Friends! (Ambassador Hawkins is pictured below in Haiti.)

START NOW is making a difference in La Grúa, Baraguana, and Cambiaso. Baby sponsors are doing a great job of supporting this initiative, enabling us to feed more babies. Thank you!

Nurse Marlouse visits and treats patients with OTC meds and refills previously prescribed medicines.

Lex and I were presented with an award Thursday from the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce. It was a humbling experience to see so many we serve alongside on their feet honoring us. Wow! So many others are deserving, and yet we were chosen. We felt very honored and truly do appreciate all those at the Chamber who took the initiative to vote for us. We are also grateful for the many friends and family who supported us.


The Renée You Never Knew

I was taken from my birth mother by the State (Connecticut) when I was just over 2 years old and placed with a family that wanted to adopt me. I was raised in a stable Jewish home, but sadly, my new mom and I never bonded well. I left home when I turned 17 (a VERY long time ago now!) and was legally emancipated by my parents. I guess I was really a handful.

I was working at a Bonanza Steak House, living with my coworker’s family (Natalie), and then with my first roommate, Ann. I dropped out of school but, eventually, at Ann’s insistence (thank you, Ann!), I returned to school, joined the work-study program, and somehow managed to graduate high school. I rented a room from a co-worker, worked hard, and bought my first car, a big ole Chevy Impala 2-door sedan, for $75 (3 payments of $25). It was an exciting but terrifying season in my life.

I was so excited to have my own car. I got a temporary registration and made payments to the seller, on which I almost defaulted. I did manage to pay her off but still couldn’t afford the permanent registration costs. Another coworker, Paul, told me he could get me a plate from his dad’s garage. “Yayyyy.” I drove my car for a couple more months like that.

The gas gauge on the car was broken, so I kept track of the miles I drove, figuring I must get at least 10 mpg. Wrong. I ran out of gas regularly. I began calculating at 7 mpg, but still managed to run out. Knowing I had someone else’s plate on my car, I always watched for police, hoping not to get caught. So, running out of gas and abandoning my car was even scarier.

One evening, another coworker who lived near me (we used to hitchhike home together after work before I bought the car) asked to borrow my car. “Sure!”

Oy! He ran out of gas and simply went to sleep in the car until a police officer woke him up. I got a call asking where my car was - and I had no idea but knew it hadn’t been stolen. That was good news for my friend, but not so much for me. They towed the car. I never got it back, so I lost my entire record collection in the trunk AND my license.

Fast forward a bit. I joined an MLM business and started hanging around with a different crowd in addition to my coworkers. These new friends were all older than me, mostly married couples, many with young families.

A group of them went to church together and had plans to go to a mall after the service. Not having a car, I had no way to meet up with them, so I asked if I could go to church with them.

My friend Dave told me, “Oh, no. You don’t have to go to church with us.”

They started talking about alternative plans that might be made, but I knew it would be a major inconvenience for them to come back and forth almost 30 minutes each way.

I said, “I could just go to church with you, so no one has to return for me.”

“Oh no, we can figure something out.”

At this point, I was so confused. I had been to church a few times in my childhood when I’d slept over at a friend’s house. They LIKED for me to go to church with them. What was going on?

“Is this church not open to everyone? Do you have to be a member to go to this service?” I asked.

“Oh, no! It’s nothing like that. I just don’t want you to feel like we’re forcing you to go. I know you’re Jewish,” Dave responded.

“Well, I would LIKE to go to church with you. Can I please?” I pleaded with him.

He finally conceded. My friend Angie’s brother-in-law and sister (John & Jenny) picked me up in Coventry and drove me to an elementary school in East Hartford, CT.

“Where’s the church?” I asked.

“We don’t have our own building yet, so we are meeting in the gymnasium,” they told me.

I will never forget how I felt walking into that school. I was very uncomfortable, not being familiar with anything. There were a lot of people and they were all singing. We found seats and I looked around me. People were SMILING! They looked like they actually wanted to be there. This was a new experience for me.

I don’t remember which Bible verses were read or even what the message was that was preached. Jesus reached me through some good music (music was my life until I left home), happy faces all around me, handshakes, hugs, and people noticing me. I couldn’t wait to go back the next week. The mall didn’t compare to what I’d experienced at that church in the school.

I followed some simple directions, like getting a Bible and starting to read it. And it's easier to start in John than in Genesis. You know, I fell in love with the Bible. I loved to read it, and I loved to pray to God alone in my room.

Perhaps my conversion began through an emotional connection, but perhaps that's okay. After all, God created me with emotions, so why not use them? But it was never just emotional. I've had many ups and downs over the years, but knowing the Bible was God speaking to me kept me anchored in the very worst of storms.

Sometimes, we get so hung up on appearances. We compete with one another to see who knows the Bible better. We work hard to “look” respectable. We try to sing better and wear the right outfits. But these things are not what draw people to Jesus. On the contrary, HE uses our Jesus-like humility and love for one another to draw a lost soul to HIMSELF.

We go to church to be fed spiritually, but in this day and age, we can do that ourselves from home. Why does Jesus tell us “NOT to forsake gathering together”? Obviously, we need one another. We were created to be a family, not isolated. We are BETTER together!

I am reminded of that terrified teenage girl who needed to be an adult but didn’t know how. Perhaps the people in that congregation had in mind that they had gathered to personally grow spiritually, but I’m pretty sure the LORD also had that girl on HIS mind and knew the impression HIS Church could make on her. Perhaps this is why I have the mindset that I don't "go to church" for me so much as to serve others. My smile, handshake, hug, laughter, or even my tears may be the thing that touches someone else and opens a door for Jesus to walk through. Or maybe these things combined with those of twenty, thirty, or forty others make all the difference.

Let’s study the Bible and listen to its messages preached so we can see. Let’s discuss the Bible with our brothers and sisters so we can grow. Let’s pray what God’s word says and let’s speak the truth in love. We don’t want to cut each other up with the Sword of the Spirit.

Let’s encourage one another this week to emanate who Jesus is in our own lives. Let us be the salty salt and the refreshing water our neighbors need. Let us really see and communicate with our neighbors, fellow students, family members, and co-workers. Let’s use all five senses to show them how wonderful Jesus is and how much HE cares about each one of us.


Chelle Pitts
Chelle Pitts
May 27

I meant to comment when Wayne read most of this to me when yoiu first wrote it (yes...we read your updates!!). Isn't it amazing how God somehow uses each of us to help one another come to know Him? But more so, that His Spirit can cut through anything to get straight to the heart? Love yoiur story Renee...and love your heart. The Lord truly shines through you, not only in that laughter that I love, but in all of who you are Blessings.


May 20

I love your story, Renee:)

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