Défi des Jeunes: A Publishing Ministry for Teens in Haiti

“I enjoyed the webinar. It encouraged me to continue my writing and do it better,” teen magazine publisher Marie-France Pierre-Pierre from Haiti recently wrote to MAI. So began a correspondence with Marie-France in which she generously shared her publishing journey—and how we might pray for the ministry of the Défi des Jeunes (Youth Challenge) magazine team in Haiti.

How did the Lord lead you into publishing ministry?

I was raised in a Christian home and early on I gave my life to Christ. As long as I can remember, I always wanted to serve the Lord.

When I was a teenager, I found a Christian magazine at home. It was named Young Ambassador and later became TQ Magazine. I really liked it. The part I liked the most was the Q&A section where teens could ask the questions they wanted.

When my children became teenagers, I remembered that as a teenager I really liked reading things specifically for my age group. And that magazine—which came from the US—was no longer available.

I wanted my kids to have something similar to read, and I also saw the need for other teenagers as well to read such a magazine. There was none in Haiti then. So I started Défi des Jeunes magazine with my family. I did a small survey in 2022 with people across the country and found that there did not seem to be any Christian teen magazine in Haiti except ours.

I had a burden in my heart to publish the magazine. The Lord showed me how to do it by putting people next to me to help me achieve what He had put on my heart to do. I really did not have a lot of experience in publishing, although I had some knowledge.

It was this burden that made me go forward. If God puts something on your heart, He will show you the way to do it. The road may not be easy—I remember times when I had to work late at night, or had to start over because something had gone wrong.

Who is one person who has been significant in your faith journey and in what ways?

I would say my father is the first person. He worked for 18 years with the Haitian Bible Society in translating the Bible into Haitian Creole. He has also written many books. He passed away seven years ago.

He was the one who gave me the name for the magazine.  He really loved young people. When I was thinking about starting the magazine, we talked about it often.

One day he came and told me, “I found the name for the magazine. You should call it Défi des Jeunes.” He really loved the Word of God and whenever he talked with young people, he would share a verse with them and encourage them. I think that made me learn to love the Word of God and young people too.

You have engaged your readers in many different activities, such as short- story competitions, writing workshops, a Bible-Reading League and distance Bible study. What has been encouraging about these?

All these activities are meant to help teens go through that stage of their life knowing that someone cares about them, to help them learn what the Bible says and teach them to know God and give their lives to serve Him.

They are also meant to help them develop skills that they may not know they have. I remember a young lady who participated in one of our writing workshops. She had a vivid imagination. She was encouraged to use that ability to continue writing.

Last year, for our 10th anniversary, we were able to give a free copy of a special edition of Défi des Jeunes to about 6,000 teenagers in Haiti who did not know it existed. This was possible with donations we received for that project. We praise the Lord for that.

When a young person writes to us that they really liked what they read or they know they can ask Défi des Jeunes a question that is bothering them, I know that the Lord wants us to continue the work. A young man told me once that he started taking his studies seriously after reading a story in the magazine. That kind of testimony helps us to continue.

How can we pray?

We praise the Lord for what He has done in the lives of teenagers who have read the magazine. We are receiving testimonies of young adults saying what an impact reading the magazine had on them when they were teens. We pray that He continues to use us.

These days, the political situation in our country is really, really difficult. Pray for the Lord to continue His work in my country and in the Haitian people.

To know that brothers and sisters are praying for me, my family and my country is a blessing. Your prayers are not in vain; the Lord is working for our good here in Haiti. Please continue to intercede on our behalf.

In a sense, the situation is helping me to think outside the box and find new ways to keep things going. We must always innovate. Pray that we will not be discouraged and that the Lord will help us find new ways to continue our work.

Patience is what we must have when working in these circumstances. Pray that the Lord will multiply the number of our subscribers, so that we will be able to publish the magazine with the cover in color.

I like the motto of Janet Wilson’s Write for a Reason podcast: “If you have been called to write, someone is waiting for it.” It resonates well with the way I understand the work I do. If God calls you for something, He will make a way. You just have to be listening to His voice.

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