At the age of 15, Ronald’s world capsized when he came home from school to face the life-rattling news that his mother had been kidnapped and would likely never see her again. His experience of seeing hope in a seemingly hopeless situation opens a window into the blessing of letting go and letting God take over in life’s torrential storms.
It was the morning of Friday, April 29th, 2005 in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. Ronald kissed his mother goodbye and went to school, unrehearsed for the devastating reality that their banal kiss good-bye might have been their last. Much like present day, Haiti was in a state of civil unrest—President Jean- Bertrand Aristide had recently been forced from power—resources and employment were scarce; crime, manned barricades and kidnappings were at an all-time high, and with every passing day, danger escalated. But for young Ronald, whose life revolved around family and the church, the dangers of the outside world hadn’t yet intersected with his perception of reality.
Growing up in a faith-filled family, “My aunts’ first response to the news wasn’t to bemoan tragedy or crumble, instead it was to pray—to flood heaven with prayers.”— But that evening Ronald struggled to rationalize how an allloving God could allow for such pain to be afflicted to his mother, a woman of deep faith. How could God ever let this happen?
Like many Christians struggling to understand why bad things happen to good people, young Ronald believed that Christians should somehow be immune to adversity. The pain shook him to the core, and his faith was threatened. As the hours passed, the Enemy deluged Ronald’s mind with grim news stories of kidnapped victims who had been raped, mangled, or killed. Confronted with a choice between total despair and prayer, Ronald chose to trust God. “Even though prayer was the last thing I wanted to do— as I was falling into hopelessness— I prayed with my family and with every prayer my hope grew stronger.”
“EVEN THOUGH I HAD BEEN GOING TO CHURCH UP UNTIL THAT POINT I DIDN’T KNOW WHO JESUS WAS AND WHAT PRAYER WAS UNTIL THE KIDNAPPING.”
Resisting the darkness and fighting back tears, Ronald clung to his rosary and prayed with every ounce of energy he had left. He admits, “Even though I had been going to Church up until that point, I didn’t know who Jesus was and what prayer was until the kidnapping.”
And while reciting the Lord’s prayer, these four words— “Thy will be done”— (Matthew 6:10) suddenly took on a whole new meaning. “Although I had said this prayer hundreds, if not thousands of times before, it was as if I had heard these words for the very first time.”
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will but what You will.” – Luke 22:44.
Empathizing with the sorrow Jesus experienced in Gethsemane on the night before His death, Ronald realized that he now had to let go and let God take over. “A sense of peace had come over me, and I knew like I knew that regardless of the outcome, everything would be okay. I finally understood Thy will, not my will be done.”
New life to the lifeless
Friday turned into Saturday, and Saturday into Sunday — the day Ronald’s mother had been preparing for all year – it was Ronald’s youngest brother’s First Holy Communion. Through the encouragement of his Godmother to go ahead with the ceremony, Ronald, along with his cousin and one of his aunts went to church, it was on this day that the Holy Spirit came over him. “After Communion, I knelt to pray and made a connection through prayer, that I know now, could not have come to me on my own, I said: “GOD, YOUR SON DIED ON A FRIDAY, AND MY MOM WAS TAKEN THIS PAST FRIDAY. YOUR SON ROSE ON A SUNDAY. WILL YOU BRING MY MOM BACK TODAY?” That Easter connection and bigger-than-life request filled Ronald with a renewed hope for his mother’s return. It was in that moment that he made a declaration of faith, a promise to God saying, “God I promise I will give my life to You if You will bring my mother back home unharmed.”
Shortly after returning home from Church that afternoon, they received a phone call from the negotiators—the ransom had been paid, and his mother had been released. “For a moment, I feared the conditions in which she would return to us —will she still look the same? Be the same? But those fears dissolved the moment I saw her unscathed body cross the threshold of our house. The sheer joy overcame all my fears, and in one long embrace, I knew God had answered my prayers. This experience resurrected our family– this event matured my faith.”
A beacon of hope—a promise fulfilled
No longer feeling safe in Haiti, the Angervil family fled from the only home they had ever known, trusting that God would guide their next steps. It was Canada that would eventually grant asylum, embracing them with open arms. For Ronald, Canada represented a place of love, security and peace, and where he would continue to grow in faith. Today Father Ronald is associate pastor at St. Joseph Church in Grimsby, Ontario, and together with Pastor Father Rico Passero, ministers to bring God’s message of hope to youth and families. “If God hadn’t willed to strengthen my faith through that painful experience, I wouldn’t have known the meaning of the word ‘hope’, nor would I know how to give hope to the brokenhearted. I am grateful to God for using my story for His glory, and that I can serve Him in gratitude every single day of my life.”
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31
Father Ronald’s story reminds us that hope in God is not only possible but essential in coping with life’s darkest hours. Hope doesn’t guarantee a smooth sail through life, but it does promise that when the storms of life do arise — “we have this hope as the anchor for the soul.” – Hebrews 6:19