By MARK MAYNARD, Kentucky today
RICHMOND, Ky. (KT) – Shamma Lorredan’s spirit returned to 2010 when the Haitian native heard about the 7.2 magnitude earthquake last weekend. He was overcome with fear for his friends and family.
“When I woke up on Saturday my phone rang and I heard the news,” he said. “I saw the earthquake and I saw the magnitude of it. I woke up in a panic. My family is there. For 15 minutes, I couldn’t find anyone. No one answered. I called and called. I assumed everyone was dead.
A wave of panic swept over him before someone finally answered. His family was safe. He could breathe again.
Lorredan knows the fear and helplessness that comes with an earthquake. He was on the third floor of a building that collapsed in 2010. “I was reliving it all,” he said.
This earthquake turned out to be a turning point for Lorredan, a place in his life where he saw God become more real than ever. It also took him on a trip to Kentucky where he graduated from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and is a full-time pastor at Red House Baptist Church in Richmond.
“2010 was a wake-up call to bring me back to God,” he said. “When the earthquake hit, I was literally thinking, ‘Is this the rapture? Why am I still here? Something is wrong. I remember praying, “God save my life. He did and since then I have never stopped.
Lorredan was able to escape the rubble and a life that had put his faith in the closet as he pursued a musical career in Haiti. His rock group was able to sign an international recording contract. “We were one of the top three national winners,” he said. “Haiti is very poor. Everyone traces their path. When the earthquake hit, we were in a recording studio. We did. We have lost everything. I was at the bottom, really, really in a dark place.
The earthquake had destroyed everything. He lived in a tent city, building a shelter with sticks and a tarp. He only expected to be there for weeks, but those weeks turned into months.
Lorredan had maintained a close relationship with his parents. His father is a pastor in Haiti, and because of this, Shamma thought he was okay with God. But listening to one of his father’s sermons as a teenager, he realized he didn’t have that personal relationship with Jesus. He was baptized in 1999 and continued to serve the church.
“I have always strived to do better in my life,” he said. “My parents never had enough. I discovered the talent show. My mom prayed that I would win this contest and I did. I ended up chasing fame and money and for a few years I went out (far from his faith).
Then God sent the wake-up call in his life which included a year of living in a tent city. It was around this time that her mother fell seriously ill, and this led to the next chapter which unveiled how God provided her with a lifeline. He was in an area where doctors across the United States were trying to cure overwhelming illnesses and injuries. Lorredan didn’t know how to help, so he did what he knew: entertain the people in the room while they waited to keep their spirits up.
“It was such a sad scenario,” he said. “I thought it would be nice if I could make them laugh a bit. In the midst of all this noise, this gentleman was working in the bedroom. I noticed him kneeling on one knee with his hand on his head. It was almost as if I heard someone say, ‘Go help him. He needs help. I go with everyone laughing and joking and I put a hand on his shoulder. ‘Can I help you?’ He said, ‘I was literally praying that God would send me someone, anyone, who could help me talk to this people.’ He knows what to do but he cannot communicate with them. My English was difficult but I was able to be his interpreter.
This man was Dr John Williamson, a professor at Lincoln Memorial University who had come with others to help during the days and weeks following the earthquake.
Lorredan, who said he literally had nothing at the time, hoped the doctor could give him money for his efforts. But Williamson later told him he had bad news, that all he had was credit cards. He knew the assistant was hoping for money. He offered what he could, including scrubs and socks and whatever food he had on hand, including M&M.
“He felt bad because he didn’t have the money to help me,” Lorredan said. “I was happy to help. He said you should contact me and gave me contact numbers.
It started a relationship that eventually brought Lorredan from Haiti to Kentucky. “We have become like a family,” he said. “He has seven children, six biological and me. I was probably 24 years old and I asked him, ‘Can you adopt me?’ ”
Dr Williamson enrolled Lorrean at Clear Creek Bible College, where he graduated in five years despite barely knowing English. He learned as he went with the help of many teachers in Clear Creek. He attended ministry in 2017 and serves as a worship pastor using his musical skills at Red House Baptist Church.
Lorredan also started his own family with his wife Tabitha, originally from Michigan. They are looking to adopt a baby from Haiti, and he shared that she recently miscarried. Life hasn’t always been easy, but he is grateful for the connections that came from the tragic 2010 earthquake. He understands what God has done in his life.
“I felt helpless” after the last earthquake, he said. “I don’t have a lot of resources. I am now a pastor and I know how to help them if I can reach out to them. I will reach out to friends and pray with them. I learned what I didn’t have, someone who encouraged me every day. It got darker and darker and darker. Things in Haiti are difficult. People have no hope. I want to give them hope.