In 2009, Tony Geraci experienced the loss of his last living parent, leaving a deep void in his life. Depression crept into his everyday life. A close friend encouraged him to pursue something new and invited him to participate in a short-term mission trip with Back2Back. Tony agreed, and in 2011, boarded a plane set for Nigeria.
“The trip helped me rebound 100%,” Tony shared. Realizing God invited him to be a part of something bigger than himself, Tony knew the trip would be the first of many.
Most recently, Tony traveled to Haiti with his wife, daughter, and the LifePoint Vineyard team from West Chester, Ohio to serve with Back2Back. Early in the week, he was drawn to a young, blind boy named Gervens. Prior to living at Lighthouse Children’s Home, Gervens’ parents kept him isolated in a small room and viewed him as a burden because of his disability. One day, Gervens found a way out of this room and wandered outside. Seen as an easy target, he was beaten by other boys. Tom, the Director of Jesus in Haiti Ministries, rescued him and took him home, but soon realized his parents were not invested in Gerven’s long-term care. He has lived at Lighthouse ever since.
Serving alongside Back2Back at Lighthouse, Tony looked forward to seeing Gervens each day. A special bond was formed. Gervens’ resilience inspired Tony, as he resourcefully found a way to participate in every activity: soccer, Connect Four, water balloon fights, and swimming.
Tony reflected, “I will never forget his deep, belly laugh when I put him on my back and ran through the pool water. We didn’t speak the same language, but we shared laughter. I knew Gervens felt safe with me, and this impacted me in a way I cannot describe.”
During the week, Tony learned Gervens taught himself to play keyboard on a play piano but had dreamed of having a real one of his own. Tony knew he couldn’t grant all of Gervens’ wishes, but this one he could. After arriving home, Tony packaged a keyboard and explored several shipping options. During his search, he learned a Back2Back staff person was traveling to Haiti the following week. Less than 14 days after Tony’s arrival home, the keyboard was on its’ way to Haiti. Currently, Gervens receives two hours of piano instruction each week, and loves spending time learning music.
“Gervens has done more for me than I could ever do for him,” Tony explained. “ He gave me the greater gift – a clearer vision of what really matters. The keyboard is more than a tangible item. It’s a symbol of God’s love, His redemptive plan. Only God can truly fix everything in this world that needs fixing, but He does so through each of us, if we’re willing.”
Tony has always had a passion for working with children, but missions shifted his perspective. Through his experiences serving internationally, he quickly realized how fortunate he was and how much potential he has to impact others.
“I look at my life differently. I used to be so consumed with work, living in a shell. Now, I realize how much I want to be actively involved. I have learned to listen, slow down, pray, be still and hear God’s voice. Before, I would have never known about Gervens’ wish to have a piano because I never would have asked. Now, I reach out. I ask. I listen.”
“My family has changed,” Tony continued. “I have changed. I see God differently now – I see Him as a Father. He is truly with me, not just near me, but with me. God softened my heart to have a father’s heart toward Gervens. The hardest thing for me to come to grips with is that God loves me. Now, I know that He does. Really knowing this is the greatest gift.”