“If I EVER complain again,” Paul told his wife after joining Matt and some of the students Wednesday for evangelism, “Just SHOOT me.”
After visiting a few families, a few houses, one of which being Pehpay’s, he was humbled to the core by the impoverished state of daily life for most Haitians. No matter how many muddy floor shanties I enter, I am still frequently stabbed with the unmistakable knowledge that people live here. EVERYDAY. THESE people.
There is just no explaining why I wake up in a comparatively ginormous house with tiled floors and screens in the windows and fans whirling overhead and a fridge full of food and a door, a real door, guarding my family….and a woman my exact age, Angeline, with a little boy one month older than Lily wakes up in a crumbling mud thatched hut after sleeping on a dirty mat and wondering what and if they will eat today.
No explaining it. Don’t know why.
What I do know is that that is not the most important question. And the longer we’re here, the more we realize that. Full fridge, empty stomach…same real problem, same real solution.
“It DOESN’T MATTER,” Belony shared over and over again today as we went house to house in the scorching sun, “if your mom was a Christian! I don’t CARE if you go to church every single day. Doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’ve sinned as bad as the other person. Doesn’t matter how good you do.”
“When He returns, or when you die, you, by yourself, will have to stand before Him, and He will say, ‘What did you do with the life I gave you? How did you live? Who did you serve? Do I know you?’ and you will have to tell Him what you did with what He gave you. You will have to tell Him, ‘I was Yours!’ or ‘I did not choose the salvation I was offered by Jesus Christ.’ Are you His? Will He take you up, or cast you aside?”
Talk about putting things into perspective! Every time Belony preaches the Word or speaks about the Lord, my heart is being touched as well.
What I’m doing with what He’s given me, hmmm.
It is beautiful work, telling people what He has offered them in Jesus…salvation and freedom from their sins, from themselves…abundant life…new life…a hope and a future. I get genuinely excited, overjoyed and overwhelmed just sharing salvation with each person...because it is something I have experienced! AM experiencing!
THIS is the good stuff, I kept thinking as we walked. There are many important things to do here, lots of kingdom work, lots of discipleship, lots of administration and paperwork and meetings and things that must be done, that should be done. But it is these hours of walking with my brothers and sharing with The Ones For Whom He Died that are the most sweet. As different as He has made us all, He put in us EACH a call to share the Gospel, to preach His word in His world, and fulfilling that call resonates deeply as "RIGHT" despite all the reasons that it is NOT fun or easy.
It is HARD work, telling people who are so lost! Hard-headed….angry….quick to fight...living in total darkness…unkind…stubborn….proud people (people like ME, without Him!).
We talked to a LOT of people today. It was SO HOT that most every yard had people just sitting, a bit glassy-eyed in the noonday sun. We talked to a bunch of people in the first three or four houses. Lots of people wanted to fight about Christ and truth and Voodoo, and since we don’t see a Biblical model of Christ fighting people to believe in Him, we just shared salvation and love and moved on.
But the best place today, by FAR, was my first time evangelizing in a voodoo temple. I saw the temple approaching, but thought (I have no idea why) that we would pass over. Belony is NOT the type to pass someone over. We headed right in, and Belony, trying to warn me a bit, whispered, “THIS IS A VOODOO TEMPLE” as if I might not notice.
Just like Noah’s temple down the road, this one had mirrors and bottles and talismans hanging everywhere and flags in all the trees. But the more unique characteristic was all the chickens. Every three feet or so, filling almost the whole yard, chickens were tied…Each chicken with a small string from their foot to a stake. These were NOT scrawny Haitian chickens, but big, beautiful chickens, all tied to their poles.
Sacrifices. All for sale for different sacrifices. I almost laughed to myself, thinking, “Really? Chickens? Put your life in the hands of the God of the Universe or in…chickens? This is the hope of change and a better life that Voodoo has to offer?”
In the middle of them, the witchdoctor laid, sprawled out on a straw mat, lethargic in the sweltering heat of the day. He was a surprisingly young man, thin and in a red t-shirt. His eyes were clear, his mind quick, and the ‘closed’ look I had seen in the faces of many others was not there. He was the only person today that offered us a seat. The first one that got up to greet us. He listened to Belo for a minute or two, and then politely interjected.
“You are not the first Christians to come here. I know what you are saying, and I know it to be true. I KNOW that this way is not the way. God knows all the terrible things I do, even those that you do not know, and He knows they are wrong. I know they are wrong. I don’t want to do this, and I know it is not the true way. I have heard about Jesus many times now, and I want Him and want to leave this life.”
Rachelle joined the students this past Wednesday and was able to meet Pehpay...
Everyone in the area that follows this man was SOLD on the lies that he teaches…except for him! He knows the god he has served his whole life WELL, and knows him to be of no comparison with the Lord. He knows the slavery he sells better than anyone…PLEASE keep praying for the witchdoctors. They continue to be the ones that seem to have the best grasp on the truth...what a following Christ would have if these influential men gave Him their lives and work.
“Are you ready to make that choice?” Belo said, excited.
“Almost.” The young boko said.
“You see this house, this work, my things, my food. This work is how I have this, and I’m not in a place yet to leave it.”
We talked a little bit longer, and he promised that he will be making the decision to leave Satan and follow Christ before the end of 2010.
“You never know if you will have the opportunity to change after right now,” Belony warned.
“I know,” he said again sadly. “But I can’t leave yet. What would I do? I would most definitely become poor, lose everything, become hungry.”
How difficult it is for the rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, I thought.
“Yes,” Belo agreed. “Probably so. Could I promise you something? You will NOT be sorry. Not for a moment.”
I thought back through my life, and though I have never been hungry, there have been many incredibly difficult moments, many valleys, many tears.
How many times has following the Lord probably made you look foolish, stupid and ridiculous to the world? (Remember the guy on the plane into Haiti that verbally ripped Matt to pieces about the stupidity of bringing a one-month old Lily to Haiti?)
There are dozens of times that we all could have done much better, in the eyes of the world, to follow a different path, an American path, a financial path, an easy path, a me path, a popular path, right?
It was then that I realized that Belo was right. I’ve never been sorry I made Him my Lord, or that I took up that cross. I have never been sorry, even on the hardest, loneliest, and hottest days, that following Him has led us a world away from home. As much as I have ever complained to the Lord about hardships, I have never wished I had chosen a path other than His.
Three hours of work, and no one accepted Jesus as their Path today.
But a lot of people heard that He has one for them. And until everyone has heard, we must stay on that dry and dusty road, family!