The church plant in DuFour (Dee-Foo) will be celebrating a year soon, and while I have rejoiced to receive so many pictures and powerful testimonies, (remember "The Narrow Path" or "God at Work?") I have not been.
But it's good and established now, and the students working there--who are even better aware of all the complications that we are--finally asked us to come.
It is not the same as having heard. It is not the same as having seen.
I carry that same frustration for you, every post. Me telling you about it is just not the same as scraping the deep mud off your feet with me, not the same as holding their hands.
The first thing I loved about going to DuFour (yes, I always spell it a different way, which is Creole for you, all spelled however it sounds, but I SAW it painted on a wall this weekend, and it's DuFour) was that you have to go past Fev to get there. Fev is no longer a baby, growing well under the discipleship and care of our first student-church plant (now some alumni!) team, Walnique and Rujerry and Jorgia and Luddie. But it was Fev that first pointed us to DuFour.
We drove past Fev, keying up for their Sunday morning service, sent a prayer, and drove further on...
Now I say far, but I mean 20 minutes. Twenty minutes towards the mountains, twenty minutes further from town, but it might as well have been hours.
How surprising, truly, to drive only 20 minutes, walk only 20 more, from the seminary, and find a place SO simple, SO dark, SO remote, SO impoverished, SO...so unreached.
It was DuFour that made the students sezie, be taken aback. It was DuFour that shocked them, because it wasn't only un-churched. The didn't only not follow Jesus.
You could TELL it was. You could FEEL it was. You could see it in the empty eyes of each person we passed, inviting them to join us on the narrow path to DuFour. You could see it in the battrie scattered all along the trail, piles of specifically arranged garbage symbolizing curses and trying to mislead evil spirits and trying to manipulate forces.
I see them everyday, but today as Phida and Nosebin and Simon reached out their hands in welcome, I wanted to kiss them, and hug them, and pray over them, and stuff treasures into their hands, because it is utter obedience to His calling and utter perseverance for the Gospel and NOTHING ELSE that has them there.
There is nothing but mud and plantain and persecution and threats and a group of people mostly still very lost and in it for the entertainment value + hope of handouts...but then. Then, a very very few clear-eyed, spirit-filled, gentle-smiled, truly transformed, truly hungry, truly changed people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
It's a miracle, these few people. It's almighty God at world, it's Jesus through Phida, Nosebin, and Simon's perseverance. The three-point tent. The young man who wanted baptized, no matter what.
all of it. miraculous.
We stuff our chairs in, holding everything on our laps, our feet sinking in mud, filling every last inch of the tent, it seems.
Our students know the people well. They know the heartbeat of the community, of the lost, of the seeking, and everything in town churches that is eloquent and beautiful and theological and liturgical was, under the tent, simple and pure.
It was milk, and the people needed milk, and I was proud of them.
A small group of radiantly dressed children sang a short song, A is for Adore Him, B is for Bless the Name of the Lord, C is for Christ, D is for Devotion...and a group of young women sang a simple song, too. Everyone was hitting every note under the sun except the same note, but no one was laughing, no one was ashamed, worship wasn't for us, anyway, and I imagined it beautiful in His ears.
I introduced Nora, who was kind of the belle of the ball Sunday, the first baby foreigner many of the community had ever seen. I talked about how she is stubborn, about how she knows EXACTLY what she wants all the time, and WANTS to be able to have what she wants, every time.
But I do not let her. I know that I know what is best for her. I have more wisdom than her. I have great love for her, so even though she might think I am mean, or unfair, or unloving to not let her touch the fire....I am right, and I am a good mama. I will do all I can to urge her from it.
Sofie however, over the years, has learned to trust.
She doesn't try to get in the fire anymore. Not because she learned her lesson by suffering terrible burns, but because she learned to trust (at least in the fire area :) that mommy is wiser, that mommy loves her, that Mommy is Mommy, not her, and through that trust, she obeys.
Sometimes it might look mean, or unfair, or not right.
If we trust Him to be God instead of battling Him to be god ourselves (the very base of sin itself), He is ready to be all the we need, and then some.
But they heard. And they are hearing. As I looked in each face and saw those few full of understanding and true joy, I pray that it will be JUST SO, for each of them. I see those new believers, living among the lost, in their midst, growing each day and hungrier still, and they will lead them. Phida and Nosebin and Simon, they are leading them.
As we walked the path back to the car, chatting to neighbors as we passed, I realized that He is not leading DuFour anywhere new.
But He. Knows. Them. Fully.
They are HIS. Entirely.
The sheep still missing, those who don't even recognize His voice, He will never. stop. searching. out.
And as long as there is a Fev, and a DuFour and a million like them,
neither. will. we.