It has been said that life is like all of us being in the same theater, watching a different movie. This is because we each bring a unique perspective to the situations we encounter. Below are three different stories from Tami, Meadow and Ali about an encounter we had with a young man who led a Bible study we were fortunate to be a part of in our time in Haiti. Such an encounter is a reminder that despite our varied perspectives, there are those moments where God (in His incredible mercy) transcends our limited reality to express His divine one.
- Jordan H.
My name is Tami A., and I went on the missions trip to share the hope of Jesus to the people of Haiti and to grow in closer dependency on God. There were three different orphanages in Haiti that we visited. We visited a different orphanage each day. Our team brought jump ropes, lanyards to make, nail polish, yarn for friendship bracelets, Frisbees, basketball hoops, soccer balls, Wiffle balls and bats. We also played games with the children, such as Duck, Duck, Goose.
On one of the days, we visited an orphanage in Fontaine. I had the privilege of playing Frisbee with two young girls. I wanted to let them know Jesus loves them, so in Haitian I said, ”Jezi renmen ou.” The girls turned to me with big smiles and let me know they knew that. At that same orphanage during the end of our time there, we participated in a Bible study this particular orphanage had for the teenagers in the community. I was inspired by the young Haitian man who led the study. He talked about distractions that kept him from keeping his mind focused on Christ. He told us he must stay in the Bible to keep those thoughts away, and that God gives him strength. His distraction was not having enough food to eat.
Here I came in wanting to bring the hope of Jesus to the people of Haiti, but they brought the hope of Jesus to me. The Haitian people are rich in the Lord. Everywhere we went they hugged us, accepted us, and were very grateful to us. They have very little in the way of material items, but the children, teenagers and adults we visited had a heart and passion for the Lord. This was also evident in the church service we visited where the people dressed in their Sunday best for the Lord. The pastor prayed for 30 minutes at least two different times during the service. I enjoyed hearing them sing, especially "The Doxology" in Creole. The Haitian people we visited were a faithful people. It warmed my heart and convicted me. I want to develop that kind of faith and trust in God in the midst of adversity.
- Tami A.
My name is Meadow. I am a child of God, a wife to a godly man, and the mother of three. My oldest daughter Taylor has wanted to go overseas for about five years. She would ask to go on missions trips because she wanted to play with the children. As parents we thought she was precious, so we would sign her up for activities such as Break Away. It is a weeklong camp where the children sleep at Peoples church in tents, and each day they go out to inner city areas to love on the children. This was something she enjoyed, but her heart was still craving a missions trip.
This past summer 2017, she came to my husband and me and said, “I need to talk with you guys.” In our home, this means something serious is on her mind, so we went to the dinning room table, my husband and me on one side, and Taylor on the other side, with a piece of paper facedown on the table under her hands. As she began to explain her wanting to go one a missions trip and the fact she has been asking for years to go on a missions trip, she flipped the paper over and showed us her research. She had found multiple missions trips, the dates and prices of each, and said, “Which one works for our calendar?”
We could have said we needed to pray about it, but in that moment the Lord made it very clear this was laid on her heart from Him, and as parents, what an opportunity it would be to give her the desires of her heart. So six months later, Taylor and I have just returned from a Haiti missions trip, with The Well Community Church, through Haiti Go.
While in Haiti, I realized something more profound than I expected. Everywhere I turned, there were people helping people. I saw this with my eyes and heard stories multiple times with my ears and heart. The people in Haiti are very poor. A man will make as little as two American dollars a day for a full day as a construction worker. Their houses are made of four sticks, a tin roof if they are lucky, and stick walls plastered together with mud clay. They walk everywhere, typically with something heavy on their heads, like a five-gallon jug of water, a large bag of charcoal for cooking, or a sack of rice to sell. They have mules they load up with goods when it is too much to carry, and they share the mules, not being able to afford one themselves.
From the naked eye, they look poor. What I learned was the opposite. Although they may have little, will go a day with out eating, and be on their hands and knees in prayer in how they will feed their family the next meal, their love for Jesus is abundant.
The first night we arrived to the mission house, it was 2am. The local church is on the same property as the house, and I had to wear earplugs to fall asleep because there was a continual singing. In the morning I asked what that was, and was told it was the local church singing to God. Would I do this? Would I ever sing praise to our Lord through the night? The question was the first of many I tucked away in my soul throughout the trip.
I can tell you of many stories, like the boy who tagged along on a 45-minute drive to another orphanage, where games were played and the prize for the winner was a fun-size pack of Skittles. After winning, he kept the bag with him, and when he arrived back to his hometown in Pignon, he gave each orphan 1 Skittle until the small bag had none left, and he did not keep one for himself. Or of the elderly man, who in church took a few minutes to stand, and when he did he raised his aged, bony arm, eyes closed and sang praise to our Lord with such reverence. Another of how a Haitian boy who was a disciple under one of the Haitian pastors, as he led our Bible study for the day was asked by The Well’s pastor Jordan, “What is a daily distraction for you, that tries to keep you from spending time with our Lord?” His answer still whispers in my heart, “My stomach, when I am so hungry it hurts.”
So I ask myself, and I ask you, when is the last time we had little and shared it all? When have we sacrificially spent time with the Lord each day, even when we are so hungry or tired, or when our bodies are barely able to stand? When I’m honest, it is my busyness in this life I was born into in America; this is my biggest distraction.
I left Haiti realizing I went there to teach them about Jesus, leaving them with some clothes I purchased from the Salvation Army, a few Polaroid pictures from my daughter's camera so they could remember what they looked like since mirrors are rare, and memories of the amazing moments we spent together. What I left with was much more. The realization that their daily dependence on the Lord is priceless and the saying “It takes a village” became a popup book visual. I believe the amazing souls in Pignon, Haiti, would be so lonely if they moved here to America in the huge boxes we live in, the boxes we hold in our hands that steal our time, and the boxes we turn on each evening as downtime before bed. The community their culture has created is breathtaking and an example of what Christ has called us to be.
Ali H. here. This was my first trip to Haiti, and my introduction to the ministry of Haiti G.O. My husband, Jordan, had traveled to Haiti during the summertime, and came back deeply impressed by the Haitian church and eager to return. I'm so thankful the Lord opened the door for us to make this trip together!
After a week of visiting orphanages, attending church, observing a meeting of the women behind the Haiti Bead Project, and making our way through bustling markets and crowed city streets, it's a difficult task for me to condense so many experiences concisely. So instead I want to share with you one particular moment that made such a deep impact on me that I expect to carry it with me from now on.
We were all in a circle, Bibles open, sitting shoulder to shoulder with our Haitian brothers and sisters, when the question was posed, "What distracts you from following God?" One man spoke up (I didn't catch his age, but he was probably about 18), and answered that his hunger distracts him. Before I could recover from thinking about what it must be like to feel such hunger, the man continued to share that in order to stay focused in times of struggle, he reads his Bible every morning because the Word makes him strong.
It's easy to feel sorry for people living in poverty – in fact, in many ways it is a good thing. Christ called us to have compassion for the poor. But in that moment, as I listened to that answer, I was confronted with my own spiritual poverty. I had a full belly and a house full of stuff to go home to, but I don't look at my Bible as my primary source of strength and sustenance. I don't know what it means to live in such a way that my faith in God is required for things like finding my next meal. While I was still moved and grieved by the physical poverty I was seeing, I was also amazed by the richness of faith I encountered in Haiti.
For those of you who are considering one of the Summer Exposure Trips, trust me, you should do it. I'm sure you'll be surprised by many things. If your experience is anything like mine, one of the biggest surprises may be how quickly your compassion is surpassed by your admiration for our fellow believers in developing nations.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and for praying for our team!
Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love him? - James 2:5