Communiqué #099 TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY to the PEOPLE of HAITI OCTOBER 7, 2012
Have you ever found yourself in a spiritual drought, in a place where you really, really needed a “Jesus Jolt?” That is the place that I found myself this morning and in the several days that preceded this morning. Even though I had been faithful in my early morning devotions, no scripture, no devotional thought, no words from songs that I sang were penetrating my spiritual drought. This morning’s readings brought comfort from words that I had heard since I was a little child. Psalm 118:24 reads “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” I remember with fondness that while growing up, the preacher at our church recited these words almost every single Sunday morning. I have since learned that these words are not just for Sunday mornings, but for every day of the week and today was a day that I needed to hear those words once again. The next verse came from I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares on Him, for He careth for you!” Ahhh! Another flood of fond memories came rushing to the forefront of my mind. When I was a child, my parents used to have a small ceramic plaque mounted on our living room wall with this verse embossed on it. I cannot count the number of times that I must have read that plaque when I was little. It brought comfort then and it brings me comfort today. It was the verse that today would speak to me deep in my soul!
I haven’t felt very close to God in church lately and today I wanted to go to a place where I could get some of that feel back! I have found from my time spent in Haiti that I feel closest to God in churches that are in very poor communities. When all the luxuries are washed away, the people worshiping in these churches seem to have a special connection to God. On this day, I wanted to feel that connection again. Léon and I had attended this church together before and I felt a calling, a need really, to attend this particular church on this particular day. The church is in one of the poorest ‘burbs of LesCayes. It is located at the ocean’s edge, literally in the midst of a muddy, smelly pig sty. This is where God dwells!
As we drove up to the front of the church, I felt somewhat embarrassed that we were the only people with a car. There were a few motorcycles, but most people had arrived on foot. On the outside of the church were a throng of sparsely-clothed children, with red-tinged hair, staring at me the white stranger. It only took a smile in their direction to get a smile and a little jump of glee in return from those who ventured to look directly into my face!
Most of the worshipers were already inside singing, as we found an open space on the crude wooden benches that double as school benches during the week. A gentle breeze brought a mixture of the smell of urine and pig excrement through the window openings that were partially covered by iron sheets for protection from any driving rain. The skeleton of the church structure is made of concrete in its unique state of incompleteness, but it is one of only a few churches in the area that has been proudly built from the meager funds that the congregation members themselves have been able to scrape together to make this House of Worship a reality. No missionary funds, no white people handouts, just a striving together to build something that was important to them to do with the work and resources of their own hands. For the most part, the women worshipers sit on one side of the church with a head covering to show their reverence to God. The men sit on the other side of the church. As someone leads the prayer from the pulpit, every individual prays aloud the thoughts that they need to cry out to God about. Many kneel on their knees on the dusty, damp and pebbly concrete floor, not caring if they soil the only beautiful dress or Sunday suit that they may own. Singing is loud and joyful and a real communion with the Lord they have come to worship. Today the Lord’s Supper was served. It is customary in this church that all those who wish to confess their sins go to the altar and wash each others’ feet before partaking of communion. They kneel around the communion table, once again on the concrete floor, and receive the blessings of this Holy Meal.
Propped up in a child-size lawn chair, in the back of the church was a small, almost 3 year old girl. On the day of the 2010 earthquake, her mother was six months pregnant for her. The mother was injured and the choice was made to do a C-Section to save the unborn baby. Without any neonatal care, this child survived. She cannot sit, cannot stand and cannot walk but yet, someone still cares enough to dress her in a pretty dress and bring her to church to worship with everyone else! And to think … God cares that much about all of us! We are all so precious in His sight!
Often when there are visitors in church, the visitors are asked to come forward to share some words with the congregation. Today was no exception. Léon and I were asked to come forward. With a duct-taped microphone that squeaked and squawked and finally faded out completely, Léon began by sharing words with the worshipers. Usually I am not good with these kinds of impromptu requests, but it seems that when it came my turn to speak that God had already provided me with the verses that He would have me use that day. I shared with them Psalm 118:24, but my focus was on I Peter 5:7 for I knew that the cares of these people were very, very great. Their cares are not for the luxuries of life, but the bare necessities. I asked them if today they had a burden about not having enough food to eat, or feeling lonely, or having a son or daughter that did not love Jesus, or if they were not feeling loved??? I reminded them to cast their cares upon Jesus, because He. Cares. For. You! Sometimes a simple reminder like that is what will get us through another day, armed with the strength that only God can give. The service was long and it was chock-full of songs and praising and praying. When it came time for the sermon to be delivered, the pastor simply said that the message had already been delivered … we were to cast our cares on Him! Hmmm! Guess I preached my first-ever sermon!
Thank you God for caring about little ole me! Thank you for “watering me down” in my state of spiritual drought! Thank you for allowing my drought to serve as a way to bring encouragement to others!
Nora Léon Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time, God willing …………
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