TO MY PARTNERS in MINISTRY
to the PEOPLE of HAITI
September 11, 2006
As I opened the pages of the book and began reading the story of the first missionaries to a cannibalistic village in Indonesia back in 1962, I felt as if somehow I was receiving a sacred insight into how God used this book and other means to influence the life of the late Pastor Israel Izidor. Having run out of English reading material, I turned to the huge bookshelf of books that Pastor Israel had collected over the years. There I found a book whose pages bore the mold stains of many years in the humid climate of Haiti. I am assuming that Pastor Israel obtained the book in the 1980s when he was studying at Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, as the book bore a price sticker from the seminary’s bookstore. As I read through the book, I felt as if I was walking on “hollowed ground.” Every so often, phrases in the book would be underlined and, every so often, Pastor Israel’s signature could be found. I came to assume that each time I found his signature that it was because that was his stopping point of reading for that day. But what I found most interesting were things that he had underlined. As the chapters unfolded, I could see how the very things that he underlined were principles that he would later use in his own ministry to a culture that is seeped in powers of the dark world of voodoo beliefs. The book talked about the importance of having a missionary training school …. of which Pastor Israel did! The book talked about the challenges of going into a new land where tribal practices were God forsaken … just as Pastor Israel would go into untouched territories of Satan worship! The book talked about the need to go where God had called one to go …. just as Pastor Israel and his family answered the call to leave all that they knew and start a ministry in the Les Cayes District! I saw so many parallels between the life of the author of the book and the life of Pastor Israel. I had often wondered if Pastor Israel had ever approached his work fearfully, as he had always displayed such a confidence in the Lord and the work that He was doing through him. God showed me that He may have been using this book as one of the means for Pastor Israel to glean the confidence that he would need in his future work. The experience of missionaries that had gone before him could remind him of the faithfulness of God when He would call him to do His work. It became all too clear how God was using Pastor Israel’s time at the seminary to prepare him for what lay ahead. When the time came for Pastor Israel to put his faith in action, God had fully equipped him to head out in confidence and with the assurance that he was doing the work that God had placed him on this earth to do. I thank God for placing the book “PEACE CHILD” by Don Richardson in my hands! It too served as a reassurance to me that God will give me the strength to do the work that He has placed before me. He re-affirmed for me that when He calls me to a certain task, I must DO IT, knowing that He is there with me every step of the way. He will be there with me when I face obstacles that I would never be able to face on my own. He will do the same for you!
The book would address another question that runs through my mind when I visit a remote village that is seemingly untouched by the outside world. I question whether we are doing the village any favors by bringing them in contact with the “things” that the world has to offer. It is this quote that seemed to answer that question for me: “Those who advocate that the world’s remaining tribal groups should be left to themselves do not realize how naïve their notion is! The world just isn’t big enough anymore for anyone to be left alone. It is a foregone conclusion that even if missionaries do not go in to give, lumberman, crocodile hunters, prospectors, or farmers will go in to take! The issue is not then, should anyone go in, because obviously someone will! The issue is rather; will the most sympathetic person get there first?
At times, I find myself lulled into life here, forgetting that I am living in an environment that is so different than the one I grew up in. Recently I was snapped back into reality when I learned that a member of our youth choir had met with trouble following choir practice. On his way home, he found his brother struggling with a man who was trying to beat him up. The choir member came to his brother’s defense, only to be slashed in the neck by the machete that the man was holding. Falling to the ground, the man tried to inflict another wound in the boy’s eye. Thinking that he was dead, the man fled the scene. Thankfully, God spared this young man’s life. It was a cruel reminder of how so many people here die young.
Around the same time, I was in my room when a knock came at my door. Opening the door, I saw my young, frightened sister-in-law. When asked what was wrong, she began crying and trembling! I held her, as she sobbed. As the story unfolded, I could see the long, narrow welt on cheek that had been inflicted by someone storming into the house where my sister-in-law was hand washing clothes. The intruder had some sort of grievance with someone in the family and when talking did not seem to bring the desired result, violence was the solution.
If these were just isolated incidences, I would just have to shrug them off as just a couple of crazed people. But unfortunately, actions such as theses are very commonplace here. Jealousy plays a big role in this type of behavior. If someone’s garden grows better than a neighbor’s, it is not unusual to find the successful farmer dead in his field and his crops stolen. If someone pulls themselves up from poverty by getting an education and finding a job, many times the village where he came from will persecute and place voodoo curses on the family who remains behind. The influences of the devil are still very strong here in Haiti. Breaking this cycle of curses and violence is one of the battles that pastors and missionaries struggle with on a daily basis. Knowing that God is more powerful than any evil in the world makes it possible for His work to continue here. All of the Christian workers RELY on uplifted prayers of their faithful friends and family. Thank you for not forgetting to bring our struggles before the Lord!
Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic Until next time ………….