The picture at the beginning of this post is not of simply another store or nightclub. It is actually a voodoo temple in Ansefalor, Haiti. It is not just a voodoo temple, it is The Voodoo Temple. Haiti has a history of voodoo, but in the Northwest, this is the place to go if you want to invoke the spirits. The day we were in town, we were not allowed into the temple because they were sacrificing.
One of the shocking aspects of this scene is not that a voodoo temple is in the middle of town, but rather how common the temple looks. If you didn’t know any better you would never know what it actually is that takes place here. In fact, the doll the people worship in the temple, the one they believe has the power over their lives is called Sa Tan.
This morning I have been reflecting on my own life and how the subtle drift from holiness to evil occurs. I think I am doing great, I desire to do great, I want to be closer to Christ and then suddenly sin is knocking at my door. I honestly don’t believe that Christians set out to be lured into sin, but I think it happens with small baby steps away from holiness. And any drift from Christlike living is a drift toward evil.
Like Paul, I consider myself chief among sinners. I am by no means setting myself above anyone on this issue. But I see over and over again Christians who embrace culture without the recognition of the evil and destruction awaiting.
Let me give you two recent movies as examples of this drift in thinking. Adam Sandler has recently released a “comedy” based on the premise of a thirteen year old boy getting his middle school teacher pregnant. I know people who have embraced this premise as a “fantasy” without looking into the destruction of sexual abuse. What if the gender roles were reversed? Would we embrace a “comedy” of a teenage girl impregnated by her teacher?
This weekend, thousands of women have flocked to movie theaters to see “Magic Mike” about male strippers. Really? I know women who desire Godliness, who want Godliness from their husbands who are making this movie a “Girls Night Out.” If you think that sexual temptation and lust are male only problems, Satan has already gotten you to buy into his subtle drift away from holiness.
I am not promoting some type of legalistic, monastic lifestyle. I am certainly not telling anyone that I am free of all these temptations; Satan knows I am not that strong. But I am calling us to recognize Paul’s calling to realize we are dead to sin and therefore no longer embrace the subtle drift away from holiness (Romans 6:11). Don’t let what looks innocent fool you into believing it is innocent.
Returning home from Haiti is always an amazing, shocking, comforting and painful experience. You come home and realize while your body is home, your mind and soul are still drifting in some nether world between Haiti and home. Our team is fighting fatigue, virus, bruises, and how should I put this…Traveler’s Tummy. (Yes, some are on the Haiti diet plan!!!)
In the next few days I will write more posts, share more pictures and post some videos. None of them will do justice to the amazing encounters we had with Christ as we encountered his children in Haiti.
One aspect that is true in our culture as it is in Haiti….when you think you understand, something crazy happens. So many times while on the trip I heard the phrase “You won’t believe what God did.” Unfortunately in our hurried lives we often miss the God moments. My prayer is that the God moments will grab our attention, challenge our thoughts and change our actions.
As far as how the trip went, I could not be more proud of everyone on the One Life Adventures Team. There were no conflicts and the support and unity of 28 individuals made the week an amazing success. God provided unity and a sense of purpose that only he could have made happen.
OK, so maybe I can drive 55, but Paul Phipps can’t. So why is Paul driving in Haiti? Glad You asked. We went this morning to the House of Hope Orphanage to do VBS and play with the kids. We had a great time, met some amazing people and met the woman who runs it, Mama Lisa. She was a child in the orphanage and now she runs it. She is in a wheelchair and she is an amazing woman!!
We took two trucks in to La Pointe and had a great time of ministry. In Haiti, you ride in he back of trucks to and from your destination. After our time of ministry my group jumped in our truck and headed off. We assumed that the next group was behind us. What we didn’t know is what was happening!
When it was time to leave no one could find the driver for the truck. They checked the orphanage and he was nowhere to be found. So, Paul fired up the truck and drove back to the mission. That is fine, but this was a military truck. A two and 1/2 ton military truck!! Paul fired it up, navigated the corner hit the gas and the group was on their way back home.
The driver for Paul’s group had just been released from the hospital and went to take some medicine. He had to eat a meal and rest before he could drive back. Paul and the rest of our team could not find him. So when he returned from taking his medicine and resting to heal, his truck and the Americans he was responsible for was gone.
Paul did a great job. In fact he made it back to the mission ten minutes faster than it took going. He found out the brakes in the church don’t really work, the truck goes much faster than anyone knew, and the site of “Blancs” driving a truck in Haiti is really funny!!! The people in the back were bouncing around, Charity, Paul’s wife took tree branched in the face and the Director of the Mission was not really that amused!! But we have a great story!!!
The new motto here is “Jesus Take the Wheel!!”
Our first day of ministry on the campus went great. We had an orientation around the mission, went to work doing construction building benches for the new meeting center, had physical therapy happening with the Miriam Center kids and had a fun party with them, and some of our team even taught in an English class.
After the kids had their naps this afternoon, we passed out the tie dye t-shirts that we had made. They were in heaven!!! Dan Heit brought down a djembe and began playing for the kids. Their was dancing, clapping, singing and laughing all around.
We met the Gran Moun this morning. They are elderly orphans that would not be able to survive with out the mission caring for them. They hugged on us, smiled at us, kissed us and had a great time. On Sunday, we will be hosting a party with them in the afternoon.
Carol Cole, Kristina Heit and Karen Cottin did physical therapy with many of the kids this afternoon. Two stood on their own for the first time ever and others were able to hold their head up for the first time. God is working.
It has been a great and productive day. Please continue to pray for us and ask God to bless the rest of our team and keep us safe. Tomorrow we head out on the “Jesus Boat” (named because you get close to Jesus while you are on it!!!) to the island of Tortuga. We will hold a VBS, play soccer and have fun with the community kids. We will be taking peanut butter sandwiches for the kids. Tortuga is the poorest section of this zone of Haiti. We are looking forward to a great day!!!
We had a crazy travel day, but in all honesty it was harder than any of us dreamed. Our “six” hour trip was actually 10. The roads were mostly rocks, it was hot dusty, and bumpy, but we all survived.
We arrived safely to the mission, got our bags, put up our tents and thanked God that the day was over. We are all safe and had good first day of ministry!!
So, after six months of planning, fund raising, gathering supplies, training, praying and packing, One Life Adventures is off to Haiti!! We arrived at the Ft. Lauderdale airport at 4:00, have made our way through security and now are waiting on the flight.
We will land in Port au Prince at 8:25, clear customs and board a bus for about a six hour bus ride to the mission. I know today will be a long day, but everyone is excited to get to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. I am excited to get my tent up, my stuff gathered together and see my special friends.
Check back daily on the blog and you can follow along with what God is doing in us as we serve him in Haiti.
Our world is filled with contrasts. There is incredible joy so often when a baby in born. In other ways human life is not valued and babies are seen as a burden. We see an incredible order to the universe, but we often have doubts that there is a creator. We abhor violence and abuse toward children, but Hollywood has just released a movie, a comedy no less, about a boy being abused by his middle school teacher. In light of so much contrast in our culture, it is no wonder Jesus used stark contrast to draw the line between his kingdom and the kingdom of this world.
One of the greatest contrasts in our world is the contrast between light and darkness. The moments before sunrise, which I don’t choose to see often, or the moments before nighttime are the blurred realities of contrast. In some places you can be in bright sunshine and then it seems like the next minute is the middle of the night. Light and darkness are earthly realities that point us to spiritual truth.
In John 3, Jesus is speaking to a religious man and telling him how to have eternal life. When Jesus speaks about himself he says this:
“Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light.” John 3:19
Darkness in scripture not only represents sin, but complete separation from God. Jesus, as the light of the world, came to shine into the darkness of humanity. But man, because of sin, has chosen to stay in the darkness of our own hearts and desires and reject the light of God.
One of our projects in Haiti will be in Ansefelour, a place of incredible darkness. Voodoo is alive and well in Haiti. It is not what we often picture from the movies or modern culture. Voodoo is one of the incredible dangers of darkness because people blend it so easily into their spiritual fabric. People have been deceived to believe you can practice voodoo and Christianity. The most dangerous place to live spiritually is not the complete darkness of sin, but in the twilight of believing you are int he light when you are really in the darkness.
As I was thinking this morning about the fact that next week we will be taking the light of Jesus into such a dark place, I couldn’t help but pray for Christ to take me deeper into his light of grace and forgiveness. My prayer is that I would not love the “spiritual twilight” but the noonday light of life in Jesus.
Is your life a contrast? Is your heart in light or darkness?
“But whoever lives by the truth come into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what has been done has been done through God.” John 3:21