In twenty-four hours in Haiti many different situations will arise that you never expect. You meet new people, you see different sites, and you hear the most amazing stories you can imagine. Here is a brief recap of my last twenty-four hours.
- As we took a group through town yesterday, the 21-year-old female staff member walking with us turned to us and said, “Are you guys ready to go to the brothel?” My response was, “That is a question no one has ever asked me.” ( To clarify, some ladies from our mission have been teaching the women at the brothel to make jewelry so they can learn a trade and leave the brothel. While they are learning a trade they are also being taught the scripture and life lessons to help them become self-sustainable in providing for their families.)
- After visiting with the women at the brothel we met some other people when we returned to the mission. A group of Mennonite missionaries had come from southern Haiti to visit someone in the town next to Saint Louis du Noord. They overnighted at the mission. They were really nice people, but I could not help but laugh at the spectrum of people I met in the span of thirty minutes.
- Today I accompanied a group to Ansefelour, the voodoo capital of Haiti. There is a monument up the hill that was a cross built by French priests in the 1700’s. Shortly after lightning struck the cross leaving only the base. The Haitians believe Sa Tan, a demonic force, took over the island. Therefore voodoo is practiced alongside Christianity. There is a saying that “Haiti is 70% Christian and 100% Voodoo.”
The struggle for Northwest Haiti Christian Mission is the help people leave behind the blinding darkness of voodoo and sin and to walk into the eternal light of Jesus. That is why we are here. That is the call of every missionary in Haiti. No matter what else we provide; food, clothing, job skills, etc. if we fail to give them Jesus we have failed fully!
Who knows what the next twenty-four hours will hold.
This amazing week in Haiti is winding down. The first part of the Eye Team just left to catch their flights home and the rest will leave tomorrow at 4:30 a.m. We have seen some amazing healing, some unique problems and some tragic circumstances this week. Through it all, the name of Jesus has been glorified.
This team is amazing to watch in action. They are men and women with incredible backgrounds in medicine who have deep hearts for God. The team saw 899 patients in five days and performed 178 operations. That is efficient and incredible!! Many of the patients had cataracts, some had tumors, and some had medical issues the doctors had never seen. Through it all, they were prayed over, loved on, treated, and given hope.
The team had two ocularists with them this week. Until this week, I didn’t know what that was. One of them, Joe LeGrand, told me the best way to describe it is that he is the “Fake Eye Doctor.” Ocularists make prosthetic eyes for people who have lost their eyes due to illness or accident. Not only could they make the eye look real, they matched it almost exactly to their actual good eye. I was in the lab when they put the artificial eye in one mans eye socket. A huge smile came over his face when he saw his new eye!!
Not all of the stories have happy endings. One family came from Port du Paix, which is about 8 miles away but takes about an hour and a half to travel by truck. They brought their two-year old who had a very swollen eye. He looked like he was a two month old because he was so malnourished. When the doctors examined him they discovered he had cancer in his eye that had likely spread into his brain. Because of his size and overall condition he was not well enough for surgery. The doctors told the parents there was nothing they could do medically.
We prayed over this family. I worked with our staff to see if we could give them some help with food to keep them comfortable. Unfortunately when I told them I was looking to see if we could help them they thought we meant that the child may be able to have surgery. I had to go back in and tell them there was nothing we could do for them. They picked up their belongings and I walked with them back to the gate as they went home to the rest of their children.
As tragic as the story is there is an amazing God aspect to it all. As nurses, doctors, staff and I gathered around this family to pray, the father would pray as well. This family became a unique rallying point for the mission. And through it all, God was uplifted, he was sought, and he was asked for a miracle.
It has been an amazing week. God has worked in big ways, small ways, and powerful ways. Please continue to pray for the Haitians who were served this week. They may have physical sight, but our goal is for them to have spiritual sight as well. Please pray for blessing, rest and refreshment for the amazing eye team. And please continue to pray for all of the staff of Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.
So I have been in Haiti for a little over a week as a missionary with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. This trip in country will last three weeks and I have seen so many amazing things already. We are hosting a team of eye doctors and surgeons who are doing incredible medical work as well as demonstrating Christ’s love to others.
In my new role I am learning tons of new things. Here is my top ten so far:
10. Everyone finds Aquaponics fascinating. Check out our update about it on the Northwest Haiti FaceBook Page here:https://www.facebook.com/nwhcm
9. Gran Moun, our elderly orphans, love pancakes and syrup, Cokes, and dancing. They are a lively bunch.
8. This kid (Not the Biebs!) lives in our orphanage and just built a new drum set:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usZlbh6_WXM
7. The NWHCM staff is fascinated by cats!!
6. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING excites returning missionaries like the fact an ice cream shop is located right outside the mission!
5. When traveling to Tortuga, prepare for everything!!
4. People that make prosthetic eyes have the coolest job in the world.https://www.facebook.com/nwhcm
3. FaceTime is the greatest joy when you are away from your family!!
2. The sweet taste of a cold Coke made from real sugar cane is amazing at 4:00 in the afternoon.
1. The NWHCM staff is awesome….we just need to do something about the cats!!!!
If you would like to support the Harvey’s financially, please go here to donate on-line:http://onelifeadventures.org/how-to-support-the-harveys-financially/
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” Hebrews 13:4
Scripture speaks often of those who are in prison and those who are suffering. We are told as followers of Jesus our responsibility is to take care of their needs. We are told in scripture that our job is to care for those who need care and minister to those who suffer.
Interestingly, most of us seem to believe these verses speak of innocent people in prison. In our Christian mindset we view it as people who were arrested by the Roman authorities and are in prison because of their faith. Certainly that is one aspect of the equation, but there is never a qualifier in scripture that we are to visit only those who are wrongly imprisoned. We are never told we can ignore those who are guilty. We are never instructed not to share the gospel with those who are paying the price for their crimes.
This past week I went with Catilin and Kelly, two of our Northwest Haiti Christian Mission staff, to visit a prison. We went from cell to cell to and shared a devotion. We answered questions. We prayed for them. Over the course of three hours we visited about eight prison cells that held around 500 prisoners. The cells are about the size of a garage in America. Most of them have about 80 prisoners or more each. Each cell has it’s own pastor. They have a bible and read the passage we were reading in Creole.
As I was standing and sharing with these men, the idea of why they were in prison crossed my mind. I wondered if they were guilty or innocent. Were they in prison for dangerous crimes against people or did they steal for food? All kinds of thoughts raced through my brain. And then, as if the Holy Spirit was talking to me directly, I realized it wasn’t any of my business if they were innocent of guilty. It was not up to me to pass judgment on them. It was not my job to dispense justice.
In that moment, in that setting, my job was to simply love like Jesus, share the gospel, pray and listen. Scripture calls us to obedience. It calls us to care as if we were in prison. It calls us to imagine what we would need or want if we were in prison. I found myself standing in front of each cell thinking, “If we were in reverse situations, what would I want or need to hear?”
It is easy to picture why people are in the situations they are in. It is easy to cast blame, judgment and a suspicious eye. What we often fail to see is that we are all guilty before a holy God. We all were in the bondage of sin until Christ delivered us. We were all prisoners. We were all strangers separated from God.
As we seek to serve, to love and to share with others, we must always remember the power of the cross to change each life. We don’t know who Jesus is going to change. We don’t know who Jesus is going to rescue because we were obedient. And in being obedient, we are able to see the power of God demonstrated in some of the strangest places.
Occasionally following Christ is theory in the mind of Christians. We give a mental nod to Jesus, we say we follow him, and periodically we resist temptation, actually share Christ with our friends and read our bible even if it is not Sunday. In Haiti, the concept of following Jesus is much different.
I returned to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission yesterday. It is a beautiful time of year to be in Haiti. It is warm but not hot, there has been a constant breeze and the rain last night made for some great sleep. It is also a time where you visibly see worlds collide: Mardi Gras.
In America Mardi Gras is a time for people to lose all their inhibitions, do things they would never do if they were not in New Orleans, and leads into Lent where people give up what they have already indulged in. In Haiti it is just as indulgent but with an even more obvious spiritual twist.
Masked young men and women roam the streets dressed as the devil and evil spirits. Whips crack, children run and bands parade the streets. The forces of darkness are real and this time of year paints in vivid detail the challenge of drawing distinct lines in our walk with Christ and the path of the enemy. Bibles are literally shredded to make the costumes to celebrate evil.
Many people believe that you can walk on both sides of the road. They believe that you can participate in the darkness and walk in the light. The brokenness of humanity on full display makes us reflect on the pain our brokenness brings to the heart of God.
In our minds we would never dream of participating in the celebration of this type of evil. We would not parade, we would not celebrate and we would never give consent to the evil of our day. But in so many ways we fail to realize that we were once the celebrators. We once paraded the streets embracing evil and rejecting truth. But God was not content to leave us in that place.
“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
When faced with clear lines drawn by a holy God we are not free to continue to straddle them. We must choose. It is simple, easy, and fashionable today to speak of God’s love and reject God righteousness. So many want to experience grace without sacrifice, mercy without repentance and freedom without restraint. But scripture is clear. Grace cost Jesus his life. Mercy is only granted when the heart is changed and freedom comes with responsibility.
The key part of the above passage is not all the things we are not allowed to do, but the fact that we were guilty and God rescued us from our guilt. We were completely changed when Jesus came into our lives. And because of that we should not be content to live a life of theoretical Christianity. It must be real and we must be changed because Jesus is real and Jesus paid the price for our sin.
You don’t need to be surrounded by people dressed as demons to see the evil around us. Look around. Listen. See spiritually. We must make the choice to live out what we believe without shame, apology or regret.