Category Archives: Haiti

Deception vs Faith

The art of deception is this…to make someone believe things are other than they are, so a person will do something he or she would never otherwise do. I read this sentence from an incredible book entitled, “The Enemy Within” by Kurt Lungaard. The chapter discussed how our sin nature can deceive us sometimes by making us believe things that are not true. When I read the above definition the words jumped off the page and hit me square between the eyes.

If we look at this definition from the viewpoint of deception it makes sense. But now reread the words above with the viewpoint of faith. The two could share the same definition.

The enemy rarely tempts us with the exact opposite of God’s Word. No. He brings us similarities…with a twist. Those similarities can deceive us into thinking things are other than they are so we do things we would never otherwise do.

Faith is the same. There are all kinds of examples in the Bible I could insert here, but let me tell you about a few of my friends. Shana was diagnosed with one of the top five worst cases of meningitis the doctor had ever seen. I know this because I was standing in the room when he told me and her husband, Larry. I saw this husband fall to the floor on his knees immediately and pray healing like I’ve never heard before. Larry knew at that moment things were other than they were and was doing something he would never otherwise do. I can guarantee you Larry didn’t know he had that amount of faith in him until faced with this life or death situation. He was not deceived into thinking she was defeated and sickness had won. He KNEW Jesus stripes had already taken care of his wife’s healing so he was activating a faith he didn’t know existed. He was able to do that because he had cultivated that faith long before the negative circumstance came. Within two weeks Shana was home; healed and healthy.

We could also talk about my friend YvRose who was a successful teacher in North Carolina. That is until God called her to go back to her homeland of Haiti. So she and her husband, with nothing but a call from God, quit her job and moved back to Haiti. She knew there was purpose in this decision. I’m sure leaving the confines of a good salary, an honorable job, and an easy country, to go to a place many are too frightened to even visit, did not make sense to her family and friends. But she knew the voice of faith over deception. She believed things were other than they were and the faith in that knowing made her do something she would never otherwise do. Today she and her husband Pierre run a home with 28 of the most beautiful kids you have ever seen. She also runs a school with more than 200 children who come every day for a Christian education they would have never received had Pierre and YvRose believed deception over faith. (insert big cheesy smile here!)

How about my friend Tracy, (name used with permission) who had an abortion more than two decades ago. Through the years she allowed the abortion regret and pain to make her believe things were other than they were. After living with this deception she found herself in her 40’s with a shell of a marriage, battling depression, having suicidal thoughts, and many problems in her family. She contacted SaveOne and came clean about the past. She wanted to voice her regret and seek a better future. She worked through the SaveOne study and began to see the reality of what happened to her when she opened the door of death in her life through abortion. She had been greatly deceived, but now realized the truth of the past. She began to believe things were other than they were. She began to believe God could salvage her marriage. She began to believe God could heal the relationships with her family. She began to believe she could be brave enough to tell others about her past so they would never make the same mistake. And after years of believing nothing but rejection would come her way if she ever told of her abortion, she began to believe things were other than they were, and it made her do something she would never otherwise do. Not only has God restored her marriage to better-than-it-has-ever-been status, but she told her family of the abortion and the truth healed the relationships. To top it off, I sat in a living room the other night and watched her tell her entire abortion story to a room packed with her closest friends.

You see, faith brings about much greater outcomes than deception. Where we come in, is the moment when we have to decide if we have deception or faith talking to us, and in which we are going to listen and put our trust.

That’s what David had to do long ago. He had to face the giant believing the situation was something other than it was, and by doing this he performed an act he would never otherwise do. There was no way he should have won that battle. But his faith told him something entirely different. Because of his great faith in the Lord he experienced great victory…and because of your great faith in the Lord you can experience great victory.

Faith for some reason is controversial. People want to make it something it’s not. I’ve been criticized for believing this way by people who want to shout that I’m preaching a prosperity gospel, or that I’m believing in some kind of humanistic, new age religion. But there are many, many scriptures, as well as examples from Jesus which teach us that what we believe we will receive. If we believe deception then we will receive the death and destruction that comes along with that type of deception. If we believe in faith that God has our back, has our life under control, will guide us in all things, will make every problem work for our good, and has already taken care of our healing, then our problems have purpose, and we will receive the victory in every circumstance. If you don’t believe me then read these; Mark 11:24, Matthew 8:13, Romans 8:28, 1 Samuel 17, Hebrews 11:1, actually, read the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 because it shows a list of brave men and women who believed something was other than it was and completed incredible feats they would have never otherwise completed.

Take some time today to do a self-check. Are you cultivating your faith? Are you ready for when, not if, destruction hits your life? Are you equipping yourself and your family to stand in the face of deception and act in faith? Be honest with yourself and then take the necessary steps to start on the path of cultivating that faith today. This process is imperative to being able to distinguish between the two.

Don’t get caught in a battle you are not equipped to fight!

A Tin Bowl & Black Beans

My head was aching, my heart was racing, I was filthy dirty, and my whole body screamed with exhaustion, yet I couldn’t stop. My body was reacting to need but my mind was detached. Being thrown in to the mix of things immediately created a chasm between what my body was doing and what my mind was grasping. It was at the moment my mind finally ended the chase that sticks in my head.

I was sitting on the dirt with the biggest tin bowl I’ve ever seen in front of me. It easily held a 100 pound bag of black beans. As the beans were dumped, my friend and I started scooping as fast as we could. 1, 2, 3, 4 scoops into the brown paper bag, hand off to Tamara, she folded, then handed the bag further down the line to add to the growing pile. There were at least a dozen people all moving around, handing, folding, carrying, scooping, all working with a definite mission in mind. I could see through the legs all around me and caught glimpses of the growing crowd of people who were hungry…no starving. It was 3 weeks after the deadly earthquake in Haiti that killed hundreds of thousands of their fellow countrymen, and now food was hard to come by.

The sea of legs briefly opened and not 10 feet away from me was a woman with charcoal skin looking right at me and the beans. We caught each others eyes and stared for what seemed 10 minutes but was probably more like 5 seconds. Oddly, I wondered if her mouth was watering like mine does when I have a succulent piece of chocolate cake before me.

This moment in time is what I want to bottle up, keep forever, take out and visit occasionally. Because that was when I felt like my life had never had more meaning. I knew God was using me for a purpose to give sustenance to another human being. Now, I know this woman in front of me would have been fed with those same black beans had I been present or not. But God allowed ME the privilege of scooping her beans. Such a menial task, but yet so incredibly vital to this woman and her family.

The sea of legs closed and we continued to scoop 600 pounds of black beans that day. When it came time to actually hand out the food I never saw that woman again. I had to place myself between the children and the adults and hold one group off the other. I found myself pushing and screaming at people because they were close to rioting they were all so desperate for food. I never once felt threatened but instead felt as though I had to save them from themselves and make sure the food got in to each person’s hands. I’ve never been in the middle of something so intense, nor seen a more desperate situation that closely. I also can’t say I wouldn’t have reacted the same way had it been me in the crowd needing food for my children.

I’m home now, back in my nice house, in my comfortable bed, eating all the food I want. But I’ll never forget looking at that woman and realizing the privilege God had afforded me and my friends to be on Haitian soil helping any way we knew how.

Just missing Haiti today…

IMG_0216

PB&J

I just returned from another trip to Haiti. My 10th since 2009. I love that beautiful island and the people who live there. One of our translators asked me on this trip if it was my first time to visit. When I told him no it was my 10th, he put his hand on his heart and in that beautiful french accent said, “You’re Haitian, you are now Haitian.” That was one of the biggest compliments I have ever received. It has nothing to do with PB&J, I just wanted to tell you that because it makes me smile every time I hear those words in my head.

I will probably write a few blogs about this last trip because it was one of the greatest trips I have ever been privileged enough to participate in. My church, CrossRoads (www.crossroadsantioch.org) took a team of 16 people. The team was actually much larger than 16 though because almost our entire church participated in this trip. We were just the 16 who got to lay eyes on everything first hand.

My friend, Dennis who was on the trip witnessed a moment all of us who have traveled to Haiti have witnessed at one time or another, just in different forms. He saw a scene play out in front of him that I can guarantee will never leave his mind. You know when you’re a child and your mom is making you eat and says, “There are starving children who would love to have that food!” When that phrase reaches from the past and slaps you in the face, it’s a moment of awakening. Dennis tried to tell our church about this scene and with tears streaming down his cheeks was finally able to relay the event. It all started with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Our team worked on site at a school/church that was damaged by the earthquake. (I will blog on this location at a later date because it’s a story in itself.) We were way out in the middle of nowhere, so we had to carry lunch for the team with us. What is the easiest thing to make? You guessed it…pb&j. They were made with hands that had been in dirty water, shoveling sand, holding babies, but had been slathered with hand sanitizer. If you’re a germaphobe like me, the thoughts can make you shutter. The sandwiches were handed to us on a napkin with a handful of Pringles and 2 cookies. Several of the team members groaned at the thought of eating this after working so incredibly hard, but it’s what we had so we ate it and got back to work.

In Haiti when a team like us show up to work, word gets around in the village and people slowly gather to watch. By the end of each work day we usually had quite the audience. At lunchtime there were a dozen or so people observing us making concrete to help rebuild this school/church. As Dennis stood and ate his lunch he watched as a little girl from the village was handed a sandwich.

She took one bite, found her father and gave what was left to him.

He took one bite, handed the rest of the sandwich to his wife.

She took one bite, handed the rest of the sandwich to her son.

He took one bite, handed the rest of the sandwich to his sister.

She took one bite, and went and got her friend and gave the last bite to her friend.

Oh my heart…

You may ask why in the world we go to Haiti as much and as often as we do and it’s for that reason. God commands us to go, so we go. Was that one bite of sandwich the only food received by this family the entire day? I don’t know, but if I had to guess I would say probably. After you see something like that you can’t come home and stay the same. You can’t simply turn your head and shake away the memory. I can’t separate that image from my own family. What if those were my two boys and husband who had no food? What are the dreams of this family that are being squashed because they have to concentrate so hard on feeding their children? What is the difference between me and that mom? Why am I the blessed one who has a wealth of food, and she has to fight so hard for food? All questions I walk away from each trip asking myself. The answers continue to elude me.

God has a lot to say about the poor in Psalm 82:3, Psalm 41:1, Proverbs 19:17, Proverbs 21:13, and many more places throughout His Book. He doesn’t say it’s wrong to do it this way, or you can’t give too much, or you need to set up a system, or whatever the politically correct way to go about this is for today. He just says to take care of them. We make it much harder than it has to be.

This trip was all about service. Serving the great people of Haiti so they can share the Good News of Jesus easier. We worked and helped empower a local pastor to do his job bigger and better than before. But oddly enough, it’s myself and my fellow team members who walk away from these trips mentally shaken, emotionally and physically depleted, but spiritually empowered to come home and do greater things in our communities, and greater things back in Haiti.

 

 

 

IT

There was something which laid dormant in me for 44 years. I didn’t know it existed and had no idea it was even there. None of the work I had accomplished, the incredible sights I’ve seen, nor the places I’ve visited, had ever awakened it until I stepped on Haitian ground.

I’m sure you have many names for it but the only way I know to describe it, is something deep within me came to life. My ears heard new sounds, my eyes saw new sights, my body experienced an awesome level of tired, and my heart reached a fever pitch of love.

IMG_4181

Our church, CrossRoads Church in Antioch, TN (www.crossroadsantioch.org) has Haiti as our overseas missions focus. I’m not sure anything we’ve done in the young life of our church has received more criticism than our work in Haiti. Just some of the comments we’ve received…”Don’t you know there’s starving people in America?”…or…”Why are you giving all your money to those people when you don’t even have a building?”…one of the funnier ones…”America should come first. Period.”…my personal favorite…”You can’t give them a handout, you gotta make ’em work for what they get!” Of course I can’t think of one person who has criticized our work who has actually ever BEEN to Haiti, but that’s beside the point right? Everyone has their opinion.

These people have no idea what or how God has worked through our church to bring Jesus salvation message, first aid, jobs, churches, a Bible school, food, an orphanage, and clothing to these wonderful people in Haiti AND in America. But criticizing our efforts makes them feel better for doing nothing.

IMG_3998

I have wondered many times how these critics would feel if they could see what we’ve seen…an 80 year old man, naked, trying to bathe himself in a mud puddle, or having to scrape the skin of a grown man who was burned over more than half of his body, or a middle aged woman scavenging for food through the same trash pile as a wild dog, or seeing a woman get beaten by a belt and a baseball bat because she was trying to push through security to get food for her family, or being caught in a mob because they found out we had food, and I could continue to list these moments but you understand. My eyes fill with tears at the memory of these sights from over the last 5 years we’ve been traveling there.

These are real people.

This is really happening.

I woke up this morning to be greeted with the post of my friend YvRose who has a home in Haiti with 28 children in it that she and her husband educate, feed, clothe, and love, all in Jesus name. YvRose lost one of her children last night so I know her heart is broken. But I have to smile at the fact that God knew her life wouldn’t be long on this earth. He made sure this young orphan girl made her way to YvRose so her life would be happy, loved, and celebrated. If she couldn’t be with her biological family, then there’s no better place young Ivella could have been than with The Ismael family. Please pray for them as they grieve and lay their daughter to rest.

I may sound like I have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to Haiti, and yes, maybe I do. But I love these people, I love this country, and I see serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as an incredible privilege.

IMG_0413

I pray you find your it before you leave this earth because it is a spectacular moment of awakening that you don’t want to miss. Because honestly, it has changed me far more than I could have changed it.

And oh yeah…I promise all my blog posts won’t be this heavy, just woke up with Haiti on my mind. Leaving to go there again in 11 days….