"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." - Romans 5:1
This is as much of a story of peace in my life as it is of peace in the life of another person. As I was meditating the other day, the Lord was speaking to me about the lack of peace I sometimes have in my life. Here we are, in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Some have given it the label of a 4th world country if there was one. There are many good organizations and ministries doing so many different things here to help many people who are in real need.
There are ministries that are giving hundreds of roofs to this community after the devastation of hurricane Matthew. Amazing! There are seeds being distributed for the growing of fruit trees and vegetables that are essential for the economic future of the countryside in the Grand'Ans district. Amazing! There are buildings being built, homes being repaired, clean water wells being dug, cholera prevention systems being created, jobs being given, food being distributed, medical clinics formed and tending to the health needs, dietary education being taught, orphans being taken in, and the list goes on and on. Amazing! A true representation of meeting real needs that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25.
Then there are these moments I have, maybe for some of you, you have had these moments also. It's a moment where people ask you, "so what do you do?" Because it seems in our culture that our jobs or the things we do so often define who we are. Or you look at the things you do and get caught up in the trap of the devil and begin to compare it with others. "Discipleship." "I do adult discipleship." What does that mean for me? "I have a discipleship school and teach God's Word." Well, Okay. I have to confess that, at times, I feel like I'm putting different activities on these raised pedestals over each other where what I do becomes simply a fading shadow under the limelight attraction of other tangible acts of love being done by so many others.
As I live here, steeped in the reality of deep poverty, many times I wish God had given me the ability to create and establish jobs, to have the mindset of an entrepenuer. I don't have that. I often wish God had given me the ability to mobilize people quickly and arrange big projects to be completed. That too seems distant for me. I sometimes even think that I could be so much more effective with my time and energy if I were single, and that having a wife and 4 kids in this country is a weight, and slows me down, that the money being given to support my family could support so many more single people to do so much more for the kingdom. This too, is a lie.
Sometimes, I ask God, why did you bring me here? to a place of incredible physical poverty and need, where it seems that often, the very thing I have to offer is spiritual, emotional and intellectual support, and that often times, the people around me don't want that. Instead, they want jobs, they want clean water, food, houses or land, which is understandable considering their situation. They need physical help!
With this inner turmoil, God reminded me of a story about peace that He recently brought to one of our new students. This story encourages me to remain steadfast, it encourages me that God is always at work, and many times I am not aware of how He is working, even if it seems insignificant to me.
At the beginning of every school year with each new class, we take all the students on a 6 day back packing trip in the back woods of Haiti. The 6 days are filled with different physical activities that have deep spiritual truths, times of worship and study in the book of 1 John, and being pushed physically beyond their ability so that they experience the value of being part of a family together. It's always so sweet to see how God uses these short 6 days to cause so much transformation in us as leaders and in the students on the trip. It's absolutely one of my favorite times here in Haiti.
It was day 5 of our trip, and the leadership team was going to begin praying for the students, who were off having some time alone with the Lord. A man who was passing by interrupted our time just as we were beginning to pray and said that one of our students was laying down, sweating, shaking, and vomiting. We immediately sent one of our intern leaders (a student who had previously graduated last year's class) to check on him. After about 5 minutes, he returned and confirmed that he was not in good shape at all.
I decided to go back with him, taking along another man so there were 3 of us. We came with water as well, not really knowing what the Lord had in all of this. As I was walking, I was considering our location, that we were least a 4 hour hike from the closest town with anything that resembled a hospital. I was praying and asking the Lord what He wanted to do in this, I heard confession and unforgiveness.
So when we arrived, we found him and he was lying down, sweating and shaking. We moved him to a shaded area and gave him some water. After that, I asked him if there was anyone in his life that he had not forgiven for something that they had done to hurt him. He paused, thought for a moment, and said "yes." There was someone in his life that had spoken very bad things about him and he had never forgiven him. In fact, he had previously planned on killing this person for what he had spoken. At one point in the past, he was very close to doing it, but never went through with it. From that point, he had never forgiven him, and had always wanted revenge.
I asked him if he was ready to forgive him now for what he had done and he said yes. So I explained how and walked him through forgiving this person out loud, naming specifically the wrong he had done to him, and also praying a blessing over his entire life after the prayer of forgiveness. He did this, prayed out loud and released this person from the debt that was owed. After he prayed, immediately the sickness was gone. No more sweating, shaking or vomiting. We asked how he felt, and he said, "amazing." No more pain, no more sickness. He looked completely different! He said that it was like God was removing all the bad things in his heart, and the vomit was like God desiring to get out all of the things that didn't honor Him that was in his life.
We rejoiced and praised God for this experience! Truly he had experienced healing and deliverance through the power of confession, through the power that God releases when we forgive others in our lives. This student has been touched by God and we get to be a part of that. It's such a blessing to see how God is changing his heart from desiring to be rich to desiring more of Jesus in his life.
Through the midst of unrest all around, personal challenges here, family challenges, in the midst of deceit, impure motivations, jealousy, injustice, poverty, and overwhelming needs physical that simply just seem, at times, insurmountable; it is always refreshing to be able to see and experience the fruit that God gives through His peace. And He continues to remind me that what I get to do and be a part of is by no means insignificant. Even in the midst of feeling helpless at times when it comes to meeting needs physically, He is reminding me that we are the body of Christ and every part has a very important role to play.
Thank you Papa for my role.