In March, we embarked on what would be one of the most raw and transformational experiences in the lives our disciples. We set out on a week-long journey through the Pic Macaya mountains with only each other, our backpacks, and the faith that God would move mountains.
A trip like this was unprecedented in Haiti - a place where trails are not used for hiking, but for daily living. Yet, this is exactly what we wanted, something that defied what was normal and that could catapult us into the creation of a new community and culture, one not defined by nationality or tradition, but by our true identity as children of God– citizens of heaven.
Words fall far too short to capture what God did during this week.
“I don't do anything for free,” a pervasive attitude in Haiti and one that serves to perpetuate the status quo. God began to breakdown this mentality in our disciples as they began to consider each others needs. Although very tired themselves, a few bold disciples decided to resist cultural paradigms and embrace self-sacrifice by taking on another's pack during some of the most difficult hiking.
At some point along the way, whether through the weight of the teachings, the examples of the leaders, or through the mysterious ways that God works in the heart, an eagerness to serve was birthed in our disciples. Near the end of our trip, many of them began volunteering to cook dinner, gather fire wood, wash dishes, and refill water bottles, not looking to meet their individual needs but the needs of the group.
God was at work.
In a culture where shame is worse than death, our disciples courageously brought to light things that were done in past darkness, things that they had never shared before. They shared stories of abandonment, sexual abuse, and of overcoming incredible circumstances.
One of the women shared how God rescued her out of a life prostitution and drug use and how He blessed her with a loving husband who is now a pastor of a small church. One of the young men shared how God delivered him from a life of partying and going to strip clubs to one where he now spends his time studying God's Word and telling his friends about Jesus.
As we made our way up the mountains and through the valleys of Pic Macaya, God reminded me that we were also navigating the mountains and the valleys in the hearts of His children. The bible says that, through faith, we have the power to move mountains (Mark 11:22-23). This verse became a reality as the mountains of pride, shame, and guilt were cast out of the hearts of our disciples and into the ocean of God's grace.
On the last day, after an intimate and personal encounter with the Creator of the universe, our disciples expressed the joy and gratitude in their hearts as they sang praises to their Father all the way down the mountain. With aching bodies and dirty faces, but with hearts overflowing and pouring over, our new community loaded into the truck and we made our way back to Jérémie where we would continue this beautiful work that God had started.