I've never gone door to door asking, "Excuse me--do you know Jesus?" Well, that is before I went to Haiti. Why not wait til there's a huge language barrier? ;-)
Three afternoons--after two very serious hours of intentional prayer--we walked out to a village to evangelize. The first walk was pretty intense for me. Every bit of a mile and my back was aware of every step of it. A mantra I would say to myself on this trip (and was also reminding God of) was "If God leads you to it, He'll get you through it."
Once our group of 20 or so Americans, Canadians & Haitians would get to a village, we'd break into groups of 3-4 and hit the streets. I ended up with Rebecca each time. The first time was chance, the subsequent times were intentional.
Rebecca has a strength and grace that is unique. I believe her strength comes out of what I would describe as the very clear call of God for her to minister to people in Haiti. Being in Haiti, it seems obvious that it would take the call of God to keep you there for two years with an authentic smile on your face.
She'd boldly hail a hello or "is anyone home?" (In Creole) And then followup with a grace and a love of the people that profoundly struck me. I couldn't understand the dialogue, but I could tell that she loved them. I could tell that most of them could tell she loved them to. It's like the difference of someone interrupting you because they want something and someone interrupting you because they sincerely just want to talk with you.
She would smile a lot. Not because it was good strategy--but because it was natural. She talked about Christ with them, but not at them. As I watched, prayed and listened I thought, "This is such a tangible picture of the love of God." As she spoke and interacted you could smell the fruit of the Spirit.
Oddly though, in three days and 20-30 or more houses, not one conversion. You might not think that sounds odd--I wouldn't have thought it odd. But at lunch after the villages we found that virtually every other group got a half-dozen conversions, or more! That was really odd. The numbers in such a short amount of time were so high I wanted to dispute it. But eye witnesses like JB, Shelia attested they'd never seen anything like it. They saw the gift of evangelism.
On a couple occasions, Rebecca would say, "This is a voodoo house, are you comfortable with it?" Each time I would quickly and confidently say yes--I have a firm resolve that God and his people need not shrink back.
The picture above was at such a house. The markings on the house in the background are of a voodoo priest's home/temple. It turned out he had died the prior week. It also turned out that his son was a Christ follower. That's Rebecca praying with him.
He spent the rest of our time in that village with us. She said it was hard for him to be a Christian when everyone in the village knew who his dad was. One of the Haitians also creepily told us that the rumor was the deceased voodoo priest was still in the house--where they performed sacrifices.
Voodoo is real. It is the evil one entangling people in his lies. Some nights you can hear the voodoo drums and chanting. Evil is a bit less subtle in Haiti.
Rebecca asked me if I wanted to do any of the talking and she'd translate. It didn't seem like the best course to me. She had a rapport, she was fluent and could easily relate with them. I'd be this clumsy guy who didn't speak their language or know their culture. It didn't seem right that I'd do it just to get my "evangelism merit badge" when Rebecca was so much better.
I put myself if in their shoes (sorry, bad metaphor)--"place." I thought, would I want some guy coming to my door and speaking awkwardly though an interpreter, or would I want a real conversation with someone who cared enough to speak my language? So I prayed silently.
As we walked and talked to people in the villages, it challenged my faith a bit. What I mean is, a relationship with God never provides the promise of better housing or even quality of life. It's the promise of God with us, loving us, saving us and using us to His glory. Here in the US those promises seem amazing. When you're looking at someone living in a stick and mud "house" with a dirt floor and little food, whose kids hadn't hardly any clothes--I wondered if it sounded amazing to them. Or would something like water, food, clothes and better housing sound amazing?
All I think I know is that it's hard for me, an American, to go to Haiti for a week and really get my head around it all. It's a bit overwhelming. And yet, I probably need to be overwhelmed, and not be able to produce trite answers. And perhaps I need to find God in the midst of it all as much as the unbelieving Haitian needs to find God for the first time.