It’s hard to convey the deep spiritual impact of watching a room full of Haitian pastors-in-training, worship God with abandon. And now, a few months after being home from Haiti, I’m still reeling. It was incredible. Every day we were in Haiti, 40 pastors from the surrounding villages came for bible training taught by our Highlands Church pastors. This was a program put in place a few years ago to help pastors of any age to understand the full ministry of being in a pastor. Throughout the course, they would learn about biblical preaching, general pastoral duties, and how to best support their congregations.
We had the opportunity to join in their morning prayer and worship for a few days. We walked in to a room full of eager, willing, and intensely passionate men of God, giving their entire selves to worship in those moments. Nothing could hold back the joy they felt in the presence of God. I thought I could keep it together and that because I couldn’t understand what they were saying, it would help me to keep my emotions in check. Well, that was wishful thinking. One member of our group summed it up perfectly, “You don’t need to know the words they were singing to know that God was glorified.”
My heart began to swell with even more emotion when they began singing in English, encouraging us to sing along. The words, “I’ll fly away… oh glory, I’ll fly away” filled the air and my tears would not subside. They didn’t need instruments, or microphones, or lyrics. They simply sang with everything they had.
As I looked around the room, I thought about each family that was represented there. I wondered where each man came from, what they had to endure to get to that place, and what struggles they would face when they went back home. Their joy was absolutely staggering.
“Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul. Worship His holy name”.
I thought about those words in the context of such hardship and struggle in poverty-stricken Haiti and it caused my heart to ache. To have faith in a place like Haiti is to truly rely on God for your food, your income, your family, and even your life.
One amazing thing about traveling is the way your heart expands with each story you hear. Every person we meet has something to share. And as a writer, I feel an indescribably wonderful burden to hear as many stories as I can and share them with whoever will listen. One man shared with us that he was taking this bible training with his two sons. Throughout the course, they were encouraged to deliver a short sermon. This one man said, with tears in his eyes, what an honour it was to hear his son preach for the first time. This is the kind of enduring legacy that goes beyond wealth and status, and will affect countless villages in beautiful Haiti. This is a legacy that is possible because of those who are willing to teach and pass on biblical training, all for God’s glory.
Pastor Maxime is one of our partners in Haiti and his heart for his country is so evident. We had the opportunity of listening to part of his story one evening. It was an expression of absolute passion and love that I wish I could bottle up and take with me everywhere I go. He had been a missionary since he was a young boy, traveling around Haiti with his father by foot. His desire has always been for more and more people to hear the good news of Jesus Christ, and for the poor to be cared for. When thinking of all the other things he could have done with his life, he said he simply wasn’t interested in living a life that was not dedicated to serving others.
I saw his story as a call to action. He went on to say,
“Even if you don’t come to Haiti, as long as you are helping the poor I will thank you. I know what it’s like to be hungry. I know what it’s like to be thirsty. If you are helping the poor in any way, I am so thankful for you.”
Again, coming back to North America after a trip like this can be so difficult. I’m still trying to ease back into the easiness of this life. And with every word I write about Haiti, I’m more and more convinced that I can do more. We can do more.
I encourage you, if you are reading this and you want to get involved, please do it. Contact a local church. Contact a non-profit organization. Contact someone you know who has been on a mission trip. Not everyone is called to serve in this way. But everyone is called to serve in some way.
God is so good.