Sunday in Haiti brought the opportunity for us to attend church with a Haitian church. We attended the New Christian Church of Tabarre. Scott is friends with their pastor, Jean Prenor Brisneault. You can visit their church’s website here. It was an amazing experience to worship in a cross cultural setting. While we could not understand most of what was said, the joy in the place was amazing. They met in a building that was nothing more than a metal roof held up by scrap wood.
It was an incredible wow moment for us. We were able to pick up on some of the songs and we definitely enjoyed the sermon. Our own Scott Holdegraver preached this morning, and it was fun to watch him preach with the pastor of the church translating the message.
This afternoon brought a very interesting experience that challenged us deeply. We went with the pastor to visit a very poor neighborhood. All of us got to ride on a “tap tap” for the very first time. This is a pick-up truck that has been turned into a taxi-cab with bench seats in the bed. Here’s a picture.
We traveled to the neighborhood with a box full of hygiene kits, Bibles in Creol to give away, and tracts explaining the Gospel. It was an opportunity for us to get out into the community and share our faith and help this church meet the needs of people. We were struck by so many things. First, once we began to hand out the kits, which included some soap, a wash cloth, shampoo, toothpaste and brush, and some lotion, we literally got mauled by the children in the village. They came from everywhere and pressed up against us wanting what we were giving. The pastor wanted us to focus on adults living in home and with the greatest need so we kept telling them “no, no”, but that didn’t curb their enthusiasm. We had quite a parade as these children pressed around us as we walked down the street. And it wasn’t limited to children. Adults started asking us to give them our stuff. They all mastered the English “give me, give me”. I also thing all of us were overwhelmed at how incredibly broken this place was. A lot of children in the streets, many of them naked. Multiple families living in little concrete buildings with two or three small rooms. Trash everywhere in the streets. It was an afternoon we won’t forget. I was also amazed at this pastor who continually walked up to the people, handed them a tract while we gave them a Bible and kit. He talked to person after person about Jesus, his love for them, and the hope he offers. It was beautiful.
On the way home I asked pastor Brisneault what was the greatest barrier to the Gospel in this area. He said that the stronghold of voodoo is so strong, so that most people won’t listen to the message of Jesus, either because they have a background of the spiritism that is part of the voodoo philosophy or out of fear from what will happen if they do believe. At night, while sleeping on the roof here, often the voodoo drums can be heard as they beat around the area. It is a place of darkness, but God is working through his church and the ministry here at House of Hope.
When we got back to the House of Hope a group of us spent a bit of time talking about the day’s events. There are no easy answers to the complete brokenness in this culture. A few Americans and a few bucks won’t fix it. But we serve a God who is changing lives of people who hear and believe the Gospel. We are seeing it clearly in the lives of the girls here at House of Hope. And we saw it in the faces of the people with whom we worshiped today. The heart of God is moved by the poverty and pain in this land and around the world. I am becoming more convinced that my heart needs to be broken by the same things.
God bless. By the way, you can see all of our pictures on our flickr account.