It was rewarding to watch my team develop a love for Haiti and her people, it was sweet to reunite with my Haitian brothers and sisters who I met in August, it was exhilarating to watch how the children responded to our crafts and lessons, and it was unbelievable to see my daughter grow as God brought her from being uncomfortable to uninhibited during our six day stay.
But the beautiful thing about God’s story is that He has not made me simply a spectator to someone else’s plot. This trip was not just about watching Mackenzie experience Haiti. God had something planned for me too; something He wanted written on my heart.
Each afternoon in Haiti, our team split into groups of two or three and traveled on foot throughout the village. The purpose was to get to know the people of Bigarade, showing them that we are invested in their community and that we are there because God has called us to show His love to them.
On our second day to walk the streets, Mackenzie, my mom, Valme (our interpreter), and I came across a group of ladies and a street vendor selling alcohol. The ladies made eye contact with us, smiled and said “Bonswa.” We replied likewise, and Valme gave me the eye as if to say, “Are we talking to them?” So I dove right in.
He interpreted my typical explanation that we had come to Bigarade to work with the kids at the school because we wanted to share the love of Jesus. Then I asked the group, “Do you love Jesus?”
“Wi,” the ladies replied. The man echoed their sentiment with a nod and a “wi.” The ladies started laughing. “What’s so funny?” we asked them.
The man explained that he misspoke, and instead he worshipped Satan. I took that opportunity to share with him that the Bible says, “Every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord,” and I believed perhaps that is what he had just done. He insisted that He understood the Gospel message, and he also knew he had a choice. He was choosing Satan because the devil was giving him everything he needed, and he was comfortable. The problem is he was also shortsighted.
Our conversation ended when our tap tap pulled up and offered us a ride back to our group’s meeting place. On the tap tap, Valme said, “Alison give me your Bible.” He wrote the man’s name in it. Every day I pray for Examo Remy. I pray that God will reveal himself, making him uncomfortable if that’s what it takes to see that eternity is far more important than comfort on this earth.
“What did you think about that?” I asked Valme.
“I think Satan was giving him what he wanted on earth, and he is going to pay the price for that for eternity. It’s very sad,” Valme answered.
Satan giving him what he needed. Ugh, I thought that can’t be right. I have been in church all my life, and every good Christian knows God provides for our needs.
“No, Valme,” I said, “It’s not Satan giving him what he needs. It’s God providing for his needs, then Satan lying to him and telling Examo it’s from him.”
“No, Alison. Satan can give people things on this earth.” I looked to my group for help. Surely this American crowd would take my side.
But no, Bob reminded me of the time that Satan tempted Jesus and offered him the city in return for His soul. It was Satan’s to give because he is prince of this world. Then Bob said he often sees Americans who want to live in this bubble and believe that Satan has no power.
Yes, I thought that’s the bubble I want to live in, thank you. But God is in the business of popping bubbles.
Phillip leaned forward, looked me in the eyes, and with pain in his voice said, “Alison, it’s hard to be a Christian.”
He reminded me that Haiti gained her independence when military leaders sacrificed a black pig to Satan and promised the country to him if he would help them win their independence from France. Many people in the country still practice voodoo. They invite demons into their bodies. If they give their heart to Jesus, the demon threatens death. And if the demon doesn’t take their life, their families might when they learn of the conversion.
It’s hard to be a Christian.
I felt so ashamed because I don’t think I really believed that. Or maybe I didn’t want to believe that there is a cost to follow Jesus.
This week, I noticed a church marquee that reads “Free ticket to Heaven. Details inside.” I understand the point…you can’t buy or earn your way to heaven. It’s a gift from God. But how often have I taken that a step further…”Free ticket to Heaven. Say a simple prayer and get a comfortable first class pass to a cushioned seat that leads straight to paradise.”
I want the ticket to heaven, but without the deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me part.
We are very blessed to live in America, where most of us do not risk our lives when we give our hearts to Jesus. Our costs to follow Jesus may look different, but if we are serious about living a life that is set apart from the world around us then we should also understand that it is hard to be a Christian.
So this is the story God wrote on my heart in Haiti…if being a Christian is easy then I am not living any different than the world around me. Satan wants me to stay in that bubble of believing that he has little power because I won’t put much energy into fighting him.
God has called me out of that bubble. I don’t know where He is going to lead me, and I don’t know how uncomfortable the journey will be. But I want the passion I saw in my Haitian brother’s eyes. I want to take risks to follow Jesus. I want to sacrifice to proclaim His name to the nations. I want to understand that it is hard to be a Christian.