I can remember the night as clearly as the sky was, stars all over as the moon shone over us while we met on the roof of the guest house of the Sant Mouvman. Besides our property and a few odd homes with generators across Bercy, there was no electricity from EDH (Electricite d’ Haiti) and it created a beautiful dark night as a result. Our CPR-3 staff was meeting and just talking about highs and lows, experiences and relationships. It was here that I announced what I am writing to tell all of you today.
March 5th marks a full year since I first landed in Haiti to serve with CPR-3. CPR-3 & I have decided that this is not the end, and through lots of prayer to guide me I have committed to serving for five more years in Haiti with CPR-3. I’ll be a career partner, our word for missionary, and I’ll raise all support to live and serve here until Westhalineda is old enough to be in second grade and Simon is in his twenties (finally reaching the age he already thinks that he is).
I could write a post about deciding to live in a country where I can only understand a percentage of the language, or about what I’ll be ‘doing’. I could process what all of this means today, or I could attempt to be inspirational.
But instead, I very intentionally want to share with you a story that I shared that night. At the time, that story wasn’t a part of me saying yes. They weren’t connected, it was just a story as we talked about relationships and re-entry after going home for a wedding in August. But it has everything to do with being here.
You all know the name Nadine. She’s been a pretty heavy part of the stories that I have chosen to share with you. She was the topic of the night for me as we talked about transformation over the past few months, and then I was asked for more of her back story. I’m going to basically catch you up to speed & throw you in mid-conversation. We talked about my first conversation with her, how she was so clearly on my heart and attached to me after that (despite the fact that this wasn’t something “new” or some story that was unique or had a reason to have SUCH an impact on my heart). I then explained what I found out a month into investing in her, no idea still at that point why she was so clearly on my heart: (in the words of anyone who would describe her), she “worshipped satan”. In Haiti, this can mean a lot of things, but we can all see the basic issue – that’s not good. She’s a beautiful but lost soul. My mind thinks and talks contextually, and this led to the next part – me describing Nadine as well as her family, in light of this news. (This news, by the way, that God knew the entire time. The second we started talking, the moment I felt an unnaturally strong tug on my soul, He was not surprised & He knew the entire time.) My words came out like this:
“If someone just walked up to Nadine [and her family] & told the gospel story, they’d laugh and make fun of you when you walked away – if they didn’t do it to your face. Sure, you might not even realize it as they make fun of you right there, but that’s not how to reach their hearts. You see, they’ve even heard it before, it’s not about hearing the story even if they WERE receptive.
It’s about the day to day, getting in their lives and being consistent. Like so many, they’ve heard the Good News enough to finish your lines for you when you’re struggling (Really, Nadine has even done this for me). But SEEING it, that’s what they don’t get. Especially from teams coming for a week, or an intern staying for a few months, how will they see? It’s the day in, day out, coming back after the hard days unconditional love that they need to see. THAT’S what will get to their hearts.
I’m not sure why that’s me. I mean, I’m sure God could raise up a Haitian girl who A. speaks the language & B. doesn’t stumble culturally every day, while sticking out like a sore thumb as a “blanc”. But that’s the thing – it’s me. No one else is doing it. That’s why I’m here, this is something that can’t be done unless I choose to stay here. They would never be reached without someone living here, intentionally pouring in.”
As I’ve wrestled with our wonderfully patient Father, tears and questions and all, he’s been such a gentle Teacher. That question has come up so many nights, at painful times after frustrating days. But then he whispers to my “Why’d you choose me to be here for them?” questions, “It’s not about them.”
Don’t get me wrong – it is about them. But the WHO that he chose to live it out, the American girl who feels inadequate instead of a woman born and raised in the culture, God is telling me that is for me. He has chosen me not just to reach them, but he’s chosen me in this challenging environment for myself too – to refine and grow that faith that is more valuable than the most precious jewel.
I told you that I chose this very intentionally to share with my announcement for the next five years. I want to ask you a question about your year, about your next five.
Who is your Nadine?
There is someone in your life that has heard it all. They know the story (or at least think that they do), and their family does as well. Invite them to church, and they’ll be happy to critique it the entire time. You know them. You might be intimidated by them. They might not even be someone you’d choose to be around, I know that my dear friend happens to be quite aggressive, especially before you know her well. But they’re in your life for a reason. Maybe God even implanted them onto your heart like he’s done with mine, you aren’t sure why you can’t stop thinking about them in your free time. That’s been done for a reason.
And maybe it’s scary, or you feel inadequate. Maybe you aren’t sure why He chose YOU, of all people. Someone else could do it better, you’re sure.
But that’s just it, He chose you. And He goes before you and beside you.
If I haven’t portrayed it well enough through the past ten months, let me say it now: There is nothing special about me. But everything special is in my Jesus.
He’s giving you a Nadine. That someone who isn’t going to see love, not the beautiful unconditional love that is a brand only He can claim, unless you wake up with the purpose of showing it to them. He has an opportunity for you to trust Him and take a step.
What are you going to do with it?
As of today, I am adding a “Partner With Me” page to Jezi Se Espwa. With my decision comes $29,000 to raise every year. If you would like to partner with me financially, please look at the information on this page – or better yet, e-mail me! My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org & I’m happy to talk.