Saturday, February 25, 2017

Some Trust in Chariots, and Some in Horses:

For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.

This past week, Barry has seen more violence and hatred than ever before.  A few days ago, he received word that our dear friend, Ramou (lovingly also known as Ramos) was being held captive by Odmar and his friends. Ramos was trapped inside his vehicle while it was violently rocked and shaken, machetes were brandished, and angry men threatened his life. When Barry heard the message, he quickly got in his truck to head the scene. As he made his way down the road, he started passing more of his friends, each running full sprint toward the same scene, with machetes in hand.  These men, who have been working on the mission house, are from the mountain. There, the people uphold their own law. If someone does wrong, his life is taken by the people's own system of "justice." Now they are all ready to enforce it here in Arcahaie, on behalf of our own Haitian friends.  One by one, they jumped into the back of the truck as Barry rushed to find Ramos. When they arrived, a war broke out.   Hand to hand battle raged with machetes, rocks, or any other nearby weapon. Barry did all he could to try to get it to stop. Odmar, the man leading the whole insurrection, fled for his life, and the fight eventually dissolved without loss of life.

The battle, like most, is all about money. Years ago a few brothers purchased the land where the mission home is now being built from a middle aged man. That man took the money gladly and went on with life. Some time later, the man's nephew came around raising a stir, claiming the land to be his.  After months of digging and investigating, we discovered that Odmar, the nephew, would have had some rights to the land through an inheritance, but because he was in prison at the time of the sale, he was excluded from the money distribution.  Over time, he's done all he can think of to make up for the money he was shorted by his uncle. The land used to be a full field of plantains. Thousands of dollars worth of plantains were stolen from the land. Before we started building, the whole issue was settled in court, and Odmar was paid his share of the inheritance.

But it's not enough.  The heart that seeks after wealth will never be satisfied.  He has threatened the lives of our friend Merelin, whose name is on the land.  The men working on the mission home, who are many of Merelin's family and friends, have all taken to sleeping locked up together in the same house.  There is a price on Odmar's head, and these mountain men, without Christ, will not let go until they feel justice has been served. Odmar announces almost daily that he plans to come with guns.  Thursday night, he made claim that Ramos has less than a week to live. Knowing the reality of the situation and the hearts of wicked men, Ramos asked Barry to take care of his bride-to-be, with only a few weeks left until his wedding day.

Meanwhile, the work has to continue on the house. If Barry would decide to call it off because of the whole mess, it would only aggravate the situation even more. What little reserve the men have now would be gone. If they aren't working, they aren't making money, and Odmar would surely be killed.

Our prayer through this awful, messy situation is that God's mighty power can be revealed.  We desire that others can see, through a few believers, that we do not want to fight.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle..."

We desire that all of the men involved may see Christ shine through in this.  Jesus said, "do violence to no man," and we pray that in refraining from the strife and bitterness that is so welled up, they will see something different in us.   We pray that God can be glorified as this is all somehow, someway resolved once and for all.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Eight Things We're Thankful For

In no particular order, a glimpse at a few recent scenes. 

The "backyard" of the mission home

8. The view of God's creation.  Haiti is a country where beauty collides with garbage.
Beautiful farmland meets rolling mountains and the bluest skies one can imagine, but
the cities are smoggy, dirty, and polluted. The ocean surrounding the island nation is the most inviting crystal blue, until a heavy rain washes trash and waste by the trainload out of the riverbeds and into the Caribbean. When we see God's splendor in the physical features of the landscape clash with the rubbish strewn about, it speaks to me about the people of Haiti as well.  Although Haiti has become a place that's drowning in corruption, false religion, lying, and indecency, we can remember that every person here was created by the same God who created the majestic landscape.  He created them with a desire to see them turn to Him and be redeemed from their sinful, polluted state.  

7. Visitors From Home.  After two months back in Haiti following furlough, it was a blessing to have others here to see what's been happening. They were updated on everything from the equipment, to the mission-house project, to the school in the mountain, to the lives of various individuals that have been in contact over the years.

Bobcat being repaired under plenty of supervision

School children in the mountain

6. Churches to Preach in. The time has not yet been appointed to build a church facility we can call home, but thankfully there has been somewhere to go to church nearly every Sunday since we've lived in Haiti, where Barry has the blessed opportunity to share his heavy burden with many souls.

5. A Translator to Help Preach the Message. Josnel has been doing a fine job translating for Barry on Sundays and as needed. This particular Sunday, pictured, something came up and he was late for church. It was a reminder, after being a little shook up, that the message can't go out without an interpreter!

Counseling with two young ladies after the service

4.  Large, eight-legged visitors don't make it inside often.  There's no doubt that spiders are everywhere in Haiti. Some of them are big enough to make a grown-up squeal, but relatively harmless. Others are small, discreet, and dangerous enough to bring great harm, or worst case, death, to a small child.  God has been faithful in this area in keeping our children protected from yet one more potential hazard, building our faith and trust in Him.

3. Work Ethic.  There seems to be a growing number of able-bodied young men who have become afraid to perform any manual labor. Many of them have had everything handed to them and have no idea what it means to work.  "Give me one dollar" and "I am hungry" are the English phrases that everybody in Haiti seem to know. However, there are some who are not afraid to do whatever it takes to earn a day's wages. They'll eagerly push up their sleeves and dig in until they're exhausted. These are the ones who continue finding work and  putting food on the table.

2. The progress on the mission house. The result of hard work and close supervision is the future home going up at an exceptional rate.  

1. God's Promises.  So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
With fervent, righteous prayer and the zeal to continue preaching there will be revival here!