Asbury’s recent trip to Haiti can be described using one word – attached. Each Asbury team is blessed to hear Jean “Pere” Nadieul’s testimony on our first night in Haiti. (Hearts and Hands for Haiti partners with Siloe Ministry, and Pere is the Haitian director for Siloe.) I’ve heard Pere’s testimony of strong faith and commitment at least half a dozen times. However, this year one word stuck out to me and kept leaping back into my brain throughout the week. Pere was describing his relationship with Stan Wiebe [the American Director of HHH] by saying “Stan and I have been attached for many years.” Obviously, Pere meant they had been friends for many years but it intrigued me that he chose to use the word attached rather than friendship.
Throughout the next several days in Haiti this word kept coming to mind – as we worshipped together in church on Thursday evening; as we played games with the children in Sous Raille and as they surrounded us when we entered the gate to the village. I also thought about the word attached as the children and adults chased after our bus every time we left – they made us feel like rock stars! On Saturday we shared a meal cooked by the women in the Sous Raille church – a delicious spread, way more than we could possibly eat. The hands that prepared the meal had spent hours that afternoon in an 8 X 8 metal shed in 78% humidity cooking over an open fire – as a gift to us. Attached… I began to realize just how attached our two churches are.
The word came full circle for me during our worship time together on Sunday morning – in a little cinderblock church built on a hillside in Sous Raille, Haiti. As the music and lively worship began to wind down, Pere went up on stage and our translator joined him. He thanked the people of Sous Raille for their hospitality and told them that he had visited Asbury Church on several occasions. Pere told the congregation that whenever you mention the name Sous Raille, Asbury people smile. Then…Pere looked at me and called me up on stage. We had arrived early and had been ushered up to the front two rows of the church so we weren’t fully aware of how the little church had filled up with worshippers. As I walked on stage to bring Asbury greetings to Sous Raille, I was surprised to realize that one entire side of the church was full of children! I’m talking children 12 years old and less. There were at least 100 children – many dressed in their school uniform, because in Haiti you wear your best outfit to church. The other side of the congregation was full of adults. I was overwhelmed with emotion because the church was bursting at the seams and they were YOUNG. Not only is the school in Sous Raille growing by leaps and bounds (more than double in 5 years), the church is growing just as fast. God is working and moving in that little community just as God is working and moving in our community.
Webster’s dictionary defines the word attached as “joined; connected; bound.” After what I’ve witnessed in Haiti this past month, I believe that’s the absolute best description of our relationship with the church and school in Sous Raille. We are joined through education and meals. We are connected through relationships. We are bound though our brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our team had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the power of our mission statement “engaging in relationships where Christ transforms.” And I speak for the entire team when I say it’s a beautiful, magical thing! Advent begins in just a few weeks, and I’d like to invite you to prepare your hearts by taking time out of our busy schedules to “engage others” and to give generously to our special birthday gift to Jesus. It’s amazing to see what He has done with our meager gift given with faith and in love.
Happy Birthday Jesus! – with love, Asbury Church