From the perspective of riding in a van through the narrow streets of Port Au Prince, this country can easily appear to be not much more than a chaotic mess. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once we stepped out of our van we discovered a resilient and hard working people. Yes, nearly three years after being devastated by a strong earthquake, it is easy to see homes and businesses that are still piles of rubble. Yes, it’s not too hard to find tent cities, although most have been closed and the residents relocated (according to the reports we heard).
However, the people are amazing. Everywhere we went we were greeted with warmth and gratitude. The worship service we attended on Sunday at Eglise Baptiste was a powerful reminder of the work of God’s Spirit.
More than 200 gathered in their temporary facility to praise God, sing the hymns of faith and hear a word from me, the guest pastor. I don’t mind telling you; I was very nervous. I’ve spoken to churches in Africa and Mexico and never felt comfortable with the message I’ve presented. Uncertainty always got in the way of the spoken word. My fear in those previous settings reduced my words to less than what I wanted to share.
This time the people in the congregation held me up. Their singing was strong and filled with faith. At one point we sang Amazing Grace. As they sang in French, we joined along in English. I could feel my blood pressure going down. After the hymn, the worship leader for the day read Psalm 103. As she recited the ancient poem, I was caught by the line, “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting…” It fit perfectly with my sermon for the day, “Love Never Ends.”
The next hymn caught me totally off guard. It was an old gospel song, “I Surrender All.” Tears filled my eyes. I sang along in English. I could feel the fear and the worry fading away. I felt like the Spirit was nudging me to “preach the word.” What happened next was overwhelming. Just before the sermon, my interpreter, Couvin, leaned over to me and said, “Do not worry, they are ready for your sermon.” I don’t know if this 22-year-old young man could read my mind or my body language but it was as though he was speaking a heavenly word to me.
I don’t remember much of what I said but I will never forget the AMENs and the joy and the smiles and the way the spirit moved among us on that day.
Yes, my new sisters and brothers have a long way to go before their country fully recovers, but know this: The Spirit of God is alive and well in this beautiful land.
Grace and peace to you,