The church plant in DuFour (Dee-Foo) will be celebrating a year soon, and while I have rejoiced to receive so many pictures and powerful testimonies, (remember¬ “The Narrow Path”¬† or¬ “God at Work?”) I have not been.
Once again, it’s been one of those precious and precarious new plants that didn’t need the distraction or the diversion of foreigners, frequently seen in Haiti as¬ money-money-money-money-MO-NEY! and not as spiritual support. We didn’t want to hinder all the progress happening there by making anyone think that perhaps Jesus was actually money, that perhaps Good News was actually just mediocre news.
We wanted to support utter sincerity in following Jesus. So we’ve been doing so from afar-ish, close in our support and prayers.
But it’s good and established now, and the students working there–who are even better aware of all the complications that we are–finally asked us to come.
And I am so thankful to have been.
It is not the same as having heard. It is not the same as having seen.
I carry that same frustration for you, every post. Me telling you about it is just not the same as scraping the deep mud off your feet with me, not the same as holding their hands.
But I sure am going to try.
The first thing I loved about going to DuFour (yes, I always spell it a different way, which is Creole for you, all spelled however it sounds, but I SAW it painted on a wall this weekend, and it’s DuFour) was that you have to go past Fev to get there. Fev is no longer a baby, growing well under the discipleship and care of our first student-church plant (now some alumni!) team, Walnique and Rujerry and Jorgia and Luddie. But it was Fev that first pointed us to DuFour.
“There is a place further still,” Fev said, “That doesn’t have the Gospel that we now have…and now that we have it, it must be taken there!”
We drove past Fev, keying up for their Sunday morning service, sent a prayer, and drove further on…
Now I say far, but I mean 20 minutes. Twenty minutes towards the mountains, twenty minutes further from town, but it might as well have been hours.
How surprising, truly, to drive only 20 minutes, walk only 20 more, from the seminary, and find a place SO simple, SO dark, SO remote, SO impoverished, SO…so unreached.
It was DuFour that made the students¬ sezie,¬ be taken aback. It was DuFour that shocked them, because it wasn’t only un-churched. The didn’t only not follow Jesus.
They had never HEARD of Him. They had never dreamed of a church. They’d never touched Him, never studied Him, never slipped through the pages of a Bible, never known any other way than the way they had always known, the dark magic, the deep superstition that explains everything from the stars to the rain to sickness.
As we picked our way through the mud with our chairs on our heads‚ÄĒwinding in and around yards and homes and temples waving all the shredding flags of the demons, of the¬ lwa–I wasn’t shocked at all that this was an unreached place.
You could TELL it was. You could FEEL it was. You could see it in the empty eyes of each person we passed, inviting them to join us on the narrow path to DuFour. You could see it in the¬ battrie¬ scattered all along the trail, piles of specifically arranged garbage symbolizing curses and trying to mislead evil spirits and trying to manipulate forces.
I love walking through people’s homes to get to church, because by the time you get there, to this place called “church”, you have seen where everyone comes from. You have seen what everyone has grown up believing and seeking and living. You have seen the games the children play, the women at work, the men arguing and talking, and you approach the little three-point tarp church in a pineapple prickled clearing, and you are in awe.
You are in awe because you have experienced now what the Gospel was up against, you have tripped over the deep roots of¬†darkness, and when you see the Gospel prevailing, with your own eyes, you are in awe. You are glorifying, praising, praying…already. ¬
I see them everyday, but today as Phida and Nosebin and Simon reached out their hands in welcome, I wanted to kiss them, and hug them, and pray over them, and stuff treasures into their hands, because it is utter obedience to His calling and utter perseverance for the Gospel and NOTHING ELSE that has them there.
There is no glory, there is no praise, there are no crazy successes, there is no mega-church, there are no “easy” people, there isn’t even a stinking road, for heavens sakes.
There is nothing but mud and plantain and persecution and threats and a group of people mostly still very lost and in it for the entertainment value¬†+ hope of handouts…but then. ¬ Then, a very very few clear-eyed, spirit-filled, gentle-smiled, truly transformed, truly hungry, truly changed people.
You could pick them out of the crowd immediately. Immediately.
The light shines in¬†the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
It’s a miracle, these few people. It’s almighty God at world, it’s Jesus through Phida, Nosebin, and Simon’s perseverance. ¬†The three-point tent. The young man who wanted baptized, no matter what.
All of it. Miraculous.
We stuff our chairs in, holding everything on our laps, our feet sinking in mud, filling every last inch of the tent, it seems.
Our students know the people well. They know the heartbeat of the community, of the lost, of the seeking, and everything in town churches that is eloquent and beautiful and theological and liturgical was, under the tent, simple and pure.
As if speaking to spiritual children, they opened in prayer, they led worship, they read from the Word, ¬†all in the simplest of language in the least-frilly of ways.
It was milk, and the people needed milk, and I was proud of them.
The young men who converted last week were asked to come forward to testify to the congregation what they had decided. They did, and I was blessed to see their faces.
A small group of radiantly dressed children sang a short song, A is for Adore Him, B is for Bless the Name of the Lord, C is for Christ, D is for Devotion…and a group of young women sang a simple song, too. Everyone was hitting every note under the sun except the same note, but no one was laughing, no one was ashamed, worship wasn’t for us, anyway, and I imagined it beautiful in His ears.
Matt led communion, as simply as he could and with very few people reaching out to take…just the ones we’d already identified (like the young man next to me who was radiant and digging through his little worn Bible like it was food, like he was¬ hungry).
Phida preached the most basic sermon I’ve ever heard her preach…more of a mother’s devotional time with her children, than anything. She read three verses, and she talked about them. Talked about following Jesus, what it DIDN’T mean (good health, a new house, nice clothes) and what it did mean (peace, obedience, grace, forgiveness, new life, salvation).
She spoke for 15 minutes, soft and stern, loving and admonishing, and finished, and I shared a short image that God’s been using to help me with Lily and Sofie.
I introduced Nora, who was kind of the belle of the ball Sunday, the first baby foreigner many of the community had ever seen. I talked about how she is stubborn, about how she knows EXACTLY what she wants all the time, and WANTS to be able to have what she wants, every time.
I talked about Nora and fire, something everyone could relate to with many toddlers afoot and a cooking fire by every hut we’d passed. I talked about how Nora sees it and wants to touch it. How it looks sparkly and interesting and fun and exciting. ¬†She thinks she knows what is best for her, and she wants it.
But I do not let her. ¬†I know that¬ I know¬†what is best for her. ¬†I have more wisdom than her. ¬†I have great love for her, so even though she might think I am mean, or unfair, or unloving to not let her touch the fire….I am right, and I am a good mama. ¬†I will do all I can to urge her from it.
Sofie however, over the years, has learned to trust.
She doesn’t try to get in the fire anymore. Not because she learned her lesson by suffering terrible burns, but because she learned to trust (at least in the fire area ūüôā that mommy is wiser, that mommy loves her, that Mommy is Mommy, not her, and through that trust, she obeys.
I talked about our loving Father, who is infinitely wiser, who is filled and overflowing with great love for us, and who tells us to love one another. ¬†Who tells us to follow Him and leave our nets. ¬†Who tells us to love our enemies. ¬†Who tells us to flee from evil.
Sometimes it might look mean, or unfair, or not right.
But we can TRUST that He is infinitely wiser and has only our best in heart and mind, and so when we suffer, when obeying is hard, when things are incredibly difficult, when we are persecuted, when we are disciplined, we can truly rejoice….because our great and loving and wise Father loves us infinitely, has a reason (which we may or may not every understand) for each of His instructions, and can. be. trusted.
If we trust Him to be God instead of battling Him to be god ourselves (the very base of sin itself), He is ready to be all the we need, and then some.
There were a hundred smiles over the girls, and many heard the whole service without truly understanding.
But they heard. And they are hearing. As I looked in each face and saw those few full of understanding and true joy, I pray that it will be JUST SO, for each of them. ¬†I see those new believers, living among the lost, in their midst, growing each day and hungrier still, and they will lead them. Phida and Nosebin and Simon, they are leading them.
In a zone where Satan has misled and deceived for hundreds of year, Light is leading them. He is leading them. As we walked the path back to the car, chatting to neighbors as we passed, I realized that He is not leading DuFour anywhere new.
Just back to Himself.¬†They have never been in Him, they have never heard His name.
But He. Knows. Them. Fully.
They are HIS. Entirely.
And the current unfathomable gap between them and God broke Him even to the point of sending His own Son.
The sheep still missing, those who don’t even recognize His voice, He will never. stop. searching. out.
And as long as there is a Fev, and a DuFour and a million like them,
neither. will. we.