Haiti Reflections: New Eyes

Haitian coastline

Haitian coastline

It was while I was at the morning prayer time on my last full day in Haiti that it came together for me. What a week I had had! My primary reason for going at this time was to meet my eldest daughter’s boyfriend. Sarah has been working with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) in Saint-Marc, Haiti, since 2009. A couple of months ago, she informed us that she met a Haitian young man, whom she thought was “the one for her.” Almost as soon as I started praying, I felt strongly that I needed to meet him. The end of July provided a window of opportunity for us all. So I went. As it turned out, a lot more happened than the planned personal goals. The details of what I experienced in my week there are documented in my previous Haiti posts on this blog.

If you prefer to read my 2016 Haiti experience in date order first, click here (this post will then be listed at the end).

This was my second time in Haiti. In 2012, my wife, Robin, and I went down, so I could teach at their annual staff conference. I had no idea at the time that the material I covered then – an overview of the entire Bible – would become the core of my teaching ministry that launched a few months later. As it turned out, Sarah wasn’t in Haiti for the staff conference. So, this time was the first time I was able to see it through her eyes. But what I didn’t know is that it would be through God’s eyes that I would see Haiti this time. The transformation in my perspective was so great I had to express it to the staff at the prayer meeting in the form of a confession.

I didn’t want really want to go this time. I went out of love for my daughter and a sense of obligation to God (neither are bad reasons). Haiti is one of the world’s most dangerous countries. Infrastructure is almost non-existent and the society is extremely volatile. Then there’s the mosquito-borne illnesses and the general lack of sanitation. And it’s pretty hot in the summer with very little air conditioning.

The YWAM base is generally safe, however. It’s a really nice, multi-building compound inside high concrete walls with barbed wire and armed guards. Four years ago, I was fine staying on the base most of the time, venturing out as rarely as possible. But with Sarah this time, when she wanted to take me here or there for whatever reason, I went.

My transformation began just prior to my arrival. It started as the beauty of this troubled country hit me as the plane descended. What you need to understand is that I am the kind of person for whom the negative aspects of a thing tend to define it. That came in handy years ago when I worked in Quality Assurance. I was hired to find the clouds, not look for the silver lining. This ability is crucial in many situations, where quality is essential and especially when lives may be at stake. My problem is that I have seen all of life through that lens, including my closest relationships – a challenge indeed in my roles as husband and father.

But during that descent, as I was looking at the mountains from which the name Haiti is derived, I was impacted by how beautiful they were as were the many vistas and views we encountered on the long drive from the airport to the base in Saint-Marc. Then there were the extraordinary trees and flowers, and eventually the people (again, see my blog). To my shame, all this had been eclipsed by the negative aspects of the country, which had blinded me to the bigger picture which is Haiti.

For the last over four years, I have been calling people to see the world and all of life through the lens of the Big Picture of the Bible’s overall story. Essential to that is our need to understand the fundamental goodness of the creation (Genesis 1:31). While evil has tainted every aspect of life, the material world is still of God and is to be valued as the sphere in which we are to serve him. When Yeshua said, “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16), he wasn’t referring only to people and especially not simply to the non-material side of people (their souls in other words). The Greek word for “world” in John 3:16 is “cosmos,” which in this verse’s context is the whole created order, including the physical sphere. The creation is God’s building project and he loves it so much that he sent his Son to rescue it. If we trust in Yeshua, we get to be part of his rescue plan.

Sarah called this "my Haiti face!"

Sarah called this “my Haiti face!”

It looks as if it took me over four years to get my own message, especially as far as Haiti is concerned. Instead of seeing Haiti through my distorted lens of negativity, I saw a Haiti a lot more as God sees it. A Haiti that God so loved he gave his only Son on its behalf.

It took a change of perspective on Haiti to show me how dysfunctional my negativity in general really was. And that is why I felt I needed to confess it to the YWAM staff – they who have been giving their lives for this beautiful country – at the prayer meeting that day. I can’t wait to try out my new eyes on my family and everyone else.

Reminder: You can read my my entire 2016 Haiti experience in date order, by clicking here.

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