We can hardly believe it! Today was the last day of the conference. Like the previous two days, God showed up in a powerful way. The pastor’s wives, who seemed almost indifferent to us and to each other in the first hours of the conference, were changed women when they left today.
I (Jodi Stilp) got to share my personal testimony of how Jesus has been the Light of the World in my life. I reminded the women that He is holding out His hand –offering to be the Light of the World to them as well as they serve Him in a very dark place. When I finished speaking, Whitney Baucom led the women in song. Haitian voices joined ours, and we worshipped together as sisters in English and Creole.
Light of the World you stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes, let me see.
Beauty that makes this heart adore you.
Hope of a life spent with you.
Whitney then shared her story of a life transformed. El Roi – the God Who Sees – sought her in her darkest moment and instead of seeing a sinner, He saw a godly woman. A Worshipper. A Leader. He redeemed her life from the pit and set her feet on the Solid Rock. She reminded the women that God sees them too and to pray for their rebellious loved ones. No one is too far away that God doesn’t see them. There is always hope.
And so Diane and Vicki Marshman spent the next portion teaching the women how to raise godly children who would passionately follow Jesus. When Vicki finished giving them practical tips, the women peppered Diane, Vicki, Jenna Silva, and Kay Moore with questions. The pastor’s wives promised to take everything they learned home to share with the women they serve every day.
Before we closed our time together, Madam Juene called our team to the front. The women thanked us for coming and then gave us gifts. These women who have so little gave us Haitian flags and bracelets so we would “never forget them and remember to pray.” They gave Diane a painting and a beautiful vase. Then they prayed for us. And I don’t mean a proper America-style prayer. These women stormed the front of the room, enveloping us with their hands and their hearts, and raised their voices to God in a beautiful symphony of praise.
The Haitians love titles. Every nametag was at least four names long and each name was important to them. They labeled our conference as seminary, called us missionaries, and received an official signed certificate from Pastor Diane Carol Comer. Are you giggling like we are?
When all the ladies received their certificates, we celebrated with a Haitian feast complete with six five-gallon buckets of ice cream – a luxury in Haiti. The ladies kept coming through the line, again and again, some of them eight times! What a joy to give them an opportunity to indulge in such a fun treat.
These Haitian ladies arrived at the conference empty and feeling alone. They left filled with the power of God and an army of new friends who can relate to a life of ministry. The pastor’s wives from small villages and big towns, from Pentecostal, Methodist, and Baptist denominations, exchanged phone numbers and addresses and embraced each other in long hugs as they said their goodbyes. They asked to get together again next year.
The four men who served the ice cream, the men who’ve been traveling with us all week to provide protection and support, have blessed us and these Haitian women in mighty ways. We’ve kept Mike Varadi, Alex Salzwedel, Scott Campell, and Tim Durkee busy with some really important jobs. When they’re not beating up bad guys (their latest claim is 90 with one hand tied behind their backs), they’ve served our team by filling water bottles, restocking snacks, schlepping those big red duffle bags, and unclogging the one toilet our entire team shared. More importantly, they’ve prayed fervently for us while we served the women here.
Tonight they set up Flicks on the Bricks (a rooftop movie) and are sacrificing Captain America to watch Letters From Juliet. We’re currently having volume issues so they’re taking turns narrating the subtitles in girly voices. A huge shout out to Abby, Cynthia, Janet, Tracy, and Kate for loaning your men to us for the week. We think they’re pretty great. By the way, Pastor Alex (gotta love the title) is preaching in church on Sunday.
We’re heading to bed tonight with full hearts and a huge sense of relief. God planted the seed for this conference in Madam Jeune’s heart. He grew it by giving Diane and Jodi Hughes the vision, and He birthed it this week. I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.
With a grateful heart,
P.S. To my awesome husband Curt and my five beautiful children – Sarah, Grant, Katie, Alli and Paige – I love you! I’ll be home soon and can’t wait to squeeze you. Grant – we sang Light of the World, just not in opera.
P.P. S. Jenna says, “Congratulations Grace and Andrew. Hearing I’m getting a niece in a few months was the best news of the trip!”
- October 28, 2011