HIS NAME IN HAITI
We are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so that we can do the good things He has planned for us long ago.
In just a few days I am going to Haiti.
My clothes are sprayed, dehydration salts packed, malaria pills sitting on the counter, ridiculously huge water bottle ready. I still haven’t quite figured out how to cram all that gear into one carry-on bag, though leaving all my girly goodies behind will certainly free up space.
For one entire week I’ll be sans make-up and curling irons, nail polish and all those everyday things I hide behind. Instead of a luxurious bubble bath at night before I climb under my down comforter, I’ll be showering in a moldy concrete shower and thanking God if I have enough contaminated water to rinse off.
The weather forecast is predicting 97 degree days, and we’re traveling at the tail end of hurricane season. And let’s not even talk about the potential for earthquakes…
This is me! Princess of the Prissy Girls.
Now I know what you’re thinking: What possessed Diane to venture off to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? Why didn’t she just write a check and send someone else, someone suitable, someone of Amazon strength and the courage of a warrior?
And since we all know I’m neither strong nor courageous, let me tell you the story that is compelling me to go…
I grew up privileged. Not rich exactly, but with more than most.
My dad, on the other hand, grew up impoverished. Dirt poor. By the age of thirteen he was paying his own way, not because his parents neglected him, but because they simply couldn’t work hard enough or long enough to put food on the table for their family of six.
That poverty drove my father to work his way through school and then up the ladder of his career to a position of respectable success.
And I enjoyed all the bells and whistles of Dad’s drive for security.
So when I embraced the Gospel in my teenage years I was faced with a dilemma: Dare I surrender all? What if the unthinkable happened and God sent me to Africa?
You see I’d been there. When my family vacationed in Uganda and Tanzania we stayed in five star resorts and “roughed it” in Land Rovers as we posed our way on a camera safari across the Serengeti Plain.
Yet even that trip unnerved me. Cockroaches the size of my fist, spiders engulfing a tree, a lizard left over from the dinosaur age. Freaky stuff for a seventh grade girl.
What if God made me go back?
Silly as it may sound, that decision to surrender was agonizing.
Could I live the rest of my life in a jungle hut eating grubs over an open fire? I remembered my parents giving me huge doses of Dramamine so I could calm down enough to sleep the one time we stayed in a grass-roofed structure near a famous watering hole. While others oohed and aahed at the elephants and giraffes as they ambled down for a drink, I was having an adolescent melt down over geckos on the walls.
Dare I trust God for bugs and bats and creepy crawlies?
After weeks of agony, I finally did. Full surrender… even if He sent me to Africa.
That was 37 years ago, and in all that time the closest I’ve come to cooking over an open fire has been camping at Lake Tahoe. Apparently, God didn’t need me to don my safari gear to minister to the natives. Or maybe He was protecting His people from the disaster of my meltdown…
So when I sat across the dinner table with Madame and Bishop Jeune and heard about the needs of the women in Haiti, I couldn’t comprehend the sense of urgency pounding through my veins. Nor could I believe the words that escaped from my mouth when Madame Jeune invited me to come to Haiti to speak at a conference for women in leadership.
But what has amazed me the most is that I want to go! Still, after hearing about the spiders the size of a dinner plate, and the bat that patrols the dorms we’ll be staying in, and the filth and poverty and disease…
I can hardly wait to get there.
When I asked my always-honest husband if he thought I ought to go, he was silent for a long stretch.
“Well…” he mumbled with uncharacteristic hesitancy, “I think only the LORD could have put this on your heart. No way could you have come up with this one on your own.”
A less than enthusiastic endorsement.
But He has put this on my heart. Achingly so.
I wake with their faces in front of me. Rich mahogany eyes, weary from carrying the weight of the grief of their world. Women whose hearts beat like mine but whose lives don’t include bubble baths after a long day of pouring into hurting people.
I see them. They call to me… won’t you come and give us courage to go on?
Courage? From me?
On Monday morning, October 24th, I’ll be boarding a flight across the world to meet these women whose eyes haunt my sleep.
I won’t be going alone. A team of warm-hearted, wise women is coming with me. Each has been carefully chosen to love on the Haitian leaders, to pour into them the overwhelming love of Christ— to bring hope.
We’ll be staying in the Grace Village compound and traveling in the back of a truck to a large facility nearby each day for the meetings. Women from all over the country will be making their way to this conference, some by bus, others on their own two feet.
They’ll be poor by our standards. Yet I have no doubt that we’ll sense our own poverty as we worship alongside these women who pay such a high price to serve in the Kingdom.
Will you pray for us? For the Haitian women who come? For me?
Will you pray that the same Spirit who has poured so much of His love and grace and mercy into my less-than-worthy life will splash all over these women as we gather together to lift up His Name in Haiti?
Will you pray that I will have courage to give?
From a heart amazed by His grace,
“Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous!
Do not tremble or be dismayed,
For the LORD your God is with you
Wherever you go.”