On July 27th I embarked yet another challenge in my spiritual journey; I Co-lead a team to Haiti, my beloved country, to teach a group of some 200 students on what it means to live for Jesus! I have often been a part of many teams going to Haiti with the goal of introducing Jesus to the people, not realizing that Haiti is like, "the bible belt of the Caribbean". They've heard of Jesus and many would call themselves Christians but that doesn’t necessary mean they know and understand what it means to actually LIVE for Jesus. It's kind of funny that our team made up of all Americans would attempt to teach on such a subject since we, too, struggle terribly with that concept; though they struggle with voodoo, we struggle with our own idols.
On top of the challenging smells, these children struggled with the concepts of love; forgiveness and what it means to live for Jesus! I could not understand it because they've heard of Jesus; they new the songs, they have memorized key bible passages and even knew to "look" their best for church! I was so disappointed when they answered "hurt them back" when asked what should be done if someone hurts them. One teenager was adamant about her convictions, she even sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes at me for challenging them to forgive.
Each night I would ponder these issues, not able to make sense of their complexities. It wasn't until the last day of camp that Jesus cracked heaven open for me to see deeper, through one of my children. I took notice of him in the back of the church playing joyfully with one of the toddlers. The child had "booger goo" all over his face (as my son calls it), his clothes were dirty and I'm pretty sure he did not take a bath prior to coming to camp that day. But my son was caught in a joyful exchange with this kid that I would not dare touch. He went down on his knees, to the kid's height and they both exchanged great sounds of laughter through their game. My son accepted him "goo" faced and all, when I could not.
And the Lord spoke to me; Dieula, if you lived here would you not smell the same? If you found yourself living in this community would you not believe the same? If everyone in this community was only looking out for their own interest, would you be so inclined to forgive those who were trying to walk over you to get ahead? See dieula where you live in America, you are able to cover the stench of your heart with fancy homes, fancy clothes and education. Material wealth can cover many smells, so much so that you can fool one another but you cannot cover the stench of the heart. Dieula, What you see and smell in these children is what you fear about your own being!
I'm still pondering and processing these nuggets from God...but I walked away realizing that these children were living more authentically than any of us in the US; their outside actually reflect their insides. I can't remember the last time my outside reflected my inside. God is present to do amazing work with those who come to him authentically; no mask, no pretense.