“The More” of Haiti
When you simply drive by, this mangled place can appear overwhelming bleak and irrevocably hopeless. I mean it. If you don’t slow down and look in their eyes, you see only this:
* a mass grave where thousands of bodies lie under a mound of dirt, limbs tangled, all of them killed in an earthquake.
* tattered tarps flapping atop wizened sticks, posing as houses for whole families.
* toddlers, wandering with no shoes … and often no underwear.
* a little girl, curled in a ball with limbs askew, like her whole body is broken. Her mouth is gaping. A fly lands on her forehead, and she doesn’t brush it away. I’m not sure if she physically could anyway.
You’d look at this place, and maybe you’d wonder, where has God gone? Did He leave these people alone to suffer in this menacing, brutal world? I want to cry out. I want to scream: Where are you, Father?
But no. If that’s all I saw, I wouldn’t have been really looking at all. Because there’s more.
When you stop the bus — when you just stop moving long enough to see — you see that, in fact, The More is here. Yes, there’s More.
Jesus has moved into the neighborhood. And when I stop to look, I see that He’s here, for the brokenhearted. And maybe, I can be a tiny part of something revolutionary. I can be a carrier of hope, sure, but I can also be an awed witness.
I stand under the man’s roof, made of a loose thatch, and I ask him straight out: “What brings you joy?” A bold question, and dare I ask it? Joy? Here?
I’m standing in the mud puddle, right there in his house, when he tells me through the interpreter: “My joy and my strength come from the Lord Jesus Christ. My joy comes because I just took another breath.”
This, from the man who has to walk thirty minutes to fill his green, five-gallon bucket full of water.
I see revolutionary hope in the pastor, just down that dirt path, who invites us into his parsonage. It’s just one room, smaller than my Iowa kitchen. We pray over him, and he invites us to his church a few steps away, so we can pray a blessing over his church as well. He wants more of The More… On the way to the church, I notice that he’s carrying those type of plastic straps that I cut off of shipped packages and quickly discard. This pastor excavates those long, sturdy strips from the littered landscape, and weaves them into seats, onto discarded chair frames. These are the chairs on which his congregants sit when he preaches the word of the Lord from the pulpit.
Those tattered tarp houses? They are more than houses; some are homes of startling, jaw-dropping hope.
Those half-naked children? They want to hold your hand and tell you their names. And I stand and marvel at the revolutionary joy on a child’s face. I want me some of that.
And that girl, curled with limbs askew? I kneel down beside her, brush the fly away and tell her she’s beautiful. Her Daddy says he knows Jesus. And life is painfully hard, yes, but still this: He knows Jesus. And this is not his daughter’s home.
And in the orphanage, I cradle hope in my arms, hope for a new generation.
I cradle More.
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- Does God Care about Our Happiness? A Book Review of The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee - These Three Remain - […] seen a lot and she isn’t afraid to get in there and put herself in the midst of it,…
I’m so glad you’re there.
I remember flying over the coast of Haiti before landing and seeing the polluted water flowing down the slopes on the coast — such darkness and devastation. But, once my feet were planted on the soil, I met smiling people and discovered its beauty in each courageous face. I will never be the same! Praying for you…
A lovely post – thank you for sharing this with us.
Seeing “the more” an answer to prayer. Thank you for sharing the beauty. Just a few tears here…
Thank you for showing us the MORE that you see!
This brings tears this morning. Thanks for sharing more with us. Praying for you.
I love the pictures of those precious children!
Yes, hope, indeed! Hope in the love of Jesus Christ!
Thank you, Jennifer!
Tears of joy and hope and glory for the More….for you….for all of us….xoxoxo
Thank you for such a hope-filled post! My ancestry is Haitian, I’m 1st generation American, and our family grieves for the state of affairs in Haiti…
..appreciate words of life, of JESUS at work. Amen…
And there He is, right along with you. All of you.
Love to you, my friend.
Oh! That last picture! Slow down and find the glimpses of hope–the places where God is at work. Yes!
I’ve been thinking a lot about being desperate for Jesus — what does that look like in this life? Seeing these pictures makes me realize that the stuff that I have can get in the way of my being desperate daily. I want to cling to Him as my only security — when life is hard and when life is easy.
Amazing post — amazing pictures. You have stirred up something in me.
Thank you for showing us that He is indeed there. Even where at first glance it seems like He’s not. Blessings!
Jennifer, I can’t read these posts without crying. And to see YOU… to see you THERE… THAT brings joy to my heart!
Both of you will be forever-witnesses to The More of this devastated place for the rest of your lives. And both of you are calling us to step up, lean over and share the wealth. Our material wealth with them – their spiritual wealth with us. Beautifully done, Jennifer. And thanks for your tears, Dan. That speaks volumes about the kind of man you are.
Thank you for letting us know of their hope, their faith in a Sovereign GOD. Yes, there is more and you’ve shown us “some of that.”
Jennifer, you are beautiful. Truly beautiful. My husband goes to Haiti this summer.
I knew it~I knew it! I knew you would see and experience Haitian JOY! Isn’t it absolutely amazing!! Indescribable~unimaginable! Just like Jesus love for us!!
Thanks for the update! It takes me right back there and I am so thankful that you are there now for such a time as this! Praise Jesus!!
This is beautiful. And you took me back to the DR. I’ve been there on several mission trips. There is joy and if you slow down and open your eyes you feel it.
Love, love, love your focus here. Perhaps we could all use a bit of this . . . starting with praying for a broken heart — but not staying there! No!
A broken heart is good, but it is not *the end* . . . as you have so masterfully written here.
The end is that His hand is not shortened that it cannot redeem ALL into glory.
Eyes of faith definitely needed for what you are seeing.
Never, never, never without hope.
THANK YOU, Jennifer.
My teary eyes are so blurry I had to read it twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
Thank you. For allowing us to join you on this journey. To God be the glory.
All for Him,
I was just sitting in my chair this morning praying for you, Jennifer. Your post touched my spirit and made my heart ache. Thank you. I will continue to pray for you the rest of this week.
Awed by His beauty in all that brokenness. Thanks for having eyes to see
Thank you for sharing the More in Haiti and giving us a peek…praying for you and for all you touch with His love and yours 🙂
Oh my land, isn’t that the most beautiful church building you’ve ever seen? Since the body is the church and vice versa, maybe we’d all be better off to meet like that.
Prayers and blessings,
Thank you, Jennifer. I have been struggling with my concept of God letting such suffering happen. To read your story opened my eyes, reminded me that just as we remember God is with us in our small-in-comparison difficulties, God is with others when it’s life or death.
Argh. Am not explaining this well. Still working it out, I guess. But thank you, thank you, for sharing this story. It came at exactly the right time.
Right now I am thinking about how many times I have thrown away those plastic pieces from my package. Each time I snipped them off I wondered, “what can they be used for?”
I read your words, looked at the pictures and tears fill my eyes. I am sad but I also see the joy in faces, smiles. I am so glad you are there and will continue to pray for you.
What a wonderful post full of so much HOPE! Yes, those that died are in Heaven with their Father – those left behind have hope for the future. Thank you for serving!
Wow, Jennifer. Just wow. These pictures are amazing. I have been praying for you and your group in all this. Love seeing your smiling face here. Just love it.
I love that girl with her head on your shoulder.
And there’s something about how you look, too. It’s not the you I saw back in September. Same smile, but … something.
It is so amazing that in a place so littered with poverty that you can still find smiles, joy and hope.
THAT is what Jesus is about.
Thanks for encouraging me to look beyond the circumstances and see compassion in the hearts of people. Living testimonies that the Joy of the Lord is their strength! Powerful.
PS – the linky wasn’t working, so here’s my God Bump