Yesterday was a very sobering day for me. It started out quite joyous. I woke up feeling great, which was refreshing after having a headache from traveling back to Haiti all day Saturday. We bounded off to work Monday morning, to get the teams started on their projects and get back into the grind of things. It is good to be back, but soon as we hit Haiti soil, I could feel us descending back into the spiritual battle that is raging here. God is doing such amazing things in Haiti and we have felt it, sensed it, as we are a big part of it. But because God is taking ground, QUICKLY, the enemy is raging. Since January it is like we have been preaching just one message in the church, to our youth and adults alike- purity, wisdom, obedience, being set apart... God has been speaking, warning, trying to tell His people, "HERE IS THE WAY, WALK IN IT!" And the enemy is not happy or giving up lightly. As we were heading out to Canada for a 10 day break, while we were still in the airport, we got news that one of our young church members had been arrested and taken to prison because he was caught kissing a girl that is a minor, even though he is barely an adult himself. In Haiti, there have been so many problems with young girls being violated and taken advantage of, especially since after the earthquake, that the law is trying to crack down on these kinds of cases. This young man's case was not one of these cases, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong person- a minor. It was like suddenly all the messages that have been spoken over the past 3 months came crashing in- not just messages Marc or I have shared, but the other pastors and missionaries and even other church members- all have been along the same lines. I will get back to this in a minute...
As we also shared with you already, there had been a wave of sickness passing through all of our LT missionaries and the past two teams that none of us could figure out. There have been talks of Dengue fever which I have never heard of being present here in Haiti before. Yesterday, Cathy, our long term Team Host who has not been well for the last 10 days, went for another blood test and was put on IV as soon as she got to the doctor's office. The doctor was concerned that her blood pressure was so low and turns out her blood work showed traces of Typhoid, which is never a pleasant word to hear. We try to do our very best to ensure cleanliness in the kitchen and with our staff. In this humid and now rainy season though, it is very challenging to ward off all germs. The mangoes and other ripening fruit come as a blessing, but also bring lots of mosquitoes and other bacteria as they abundantly fall and cover the ground. We are sad to share that Cathy will be heading home tomorrow, a week early at her husband's request to ensure she recovers more quickly. But, I am glad to see that she is doing better and beginning to get her strength back and everyone from the current team here is doing very well and strong. I realize that there is always an element of responsibility on our part to ensure the best hygiene and practices when it comes to sickness, but there is also a real spiritual element that is at work here, in this place, because of the work being done here. When things don't make sense, there has to be more to the story than just what our natural eyes see. Too often we dismiss the spiritual by trying to explain everything away in the natural. But I can feel it, sense it, know it that we are in a spiritual battle and we need more prayer and intercession!
The very sobering experience of this day was our trip to the prison to visit our young friend. Seven of us went- Marc, me, Archange, Sterling, Edmond, Leah, Madam Josue- I was the only white person. This was not my first time in a Haitian police station or prison, but it was the first time going to actually visit someone I knew. In Haiti, the justice system is not just. This young man is not a hardened criminal. He is just a young man who made an error in judgement. But the consequences of that error are looking very dire. The jail is not pleasant. I don't know of any jail that is, but this one is definitely on the lower end of the scale for comfort. There were two cells, each about a 10'x10' room, with 70 men in one and 61 in the other, all for differing crimes- kidnapping, theft, murder, kissing a girl... The smell was unbearable. There are no beds, chairs, mattresses or even toilet. There were three buckets, full of waste, being taken out of the cells. Those men who are fortunate to have family to visit them had clothing or small bags tied to the bars to keep their stuff off the ground. Some had jugs of water. If the prisoners don't have visitors they most likely do not eat. I did not take pictures, as that would have been inappropriate. The prison does not provide meals, let alone anything else. We were told we could not bring something for our friend without also serving the others in the cell, or it would be taken from him since he is the new kid in the block. So, we prepared enough food, soap, toothbrushes and paste for 131 men. They were more than appreciative! They even gathered in their cell to sing a hymn and asked us to pray for them all. THAT part was amazing. I was reminded about the verses Jesus spoke of those who are desperate and destitute, calling them to come to him. He is the only true freedom.
Fortunately, our friend was not in the cell at the time when we came to visit. He had been taken to the court for a hearing. He returned when we had finished the distribution and we got to visit with him outside of the cell. For being in such a situation, he was in good spirits and hopeful. We need your prayers!!! Please pray that whatever can be done to get him released will be done and that the justice system doesn't try to use him to make an example out of. He is a kid that has a promising future. If there is any hope or consolation in Christ, it would be for him.
So the battle rages on and those who are of the Kingdom of God, we are forcefully advancing. We will not quit. We will not back down. We will keep pressing on! What can stand against us? If our God is for us, who can ever stop us?