So we got back from Haiti on the 22nd, but I haven’t updated this yet, so here goes a short (hopefully) post. There really is a lot to talk about regarding the trip, and just Haiti itself, but I will never feel like typing that much. So here are a few words.
Haiti is definitely not what I expected. This trip was an eye-opener. The landscape is beautiful, the climate is beautiful, the people are beautiful — and very friendly for the most part. The food is delicious and everything is fresh! The juice is to die for. The culture in Jacmel is so rich despite the poverty. The way they pray and worship there is amazing, and God is so tangible there. I think it’s because of the lack of distraction. Spiritual warfare there is different…it’s easier to notice, and from my perspective it’s more intense. And it’s not just because of the voodoo influence. It’s a big part of the culture there, but I think that mainly it’s just a different theater of war…the enemy uses different tactics. Here, we make it easy and don’t even realize it…which in itself IS the enemy’s strategy in America. Our routines, materialism, habits, social norms, fashion, fast-paced lifestyle, media, constant need to be entertained, and disposable society…those are what numb our senses. We get so stuck in our busyness and chasing the American dream – the “pursuit of happiness” – that we lose sight of spiritual things..the eternal things that really matter. We get distracted by looking out for number one, rather than just trusting God. We try to fix things instead of praying – what really sucks is when we pray but still try to fix it on our own. Where’s the faith in that? Our society makes unholy things “normal” to the point that we don’t feel conviction. Example: look how many Christians watch Grey’s Anatomy. That show is all about people having adulterous sex with each other. Because of our culture, we don’t take enough time to sit and be still, to listen, and to know that He is God. Because of our culture, we get wrapped up in meeting our own “needs” and ignore (or even look down upon) those who are really needy. Look at the number of homeless and poor people in America. Look how we are taught to treat them. Aren’t we supposed to tell them, “Get a job, you bum!”? Maybe they really should get jobs, but do we help them achieve that or do we just look down on them?
I’m not saying that America in itself is bad. There’s nothing I see morally wrong with having a good economy, or even individuals being wealthy. But I am saying that the enemy uses these things to distract us from what really matters and blind us from what’s really going on in the spiritual realm. It’s Biblical that it’s “harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”. What IS wrong is to get so overcome with greed and hedonism that we don’t love. What I’m saying is; we make it so easy for the enemy to distract us from our purpose, which is to love God and love people.
I’m also NOT saying that demonic influence is a problem in third world countries but not here. There is spiritual warfare everywhere on earth, but I think we’re too busy, distracted, and desensitized to see it. Not to mention that we are taught against recognizing it; believing in spiritual things is regarded as old-school religion, superstition, the occult, or “New Age”.
The key to the contrast, I think, is simplicity. People in Jacmel have what they have, and they don’t seem to concentrate on what they don’t have. In some ways, ignorance is bliss. Most people in Jacmel have never left the town, so they haven’t even seen what they don’t have. Thus they don’t worry about getting it. They live day by day, accepting life for what it is and making the most of it. Most people in Haiti don’t have jobs (80% unemployment), and they live off the land. Some of them work as taxis or sell crafts, art, or crops, but from what I saw they do it simply for a living. The Christians in Haiti know the real, deep meaning of Matthew 6. Because of this, they truly TRUST God. They are truly thankful to Him. They really praise and worship Him in spirit and TRUTH. They have seen Him provide, heal, deliver, and save — and they recognize these things as miracles. I think that contributes to their faith. I believe that if Americans would see these things, they would have greater faith as well. I think a lack of real faith is the main malady of American Christianity. That, and failing to live Spirit-filled lives, which I think stems from the same root. About spiritual warfare in Haiti: I think it’s because of the simplicity of life that spiritual influence seems so much more prevalent. People don’t have so many cultural distractions, so they have time to explore spiritually. This is incredibly awesome for those who turn to Christ, but incredibly dangerous and destructive for those who look elsewhere. Unfortunately, there is a lot of spiritual confusion there because their culture is so saturated by Catholic and voodoo traditions. It’s very normal for Haitians to visit a witchdoctor for blessings or healing — it’s just what people do. Thus there is a lot of demonic oppression. Some witchdoctors threaten women with curses to persuade them to have sex, which results in all sorts of trouble. Naturally, there are many children from this, but the witchdoctors don’t claim them or take care of them. During the week, we saw many voodoo temples, but very few churches (maybe 3 max). However, God is on the move there. Restoration Ministries, the church we work with there, is growing and is being used to further the Kingdom and save people out of mysticism. I love hearing about the testimonies of ex-witchdoctors who go to the church. Some of them were compelled by witnessing miracles done in Christ’s name, and seeing His power over that of their familiar spirits (like Simon the sorcerer in Acts). Going to that church is like stepping into the New Testament. Amazing! The Christians there really LIVE for Christ. They have the time to meditate and pray and really know Him. Further, they know how to really pray and they have amazing and powerful faith. They know that God provides for their needs, and they trust Him fully to do so. I have been learning about all these things over the past couple years, and my experience in Haiti was a huge catalyst. It was like seeing the result I’m striving for.
I hope nobody gets the wrong impression from this. Life in Jacmel is not a perpetual tropical island vacation. It IS a third-world country…the least-developed in the western hemisphere and ranked second to last in the world for abject poverty. I’m just saying that because of this, they don’t take things for granted and they count everything they have as a blessing. They know what it means to “rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS”. I will also say that despite their poverty they are generally very happy people. They need help with a lot of things, but they don’t seem to dwell on that. Sometimes I question if they “know” they need help. Or if it’s just our perception that they need help. I certainly don’t want to “help” them to the point that we ruin their culture. The culture is what makes Jacmel so beautiful. We need to help them WITHOUT Americanizing them. I could talk forever about that, but I won’t right now. I’ll just say that there are certain things we as Americans can do to bless Haiti, and I believe that not to would be sin. We are commanded to love and to take care of the poor, the widow, and orphans. And I’m not calling America bad…being rich should be counted as a blessing, so long as we are good stewards of what’s given to us. God is sovereign and there are reasons we are rich and other people are poor. We need to seek His will in that and be obedient to His plan.
Bondye beni ou