I want to start off by telling you a story. One of the first trips we took to Haiti, we were in the car riding with a Haitian man who has become a good friend of ours – Christian. He is a very passionate, good, and caring man who works for Christianville. As we were riding down the road with him, a woman from another church asks him this question, “How do you explain the syncretism of the church in Haiti?” First of all, I barely know what syncretism (for a simplistic definition – it is allowing the belief system of another religion to creep into Christianity) is and I have been speaking English my whole life. So, of course, Christian asks her what she means by that question at which time she says, “You know, how there are many people who believe in voodoo and Christianity.” As I am listening to this conversation, I am cringing at the arrogance that this woman (and if I am honest I have many times) shows. How could an American possibly understand the culture of Haiti? How could someone who has never been to Haiti before now ask this man why there is so much syncretism in the Haitian church. I also feel bad for Christian who is completely confused by what she is asking. He actually says, “No, that cannot happen. You cannot believe in voodoo and Christianity.” He cannot understand how anyone could possibly think that a Christian could also believe in voodoo, and he was right.
I tell that story to say that I cannot speak intelligently about the Haitian culture. I have spent a total of probably 3 months of my life in Haiti and in that amount of time I could never speak for an entire nation/culture. I have read the oft-repeated quote in religious circles about Haiti – “Haiti is 90% Catholic and 100% voodoo,” but I have not seen that with my own 2 eyes, and I would never (at least on purpose) set out to describe another country based on the heresy of so-called experts who have never spent their lives striving to understand Haiti.
But here is one thing that I do know. I do know that the educational system in Haiti is not what it is here in America. Many pastors and church leaders have not graduated even from high school much less college or seminary. With that said, there is one thing that I do hope All Things New can bring down to Haiti – a GODly view on the Word of GOD. Jess and I have both grown up in church, we have studied the Bible extensively, we have been taught by well-educated pastors and leaders, and I have had the opportunity to have focused study in a seminary setting. What I have learned is that GOD’s Word is the most important thing in the life of a Christian. Singing songs to GOD is great, prayer is an incredible gift that GOD has given us, and our emotions can bring us close to GOD.
But GOD specifically communicated to us in one way – through His Word.
His Word never changes. His Word corrects, rebukes, and trains us in righteousness so that we may be fully equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16). GOD’s Word is our anchor, it is perfect, and it is the way that He chose to communicate to His children. His will is not hidden, His character is not a mystery, and His Gospel is clearly spelled out in His Word. I hope and pray that as we move down to Haiti, we can bring the training that we have received in GOD’s Word to a group of people who have lacked many opportunities to know His Word like we receive every single Sunday!
Please understand that there is no arrogance in this post and in this desire. I do not think that I am smarter, closer to GOD, or a “better” Christian than the people that I hope to minister to. I just understand that GOD has given us the chance to be taught and trained in a way that many of our brothers and sisters in Haiti never will. So here is what I am learning…
DON’T MISS OUT ON THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT YOU HAVE HERE TO BE TAUGHT AND TRAINED IN GOD’S WORD IN YOUR LOCAL CHURCH. I PROMISE NOT EVERYONE HAS THAT!
If you’re like me, you come to church never thinking about that. The privilege we have to be taught by full-time pastors and staff who have been trained on how to study the Word. To be led by people whose job it is to do nothing but worry about the spiritual welfare of their flock. I hope that we can bring some of this knowledge and training to the people that we love in Haiti.