Just over a month ago, we celebrated Easter. What do you “normally” do to celebrate Easter? Go to church, celebrate the Resurrection of JESUS in prayer, singing and fellowship? Gather with family and friends to eat good food? Find hidden candied treasures in eggs? Go to Haiti? Wait, what? Go to Haiti??
I was honored to go and celebrate the Resurrection of JESUS in Haiti many years ago. Having been to Haiti quite a few times before I knew it was going to be a very different experience, but I didn’t know just HOW different it was going to be. Haiti is a country of beautiful people, beautiful scenery, diverse spiritual expressions and many challenges. All were on display this Easter-time several years ago.
One of the challenges that Haitians face is a lack of clean drinking water in many communities, villages and cities. Hope In Haiti has been blessed to be part of securing clean drinking water to many people in the rural Nanwo community with two wells (and coming soon, a new well pump for Savanne Brule!). On a hot afternoon our team of misyone (missionaries), comprised of Haitians and Americans were resting and drinking some of this precious water when we heard what can really only be described as a very raucous parade. We were all curious so we looked down the street to see what was going on. There were about 50 people, mostly men and women but a few children. They were dressed very colorfully, playing drums and some horns, singing and dancing. Since we were just days away from Easter, I pretty much assumed this was something to do with the Resurrection of JESUS. I was wrong, very wrong.
I said, “Hey let’s go see what all the fun is about.” I was met with a shaking head and a “No” from Pastor Louinet. It was soon explained to me through our interpreter, that this was not a joyful celebration of JESUS’ resurrection, but rather a joyful, voodoo celebration of JESUS’ death, instead. These beautifully arrayed men, women and children were singing, dancing and playing instruments with all their might in the mid-day Haitian sun, celebrating that JESUS had been killed by evil! This really was a different Easter!
To say I was taken aback is a significant understatement. Our team was confused and concerned as this group of death celebrants were headed our way. What were we to do? Shut the gates to the church property, lay low until these neighbors made their way well past? Pray for them, of course, but not interact with them, right? Well, that was definitely part of our quick conversation, but as we prayed and talked, we were led by GOD’s HOLY SPIRIT to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Matthew 22:39) JESUS’ second commandment. We remembered HE said to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Ok so how were we gonna do this?
Then it was clear. Proverbs 25:21 says, “If your enemy is thirsty give him water to drink.” We prayed, gathered waters and went to meet our parading voodooists.
As I was headed out to the road, I’m sure GOD put on my heart; “You know they are celebrating the death of MY SON; someone should tell them the rest of the story.” Isn’t that what Easter celebrations are really supposed to be about anyway, the rest of the story? Romans 8:34 says, “Who is to condemn? CHRIST JESUS is the one who died – more than that, who was raised (emphasis added)- who is at the right hand of GOD, who indeed is interceding for us!” So there it was, a chance to be “ambassadors for CHRIST” armed with the full story of the good news of JESUS, smiles…and water.
It was a mixed response from our neighbors in the parade. Most of them welcomed the water, some did not. Most did not want to talk about the rest of the story but some did. Some even came into the church grounds for shade, water, rest and some conversation.
A start. An act of love.
Whether you are in Haiti or America or anywhere else, hungry or thirsty or well-satisfied, the good news of JESUS is that HE died for yours and everyone’s sin and rose from the dead to defeat sin and death. Who can you share the “rest of the story” with today?
“For our sake HE [GOD] made HIM [JESUS] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in HIM we might become the righteousness of GOD.” 2 Corinthians 5:21