Last night, I got into multiple conversations with various people on the day we had yesterday and it was a mixed bag. In my last post, I had mentioned that the events of yesterday were too much to process, and I was right! So I'll keep working at it :-)
Some were rejoicing in the witch doctor and his neighbor's new professions of faith. Others were a bit more skeptical. Of course, there is always the possibility that the witch doctor saw the money that was coming in at the GCA property and said, "it's a great time to be a Christian".
What about the second man? What really bothered a lot of the team members was that his girls looked sick and emaciated, while the man and his wife looked somewhat vigorous. Why? Has there been abuse? Is food being withheld from the girls? We left a lot of protein bars and water with the man and when we left, one of our team members said with a fierceness in her tone, "he better damn well give that food and water to the girls" (instead of consume it himself or sell it on the open market). Not only were the words of this team member appropriate, but they reflected the heart of Jesus when he gave a fierce warning to anyone who would dare to cause little ones to stumble.
So all this puts us in a tough spot emotionally. Do we rejoice in this man's profession of faith in Christ? Or do we let the questions around his girls' health bring suspicion and a demand that clear answers come forth. In a word, can we celebrate this man's profession of faith, if we suspect he has not been caring for his children (or even worse, has been abusing them)?
Let me start with this man and then next I'll share thoughts about the former witch doctor. Let's begin by looking at some foundational truths at the core of Christianity.
1) God is merciful and saves sinners.
2) God is just and destroys sinners.
Miroslav Wolf and his family suffered greatly in the Balkans in the 80s. Wolf once wrote that it takes the quiet of a suburban home in the West to embrace the notion that "God does not judge," or that He is a God of mercy but not of justice. Wolf wrote that; however, in lands sun-soaked in the innocent blood of men, women and children, where injustice often seems to get the final word, belief in a God who "does not judge," invariably dies.
3) We always rejoice when people confess faith in Jesus Christ.
4) We always "wait" for the fruit of Christ to emerge from a genuine conversion experience.
5) We also "work" for that fruit as well through discipleship and pushing people into accountable community.
We can be so individualistic in our emphasis on "receiving Jesus into our hearts," yet so much of Scripture would have us believe that you cannot receive Jesus the Head without coming into connection with the Church His Body ... no "wafflehouse Christianity" here (don't get me wrong, I like waffles :-)).
So with the man and his girls, We MUST celebrate that he has confessed the name of the Lord Jesus! That is an awesome thing. There is power in the name of Jesus! Yet, we must also move into this man's life with questions of accountability ... what does it mean now that you have given your life to Christ? what are your new priorities NOW in relationship to caring for your family and others? How will you now enter a life of ongoing repentance and daily trust in your Savior who has made you His? What needs to stop TODAY? And what needs to start? At Grace Chapel, membership vow #3 kind of sums it up, "in reliance on the grace of the Holy Spirit, do you promise to live in a way that is consistent with a follower of Jesus Christ?"
So one of our Haitian brothers Gie will do follow-up with the man in a couple of days. He will begin to study the Bible with the man. You see, ultimately only God knows the heart; yet, we sometimes forget in our rather narrow and cloistered world that God is in the supernatural business of delivering people who are in complete bondage to sin. He takes those living in darkness and brings them into His wonderful light. God is merciful and saves sinners.
However, if this man is truly perpetuating abuse on his girls and he refuses to repent of it, after having confessed Christ, then woe to this man. He will be punished eternally by a Fierce and Holy God who does not tolerate the abuse of children and the defenseless. God is just and destroys sinners.
What about the witch doctor guy? Again, ultimately we don't know a person's heart, but have we become so calloused that we can't celebrate a man who says, "I am now free because of Jesus!"? Nobody likes to be duped or have the wool pulled over their eyes, but isn't cynicism ultimately a way of seeking to maintain control, ... when we are not in control?
I imagine in the NT Church, the supernatural activity of the Spirit must have come at the apostles so quickly, that only later would they be able to look back and say, "wow, really, ... Jesus is truly building His church like He promised He would".
The witch doctor guy tore down all his VooDoo relics. Understand this is no small thing as VooDoo is BIG business in Haiti. Maybe the man saw dollar signs with GCA and made a business decision in the middle of a "down economy" (times are rough in Haiti, the demands for curses and spells are down right now :-)). I don't know. But he professed faith in Christ! He professed faith in Christ! He professed faith in Christ! Doesn't that make us want to leap for joy? Christian, rejoice that the name of Christ is passing over this man's lips!
Now the hard and arduous work of discipleship begins. But remember it is the Lord who wills and works, bringing all things under His sovereign purpose.
It was a wild day yesterday ... still processing. Thanks for listening. Keep praying please! Today is our last day. We come home tomorrow.