It's not such an uncommon predicament to find yourself in Ti Rivier. Fact is, more often than not a few extra prayers are sent up every time a coconut falls onto the tin roof. It sounds like a gunshot, ringing in your ears, and nothing gets the blood pumping faster, hearing a noise like that and opening your eyes to inky darkness.
But on this night, I began to walk the grounds of the orphanage and prayed a more specific, mission-centered prayer as opposed to my usual please-send-your-angels, one-in-every-corner, bump-in-the-night variety.
Last year while playing a game of Pictionary with Rose, one of the little girl's in the orphanage, she got very excited at what I was drawing and shouted, "You see my dream!"
In her dream the night before, she saw me, and then my entire family, driving with her all over Haiti, giving people bibles.
I told her that was quite the dream, and over time I began to search for bibles. I'm a Gideon, and I thought that if anyone should be able to get bibles for distribution, it would be the Gideons. After all, we place them in hotels all over the world, giving them away at every possible opportunity.
What I ran into instead was a great big mess of red tape. Not only was I told I wouldn't be getting any bibles, I also was not authorized to conduct any kind of distribution. Just before my last trip I tried to further talks with the organization to start a Gideon camp in the area, but again met with red tape. The result of trying for almost a year with the Gideons to secure bibles for Ti Riviere was this response from the International Outreach Division: "Try Bibles.com".
So here I was in Haiti, one year later.
I asked God simply, "What am I doing in Haiti?" Why do You have me here? What am I supposed to do, Lord? Does it have to do with bibles? Is that from You or is that just me? Please, show me. Show me. Show me."
The next morning began as usual and kids began showing up for me to take their sponsor photo. Usually we go out and hike to their schools, looking for somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 kids over 30 square miles. But, on occasion, some of them save me the time and come right up to the doors of the orphanage. Those are the kids who aren't playing around. They know what it means to be sponsored, and they aren't taking the chance that I might miss them when I swing by their school.
The first girl came right out of her pose as I was taking the picture and asked, "Can I have a bible?"
In photographing thousands and thousands of Haitian kids, she was the first to ever ask me that.
I found an old, tattered Creole bible in the mission house and walked up to Rose,
"Remember your dream last year, when you told me you were doing God's work, giving away bibles?"
"Mmmmm-hmmm." She said.
"Well, I thought you might like to have the honor of giving away the first one?"
Rose's eyes lit up and sparkled, and she handed the bible to the girl. We watched her walk back out the gates of the orphanage with a big smile. Her name was Lovely Charles.
Immediately after her, two older boys walked into the yard.
"Are you here for sponsor photos?" I asked.
"No. We'd like to have bibles."
Into the mission house I went again.
"Now you boys are going to keep these, right? Not selling them?"
"No!" they said.
"Please sit with me and read Romans 12 before you go."
And they did. Word for word. One of the boys couldn't read very well, so the other boy read with him, speaking the words clearly.
When they finished, they were very excited and thanked us as they left.
After that, one of the girl's I sponsor, Oberline, came down the mountain with her cousin Modeline, and the Sunday School Teacher in Kari could no longer be contained. She started a bible study with all of the kids. She began at the beginning with creation, and by the time she'd made it to the cross, Oberline and Modeline said they wanted to follow Jesus. Kari asked her if she had a bible, and when Oberline shook her head, that just wasn't going to do. Lucy, one of the youngest girls in the orphanage, ran straight to her room to fetch her own bible. She scratched out her own name, wrote in Oberline's, and presented it to her with a smile.
By that afternoon, another boy asked me for a bible, and there just were no more to be had. It was heart breaking to look into his eyes, with all of his poverty, and not be able to give him something that millions today treasure, all over the world.
Back in the states as we came to rest on Sunday morning at Assembly of God church in Brandon, South Dakota, the pastor asked us to stand and give a brief account of Haiti. Just as we began to sit he pointed at me and asked me if there was something more to say.
It felt like a kick in the pants from the Lord, and I stepped out into the aisle.
"I need bibles for Haiti. I'm a Gideon, but I haven't been able to find any. There's a great need there. I'm not asking for your money, unless that's God's plan, but I do need your prayers. I need your support." I felt my throat begin to tighten.
"Say that again." the pastor said.
"I can't." was all I could say. Hot tears came running down my cheeks and my throat closed.
"Let me see if I've got this right." The pastor said. "People.... in Haiti....need bibles? What do you think church? Do you think this is something we can get behind?"
"Yes!" came the overwhelming response.
"What translation do you need?" someone asked.
"Haitian Creole." I said.
"Let's meet this need, church." Said the pastor.
After the service, when all I could do was sob, I watched people filing out, putting their money in a plate.
"Stay for the second service and speak again?" asked the pastor.
"Absolutely." I said.
$619 was raised for bibles to Haiti. All I did was cry, but God still got the job done. And I've made up my mind that if all He requires from me is to be a fool for Him and cry, so be it. I don't need any fancy words, and I certainly don't need the spotlight. The glory is His.
Today, I'm starting a site. www.biblesforhaiti.org. The mission will be simple. Go there and give, or go there and find out where to pick them up in Haiti. That's the simple nuts and bolts of it. I trust it to God to raise up the ministry of His Word as He sees fit.
Now we're on to the task of finding where to buy the bibles, but one day soon, I know of at least 2 cases that will be at the orphanage in Ti Rivier, ready for the hands and feet to carry them up the mountains and place them into the hands of the souls who've hungered for them.