Two nights ago in the darkness of yet another power outage in Haiti, terrible screams shattered the night. We could hear the smacks of hands hitting skin, and shear terror being realized by someone in very dire straits.
Kari and I thought for certain either someone was being beaten to death, or one of the young ladies in our village was being gang raped.
To make a long story short (for the holidays and peace of mind) I walked to the house where the screams were coming from and shined my light inside. They told me there was no problem, but I could still hear someone crying. I asked the people to come outside, and a woman told me she'd only been punishing one of her children.
A couple of hours passed, and then commenced the most furious spiritual attack on our house.
For a solid hour, three or four men stood in the darkness beyond where we could see them, chanting and making voodoo.
They'd worked themselves up into a trance of sorts. They'd throw rocks, they'd clap, they'd yell things such as "We remember them!" Then they'd hoot and holler loud as they could.
What was heartbreaking to me was when I heard the voice of a young boy, with them.
They were teaching him the chants, training him.
After awhile the boy began to laugh in a very evil way, and eventually it was his shouts and growls that were the most offensive and bristling. A child? Really? You're bringing a child into this?
Morning eventually came, and the sun along with it, and of course the darkness did what it must, it fled.
For a couple of weeks a man in my village has been asking us to visit his brother's church, a few miles off the main road, and so we left with him, a bit groggy but still ready for whatever God might bring.
We came to a little bamboo structure, about the size of my mom's living room. It had pieces of old tarp strewn about the top, and poles of wood cut by machete, supporting the center. Inside, church was in full swing.
The Pastor was welcoming, and we took the seats offered to us while they finished with their Sunday School. I looked over the room, and immediately I was flashed with the eyes of dozens of little children. Almost the entire church was filled with them, and we realized instantly that there were hardly any parents present. The Pastor's daughters were teaching the little ones a new verse from Psalm 91. The teacher would start with her voice of authority,
"He who dwells..." followed by tiny voices, "He who dwells..."
"in the shelter of the Most High..." , "in the shelter of the Most High..."
"will rest in the shadow..." "will rest in the shadow"
"of the Almighty." "of the Almighty."
Then they would smile at me, and the teacher would say, "Ok. Again. He who dwells..."
A man stood to read from the book of Acts, the passage where the Holy Spirit came into the room where the disciples were waiting, and how it was like a mighty wind. At just the exact moment that the man said the word, 'wind', a strong gust actually rose up within our little church, so much that it even knocked over one of the supporting poles. A little one shrieked in fright. The Pastor set their minds to ease, telling them everything was OK. Then he asked me to give the message.
I told them the story of the Baby Jesus, the reason for Christmas. I told them that a great king tried to have Him killed when He was just a helpless baby, but God is so wise that He had His angels warn them. The king killed many baby boys, hoping to kill Jesus, but he still failed.
It's important to remember Christmas, that Jesus came.
And it's also very important that we remember something else...
He's not a baby anymore. He grew up. He died for us, for all of our sins, and He was raised again. And in fact He is a warrior. He fights for us. He protects us. He loves us. He knows every hair on our head.
God loves the little children. So much that Jesus actually warned us,
“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."
"Wow!" I said, "That's like me having a problem and going right to President Martelly about it. I get to walk right through the gates, right through the security. Right into his office! I get to sit in the chair right in front of him, and I get to tell him my troubles! I don't have to report to anyone. I get to go straight to the top guy!"
They liked that.
I told the congregation about our night before and hearing them train the little boy, in darkness, in the ways of evil. I told them how beautiful it was to contrast that with the morning and the light, with coming into this little church full of children. How blessed we were to see them training these little ones to trust in Jesus, to follow Him and turn from evil. In this place this is no small task.
Kari asked the Pastor where all the moms were.
"They aren't Christians." He said. "They don't believe."
He still invites all of the children to come, hoping to reach their parents through them. He said God told him to leave the city, to come and start a church, and for a year and a half he's been doing just that. He will be so richly blessed for his obedience.
"There is evil here," he pointed, "and over there." And there. It's on either side. But they don't give me any problems."
I thought of the men in the night, brewing evil in the hearts of the little one. They have no idea they've taken a bull by the horns.
“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." ~Jesus
Thank you for coming, Lord. For the courage to come as a babe, to live among us. For bringing light and warming our hearts. Thank you for Christmas and the chance to remember.
"Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. ” ~Hosea