Friday, June 28, 2013

Hidden in the Field

In the fields of harvest this week I walked up and down the mountain trails with my good friend Harold Herr with Life Literature, a ministry that gives free Bible literature to pastors.  Our two missions line up as if two pieces in a puzzle as we focus on magnifying the Word of God in Haiti. Harold is a man twice my age with twice the wisdom, and he can keep a good pace in the heat and humidity of Haiti.  He's been walking the hills of this country for years and years.  
When I think of the miles and mountains he's walked, I'm easily reminded of my inadequacies. I walk in his shadow, and I can't help but shake my head when I remember that silly American three years ago who first walked these paths, running out of drinking water, getting lost and coming so near to the end of my's a wonder I'm still alive.  I used to pack for every emergency and contingency, with every base covered and 2 water bottles, a backup filter, some food, a hanky, first aid kit, a whistle, compass and a map.   My oh my....

There is no pack these days.  What is in my hands?  A camera.  No water, nothing.  A little change in my pocket. and yet I'm light as a feather and free as a bird, all glory to God.  I just don't feel like I need any of the rest.   How things change...

Now I get to walk the hills, meeting with shepherds. Meek and mild, most are soft, gentle men long tempered by suffering and prayer.  In the eyes of the sages I see a thousand testaments to the faithfulness of our Living God.  Their wrinkles would fill volumes if they could bare witness.  

Kari plays with the kids that always seem to draw in for a closer look, kissing and tickling toes, playing Haitian Patty-Cake.  Harold and I soak together in like-mindedness.  I listen to his stories and then he quietly listens to all my wrestles.  I wait for his wisdom, which is always sweet and simple.  He's led a life filled with trials that have absolutely broken his heart, and still He knows God is teaching him.  Sometimes he stays quiet when I spill out my heart, and it's then I know he's just giving it to the Lord, trusting.  His greatest advice to me is his silent, quiet contentment to have been afforded the privilege to see so much this side of Heaven.   

Even our friend Pastor Pompee walks with us today.  His heart is so big to serve, he just wants to help in whatever way he can.   He points out Haitian traditions and customs, sings when it's time to lift the mood, translates when I get lost in the words, and points out to me all the dangers of these well-worn roads.  He is a quiet blessing that waits in the wings, an encourager. 

We all wait while my Haitian friend Mackendy inspects the churches, some no bigger than a large tent.  He sits and listens to these shepherds talk of their experience in tending the sheep.  Some of those sheep curiously wander into the church during his inspection just to find out what he's up to.  He takes careful notes and asks important questions, and then when he finishes we get to witness some of the fruit in the tiny glimmers of hope in a pastor's eyes as he thinks about what might be coming.  More knowledge, more understanding of the Word of God.  More peace, patience, kindness...

In these hills I feel like a prospecter from the days of old, aching in my bones and up to my knees in troubled waters, yet for the sake of those shimmering little sparkles of gold, flashing in the pan!   

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." ~J.C.

Isn't that just how things should be, rescued from the fire, snatched from the flames, saved from the clutches of an eternity without the warm love of our Father, shouldn't we be going about in joy?
When we breathe encouragement into one another and fluff the sails, when we sharpen the iron shouldn't the sparks fly? Some days I feel I might break out into a little jig, and who cares how silly it might be?  "YES, Pastor!  God's word is going to pour into your hills, and the enemy couldn't build a dam big enough to hold what will come flooding down.  Prepare to be inundated you devils!  There's gold in them thar hills.  GOLD I tell ya!"  

Now our friends have parted our company and have safely made their journey back to the capital city.  Tonight we breathe easy and coast a little on the coat-tails of the Majestic as we try to peek a little deeper into God's plan. 
We serve such an awesome God!  He's so often just too much. 
A cool breeze comes down into these flatlands and we hope for the electricity to come back on so we can all yell out, "Mesi Jezi!" Maybe another downpour is in the mix, the corn will even be content.  Tomorrow our own ministry of giving Bibles will once again prove the prevailing wind.  Kari will start to prepare for kids clubs and Bible classes.  In a few weeks Harold will come again and it will be time to partner again, to make way for the blessing of expecting the unexpected.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

To Shine

I often think about the words Paul used when he described what a Christian ought to look like if he or she is really doing their job.   If we're genuine, we should stink like sheep.  If we're true, we should taste like the salt of the earth.  If we've been forgiven, we should forgive so much that the words coming out of our mouths overflow with the sounds of mercy and grace, but it's what we should look like I'm left to consider most.   Paul says we should shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the Word of Life to a crooked and depraved generation.   Not some flashing blip of a shooting star fizzling out as it arcs the night skies...we're supposed to have this glowing, bright, squinting, put-on-your-sunglasses....'shine'!  Think of that!  We should be so fragrant to the soul in front of us that we literally just light up like a super nova.   

I was reading to my son this morning in the Psalms about how we are supposed to meditate on the Word of the Lord and consider His ways, and I realized we've never really covered the territory of that word, to meditate.   The best way I can describe it is this;  We should see the words on the page, and then ponder them.  We should chew on them.  Ask God about them.  Pray about them.  Not rush on to finish off the job, but kick up our feet, lean back in the chair, and really just....daydream!

We should look at those words and imagine that they aren't just flat, two dimensional ink on paper.  
No, No! We're just looking from the top down!  There's the epiphany of realizing you've just been flying around on Google Earth looking at everything from the perspective of the Moon, when there's valleys to dart through, oceans, mountains to climb! 
In fact, we should see those words and then imagine diving off the cliff of each letter, because in the Word of God there's hidden wisdom underneath and I've yet to discover the bottom.  Imagine a cake that just says "Happy Birthday!"   It's just like God's Word to us.   If we dare to dig deeper than the message, we will find there are layers and layers of sweetness, frosting and moist cake, and then even more frosting, down below!   

 I'd like to share a perfect example of what this 'shining' should look like in the here and now.   My good friend Oswald Pompee is a pastor.   I shot this image of him today as we were walking from a dark school room into the bright Haitian sunlight, and I forgot for just a shot or two to change my settings.  The image came out overexposed, but I realized I loved it, because this is actually exactly how I see this man.   He shines!  So much that some days when I'm looking at him I feel like he could very well be sent from God, just here to help me on my way.  His church is actually my favorite place to worship on Sundays, because I know God is sitting there too. 

We've prayed about three families most recently, and when God sent provision, we were excited to pass on the blessings to them.  One family was Pastor Pompee.  
When I first gave him the funds I told him it was God's blessing and to only give Him the glory.  Pompee told me, 
"Thank you God, and I think I know what I'm going to do!  I'm going to buy a piano!  The people in my village really love music, and this is a way I can draw them to come and listen to the Word."  He had a great big smile on his face.
"Oh, I didn't know you could play the piano." I said. 
"No, I can't.  Not yet.  But I will learn quickly."  He said.   
Three days later he came to me.  
"Well, I talked it over with my church council, and they think it's a good idea, but there are things they think should come first, like buying more tarps for the roof so it doesn't rain inside, and maybe putting cement on the floor instead of dirt so it isn't muddy.  I agree with them, and I'm so happy!"  He said. 

For the next week this man worked to the bone from dawn until dusk, every day, until today when he came to tell me the work was finished.
I shot a picture of him and his wife, standing in front of their church.  You have to cross the palm tree bridge to walk inside the bamboo and palm tree hut with newer, gently used tarps and a brand new concrete floor, complete with a new pulpit.    

"When it rains, the water stays out now and the people are so happy!"  He said.  
"We're going to make service tonight too. I got a new light that uses solar to charge during the day, so now we can make a light in the church at night! It's wonderful!"  I watch him beaming at the possibilities, the shear wonder of God and what He might do next!
When I stop and consider just that one word, to shine, that's what it should look like.   

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Booths!

Did you know God loves camping? It's true! In Nehemiah 8 after around 800 years of forgetting God's word, the people began to read about the Festival of Booths. Booths are just makeshift temporary shelters, a.k.a tents. They got all excited to rediscover such a treasure, everybody threw up their hands and went camping! 

The Bible says their joy was very great!

The people would pitch a tent, sometimes in their own front yard, and live in it for a week, cooking, worshiping, sleeping, you name it. They even invited friends and family to celebrate.

They did life for a week in a tent, all to remember the time they spent in the Wilderness with God...

I'll never feel bad about my itch to go camping again. 
It's Biblical. :)

Break out the gear, grab the sleeping bags, don't forget the burgers and the dogs, bbq sauce, marshmallows, your Bible, maybe a guitar, and then get outside! You will find great joy just waiting for you, maybe even in your own front yard.

I love how unstuffy my God is. I can't wait to roast a marshmallow with Him. I wonder how He likes them? Extra crispy or slow-roasted?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bob & Weave

I brought the motorcycle down the same back-country road where God broke me down last Sunday night. I found my new mechanic-friend Louis and handed the bike over to him. 

Immediately he began tearing it down. I was surprised how quickly it lay there in pieces. Broken bushings, shredded gaskets, and worn out parts were strewn all about, and I remembered all the times I told my wife I wasn't so sure about how sound this moto was. He showed me all the parts that were shot, shaking his head. I know he's thinking the same thing I am. I can't believe I made it this far. It's a SUKIDA, a SUZUKI knock-off, japanese job, but I've been greatly blessed to have it borrowed to me by my missionary friend Harold, so no complaints here.

I grew up snow-skiing in the mountains, and personally I think God knows I miss it. Now I'm going down these Haitian dirt roads that are rough as any mountain road I've ever been down, and dodging these giant water holes makes me feel like I'm slalom skiing, bouncing along between the moguls as I bob and weave. It's actually great fun and I'm grateful this is part of my work, however temporary it may be.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Yea, Though I Walk...

There are a people here who are standing for God, making a grave decision to follow Him. They are standing up to generations of tradition, willfully splitting from the religion of their peers, and that action of the heart is flying in the face of a very real enemy, so real that it's caused neighbors to pick up rocks against them. It's caused grown men to wait for them in the dark, to attack them unaware. 

All because they want to follow Jesus.

Yet when these saints open their mouths in worship, they practically raise the foundations of this church, still under construction. There is no band. No guitar. Just their voices, and it's enough!

It sprinkles rain. It could downpour at any moment. They have only half a roof and no walls.
They are a work in progress indeed, but with all of their heart, soul and mind they LOVE God. Their decision is grave and they know it, so when they sing for Him, they sing for all they are worth. They are all in. Sold out. On fire. They walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and they fear no evil. 

Tonight those sheep will sleep out there in the dark. In homes surrounded by their enemies, in a country devoted to evil. Turbulent whirlwinds of oppressions, hunger, poverty and lawlessness, will surround them, and yet God in all His wisdom will give them rest.  Unbelievably, He will place, in their hearts, love for the very enemy that stands ready with rocks.

What about you, little sheep?
Will you lie down in green pastures?
Will you have your every desire met?
Will you have all you need or want, all the protection and security, with blessings showered down on you...
And on that one day of the week, on Sunday, for 20 minutes, if you go, will you open your mouth when the band plays, will you lift your hands when they put the words up on the screen? When they dim the lights and make the atmosphere just right, will you yet not give your thanks and praise to your God? 

If you don't, if you choose to abide in your pride, then don't be alarmed when you see God coming with a hammer and a chisel. It may take years of pain, but He will accomplish His desire to free your hardened heart from the prison of which you've placed it. Remember then to consider your trials as pure joy, because He's only trying to bring you back from the dead.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


The village where I'm working right now in Haiti is undergoing some intense spiritual persecution right now. 

Last night they threw rocks at 2 houses, one with a man and his wife, and another with a young mother and her two small children. The people who are stirring up trouble in the area also attacked another friend of mine, and while he managed to get away, they did hit his sister with rocks, one in the arm and one in the side.

This morning I came to meet them. They were all tired from the rough night, but they still smiled at me.  The pastor gave a message on following God and trusting in His word, and then tonight they held a second service. I blew a tire on the moto on the way back out so I called to tell them I didn't know how late I'd be. I was on the National Road but I had no idea how far of a walk it would be next tire repairman. When I finally got the flat fixed and arrived at the village, I came up to the church and realized they'd all been waiting for me, over an hour.

As soon as I sat down I heard the words, "OK, so now we can begin..." I was very humbled, partly because I'd even considered just going back home, as late as it was getting.
Off in the distance I saw a young woman named Andrese coming down the road in crutches. I've been giving her a ride because she can't hardly walk. I ran to get her on the moto and drove her right in. 

The worship was so powerful. Here are these people, deciding to stand up for Jesus, getting pelted by their own people for it, and their enemies are all around them, literally. People they've known for years, suddenly ready to pick up stones and cause them as much harm as possible, and they are standing just beyond the church. You can hear their drums just around the corner.

And yet these faithful few continue to sing praises to Jesus, and they lift their voices. A small crowd of 30 turned into 40, then 50. I gave them the words of Jesus, " You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first."
I could feel the encouragement of the Lord pass through them as they received His words. 

I asked the young mother who'd had rocks thrown at her house last night if she'd be ok tonight.
"God will hold me." She said. 

On the way home I prayed as usual, 'Lord, please keep me safe and out of harms way, bring me back to my family.' it was dark and just as I was in the middle of nowhere the chain on the moto fell off and I came to a grinding halt. I was miles from anywhere, and with the last bit of my phone battery I called Kari to let her know I'd found a bit of a predicament. Just as I was beginning to contemplate how bad things could be, a man pulled up next to me on his moto.
"You doing okay?" He asked.
"Nope. I don't know anything about motos and I'm not sure how to fix this." I said. It was so dark I couldn't hardly see his face. There's no street lights in Haiti. 
A few minutes of him fiddling and he had the chain back on the bike, and then asked me to follow him to his house. 
"We have to tighten the chain so you can drive it." He said. 
Following him down this back-country gravel road in the dark I could just make out the word written on the back of his shirt, 


We arrived at his house and I came to find out that this man, named Louis, is a motorcycle mechanic. His home is his shop.

How awesome is that!? 
He fixed the chain and even oiled it for me, then gave me his number, telling me if I ever need help on this road to just call.I gave him everything I had in my pocket just to say thanks, and then made plans to also bring him my business from now on. 

When I got home a missionary friend told me, "Feel free to call me in a situation like that."
To which I can most confidently reply, 
"Thank you, but God had me."

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Doorkeeper

A man in my village died, and the verse they will give for his funeral program is a valiant one...'I have fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith.'
I sat thinking of how surreal it is that one day he is here and the next he isn't, and of course that's when we all start to reflect on our own timeline. For all I think I've done and seen,  the Bible says I'm but a puff of smoke, just in case I get to thinking I'm too big for my britches... 
That said I think I have my verse figured out for when my day rolls around, it's from Psalm 84:10, the latter half, to keep it short and sweet... 'I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.'

Monday, June 10, 2013

In the Midst of the Mob

Tonight I witnessed 200 people spark into an angry mob. They were shouting, then screaming, then raving. Within their ranks men were enraging the people as if they were stirring a hornets nest. Shouts of violence began to prevail as the crowd talked about cutting down trees to set them on fire, throwing rocks, stealing. Some were screaming at us to leave. Others were jumping up and down uncontrollably, and there was quick talk among the crew I was with to get into the cars and get out of there. 

I knew I had no right to ask anyone to come with me.

I took off my hat, and took the first step walking toward the mob. I had a flashing image of a roasted pig, hoisted on the people's shoulders with an apple in his mouth. I knew the pig was supposed to be me. My enemy was pulling out all the stops. Then I remembered 2 pastors and a wife that prayed for me this week to have the security and protections of the Cherubim, the 007's of God's Angel Armies.

I walked straight into the middle of the mob and touched the man who was inciting the people the most. I shook his hand and told him I'd like to talk to the people...

What do you think happened next? 
I think maybe you would only believe me if you were there. 

Instantly 200 people sat down, as if we were playing a game of Musical Chairs.
Within 10 seconds a raging, fever-pitched mob became totally silent.
God's Word was read to them. 
Galatians 5:19-25. About the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Hatred, jealousy and discord vs. love, joy, and peace. 
I spoke to them about Jesus. 
How He came for the sick, the hurting, the lowly, and how He loved them. How He raised them up, healed them. How He died for us. How we should follow His example. 

For the next 1 1/2 hours we had fruit-filled, peaceful dialog. There was so much serenity that the children of the village fell asleep at my feet. One little girl curled up with my hat and my Bible clutched in her hands.

THAT, my brothers and sisters, is the power of my God.
All authority is His.
Is there anything that He can't do?

Up! Up! Up! Go! Go! Go!

All Glory to Jesus. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess. If we are truly blessed and rescued, we have no excuse and nothing to wait for. We can see a little of His power here on this Earth, if we will but carry the flame out beyond the blazing lights of the stadium and into the darkest of back-alley shadows where no man would dare to go. That's where He does His best work. That's where you get to see Him shine!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Time for the Stones to Cry

Alma is one of the most humble Haitian women I've ever met.  Her faith is admirable and encouraging to me. She lives up on the mountain with her husband who is a pastor.   This morning they woke very early.  It was raining hard, and most Haitians high up in those hills would see the water running in the ravines and shut up the windows, calling it a day.  They'd hunker down for some coffee or tea, and maybe take an extra nap to wait for the storm to pass.  Not Alma.  
She was determined to walk down that mountain this morning with her husband, through the rain, through the mud.  She was fixed on catching a tap-tap to my house and she didn't care about the weather.  She'd had a vision and it stirred her.   Along with her husband another pastor arrived on my doorstep. We began our day in prayer, reading God's word, and in serious discussion.   

All she would say is that she'd had a revelation.  She didn't give any details other than she knew we were supposed to call upon the Cherubim for protection, because this was serious.  If you don't know, Cherubim are like the Seal Team 6/Secret Service/NSA of angels.  You don't mess with them.  They have 4 faces, the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle.  They are designed for protection, and the mere sight of them suggest they will eat you for lunch.  

Every time she'd look at me her eyes would fill with sadness and she'd look away.  I have a feeling she's seen more, but she was just keeping her chin up.   We walked to every corner of our house, outside the walls and inside.   She would sing a particular song,  I Surrender All, and then her husband would read a Psalm.  Then they'd commence with prayer, calling upon the Cherubim, and every time, at every corner, she'd recite a certain verse in Scripture.  

'If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.'  

From Daniel 3, the story of 3 men about to be burned alive for their faith. 

I don't know why, but I felt amazing peace.  
I have prayer warriors calling down the special forces, and I am blissfully ignorant in the Lord.  There's something wonderful about that.  I just trust Him, and I'm OK that He's got whatever under control! 

My prayers for my enemies have been sculpted over the past year, and I find I can pray this in absolute peace and comfort...
God, confuse them, confound them, frustrate them, turn them on each other, break their teeth if You need to, and only kill them if You have to.  Otherwise, turn them inside out and upside down.  Look upon them, lying there helpless in their blood, and then tell them to Live!  And when they begin to live for You, I pray they turn all of Haiti inside out and upside down, that they reach 100 times more souls than I ever will, like fingers stretching into these hills.  

In Scripture there's this moment when Jesus is coming into Jerusalem and the people are celebrating and shouting, whooping and hollering.  The scene is so jubilant and full of bliss that the passage is even titled The Triumphal Entry.

The Pharisees and the huffy-puffy's are all walking around grumpy and dumpy,  in a tizzy because of this unscheduled joy.   

Jesus knows what's coming.  He knows in the blink of an eye there will be a heavy cross thrown across His back, that shouts of joy will turn to shouts of mockery as He stumbles before them on the way to His own crime scene.    But that time was not yet upon Him.   The stuck-ups scolded Jesus and told Him to quiet down all the unruly's, and then Jesus opened his mouth to deliver words that have forever moved me.  
“I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Even the stones...will cry.
As my brothers and sisters cried out for the Cherubim today, my head was bowed in silence, and my one good eye opened.  I saw stones.  Thousands of them.  I picked one up and felt it's smoothness from the millennia it's been here before me...
I remember that I am but dust.  A breath.  A puff of smoke.  A wild flower in the field.   
Who am I, that He's even mindful of me, and yet He is?  He is so mindful of me that He longs to rescue me; so in charge of my security that He sends in the troops to then pray in the big dogs, and if through all that He deems it necessary to bring me home, then it will simply be time for the stones to cry.   

For now, I hear birds singing in the trees above my my house.  Hundreds of them.  I shared scripture with my neighbor this morning about those birds (Psalm 104) and his eyes were opened,  maybe for the first time.  Through his smile today, his gentle words translated to me perfectly that he was touched by the wonder of the Living God, and how much is truly in His hands...

My mission is clear.   Give His word.  
His Word is Freedom, what the Kreyol translates to Liberty.
God has the rest.  

Friday, June 7, 2013


We've been praying about pressing further into our village with a kids club, and God has been opening doors...literally. The children around here are thirsty for the Word of God. We will be working with a Haitian man whom I believe is called to children's ministry, named Vionel, and while we aren't sure if this will be AWANA or CEF or Good News, we know it IS going to include kids, God's overflowing Word, and fun. We aren't seeking to just entertain kids. We're hoping to equip them for eternity. For this reason we'd like to ask for your prayers in moving forward. 

 A local church and the leadership have already opened their doors to us. I'm giving the message there on Sunday and we hope to join arms with them.  I think their church is beautiful.

Our little village of Houck, Haiti is between other villages so there is no school and the poverty is great. The oppression is thick, but the people are hungry, Amen? We are also between two rivers, which is why we've nicknamed our place Mesopotamia, the Land Between 2 Rivers. The ground is fertile for a bountiful harvest I think. :) 

Please join us in prayer and lift up the kids here, from the babies all the way up to the teenagers. Nothing is too hard for the Living God.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This Much More

2 days ago mankind in all his infinite wisdom realized that our little corner of the Milky Way Galaxy is actually much, much larger than we previously thought. In fact, we now think it's 16,000 Lightyears wide, that is 94,058,008,659,974,580 miles wide... wow, ok, nice little tidbit of useless news...

But then I read this verse in the Bible: 'For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him'. Psalm 103.

Kinda puts things into perspective doesn't it? Just when we think we might have an inkling about God, He pulls back the curtain just a teeny bit more, and BAM, nope, sorry... I love you THIS MUCH MORE!

Back from the Brink

A quick update on Bee, the dog from the village of Little River, Haiti.

It's been almost 2 weeks, and she's definitely made the turn. She's a loving, smart and gentle dog, and at the same time, the moment she could get her legs under her again, she was ready for me to open up and let her out so she could be free.

She loves to dumpster-dive through the trash, except now she returns to the door after a few minutes of exploring and waits for us to let her back into her little safe haven.

I'm good with that arrangement. :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Shepherding the Shepherds

60 pastors I know came together for a seminary over 3 days. They came from the mountains and from the city, from the highlands and the lowlands, from the church of intellectuals to the church of fisherman, and God was glorified. There were young shepherds eager to cut their teeth, and old sages who've been leading their flocks for 40-50 years. The teaching was grace-filled and truth-filled, with deep insights on discipleship and leadership. Thank you to Pastor Terry Pollard of New Sharon, IA.