We were graced by the presence of Pastor Charlie this week. He is one of the Pastors who has an orphanage in Gonaives, Haiti that Good Shepherd has been supporting and sending it’s members to for over 5 years now.
During the sermon I was wondering how much of the congregation was understanding. It’s easier for me since I’ve been to Haiti and spent a lot of time with him. So, instead of reflecting on his sermon, I’m going to see if I can clarify what he spoke about.
You may have heard him mention that his town, Gonaives, is called the “City of Independence”. You may have also heard something about a 200-year contract with the Devil. Well, once Haiti was an Island of slaves, captured from various regions of Africa and shipped to the Caribbean island to work the richly producing land. It was once known as “the Jewel of the Caribbean.” Well, long story short, the slaves began to rebel, escape, and eventually take over the island and declare their own independence. They believed they were victorious
because of a voodoo ritual they performed in which they slaughtered a pig and made a deal with spirits of voodoo for 200 years of service. In 1994 when that 200 year contract was up, President Aristede went back the place where it all happened, Gonaives, and tried to renew the deal with the Devil. I know this all sounds strange or hokey, but this kind of talk is very common in Haiti. The spirit world is very alive there. Haitians basically either believe in the power of evil spirits or in the ultimate power of God and a Holy Spirit. Many Christians in Gonaives fasted and prayed for the better part of a year against this renewal of the contract. I have heard many stories about what happened the day that Aristede tried to re-enact the ceremony, but I won’t elaborate here. If you ask any Christian Haitian why Haiti is the way it is, they will tell you about their forefathers and about voodoo and the presence of evil in their land. There is a stronghold of complex poverty that plagues their country and there is really no other way to explain it.
Charlie was very restrained Sunday morning, only being able to speak English and knowing that us Americans aren’t very loud or passionate when we pray and preach. In Haiti, Charlie prays very loud and very long. He also breaks out into songs sometimes in his sermons…wait a second, I guess he’s just like Ted!
We did however get to hear some of Charlie’s passion. One phrase Charlie has been repeating all week is John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” He always struggles with the phrasing of this verse, so it comes out like this, “If the Son sets you free, indeed. You are free indeed. If the son sets you free you are free indeed!” That verse can be applied to so many areas of our lives, no wonder he’s been repeating it all week. What a reminder of the Gospel. What a strong statement against the spirits of his homeland. This is a phrase we need to teach to our inmost being. We need to stumble through the phrasing so that we actually say it multiple times before it comes out right.
Finally, Charlie mentioned the orphans in his care. God told Charlie that the children of Haiti are the only way to break this stronghold on their land. Charlie has 3 kids of his own, but I guess he wasn’t satisfied for God to just use his own kids, so he rounded up about 30 more who didn’t have homes.
Charlie has told me that his spiritual gift is prayer, so it was an honor for him to pray for our congregation. I hope you were blessed by his presence and I know we are all blessed to partner with him in his bringing and building of the Kingdom in Gonaives, Haiti.”