Written By Cody Hawkins, Missionary to Haiti Oct 2013
My heart is in my throat. It hurts. I am rendered speechless, and the tears come fast and free like they have been trying to get out for years. Why am I crying? One minute I was delivering my sermon, making point after point, sharing what God had given me. I paused for a breath and looked among the crowd, and the tears came.
Did what I see break my heart? Yes and no. What I saw gave me mixed feelings of sadness, love, joy and an overpowering sensation of wonder and awe. How could I not cry? I was in the presence of God. I could feel Him. There was a weight of glory all around us. It saturated our very beings. It was terrifying and beautiful all at the same time. What did I see? And what brought about this wonderful feeling?
People. Just people. Old men and women, their bodies bent over by the years, sitting upon hard wooden pews with no backs. Young children, their eyes bright and clear, smiling up at this white American whom they could not understand. All of us crammed like sardines inside a little block building hotter than a furnace in a place called Balumette. Breathing the same air, feeling the same oppressive heat and worshiping the same God.
Each person represented a life that God loves, a soul that He formed from the womb, a grand story just waiting to be told and a plan that could be used for His work. Each face held a smile, and their eyes shone with love. Love for their God. Love for one another. And love for the four Americans who showed up late for service. They genuinely love from the bottom of their hearts, and it is purely amazing.
All of this hit me like a ton of bricks. The magnitude of the Haitians joy and worship dissolved me into tears. I was not ashamed of my vulnerability but of my pride. I came to this little church on a Sunday morning with the intent of teaching the Haitians something, but the whole journey was a lesson in humility. From the boat ride in a hollowed out log just to cross the river, to the forty-five minute hike in the Haitian sun, to the elderly Haitian man who stopped to wash the feet of a woman who got stuck in the mud, I was being broken down and all it took was the loving eyes of people I had never even met. One smile from a little girl or boy and I was shattered into a million pieces.
I came thinking I was the teacher, but in reality, I was the pupil. The Haitians taught me sincerity. They taught me gratitude. They taught me thankfulness in everything. And they taught me just another aspect of how our Father loves us beyond comprehension. Thinking about Pastor Michelle and the congregation at Balumette, the hardships they have faced and overcome and their devotion to God and each other, I can honestly say along with the Apostle Paul, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”