haiti: experiencing god
During the first week of August, Chad and I were in Haiti on a mission trip with 14 students and 4 other adults with Adventures In Missions. As I've mentioned, it was the most powerful and meaningful week of my life. Because of what God accomplished in, around and through our group, I've been processing and writing my response to those experiences here on my blog. This is response #8 of 9. You may want to start from the beginning if you're just jumping in.
You may think I'm crazy after reading this one. That's ok. Maybe I am. I've read countless stories from the Bible of ordinary people who lived out their faith in God and had seemingly impossible events occur around them—plenty of people thought they were crazy, too. I mean, really…in Numbers 22:21, Balaam's donkey started talking to him! Try explaining that one. Remember Noah and Moses? And even Jesus made a reputation for himself because people thought he was crazy—they even killed him because of it.
We definitely experienced some "crazy" things while we were in Haiti. God truly moved in some unexplainable ways that left a big impact on all of us. You can believe me. Or not. That's up to you. But I can't even contain my excitement over some of the mind-blowing displays of God's power that unfolded before our eyes. These a just a handful of the "crazy" highlights…
While we were there, Tropical Storm Emily was being forecast to come through with full force over Carrefour. While our group was safe in a fortified, walled/covered house, our fervent prayers went out to the families we had personally met amongst the 630,000 Haitians still living in tents. The estimated 20+ inches of rain and 50+ mph winds would have given their stake-held tarps quite a beating. A tropical storm = death in Haiti. There is nowhere to take cover. You can bet Haitians were praying fervently, too. The crazy part? We were looking at a live satellite reading of the storm that showed it was directly over us, in the heaviest zone. Yet nothing. Maybe 15 drops of rain? And the heavy winds were simply warm-welcomed breezes that finally offered relief from the heat. For three days/nights, we praised God for the ominous, colorful skies that delivered NO storm at all in our area. Pictures posted to Facebook were the only thing that convinced our Stateside families and friends concerned for our safety as they tracked Emily. Crazy. (Crazy awesome.)
"Prayer" is a conversation we have with God. Just like with people, one-sided conversations aren't nearly as effective. While doing ministry, we focused on listening prayer in which we truly asked God to speak to us, and then waited for his reply. Each day we asked God what He wanted us to do and where He wanted us to serve. It never failed—each time, multiple people in the group were given a sense, a feeling or a vision of where God was leading us. Each time, it seemed crazy but when we'd get there, in some tangible way, God confirmed we were in the right place. Lew had seen a man-made ravine and described it in detail—when we followed the "clues" others received to go clean Pierre's school, the ravine was right out front. One student saw bags of water, which we found out were commonly given to people instead of water bottles. Someone else saw the number 4, which showed up right on the door of the orphanage we visited. Crazy. (Crazy incredible.)
Early in the week, one of our students, Abby, was facing some physical pain. Our group laid hands on her and prayed expectantly for God to heal her. It was an amazing time of genuine prayer and was an invitation for God to join us there and take care of the health issues that were distracting Abby. It felt like we were all of one mind and spirit; one faith. Abby began to feel better, and later told us that God had been doing a real work in her heart, too, during that time. We had witnessed a healing! Crazy. (Crazy miraculous.)
Turns out, the Abby-healing was just a warm-up. Later in the week we met 20-yr-old Jeff who is blind. But after God finished with us that evening, we were ALL confident that he won't be blind forever. It was the greatest display of God's presence that I have ever felt. You could hear praises and prayers for healing being lifted up in English and in Creole, whispering, singing, shouting. For more than 45 minutes (which felt like maybe 10), we all felt as if we were standing in the actual throne-room of God. There was prophecy being shared that Jesus was holding Jeff's face and looking into his eyes, rebukes of the devil, comfort and joy in the midst, and water being placed on Jeff's eyes. It felt as if the Holy Spirit was literally swirling through our tightly arranged group, in and around Jeff. If only there were colors—it would have been the most beautiful effect—I'm sure Heaven could see it. We rejoiced that night over the physical miracle we are all confident God will still grant for Jeff's eyes. I can't explain the feeling, but I know it is true. Crazy. (Crazy extraordinary.)
Some might say that God only spoke to people back in "Bible days". We did a listening prayer exercise one afternoon in which all of our names were written on a slip of paper. We each drew a name out of the cup, and without looking at it, placed the name in our pocket. We then individually, prayed that God would speak to us through scripture, words, images, or ideas that we could write down and give to that person. It was a bit scary, really—an exercise of complete faith. I think there was a bit of skepticism in each of us…did I really write down what God was telling me? Will it actually be meaningful to the person it's for? I hope I don't screw this up… After about 20 minutes, we all met back together and began to share what God had given us to write down, and then opened up the name of the person in which it was intended for. It was unbelievable! After each share & reveal, there were often tears that followed. "You mean, God wanted to say that to ME personally? And he used ME personally to speak to someone else?" Some of them meant something to a person instantly and clearly (often with a "I knew that was for me before you read my name"), while others realized the depth of the meaning of their "word from God" later in the week. But all 23 of us were spoken to in some way that afternoon. SO powerful. Crazy. (Crazy personal.)
"What is impossible for people is possible with God." -Luke 18:27
These experiences (and so many others) remind me that God is REAL. He is ACTIVE. Even in displays of His grand power and authority, I felt God's love on an intimate, personal level. God did not create us just to cast us out into the world to figure out on our own. He has a plan for our lives that he wants to share with us. It is a good and perfect plan, individually crafted to suit our uniqueness. If we come to him with faith and expectation, he will answer our call. What is God trying to say to you?
Read the next response (#9 of 9).