One of the most marvelous things that happens in missions is being surprised by God working in ways that you didn’t expect.
Our last week in Haiti I had one of those experiences. I’ll talk more about the trip on Friday, but for now I want to share just one story from the last day of one of the VBS’ we held.
My cousin Tim Dunbar, (a Christian school teacher from Virginia who had been leading that particular VBS in Croix de Bouquet) and I were doing puppets with the kids. We had a skit called “Saved from the Flood of God’s Wrath” that took the story of Noah and drew the parallels to Christ.
Now, to understand my mind-set by the time we finished the puppets you’ve got to understand staying in Haiti.
We were hot. We were tired. We were hungry. We were one day from being home. We were speaking through a translator and doing puppets without a puppet stage; trying our best at ventriloquism (and failing quite miserably). I was starting to feel the first tinges of whatever bug that got me down for the week after I got home. All these combined for a healthy dose of cynicism -for me at least.
“These kids aren’t getting it” I thought to myself.
“There’s not a connection being made” “No one understands” I was really very sure that this whole week was going to amount to a tremendous pile of nothing.
We finished the puppet script and put the puppets away. Gre, our translator came up and said we were having a change of plans. We weren’t doing the memory verse next something else was going on.
Still in my moodiness I thought, “Of course. Mismanagement.”
Then I saw the pastor of the church at Croix de Bouquet get up. Pastor Felbert is a great friend and an amazing man of God so I thought, “Ok, we’ll see what this is about.” Listening to him teach and piecing bits of French and Creole that I’d been picking up I realized what he was saying.
He was driving home exactly what we had been talking about: Jesus is the ark.
We’re all sinners. We all deserve God’s punishment. The only way to be delivered from wrath and to be united to God is by getting in the “Ark” – by getting into Jesus by faith.
Pastor Felbert asked for all those who wanted to put their faith in Jesus to raise their hands. Then he asked them all to come forward so the workers could pray with them. At the front of of the newly built church building there were two unfinished rooms. On one side we had stored the puppets and on the other kids began filing in as workers went to talk with the kids to make sure they understood and to take down their names. Gre and another worker came to Tim and I asking what we should do. A little dumbfounded I told them to sing quietly.
Sitting in my plastic chair watching the serious faces of children praying with workers and talking with Pastor Felbert about Jesus, the melody of “How Great Thou Art” filled my ears. The kids – around forty who hadn’t gone forward – were singing the hymn accapella.
Suddenly my heart was smitten as the words I had preached earlier in the week came back to my mind. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6.37)
Here were children coming to Jesus. They were coming in simple faith for forgiveness of sins. He had promised that all who would come to them He would accept.
My cynicism was crushed.
I went into the next room and started to cry. I sat against the wall on a cinder block and wept praying for the kids in the next room. I heard the movement in the doorway next to me and one of the workers had three little boys with him.
“These children want to be saved. Is it ok if I pray with them in here?”
With tears running down my face I nodded, overwhelmed that God would work in such an incredible way through us – even though I was being cynical and bitter and faithless. God was flexing His muscles saying, “It’s not about you. It’s about Me. It’s about my grace and my faithfulness.”
At the end of the VBS Pastor Felbert told Tim and I some thirty-three kids made professions of faith.