The trees overhead shade us from the sunshine, and for the first time since being back in Limbe, I think I almost hear silence. It’s late Saturday morning in Haiti, and we’ve taken a small group of the kids out for a fun day to swim at the waterfall. As we hike up to the waterfall, we pass the skinny little children and scrap metal shacks and voodoo houses. When we make it to the top, we’ve acquired half a dozen kids to our group along the way. At first, we stand and look, but before long, the kids climb the rocks and jump into the water. I sit on the rocks, enjoying the view and the laughter and the change of scene. And suddenly, all of the need here presses in hard against my chest.
Little boys behind me whisper and point to my backpack, where they know I have cheeko’s and peanut butter sandwiches. I’m trying not to notice his thin frame and boney smile. “Bum tikal.. mwen grangu..” Give me a little.. I’m hungry..
It’s not a situation I haven’t been in hundreds of times here in Haiti. Yet this one feels different. Maybe it’s because of the old woman we saw, picking through trash in the ditch on our way here. Or maybe because of the girl who came to the gate with an infected burn; the one we gave neosporin and children’s Tylenol to, and I can’t get her out of my mind 3 weeks later. Or maybe it’s this little boy with a killer of a smile, who followed us all the way up the waterfall hike.
For whatever the reason, today this place feels like it is just too much. And amidst the rock jumping and the beautiful day we’ve had, I find my aching heart crying out, “God..” The need looks impossible, and there are no other words but His name.
Inwardly I wrestle. Because I can give this boy cheeko’s and peanut butter sandwiches now, but what about tonite? I cannot feed him breakfast tomorrow or Sunday supper.. and I cannot feed him and his children and his children’s children for the rest of my life, teaching him to be dependent on handout’s from the white man.
And it’s in that moment, God reminds me of something He has been teaching me in the last few weeks. Something I have known, but am learning in a deeper way… that apart from Christ, all is vain.
I survey a culture so overwhelmingly lost and what I know is this: there aren’t enough orphanages, enough feeding programs, enough clothing drives or free medical clinics in the world that can save this place. None but Jesus.
The physical need here is overwhelming, the spiritual even moreso. And through my eyes -my human eyes with their narrow viewpoint- it can overwhelm a heart to the point where all seems futile…
But for Christ.
Those words. They change everything.
We finish swimming at the waterfall, the little boys who came with us climbing to the heights and plunging down into the water below one last time. We give them 2 bags of cheeko’s and a peanut butter sandwich to share between themselves as we begin the trek back down. I cannot deny the way it feels like not enough.
On the way we stop, because something about all this isn’t right.. with the translating help from one of our older boys, Stephen tells this group of half a dozen a story so dear to his heart, one that has changed his life. He asks if anyone has heard of a man named Jesus, and before long he and Kerlyn give an unplanned Gospel presentation right there on the dirt trail, beside the trash-filled stream and tin shacks.
I pray God knows their needs, that He uses a bag of cheeko’s and the story of a man named Jesus to work in these boys’ hearts. I pray we did more helping than hurting, that God used us to meet a physical and a spiritual need that day. My mind, it can think of the many ways it wasn’t enough… but for Christ.
I find myself resting in those words more and more.. everything I can come up with, of why the need and poverty and spiritual darkness of this place looks impossible to overcome, but for Christ.
It’s why we can wake up for one more day.