I recently had the privilege to visit a church that by all practical standards could be labeled “at the ends of the earth.” A team from Beaverton, Ore., wanted to see the facility and visit the people. I wanted to go along, because it was one of the churches we had not seen yet.
Pastor Guy was our guide, and he told us right before we left that we would be driving for two hours, and then would walk for one more hour. His comments were made nonchalantly, and we took them as such. After all, how bad can a one-hour walk be?
The road to get to Mirebalais, where we parked the car, was one of the better roads I’ve seen in Haiti. It was newly paved in many parts, and the ride turned out to be smooth. We were all thinking, “This isn’t bad at all.”
Once we were in the town of Mirebalais, the roads were dirt and gravel, bumpy and treacherous, but still none of us thought this was a preview of what was to come.
We parked the car at the end of the road. The pastor in Lascahobas—Rev. Success St. Louis—and his schoolteacher were waiting to accompany us up the hill. As I looked up, I saw a very high hill in the background and asked if that was where the church was. Pastor Guy’s comment to me was, “Don’t look up.”
Of course I wondered why he would say a thing like that. A few minutes after beginning the trek up, however, I quickly figured out why he had said not to look up. The trail was wide enough for only one person to walk carefully. There were lots of stationary and loose rocks in the path. The worst part was that the ascent was straight up!
Everyone in the hiking party was panting and sweating after 10 minutes, and we had to stop and rest. As we trekked on, we noticed the mountain people, old and young alike, walking up and down the mountains, some in flip-flops and some carrying wood or produce on their heads, which is customary in Haiti. I was in awe of these strong, resilient Haitians.
Eventually some of our party left me, and I slowly made my way uphill, persevering to the end. When I reached the top with Jim, one of our team members, and the Haitian schoolteacher, children and members of the church were there to greet us with big smiles and songs, and give us water to drink.
The church facility is an open-air, tin-roof structure with a dirt floor. The weekend before we visited, Pastor Guy was their guest speaker for the weekend to celebrate their four-year anniversary as a church.
He performed two weddings and six baby dedications that weekend, and on Sunday preached to a crowd of 150. He, along with a team from his church, evangelized this area over four years ago and led 30 people to Christ. This strong, growing church began shortly after that.
In the U.S., we would say these people are “poor as dirt,” but in reality they are rich in everything that matters. They love God’s Word and believe in its life-transforming power, and they have a community of deep relationships there on that mountaintop, where many of them have been for generations.
We plan to send teams up there (good hikers!) to help the people with medical clinics, clean water, education and more adequate church accommodations. Pastor St. Louis told us he is praying that someday he could have a permanent medical clinic to serve the mountain community. We can all pray with him for that!
The hike down was much worse that the hike up. But there were no regrets when I reached the bottom, as I remembered the command Jesus gave to “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15).
I feel honored I was able to go to a faraway mountaintop to people I never knew, and that I now know them as my brothers and sisters in Christ. I will return, and hope to take many others on this hike “to the ends of the earth.”
By: Debbie Booker. Debbie and her husband, John, are Foursquare pastors who have temporarily moved from Phoenix Foursquare Church in Arizona to Haiti, so they can help rebuild the devastated nation and minister to its needy populace. Read their blog at faithworksjohn.wordpress.com.