Faith is believing in something you cannot see. There are many who live solely by faith every single day of their lives. They truly depend on trusting something that can’t be seen. An outsider may ask, “How do they live by faith alone every day of their life?” If you had nothing – no basic needs, no one to depend on and possibly nothing to even live for, what would be your source of strength? How would you get through?
In the United States, most people have plans for their future. They know that what they work for in the present will allow them to attain what they wish for in their future. You generally assume that hard work in school will eventually land you a good paying job and hopefully allow you to have a family, money, and eventually a good retirement. Most are free to make plans, and most likely those plans will be successful in the end.
It breaks my heart to say that this chance of success is very rare in a third world country like Haiti. As soon as a Haitian child is even born the battle against them begins… childhood malnourishment, lack of any medical care, vulnerability to diseases, unsanitary living conditions, and less than 50% chance of going to school. And of that 50%, only 35% will make it to 6th grade. And less than 1% percent of high school graduates will be able to afford post-secondary education. For those who do drop out of school, what does their future hold? It’s not a promising one as many are sold into servitude, end up in the streets, or may even become pregnant at an early age where the cycle of poverty will begin all over again. How do families stay together under these conditions? How does a mother hope for the best for her child, when she herself is starving and without a job? Personally, based on these statistics, it is hard for me to comprehend how this country is even able to exist!
After growing up in Haiti and now after each return visit I make, I have come to realize and deeply appreciate the importance of faith in a Haitian’s daily life. The thing is, Haitians know full well that tomorrow is not guaranteed, but there is a Higher Power who can bring it. This is why Haitians do not like to say, “See you tomorrow!” or “See you next month!” because you are not the one creating tomorrow or the next month. It is God. The way we, Haitians, say, “See you later” is “Na wè demen si dye vle” meaning, “See you tomorrow if it is God’s will.” And this same thought process is applied to pretty much everything else in Haiti – “…if it’s God’s will.”
So, how do you have faith living in the slums? How do you have faith living with barely even four walls surrounding you?
Often in today’s world, if we see suffering of any kind, we ask why a loving God would allow this to happen. Some are quick to blame God if a criminal kills, if a child gets cancer or if they hear of a tragic car accident. Some people even blame God after failing a test or running into challenge after challenge. They question God and soon give up on Him. This is why I am so amazed by those who struggle each day of their life, yet hold strong to their faith in God! My eyes were opened to this recently on my last trip to Haiti.
The team and I were on a hike through the mountains of southern Haiti and during that hike, God used an elderly widow to show each of us what it’s really like to have faith in Him alone. This woman saw us walking and approached us and said, “I want to show you my house.” We agreed and followed her. When we got there, I started taking video of the house. As I looked inside, I thought, “This would never be a place I would want to call home. People wouldn’t even use this as a garage for their stuff, and yet she calls it her house!” She called it that because that is all she had ever known. She had lived there her whole life and probably had never traveled far from it in all her 75 years of living. As we got inside it, we all started getting very emotional. Tears rolled down our cheeks as we listened to her tell her story. She said, “This is my house. This is my kitchen and this is my bed room.” We asked, “Who lives here with you?” She answered, “Oh, just me and Jesus.”
This shocked me! Even as I write this, it makes me stop and cry. We asked, “How do you get food?” She said, “I pray to God and He sends me food. People will come and give me what I in need.” In my mind I’m thinking – how does she live like this? This is not a place for a human to live. Here she is a 75 to 80 year old woman, living alone. Her stove is made out of rocks that hold a pot. Her bed is six pieces of wood with a big hole in the middle. She has some plastic bags to put her clothes in. And the worst part, was what she used as a toilet inside her house. If it stormed, she had to find shelter elsewhere, and if it was too hot, she could not stand to be inside her house. But still, she called it her home.We all felt so bad for her and could not believe what we were seeing. We asked her if we could pray for her. The prayer took a while to start because none of us knew how to pray or what to say. Finally, when we were done praying over her, I just held her in my arms and she wrapped her arms around me. I told her my life story and what God had done for me. “As a child,” I explained, “I was very poor. I used to steal from people to find my own food. There were times when I spent days without eating, and I would wander around the slums.” As I continued sharing with her, I could tell she felt badly for me. She was talking to God and said “Oh, Lord he has suffered and he once had nothing.” I couldn’t believe her response! Here she was the one who had absolutely nothing, yet she felt so bad for me! I could not hold my tears any longer. I cried and told her, “God will provide a house for you soon and He loves you.” She gave me an answer that will be in my heart forever. She replied, “If God did not love us, He would have never created us in the first place.” Even in her situation, she still feels the love of God, the glory of God and His presence. That my friend, is faith.