Okay, yesterday I was reminiscing about a missions trip to Haiti, long, long ago. You will find it here, and it will serve as our introduction. I brought up several things and then left them dangling, and so I want to hit one of them today before I forget.
I wrote of the girls sleeping inside the hut and the boys sleeping on the outside, encircling the hut. There was a reason for this, and I promised to tell you about it.
The main religion in Haiti is Roman Catholicism, but it is strangely mixed with voodoo. In Haiti, the preferred term is vodou. When we visited in the huts of the locals, we would often find little altars set up with candles, a small statue of Mary the mother of Jesus, several little vodou dolls, and a crucifix.
This in a hut that contained not even a bed or a table, but just a dirt floor and mats rolled up in the corner for sleeping. I tell you this to help you understand the importance of these items to them. They have sacrificed much to be able to own these things.
As you walk from hut to hut, you see skulls hanging low from tree branches. The missionary told us that not just a few of them were human. It is surreal.
I'm not an expert on the subject of vodou, but every night we went to sleep listening to the sound of the beating drums coming down from the mountains, where folks were participating in this vodou worship. We were assured by the missionary that those worshipers would not come down off of the mountain to harm us for several reasons, not the least of which was the number of boys encircling the hut for the protection of the girls.
Now, I might have only been twenty-two, but I was adult enough to not be greatly reassured by the thought that our safety from crazed vodou worshipers was dependant on those teenage boys from our youth department. I loved them dearly (and still do), but I knew them well. We talked often. I knew their weaknesses and insecurities. Even with the supplied machetes, I was pretty sure that we were toast if the natives became restless and decided to lay siege to our camp. :)
But the missionary assured us that we were safe, and we really were. There were several reasons for that that I'll not get into, but Americans are held in high regard there and if some crazed Haitian had tried to do us harm, the other Haitians would have risen up against him and taken him out. Haiti has a lawless society, especially way back in the country where we were.
I'll stop here long enough to tell you that the whole reason for being in Haiti was not for the adventures or the experience, but because of the heartbreaking situation that I just described. I could fill up two weeks worth of blog posts with interesting stories like the one about the goat, but it all means nothing without an understanding of the truth.
There is an emptiness in the heart of man. An emptiness that can only be filled by the true and living God. And without knowing Him, man will try to fill that void and need with his own efforts to reach God.
But all religion is dead. All of it. I don't care what it is. Religion is man's effort to reach and satisfy God. The sacrifices of man to try to obtain a relationship with a holy and righteous God. And it's all empty and useless.
We can't reach God with anything we do. Read Shed Jumping. All of our righteousness-- the very best we have to offer, is just filthy rags to God.
Isaiah 64:6 - "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags."
People need the Lord. People need to know what the Bible says. People need the truth. They need someone to care for their eternal soul. They are precious souls for whom Christ died.
Romans 10:14 - "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"
And there are some who sacrifice their own lives in bringing this truth to those who need the saving grace of Christ. They reach those who need to know that the shed blood of Jesus paid their sin debt and that they can be free.
We call them missionaries. :)
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