Once again, I am delighted to share this space with Diana Thomas, zanmi extraordinaire and a regular visitor to Haiti. I am grateful for how she captured this powerful experience – perhaps a glimpse of what Heaven will be like when we worship together.
Kò Kris la t’ap fè lwanj Bondye (The Body of Christ praising God)
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of Justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18
Called to the courtyard by the sound of drums and singing, I step carefully as my eyes adjust to the pitch darkness. Up ahead a young man stands reading scripture by the light of a single street lamp. I am told he has been here for several hours praying and reading the Word. Twenty-five or thirty people, mostly women joining him, are praying and walking around nearby. Sometimes another person steps into the stream of light, picks up the worn Bible and reads. Someone starts to sing a hymn and soon the rhythm is beaten out on drums. Everyone is in motion be it dancing or walking or swaying, everyone is singing. Clear harmonies are woven together, Kreyol mixes with some English and all drifts up into the night.
When the singing fades, a friend, Nerlande, begins to praise God, hands lifted high, while one or two others cry out as if their hearts are breaking. They are pleading for help, for God’s deliverance, for others they care about deeply. This is the reason they have gathered here for the third night in a row.
The young man returns to the circle of light and I see it is Evenson, who plays the drum at church. He reads another passage, then shares his thoughts on the meaning. It is the story of Jesus telling Peter to cast his net again, though Peter had been fishing all day to no avail. And Peter, a fisherman of experience, followed the directive because it was Jesus who asked. Evenson asks, “Èske Jezi mande ou pou wete nèt ou ankò?” (“Is Jesus asking you to cast your net again?”) It is a challenge from this night that my American friend and I will take to heart.
After he is finished, other voices call out in Kreyol, “O God, You are great!” “You are mighty” “We give you thanks, Lord.” “We come to give you praise because you are worthy of all praise.” “We ask you to bless them, Lord.” “We ask you to protect them, Lord.” “Give us strength and courage, Father!”
Someone had an unsettling dream of violence and disruption happening at this place, an aide organization where friends have long lived and worked. Taken as a warning and a call to prayer, these believers came to thank God for the chance to gather and ask for His help. They have prayed and sang and read the word for more than three hours each night, the last night until almost midnight.
Eventually they will head for home and a little rest. Morning comes quickly as most will be up just before daylight, starting cook fires, singing and praying again with husbands and children. It is so evident that God is truly the center of their lives. He is their hope and their strength. He answers prayer. He is why they sing and dance no matter what the circumstances.
Outside that circle of light the night is inky dark. I stop to look up into the deep blackness that accentuates millions of stars in the dazzling canopy. I imagine them to be the bright eyes of the Heavenly Host peering down on this handful of believers. We are indeed in the Holy presence of God’s covering – a cathedral of His own making for His children who, here and now, are His body on earth.