Haiti. To the outside world, so much echoes in that one word – poverty, repression, suffering, despair, voodoo, corruption, frustration. As we approached to land, all these shouted to me, evident from the air, and as we drove for long hours throughout that wounded country the sound only intensified.
Yet, greater than the sound was the deep resonance of the Holy Spirit, the vibrant faith and passion of the believers, and the spirit of a people battered but unbroken.
Pastor Jeudilus Noel is one of the greatest drivers in the world! Driving in Haiti is a Navy Seal skill, surviving on the road is a blessing, and our dear brother drove us serenely through many dangers, toils and snares! He is also a man of vision and administrative skills. A real leader, God’s man for the times.
Pastor Jeudilus Noel (Pastor Samson) baptizing a new convert
You probably realize by now that this was my first visit to Haiti. A bonus for me was being able to experience it with Justin, Pastor Surbrook’s grandson. I told him that he is of fine stock for I know his mother, Lanee. We shared two years at KCCBS.
As Pastor Surbrook shared his experiences as a missionary in Haiti in the 1960s, showing us where he and his wife lived, certain things become poignant: sacrifice, devotion, legacy. The conditions Brother Surbrook lived in were eclipsed by his love for Christ and souls, and it showed in the light on his face and mist in his eyes as he recounted with passion. Now travelling with his grandson across the land he loved and served was a demonstration of the power of a godly legacy. The trip was a last minute, overloaded schedule affair for Justin, and his willingness to be there spoke volumes of the impact of a godly lineage.
Mark Surbrook and his grandson, Justin Skaggs
We arrived at Dos Palais for the workers' convention, and the warmth and dedication of the people were tangible. The services were blessed with God’s presence. Pastor Surbrook interpreted for us, and when he was engaged otherwise, Brother Renue, a gifted singer and songwriter, demonstrated Haitian hospitality and came over to interpret.
The people really enjoy worshiping. I was gripped by the cadence of their voices as they sang. The worship leaders and team were inspiring, and so was their ability to sit for long hours to hear the word of God. (Neither Pastor Surbrook nor I were the culprits!!)
Philip Gumbs preaching through interpreter, Mark Surbrook
I saw Scripture fulfilled as in a moment of passionate preaching, seventy-five year old Mark Surbrook, Director of World Missions, leaped from the almost-four-foot-high platform to the floor with the grace of an Olympic athlete. “Thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s,” (Psalm 103:5). Take that man off the senior citizens list. He ain’t no old man! The anointing is a powerful thing, brother!
From the Maillard church in Les Cayes that lost its roof in the recent hurricane, to Fond Parisian where the devoted believers worship on a gravel floor under a roof provided by World Missions, the devotion of the saints is so evident. The many young men at the workers' convention, the baptism of eleven new believers, the imminent commencement of three new church planting efforts – all these and more shout that God is at work in Haiti. They shout that the years of sacrifice and continued support are not in vain.
Education offers seeds of hope in this hopeless land. The tiny school buildings that provide invaluable education to hundreds of children are kept open by the faithful gifts of people like you. Please keep giving.
The grim story told by the stony, dusty, dirt roads; poorly built, tiny houses; joblessness; and the look in children’s eyes was one and the same – no future. Conditions will remain as they are. I felt the quiet despair. Those people are my daughters and sons, my brothers and sisters, my fathers and mothers.
Thank God for the goat program. We talked about a water program, too. A new church comer in Anguilla asked about sponsoring a child. I was encouraged by Pastor Surbrook’s sharing how we are looking into providing training in agriculture for a Haitian college graduate. This would enable him to provide critical agricultural knowledge and skills to our people across the country - a hand up rather than just a handout.
As I showed pics of my Haiti trip with my home church in Anguilla, I asked who would go with me next time. Several hands went up eagerly. People are asking how they can do more. People care.
Thanks, Pastor Surbrook and World Missions, for this opportunity. The Caribbean Conference is now better equipped to understand and assist. Yes, God is in Haiti.