The other day I read the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. What Christian doesn’t know this story? However, on this particular day it struck me in a new way, because I witnessed this happen before my very eyes. Of course I wish that the Lord had actually multiplied fish and bread in front of me, but what He did instead is probably more extraordinary. I watched a woman have real faith in His ability to multiply nothing into something.
I met her during my second week in Haiti. My mission partner Ronny called me over to her house because she was having stomach pains, and he thought that, being a nurse, I could help out. I grabbed my little kit and headed over quickly. With my incredibly limited Creole, I could only deduct that she had a bad bacterial infection, so we all headed to the little clinic nearby. The doctor at the clinic confirmed my assessment and we purchased Amoxicillin and Flagyl for her. We all prayed together, and then Ronny and I went home. As we walked home, Ronny said that this family didn’t get to always eat. M raises her three teenage children alone and doesn’t have a lot of work. Ronny told me that he had purchased groceries for them just days before because they had no food.
It was then that I learned a cold, hard truth about life in Haiti. People in Haiti may not get a proper meal except for every other day. I knew that this was a reality in both Asia and Ecuador, where I served before, but for some reason it hit me in a whole new way in Haiti. It is possibly because the extreme poverty in Asia and Ecuador can be masked by the presence of others who are very wealthy. In L’Asile, that isn’t true. There is poverty everywhere and many people I consider my dear friends are suffering this way.
A few days after our visit to the hospital, Ronny and I went back to check on M. When we got there, she was feeling worse and could not work at all. I learned then that she walks over an hour away most days to sell charcoal. Finally, it dawned on me: she was probably taking these antibiotics on an empty stomach. I asked her when she had eaten last. Do you know what her response was? Four days ago. Besides snacks, she had not had a proper meal in four days. Ronny immediately asked her to make a grocery list for us. This precious woman put rice, oil, beans and milk on her list. Ronny basically had to force her to also include canned fish, onions, and spices. For only 10 US dollars, we were able to buy a family of 4 enough food for about 5 days.
I did not get to see M after that for almost two weeks. This was around Easter time, so with all the activities of Holy Week, and our team’s quick trip to Dominican Republic at the invitation of a parish there, everything was so busy. I will also admit that I didn’t want to go. It is hard to look misery in the face. I felt hopeless for this situation because I assumed there was something very wrong with M. Her son had mentioned her stomach pain began months ago. I knew the little clinic here could not help her anymore, and we couldn’t get her to another hospital for at least a week. Every day I asked her son how she was, and if they had enough food. When he would tell me yes, I would sigh with relief and know that I didn’t have to go. Each time I visited, I would pray with M that Jesus would heal her and provide the money they needed for food and school. She would clench my hand tightly with faith, but I didn’t have it. I didn’t see how Jesus could save them. I didn’t have faith.
Thank God M approached the throne of Jesus with faith, because Jesus did heal her. I finally visited M again after another two week absence, and what I saw was a woman on fire for the Lord! When she saw me and my mission partner Joanna, she basically lifted us in the air she was so excited to see us. This was a big feat for a very thin woman! She invited us into her house and excitedly showed us the pile of charcoal she could now sell because she was well enough to make the walk to the markets. We sat down to visit with her and couldn’t get a word in because M spoke so excitedly! She repeated over and over again that she was doing so well, had no more stomach pain, and could work again. Then she said something so simple, but that made my stomach knot up: “Jezi te sove’m.” – Jesus saved me. She said that she prays for us everyday because we helped her, but she is truly happy because it was Jesus that saved her.
Jesus, forgive me and any of us who struggle with a lack of faith. I want faith like M, actually I need this kind of faith. Jesus help us to look in your eyes, to say “Save me”, and know that you will. Amen!
This is faith. This is what I didn’t have. M looked at a situation that appeared hopeless with hope. I did not. I can only pray to have this kind of faith, because M has no other choice. There is not a day that passes that I question if I’ll have food or not. If I get sick, I know that I will be cared for. M doesn’t have this luxury. Now this precious woman is doing everything she can think of to “repay” us – wash our clothes, clean our houses, give us a rooster. I’m not kidding about the rooster. She brought me to her house the other day to show me a rooster tied up in the backyard that she had bought for us. If only she knew that I wish I could repay her for showing me how to truly have faith.
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