Teaching Them to Observe: Testimony by a LifeTeen Missionary in Haiti
“…Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Guest Post by LifeTeen Missionaries Paul and Anna Albert
Jesus understood well what it was to go and announce the Good News to people who have never heard it. In fact, he spent three years of his adult life doing just that. Can you imagine the challenge? Jesus had to go to areas where he was known well and others where he wasn’t known at all and announce that the kingdom of God was at hand. How cocky did that sound: for a man to announce that he is God, the messiah who was sent to set God’s people free from the bondage of slavery. No matter how cocky that may have sounded, it is the truth. Jesus Christ in fact is God, and he did set God’s people free from the bondage of slavery to sin. No matter how hard or uncomfortable it might have been, Jesus Christ never strayed away from the truth, he never watered down the Gospel. Rather, with great love, he spoke truth into the hearts of God’s people and he commanded his disciples to do the same.
In the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus commanded his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you”. Jesus instructed his disciples to teach only the truth, such as the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist (Matthew 26: 26-29), the establishment of the papacy (Matthew 16: 15-19), the mercy of God found in the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:23) and so on.
As missionaries we can sometimes fall into the temptation of preaching the love of Christ but leaving out the Sacraments, or inviting people to come back to the Church but forgetting to mention that the fullness of truth is found only in the Catholic Church. We very often tend to separate Christ from the Catholic Church, or the Catholic Church from Christ. As a Catholic Missionary serving in Haiti, it is my mission to lead all to the Sacraments. In the Sacraments we encounter the living God; it is there we are strengthened, it is from there we are sent back out on mission.
There is power in the Sacraments and if we lead people to them we have placed their souls and their very being at the mercy of God. In Haiti, we came in contact with this voodoo priest who for years was worshipping the devil and teaching others to do the same. At 23 years old, Mikael was the biggest and most popular voodoo priest in our area. He was consecrated to over 21 voodoo spirits, took part in evil ceremonies, including human sacrifices, and was leading many of Haiti’s young people to hell. Mikael desired to know the Lord, but the lifestyle he was living was all he knew and it was the only way he knew how to provide for his family. He was in some bondage. Each time we prayed with Mikael his situation only seemed to get worse. We entered into a serious spiritual battle and Mikael’s life was on the line. After months of prayer, discipleship, and catechesis, Mikael finally decided that he wanted a full life in Christ.
By the grace of God, Mikeal was finally delivered from this bondage, and that deliverance came by the sacrament of reconciliation. Mikeal is now on fire for the Lord and is going from church to church sharing his testimony. As Catholic missionaries just getting someone to declare that Jesus Christ is Lord is not enough, it is not sufficient to have someone come up during an altar call and publicly repent of his or her sins and accept salvation. It’s true that on the cross and by the blood of Christ we are saved. The Lord continues his work of salvation through the Catholic Church and souls are being saved by Jesus Christ, through the graces given in the sacraments.
Jesus Christ himself instituted all seven sacraments. Who are we to keep that truth from his people, especially when he commands that we teach them to observe all that he has commanded us? The early Christians lived into and taught these things, “And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Let’s not reinvent the wheel but rather use what the Church has been doing for over 2,000 years. Let us follow the example of the apostles as we go to the nations proclaiming Christ, teaching that the fullness of truth is only found in the Catholic Church, and as we advance the Kingdom of God here on earth, let us do this with great humility and charity.
Paul and Anna Albert