I think the first time I really ever felt out of my element in Haiti was the first day I was in clinic this summer. I felt so unqualified to do what God wanted me to do. But as you know, God worked through that whole experience and taught me a lot. However, two weeks ago, I experienced something else that was even more challenging in some ways.
With each team that came to Haiti this summer, we took them to Jeanty church one night (Jeanty is the name of a nearby community). It is a small but thriving and growing church. I LOVE going there; they are the most welcoming and loving people, and every service is full of heartfelt, lively worship. Pastor Julio’s wife works at Lifeline, and she asked me one day the end of July if I was going to sing the next time I came to Jeanty. I responded with, “Maybe I can do that,” thinking I was going to be leaving Haiti before I would be returning to Jeanty so I would be off the hook. Well, as it turned out, I stayed another month and had two more opportunities to return to Jeanty. It was on the back of my mind that first week that they may ask me to sing (in Haiti, there’s not a lot of warning about these type of things. It would probably be something like the Pastor seeing me from the pulpit and calling me out in front of the congregation to come up and sing.). There was a woman, Weena, on the workteam who I had become friends with and asked her if she would want to quickly learn a song and sing it with me in case they called me up. She has a beautiful voice and a heart for music so she quickly learned the Creole song. We got to church, worshiped with them, but they never called me up. Whew; got past that easy enough.
Well, a couple weeks later we returned to Jeanty; this was my last time going before I was really coming home to the States. I had kind of forgotten about the song thing until a couple hours before we left. I knew there was a chance they’d call me up, but they didn’t last time, so they probably wouldn’t this time. We got to church, and as I sat down, I realized I was sitting next to Pastor Julio’s wife. A few minutes later, she leaned over and, of course, asked if I was going to sing. I panicked a little…I didn’t have a partner to sing with me this time. I also get a lot of attention from the Haitian people because they know me from being there so long, and I didn’t want to put myself on a pedestal in front of the Americans to show off my relationships with the Haitians or how well I knew Creole. I tried to come up with every excuse possible to not, but she just was not buying any of it. After a few minutes of this, she said, “So can you sing?” I clutched my camera case so hard. See the problem was not singing in front of the Haitian people; it was singing in front of the Americans.
One thing that I love about Haiti each time I come is their heart for worship. They understand that when they worship, it’s not about a show or impressing the other people sitting next to them. They don’t debate in their heads if it’s okay to stand up, clap their hands, or raise their hands, because, it doesn’t matter what other people think. They’re not there to worship or please men, but God. I think most Christians in the States, myself included, so easily miss the point of worship in our churches because we are so concerned by these things and our appearance before men. I don’t consider myself to be a singer. I can sing in a choir, but I’m no soloist. But in Haiti, that doesn’t matter. There are Haitians who can’t sing a pitch, but they will stand up in front of a congregation and sing a solo to the Lord, and everyone just encourages them. I knew if I sang, it would mean so much to my Haitian brothers and sisters. This was no longer about attention for myself, but obedience and worship to my Lord.
I told her I could. A couple minutes later, I got called up front to sing. All my fears and inhibitions escaped me as I said, “I want to sing a song tonight, but I want to sing it to the Lord. I think it’s a song many of you know, so if you know it, sing with me.” And I began my favorite song in Creole: You’re holy, You’re good, You’re able, You’re mighty, You’re powerful, Lord. Everywhere on the earth people are singing You’re holy, good, able, mighty, and powerful.