Degaje and Other Lessons from Haiti

Sam Rainer

April 23, 2009


I had the privilege of going to Haiti last week to serve many of the missionaries there. I also had the incredible honor of preaching in Haitian churches. Our group partnered with Agape Flights, an organization that delivers mail and supplies to the missionaries. We stayed with the good folks at International Missions Outreach. I’ve listed some of my more memorable lessons from the trip.

The Degaje attitude. The language barrier is huge – it doesn’t take long to figure that out. Haitians speak creole, and I heard one term numerous times – “Degaje.” I asked one of the missionaries what it meant. It’s loosely translated “do what you got to do” or “make do with what you have.” They have limited resources compared to most churches in North America, but the worship was powerful, and God was glorified.

Confirmed calling by being on mission. I’m not sold out enough for God’s mission. And I take my own context in Southwest Florida for granted. But I went to Haiti without a computer, phone, or watch – those who know me realize how big a deal this was. I was determined not to let anything get in the way. We join God on His mission because we’re called to make Christ known, but one of the personal benefits of being on mission is the confirmation of God’s calling. The time I am most sure about what God wants me to do is when I am obedient to His mission. And the grass always seems a little greener when I’m not being as obedient.

Seeing the drama of God’s plan for redemption. God pursues people. He sends His Holy Spirit to soften hearts. He does not desire for anyone to perish. When I heard of repentant witchdoctors that became pastors, I was reminded of the powerful stories of God’s redemption.

Reinvigorated prayer life. In Haiti, I was convicted of how I don’t pray enough for hard things. I’ll pray for continued passion, discernment, and knowledge. I’ve never had to pray hard-pressed from two directions – desiring to stay on earth because of fruitful labor, but also wondering if it was time to depart with Christ. One cannot spend time with many of the missionaries without hearing of the eternal lifeline of prayer.

Refreshed appreciation for God’s joy. Haiti is a dark place. The people are poor by just about any standard. The government is corrupt. The land has been polluted by years of abuse. The powers of darkness have a strong spiritual influence. But the light shines much brighter in the darkness. I wondered why Haitian worship is blaring (my ears rang through my entire sermon). Then one of the missionaries told me that they want the community to hear it! The churches in Haiti are bright lights. God’s joy is clear in the eyes and smiles of the believers. And they share this joy because it’s the most precious commodity in the country.

God’s work is global. Being in a different context for a few days gave me more passion and new eyes for my own community. It’s good to go; it’s good to be home.

27 comments on “Degaje and Other Lessons from Haiti”

  1. This message touched me tonight. I needed to hear this.
    thanks for sharing.

  2. David says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights – thank you for leaing by example.

  3. Sam,

    Thanks for the encouragement. We are heading to Puerto Rico in two months and those are great reminders of how we need to prepare for that trip.

  4. Wes Bell says:

    Great stuff. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  5. phillip andrew manning says:

    send me an email about your services

  6. Andrew says:

    too much god. Praise this Praise that. Stop talking about god so much and tell me something interesting that people care about.

    1. Anonymous says:

      So true. God sucks.

      1. Kelly says:

        I DON’T agree with you! God loves you very much! AND THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TO MUCH GOD OR TO MUCH PRAISE! AND GOD CERTAINLY DOSN’T SUCK! please rember this and also rember that Jesus died for you and he loves you no matter what! 🙂
        John 3:16
        for god so loved the world that he gave his only son,for who shall ever belive in him shall not parrish but have an everlasting life.

    2. Faye says:

      My heart is broken for you, yes I will pray that God does reveals himself to you in a way that you can understand that praise is a wonderful way to worship a great and loving God! to see the real light in a dark world .It is wonderful when you relize that God is the light that brighten even the most darkest places. Even Satan can’t put out this light !!!1

  7. hello!!!
    I am brasilian and i study french…i has 20 years old.
    i want to study in haiti.
    you can help me(ajuddar-me)?
    my english is not well,isn’t?
    respond you,please…

  8. Semi Meo says:

    “good to be home”..very sad when good preachers only really feel at ‘home” when in the comforts of their real home.

    Best they DO NOT travel to the third world at all!!..or do they grave for some exotic preaching experience to brag about while the thrid worl they claim to evangelise still suffer in poverty and ‘darkness’..may be there is greater darkness in the politics, business and ghettos of US than in Haiti..may be..lets stop seeking spiritual trophies this side of eternity, PLEASE!!

  9. Semi Meo says:

    (My bad..ealier posted uneditted version…) “good to be home”…very sad when good preachers only really feel at ‘home” when in the comforts of their real home.
    Best they DO NOT travel to the third world at all!!..or do they crave for some exotic preaching experience to brag about while the third world they claim to evangelize still suffer in poverty and ‘darkness’. may be there is greater darkness in the politics, business and ghettos of US than in Haiti…may be we stop seeking spiritual trophies this side of eternity, PLEASE!!
    Airfare, hotel and other expenses of the “foreign trip” could have sustain a local third world pastor and hi church for months!!

  10. joe says:

    never to much GOD, never to much praise. pray for Andrew.

  11. Sandra says:

    Today is 19 January. I read this missionary description from April and in my mind come the Jonas way and God purpose for Ninive…
    Its good that perhaps nowday some moere people of Haiti met these drastic judgment days as christians and Gods child and as saved for Heaven
    Let be mercifull to each other! Thanks God for His huge patiente with this World!

    1. alex says:

      Great testimony, thanks for sharing. @Sandra i found myself here now and read youre post, it is strange because God gave me Giona to read today. We agree that God’s grace will conquer Haiti in the name of our Savior Jesus.

  12. Anonymous says:

    my name is haiti …
    i am here to help you..

  13. alex says:

    thankyou for sharing, now we pray for God’s mercy over Haiti and His grace over all.

  14. Abraham Onepeace says:

    Seek justice Pray for conviction.

    All praise to our Divine Creator for blessing the oppressed people of the earth with grace to survive their unfortunate existence.
    How easy it is for the privileged to feel content in gazing at the plight of the oppressed whose suffering, labour and profits have built the developed world.

    Darkness cover the developed world only it seems like light because we are content in our pleasure. May we hear good news from the hearts of the poor and leave our arrogance and pride for self sacrifice and humility.

    may the rich see it is their duty to recompense the oppressed for the profit the oppressors have gained.

  15. Aaron says:

    Only God can save you from whatever might happen to you spiritually. Nothing can save you from whatever might happen to you physically. And we never know what will happen or when.

    That is all.

  16. jocelyn morales says:

    we hope you rebuilt haiti from mozart schookl

  17. Wow, very touching. I understand these things.

  18. god is wonderful to me. he had saved me from death and now i am praising him even more. i love the lord my God and i always will. i am still young but i am so happy that God is in my life.i am praying for you people who do not belive in God and i pray that he will give you some kind of sign or mericle to show you that he is real.

  19. keenan says:

    its natural for humans to wonder why were here and what our purpose is on earth. god gives us a nice way out and answers the question nicely by saying he put everyone here for a reason. its hard for humans to accept were here for the same reason dogs fish and cats are here and we die and were dead theres nothing after that. for all the rational and enlightened ones out there i wish you good luck and for all the religious seeking what there purpose is, i ask you to continue to read your holy book to see that it relates closer to a fairy tale book than a history book. step back and really think for a while. the days of religion are behind us the world needs to move on.

    that is all.

  20. Dan Whiteman says:

    Thanks for the reminder of “Degaje”! Our Haitian brothers and sisters live with the lesson to “Make do with what you have!” They have no other choice. In many ways they are more content than those of us with much more than they will ever have.

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