Degaje and Other Lessons from Haiti
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.