United in Him
|Jill Burrows Photography|
"Sometimes, when you're surrounded by dirt, you're a better witness for what's beautiful."
- Matt De La Pena, Last Stop on Market Street
Sunday morning we headed into the mountains to visit a small congregation, led by one of the Haitian pastors that was part of the training program. Our driver ran late, and the location was remote enough that we had to walk the last ten minutes to even get to the building, so when we arrived the service was almost over. Josh and I, as well as Sherry, were able to give a testimony on God's goodness in our lives, and then they closed the service. As we all stood for the last song, the air was filled with the voices of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, lifted in praise to our Heavenly Father. While I didn't recognize the words, I instantly knew the tune.
but that thy blood was shed for me.
And that thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind.
Sight, riches, healing of the mind.
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come."
They sang in Creole, I sang in English, and God understood every word. To be able to stand there, united in Christ with fellow believers in worship to our Creator, was a gift I will never forget.
After the first church service was over, we hiked our way around the side of the mountain to another service that was still under way. The sounds of singing grew louder as we approached, and I smiled as we filed into the building; past an older woman who was sitting just outside the door, swaying and singing as she smiled up at us. The building was a single room built into the side of the mountain, and I felt awkward and intrusive as people began to make room for us in the small space. Most of them had probably walked much further than us to get to church that morning, yet they motioned for us to take their seats. They weren't expecting us, but they welcomed us like family. In truth, I guess that's what we were, but my view of the church had been so narrow I'd felt more like a stranger than a sister. It was humbling.
The service wasn't anything fancy, and their worship team consisted of a single woman and someone playing the keyboard. Neither of them were particularly gifted, but they worshiped as if Jesus were right in the room with them. As I listened to the congregation join them in praise, I couldn't help but glance around and notice that they didn't need a fancy building, the latest technology, or even the most gifted worship leader-- they just needed Jesus. In their poverty, they offered up themselves and their voices as the only gift they had to bring. As it turns out, that's all that really matters, anyhow.
That Sunday, in buildings tucked away from civilization, we sang with the body of Christ, held babies of sisters we'd never met before, and stood on the roof of a church and prayed for provision. God used it all to remind me that His kingdom is not defined by time or space, and that it reaches across the globe, even to tiny little churches nestled into the Haitian mountainside. I don't know if I'll ever see them again here on this earth, but what a sweet reunion it will be in Heaven one day when we can once again lift our voices in praise to Him-- together.
"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, oh God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise."