In America
In America I had trained to be on the home visitation outreach ministry for our church. I don't know what possessed me to join this ministry, because it was definitely something outside of my comfort zone. The focus of the ministry was to make people who had visited our church feel welcome by giving them a personal visit with the hope that they would feel led to join our church. We were trained in how to sell our church and we were trained to be able to offer the plan of salvation to the lost souls that we might encounter. We learned scriptures and we learned how to pray with people. One of the prayers that we were encouraged to pray was to ask the Holy Spirit to go before us and prepare the way for our visit. I remember thinking, “Dear God, please don't let anybody slam the door in my face and please God don't let them cuss me out.” Because I knew at that point in my life, if those things happened, I wasn't sure that my immaturity as a Christian would be able to over ride my maturity as a sinner with an inner city mentality.

In reality, on most American home visits we mainly visited through porch screens or slipped people information about our church through a small crack in their door. On one very rare occasion, however; we were actually invited in.

I sat stiffly face to face on the edge of a man's over stuffed sofa. After about 10 minutes of uncomfortable makeshift conversation we fumbled awkwardly through the plan of salvation. With sweat beading up on my forehead we offered him an invitation to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. The man hem-hawed around and confessed he had a drinking problem and that he wasn't married to the woman secretly hiding out in the bedroom until we left. He confessed that he honestly wasn't ready to make a commitment to God until he fixed those things.

A gate seemed to spring open under my armpits causing my deodorant to vacate the premises. I thought, “Game over. Let's go. God, hurry and get me out of this man's house before my body odor takes over his living room.” He was definitely more convicted in his sins than I was in his Salvation. I was startled at myself at how quickly I gave up. Later on as I lay in bed, I realized that Satan knew his job. I didn't know mine. I decided then and there. “Sorry God, home visits are not my calling. Good night.”

In Haiti
In Haiti the ministry of living the life of the "Good News" gets put to the test on our home visits. Our visit sites are usually chosen by the Mayor of the area, or a local Pastor. On other occasions we just take off walking and where the Holy Spirit leads…we visit.

A successful home visit depends on how dead to ourselves we are and how alive we are to our relationship with the "living" Lord. A productive visit depends on whether or not we have embraced the gift of empowerment that Jesus left for each of us prior to His ascension back to join His father on His Heavenly Throne. Time after time a home visit in Haiti hinges on the question, “Do I personally truly believe in the power and miracles of Jesus”

A victorious visit comes from listening to the pleas of the people and then evoking the Holy Spirit to use you to do something that will meet their needs. Even if it is going to take a miracle.

The Routine
If praying makes you uncomfortable, then you will not enjoy home visits or really understand what happens at home visits. On the surface a home visit consists of getting statistics about the family we are visiting, assessing their physical needs, praying for those needs and then giving them some beans and rice or food or toothpaste and soap or what ever we have been able to cram into our American backpacks. We ask to pray with the family, then we move on to another house and repeat the same process.

We travel with a translator. We will drive to a general location split into groups of 4 to 7 and then travel on foot. We begin by getting permission to come onto the property of the family that we are visiting. When permission is granted I say:

“Thank you for allowing us to come to your home. We come in the name of Jesus bringing you His love, His peace and His joy. How are you? How many people are in your family? Is everybody healthy?”

Usually we get a long list of ailments and pains.

“Do you use the clinic?

This is one of the areas where communication becomes a challenge. In 7 years I've not been able to find out how our clinic works. Initially I was told the clinic was free. Recently I was told by the missionary leaders that the people are expected to pay what they can, but no one is turned away. At least that is what I am told to my face. American to American. What actually happens I don't know. But I do know we make home visits to many, many people who are in desperate need of medical attention but will not go to our clinic for assistance. Their standard answer as to why?-- “we have no money to go.”

I see devastating things on home visits. I encountered a man with a huge rotting hole on his leg the size of my hand, a blind woman with an eye infection and gnats and liquid oozing out of her eyes, a child with a huge burn on the back of her leg and her behind who had fallen into the fire while playing. All on top of the usual yellow fever and extreme malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. One home had human skeletal remains in their back yard.

I was so moved with compassion on these home visits that I began to write notes for family members to be seen at the clinic. I fight for the people I see and insist that anyone bearing a medical note from me, must be seen at our “free” clinic. At first this seemed to cause challenges with the clinic and some of the missionary leaders, but a day later some of the other missionaries began to write medical notes. That summer every person with a note, was honored with assistance at our “free” clinic.

The Jesus Spiel
It was just a normal, typical, routine, home visit. I was spouting off the questions and noting the typical answers as I shifted from foot to foot in the horrendous sun.

“May we have permission to visit your home today? We come in the name of Jesus bringing you His love, His Peace and His Joy. How are you? How many people are in your family? Is everybody healthy? Are the children in school? How old are they?” Yada, yada, yada. Something inside of me pricked my boredom. Breaking my routine, I turned to one of the children and asked her what was her favorite subject in school?

“Mat.” she whispered meekly, using her best English.

“Math?” I smiled emphasizing the T-H. “My daughter, Diamond loves math.” I said encouragingly once again emphasizing the T-H.

I turned back to the mother and father (it is very rarely that we get to visit with both a mother and father), and said, “May we give you some things we have brought with us?”

As quietly as her daughter she said, “Wee”

After handing out toothpaste, miniature hotel soaps and shampoos, large baggies of rice and beans, and some mix-matched children's clothing, I asked, “May we pray for you and your family? Do you have any special prayer requests?”

The woman's immediate response was: “I want to know Jesus”

My breath left me and I almost passed out in the Haitian heat. The woman must have thought I didn't hear her, she repeated:

“I Want to Know Jesus”

Holy Spirit Go Before Us
As we approached her home she raised her
Hands to the sky and shouted in Creole
She walked around in a circle
Over and over again
Hands lifted to the sky
Tears streaming down her face
Laughing, crying and shouting.

She reminded me of the old time women of my youth
In the Black churches in America
Speaking in tongues I couldn't understand
Shouting glory and Praises to God
“What is she saying?” I asked the translator.
The translator said
“She is saying, ‘Praise God!
Thank you God!
For sending the missionaries to my home!”
And even before we could give her the meager rice and beans
She was on her hands and knees begging to accept Jesus Christ as
Her Lord and Savior.

There Are No Words
As the economy worsens in America, it worsens to an even greater extent in Haiti. Their government is not accountable to a binding constitution that provides social reforms. Haiti is not bound by civil rights amendments, free education and the pursuit of happiness clauses.

Every time I return to America I am at a loss of what to say, what to ask. There are no words in most American's vocabulary to describe what I see…pieces of a man's leg, hard and shiny as a leather jacket I once owned, surrounding a gaping hole full of greenish purplish rotting skin...a blind woman's eyes encrusted with what reminded me of potato chip crumbs, matted and feasted on by flies…children so emaciated standing before me in 3-D, as if they have stepped out from the TV at 4:00 in the morning from one of those "Feed the Children" infomercials. Swollen bellies on multitudes of children as if they were 9 months pregnant. Children who are 9 months long over due with hunger.

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