Many Hands Organization Development Manager, Darryl DeRuiter, recently moved with his wife, Shelly, to join the staff based in Haiti. He’s applying himself to learning Creole and forging relationships among his teammates and the community. Darryl has carved out a daily morning routine to talk with God and review the previous day’s events. Keep reading as he shares about life from a new perspective.
Click here to read the DeRuiters’ blog, Experiencing Kairos.
The first morning after Shelly and I had “officially” moved to Haiti I went up to the roof of Irene’s Place to enjoy a cup of coffee, watch the sunrise, and have my morning devotions. My reading was simply the next chapter from the book and for that particular morning it happened to be Luke 5. I did not think anything about this particular passage as I began to read it. It was a familiar enough passage. I’d heard it many times and I likely had read it myself many times during my fifty-four trips around the sun. But as I read the passage on this particular morning, the words seemed to reach up from the pages of my Bible and tickle my face as I found myself amazed at how what was I reading now suddenly applied directly to what I was feeling and experiencing at that very moment.
The passage, among other things, tells the story of how Jesus called Simon (Peter) and Levi (Matthew) to be two of his first disciples. In both accounts, Jesus asks both of these men to try something new. He challenged them to do something out of their comfort zone and to do it in a manner that was far different than anything that they knew. He then invited each respectively to follow him. At that moment those ancient words heard so often but with minimal impact to me suddenly had relevance. “And they left everything at once and followed him.” What did that just say they did? I read it again. They left what? EVERYTHING! Why? To follow him. Suddenly I knew exactly what that meant for these two (and all of the other disciples). Before, I could only try to imagine what leaving everything meant but now I was living it. Shelly and I just recently left the life and world of familiarity. We left jobs and careers that we knew well. In fact, all that we knew how to do for vocation. We left the comfort of our home. We left our kids. We left our friends. We left the conveniences of stores and groceries and having everything that we needed to function without any duress at our disposal. We even left a dog (Numa) that we love dearly and who we are pretty sure loves us too.
I say all of this not to complain or to feel sorry for myself or to somehow self-promote my new life as a full-time missionary in a third-world country, but rather to point out a new revelation to an ancient passage. This helped me gain an entire new appreciation for all of those men and women who before me, including some new fellow-colleagues, left their everything to follow this Jesus into a world full of unknowns. And this revelation was just the beginning. As I continued to read from Luke, and later from the gospel of John and beyond, more and more passages began to have new and deeper significances to our new realities. Among them were passages about being sent and about suffering. Two more things that we can relate to in brand new ways now that we are living in Haiti. Caution Ahead – Transformation in Progress!
Just one year ago, this life that we are now living was not anywhere even remotely on our radar. But God was already at work of course and we can see that clearly looking back, but at the time there was no way we could imagine that we’d be sent to Haiti, called for a purpose, and that we would be suffering for the cause of Christ in a place where the spiritual forces of evil are less subtle but just as real as they are in America. We are doing good work here. As an organization, our impact is transforming lives and God’s kingdom is being expanded. I have no doubt about this. But I also have no doubt that Satan and his minions aren’t happy about this impact and I know that they are working hard to disrupt this work by causing harm and casting doubt. Multiple incidents and an abundance of illness have clearly communicated that someone is not happy about the work we are doing here. I haven’t embraced the words from James that mention pure joy as a bi-product of suffering but I can definitely relate to them and I do more fully understand the perseverance that is needed, and comes, by surviving.
The biggest revelation has come not through a particular passage but by what seems to be the most commonly used metaphor in scripture to describe Jesus and God. Light! Psalm 27 was the first passage that was read at my first daily staff devotions back in early August. It was read and talked about in Creole of course so later that day I went back and read it in English. For whatever reason, that ancient Psalm spoke comfort to me and I decided to memorize it. I now recite it every morning as I start my devotions and it continues to bring comfort and encouragement each day. It starts with “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear.” It continues to talk about God’s protection and provision even in the midst of enemies. While I don’t think I have any personal enemies in Haiti, I know that the Father of Lies doesn’t like it that I am here and is doing what he can to disrupt, distract, and attack me and my colleagues. But praise be to God that light always penetrates darkness. The end of John 3 talks about light and darkness and ends with the words; “But those who walk in the Truth come into the light so that it might be seen plainly that what has been done, has been done through God.” May this be true of my deeds as I walk in truth and into the light.
I’m not really exactly sure of what I am trying to communicate via this blog post other than to say that it took a change of vocation and location for me to slow down enough to experience the kind of revelations described above. I needed to get out of my own comfort zone and try something new. The words of the Bible are timeless and timely and so important to everyday life in Haiti (It’s important to everyday life everywhere but in other, less hostile, environments it doesn’t always seem as needed). I am (mostly) grateful for my new realities that have awakened my soul and that have allowed the ancient words of scripture to pour over me and to serve as my daily bread. I can’t wait to see what else God has to reveal to me. May you be encouraged as I have been encouraged. Bless God!