The Boy in the Street Light

by | Apr 26, 2018

Sitting on the edge of a well-worn, cement balcony in Haiti, twenty-year-old me looked out into the dark night sky and asked, “What is it you want to show me, God? Why did you bring me back to Haiti?” I had just come off my sophomore year of college and it was rocky, to say the least. I wasn’t a preacher’s kid, but with my upbringing, I might as well have been. My parents had a strong faith and were very active in our church. I spent so many Saturdays and Sundays at church, I can still draw an interior map of old Third Reformed, torn down in the late 90’s, with all the nooks and crannies. Despite this foundational upbringing, I was making poor life choices.

After one hard night of partying, the next evening I said to my college roommate, “I’m on a path leading to a place that I don’t want to be. Something needs to change. I think I need to pray about it.” So, we prayed. It was during this prayer that I heard a distinct voice talk to me. I heard it so strongly, that after the prayer, I said out loud, “I think I am supposed to go back to Haiti.” Two years earlier, I had gone to Haiti, after my senior year of high school. It had been a good trip but not life-altering. Now, God wanted me to go back? I had no idea what this meant. The next day, I woke up, grabbed some breakfast, and logged into my email. To my amazement, I had received an email invitation to go back to Haiti with Virg and Dorothy Dykstra, as a college leader for their high school team. There was no doubt that God wanted me to go back to Haiti– I’d heard God say so during that prayer and now there was an email asking me to go. God was obviously up to something, I just had no idea what.

If you let Me lead your life…I will do incredibly more than you’ve ever imagined.

Sitting in Haiti on that second floor balcony, every night I asked God, “What is it you want to show me that is so important to bring me back?” Somewhere around the fifth night, I was doing this same routine and my gaze caught something below the balcony. On a heavily worn, dirt road was the only streetlight in the entire city. Sitting underneath the light, was a 10-year-old boy, reading and studying for school. He didn’t notice me and I sat quietly, watching him for over 15 minutes. I felt called to pray for him and then an overwhelming feeling rushed within me. Thoughts flooded my mind: “You are here for people like him. I want you to be involved in the country of Haiti for the rest of your life for people like him. You are broken. He is broken. If you let Me lead your life, let Me be the driver of your car and you get in the passenger’s seat, I will do incredibly more than you’ve ever imagined.” At the end of that trip, I made a covenant with God, stating I would be involved in the country of Haiti for the rest of my life. I wrote it on a small sheet of paper and burned it up to Heaven, as my sign and seal of this promise with God.

In 2014, MercyMe released a song called “Dear Younger Me.” In it, Bart Millard, the lead singer of MercyMe, has a discussion with himself deciding what he would say to his younger self. While working on this week’s entry, this exact song came on my headphones and it stopped me right in the middle of writing. This never happens, so I took note, as this is usually God trying to say something to me. I quickly looked up the lyrics of the song and at the end, it goes:

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

As I reflect back to that moment in June 2000, emotions flood over me. I wonder what I would say to the ten-year-old boy under the streetlight and to that younger version of me. Then, like a revelation, it lights up in my head. I realize this has been the desire of my heart, ever since that prayer for the boy in the streetlight eighteen years ago. I want all people, Haitians and Americans, to know we were made with a purpose, with intention. We are holy, righteous, and one of the redeemed. Through Christ, we are set apart and given a brand new heart. We are free! And no matter what happens, through every mountain and every valley, through the heartache, it will bring us closer to who we were meant to be. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing! He takes broken things and makes them new, including us.

Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of a God who is calling us into mission with Him, whispering the good news to all broken people, and using them for His redemptive purposes. We are never too far from God for Him to use us for His glory. He can set free a ten-year-old, dirt-poor Haitian boy and a lost, ten-commandment-breaking twenty-year-old man. Thank you, God, for whispers in the night and confirmations of callings– even eighteen years later.

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