As we pulled apart the dirty bandage on his hand, the wound became exposed and a slight gasp came out of Josh and I’s mouth. The horribly done stitch job was finally visible, looking like a butcher had tried to sew together a piece of meat. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A hospital in the next city over did this work of “art” which consisted of slapping some stitches on a two flaps of skin that had been cut deep by a machete.
We had never actually met this man, Theodore, before but his son Yvenson had been coming to us for over 3 months for a routine cleaning of a deep infection on his leg. As Yvenson brought his dad to us hoping we could help, the story of this family got much more complex.
A few nights before, Theodore heard someone in his garden, as he ran out to protect his family and his plantains, a thief with a machete aimed for his face. Theodore reacted by putting up his hand and the machete sliced it nearly to the bone.
His words were filled with sadness, anger and now fear for the future. He began explaining that he uses his hands to work. He looked up at me with puzzled eyes and asked, “How can I farm if I can’t use my hands?” Not knowing how to answer the question I continued wrapping his hand and stared at the floor.
Theodore had heard rumors about the treatment of Haitian children in the Dominican Republic, but claimed he had “family” there. Gently and lovingly he explained to Josh and I how he thought this was his only option, to send his 3 boys to the Dominican to live… and work. With the oldest being only 14 and the youngest being 6, our hearts sank.
He told us that once someone told him they would help him and they asked him to bring his children to Port au Prince. When he arrived, the man started introducing the children to another man saying that this person (Theodore) was just a nice man that was helping, that the children had no mother and no father….immediately the father interjected, realizing that this man was about to sell his children.
Hearing this story. I desperately asked him to PLEASE not do anything immediately, to give me a few days to pray and see what we can do. He agreed, leaving with a small bag of beans and rice we were able to give him to provide for his family for a few days.
Discussing over and over with Josh about where Respire Haiti could use him, it hit me right before bed. Despite how simple it might have seemed, I knew it would be perfect for him. Now that our school campus is completely secure, we need a Gate Keeper during the day. Perfect!
As he came back a few days later, I explained what we had come up with and he was thrilled! Knowing that school didn’t start for another month, Josh and I wanted to just keep encouraging him (and giving him small amounts of food and medicine) so he could keep his children while we waited for school to start.
Unfortunately, his pain became worse and his movement of his fingers and wrist declined rapidly. He showed up one day telling us that he couldn’t feel his pinky finger and that he was in constant pain. Theodore had continued to grow in Josh and I’s heart so Josh decided he needed to go back to the main hospital and get another doctor to look at him. With this hospital being far and underfunded, it felt like a hopeless solution to both of us, but Josh wanted to pay for him to get tests. Nearly 10 hours later he returned with some green marks on his palm where they traced if he had any “feeling” there and that was it. No recommendation, no information, Nothing.
After this all going on for nearly three weeks of Theodore coming for us to clean his wound, we knew we needed to do something more or he could lose all feeling in his hand. Josh had the idea to bring him to the hospital where we recently had an operation done for one of our students. As he showed up that morning he looked a little different, a little happier. While I was getting our student, Elizabeth, ready to go to her appointment, Theodore began talking to Josh.
He described a dream he had the night before. A dream that he explained more of a vision.
There was a group of Americans surrounding him and praying in a language he didn’t know. He looked up at Josh scared and asked what was happening. Josh responded calmly, “We are praying for you.” As Theodore described his fear and anxiousness about what was happening, he said everyone continued to pray in English and Josh began speaking to him saying, “You will be healed, you will be delivered. You will not need surgery or to spend any more money on your hand.” In his dream Josh put a cream on his wound and then covered it back up.
He awoke and looked over at his wife who had accepted Christ only three days before. As he shook her awake he began telling her his dream. She sat up and asked him to move his hand. A little afraid, he sat up too, and slowly lifted his hand bending all of his fingers toward his palm. He then lifted his hand up and down moving it at the wrist. Wiggling his fingers, bending his wrist, and NO pain. He could FEEL ALL of his fingers. He could hardly believe it. He looked at his wife in amazement. His dream was true, he was healed.
As he explained this story to Josh on Wednesday morning, Josh was enthralled. When Josh shared with me Theodore’s story, Josh’s excitement had bred a little conviction. Conviction that unfortunately we had NOT gathered around Theodore and prayed for healing. A conviction that that was NOT the first thing we did when he walked through our gate.
As many of Respire Haiti’s staff heard the story, we all felt convicted but also sensed that God was teaching us THROUGH Theodore. Honoring the vision that Theodore had, we decided to pray that evening at 6:00pm. It was my task to invite Theodore to come to pray with us, however trying to reach Theodore was impossible as his cell phone was turned off. As we all sat on the steps of the Respire Haiti Guest House I suggested we start, thinking that Theodore would not be here (as he was not aware we were praying for him) but hoping he would know somehow.
Josh explained the story of Theodore, the severity of his hand and how the day before he was unable to move it at all. He went on to describe the dream that Theodore had and we continued to sit amazed at the power of our God.
As Josh bent his head to pray, we were all silent and sitting in awe of God’s power. A few minutes in, a knock on the gate, as I ran to open it I almost became disoriented as Theodore and one of his sons walked through our gate.
Theodore walked up smiling and began telling us about his dream again. Feeling like we should truly honor the vision the Lord had given him, we sat him in a chair and most of the Respire Haiti staff Americans, Haitians as well as our beautiful children and his precious son laid hands on him to pray.
Voices lifted up in English and Haitian Creole and the beauty of hearing these prayers for this man brought tears to our eyes.
As Patrick, one of our incredible staff members asked him if he wanted to declare his faith, Theodore smiled with excitement. In front of all of us he accepted Jesus as His savior.
The power in these stories is beyond convicting. We READ about how God heals, we have HEARD of His miracles, but do we actually have the FAITH to BELIEVE they will happen. I know that my heart, my faith and my prayer life have now been challenged.
God is BIG. He is awesome in Power and He is our Healer. I want to BELIEVE that, PRAY for that and have FAITH that He can heal.
“He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20