From the very beginning when I arrived in Haiti, I’ve always talked about this place being a nation built on slavery, bondage and voodoo. I’ve heard stories of Voodoo ceremonies, Voodoo spirits and demons here in Haiti, but never strongly experienced any of it myself until recently…
Last week as we started pursuing the land adjacent to Bellevue Mountain that we want to buy…we began to experience a bit of spiritual warfare. We’ve been praying for weeks on the mountain, during the morning, afternoon and evening. During our prayer time on the mountain we started seeing remnants of Voodoo ceremonies on the land. So we decided if they were going there at night, so should we, after all we were claiming the land for the Lord and for Respire Haiti.
So last week was the first night we went (our whole summer team of 12) and prayed on the mountain. You can read my friend Kat’s account of it here. Basically, right when we arrived, we interrupted a Voodoo priest doing a Voodoo ceremony. He walked up to us and said that the land was occupied and that we should go away immediately. We conceded and walked to the closest piece of land that Respire Haiti owned and sang, prayed and worshiped that night.
We decided to go again the next night to pray and sing. We saw a few people up on the land but they looked young, our age, so I thought they were probably just hanging out. Then Wadley (a Haitian who is an amazing part of our Respire Haiti staff) asked me if I wanted him to walk over and ask what they were doing. He walked over to where they were and talked for a little bit then came back.
As he walked closer, I could see that he was kind of shaking and looked upset. He said they were doing Voodoo and were about to start a ceremony but WE were in the spot they needed. I went over to talk to them this time with Wadley and Josh. The group of 30+ (because we had a team in, from Baton Rouge) continued to pray and sing.
As we walked up, we invited him to pray with us- he said no. We asked him what he was going to be doing- he said someone is really sick- doctors, hospitals haven’t been able to help- so now they were going to put him in the middle of a circle in the place where we were praying. They were going “to call one of the most powerful spirits” to come face to face and heal him. He looked at me and said anyone not in the circle will be hurt.
Not wanting to be disrespectful, I felt my heart laugh a bit as I knew MY GOD is stronger than what this guy was talking about….ironically, Wadley said he had the same EXACT thought :)
The young guy knew about our school and our English classes, he had actually been interested in taking them, and we encouraged him that night to come to one! As the conversation lightened a bit…an older man walked up with a large staff. He glared at me to make me know that he thought we were unwelcome here. We finished the conversation, I reached out my hand as did Wadley before we departed, when the older man grabbed my hand my whole body got the goosebumps and it was almost as if I could feel the evil within him. We all turned around as divinely, they came to the conclusion that they would do their ceremony somewhere else. So they left. And we continued to pray.
The darkness is SO evident here….Voodoo symbols and freemasonry symbols made out of sand, stones and other things on the ground, in a tree, in a hole in the ground covered by shrubs, all on the land we’re trying to purchase. Sadly, many times religion breeds confusion in Haiti. The Voodoo priest neighbor of our school recently told me that he also practiced a religion called Freemasonry.
I’ve been friends with him for a while, and have had MANY conversations. I’ll never forget how shocked I was the first day he told me that even though he did Voodoo he was still a Christian. That he always “prayed to God first before praying to the spirit of the sea.” My relationship with our neighbor has grown so much…it started with him wanting to pull down my sticks and barbed wire around my land (read about it here) and now our neighbor was speaking highly of us even to the guy whose Voodoo sacrifice we interrupted. We’ve been having even more conversations now that we might put a public water pump on his land.
There’s been so much that’s popped up with learning, seeing and experiencing more with Voodoo. One of our kids at our school randomly came up to me and said in 2009 he lost his brother to a Voodoo sacrifice. This 12 year old boy told me that his uncle tried to do this to him as well but he told me joyfully, “God saved me.”
When I hear these stories about my children here, in this community. My heart is saddened. The confusion that plagues Haiti is so dark, life-threatening and disturbing.
Voodoo. Bondage. Slavery. They are SO intertwined.
The land adjacent to Bellevue Mountain has been offered to us for a while. I’ve been praying about it for a few months, but never really felt like I should take a step until recently. The last few weeks the Lord put a sense of urgency regarding the new land and I didn’t know why…then I started seeing the Voodoo symbols on the land….then we met the Voodoo priests in person….and then a week later I received a phone call. An amazing phone call.
A few weeks ago we had two amazing, young, spirit filled guys spend some time with us in Gressier. They initially came down with the vision of building an orphanage…we were just excited to show them Respire Haiti and our school…their time here was spent talking about education, bondage, slavery and most importantly FREEDOM.
These two guys, Richard with Loving Orphans Global and Chris, were so encouraging and inspiring. We were so excited to have met them and were sad to see them leave.
And then one morning after praying on the land, over the remnants of a Voodoo ceremony done the night before, I received the phone call.
Chris and Richard called and began to talk about how God had really moved them in Gressier…how they just saw the Lord’s hand over what Respire Haiti was doing…. As Chris was saying all of this, my heart was smiling, thinking about how BIG God is and how HE has done SO much SO fast. The next thing I heard out of Chris’s mouth made me drop to my knees and I couldn’t even open my mouth to say a thing….
He said, “We are so excited about what God is doing and we want to support it. We would like to give you $125,000 to pay for the next 5 classroom building you want to build, and to help meet the rest of the matching amount for purchasing the land.”
My heart almost exploded. The Lord is so faithful. He is SO big. His urgency. His vision and persistence is SO contagious.
Kyle gets back to Haiti the first week in July and I have been telling him, we will start on the next building right when he gets back. But all along we had NO money to do this, and I just felt confident the Lord would provide.
And He did. Again.
It is NO accident that we wanted and pursued the land and THEN found out about the Voodoo on the land and KNEW the urgency and felt and saw it…and THEN received a matching grant, donations and the rest of the funding for it. The Lord will always and always does FIND a way for His Kingdom to be furthered.
Please pray for us- with all of the spiritual warfare happening please pray Respire’s team- courage, strength, endurance, unity and confidence. Please pray for swift paperwork for the land and most importantly please pray for all of those we have met ON the land. We are still going up to the mountain EVERY night to pray…we ask for you to please pray with us every evening.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4