It’s Monday, October 23rd. We eased into the morning with plans to meet with our missions host at noon at the Kendal Issacs Gymnasium. There, a large population of evacuees are housed. We excitedly prepared for the day ahead, a buzz in the house, filled with expectation of all of the ways in which we’d be able to interact and love on the survivors.
When we arrived people stood on the outskirts of the building, grouped together under palm trees or in the shade of the building. We spotted our host and she escorted us into the foyer of the gymnasium. An officer sat at a table and recorded our names one by one into a notebook. Then, two workers that knew our host, soon approached us and informed us that we would not be able to go inside.
It was shared with us that the process had changed and volunteers now had to go through a clearing procedure well in advance in order to gain access. This was because the evacuees were being housed in a government building and were here in the Bahamas illegally. The workers explained to us that the people housed here, which totaled well over 600 men, women, and children, were here from the devastated island of Abaco and were all Haitian refugees. The process has begun to deport these people back to Haiti.
I nearly fell over when learning all this. My knees felt weak and my heart was beating out of my chest. HAITIANS? How great is our God? He may have not brought us to Haiti but He brought the Haitian people to us! Are you kidding me, Lord!? You never cease to amaze!
Yet, still, we were turned away.
The workers shared with us that where we may be able to best serve was at the Donation Center. We took her advice and headed over to the stadium where this was setup. There, we talked with the workers and learned that donations given here were used to help the Bahamian people that came in through their social service department. They welcomed our help and we tossed on gloves we got to work sorting clothing bag by bag. As we sorted, we interacted with the staff who was so grateful for the support of our team. With all the donations coming in, it has been such an overwhelming time for them. Our service there allowed them to get a well deserved break. Additionally, we were able to drop off non-perishable food supplies and water that could be used to bless others in need.
As we continued to work, the doors to the donation center opened and we were advised that the Prime Ministers wife, the First Lady of the Bahamas, was there to visit. We had the opportunity to meet her and speak to her about the devastation. We also took the opportunity to pray with her for the entire nation. We prayed for her and her husband’s leadership, for their decision making, for protection and wisdom. It really was an honor to meet and chat with her. She was so kind and gracious, even telling us that the God we serve is her God, too.
After serval hours of sorting we departed and headed back to the house. On the ride home, the team expressed a multitude of emotions over the day. We were pleased to serve. We were overwhelmed by the kindness and joy the workers at the donation center took in their work. We were amazed to meet the First Lady of the Bahamas. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t share that the team was also disappointed.
Our hearts were hurting. Hurting for the Haitians that through conversations with many of the Bahamians we had witnessed such dissension between the two nations. Hurting that there was an entire population of people right in front of us that we felt we could not reach. Hurting, that a people that had come to the Bahamas for a better way of life, lost everything they worked to build in Abaco- including their loved ones- and would now be deported back to Haiti in a few weeks. We hurt for them. We wanted to step in and support, we wanted to pray with them, but felt stuck following protocol.
The team all relaxed a bit when we arrived home. Each, in our own way, decompressed and spent time with God. For me, that was a quick swim in the ocean, followed by quiet reflection. He spoke to me during that time loudly. I asked: “Lord, why did you bring us here, so close to the Haitian people and then put a wall in front of us?” I sat. I listened. And He gave me a word for my own heart and for the hearts of the team. I didn’t share it right then, but sat on it into the evening.
That night, we invited our hosts, Jewel and Chrystal, over for dinner. They brought their Mom with them, too, and it was so special to be surrounded by these three beautiful women chasing after God’s heart. It was a blessed time of fellowship as they shared with our team their stories of coming to Christ and the work they now do to lead youth within their community. I, personally, am so excited about the spark Jesus has lit between us and these women. Present day, there is not a Foursquare church in the Bahamas. That said, I do believe that the very first Foursquare Bahamas ministry took place tonight around our dinner table. I look forward to this continued relationship and to see what God is up to in turning that spark into a flame.
After our guests had left, we spent time in worship and devotion as a team. Thankful for the day and all that God had brought us through. It was then, that the team expressed a multitude of emotions. Some were thankful for the opportunity to pray with the workers. Our youngest team member even prayed with a twenty-two year old mother of three who had lost everything and was receiving assistance from the center.
Still, the team was disappointed by being turned away at the gym. It was with that sentiment that I knew the Word, given to me earlier by God, needed to be shared. That Word, was a series of questions. “How many times was my Son turned away? How many times was I rejected? Did it stop Me from showing love?”
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. And I couldn’t led this team as well without my husband by my side, but do very firmly believe we must always keep our eyes on Jesus. You see, we are so flawed as humans. Our expectations alone can cripple us. But we are not on mission for us. It’s not about what makes us feel good, feel needed, or feel filled. It really is and always has been about Jesus.
I’m always blown away with how He gives a word and confirms it through scripture or through another believer. I’m grateful for this team, their shared perspective, and a wisdom that exceeds all understanding. Jesus, we trust in You alone.
What are you up to, God? What will tomorrow bring? How can I serve You better? How can I be more like You? Teach us, Lord. Teach us. As I lay my head down tonight, I am smiling. Smiling because He is on the move in us. And that can only mean something great waits for us tomorrow.