By definition a miracle is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.” I simply call a miracle “a parting in the natural so the supernatural breaks in!” When God is performing such a breakthrough, sometimes all we can do is stand back and watch it unfold with mouths wide open!
I had the chance to be such a spectator when His supernatural plans all came together in a country not far from the US but that seems a world away.
My introduction to this land came in 2009. A few years before, my sister Laila and I, felt a passion to do something about the overwhelming problems in this world. The current reality of hunger, disease, poverty, and hopelessness was not the reality we wanted to see. One night as we talked, the name “New Reality” seemed fitting and our “organization’’ that consisted of her and I was born. We didn’t know what exactly to do, so we decided to look around at what we had and use that. Her husband is a dentist that had been on many mission trips in school and even became a dentist just so he could do dental mission work. That seemed like a good place to start. Our trips started out very small, with just Laila and her husband, Joel, and maybe some of his dentist friends. They went to Central America, carrying bags of dental supplies onto little planes and down river rafts to hard to reach people groups. We all used our own money to make these trips work. Laila diligently pursued this dream, getting the right paperwork done to become a non-profit, writing grants, recruiting help and planning trips. We see now that God was stretching us, letting us learn by trial and error and preparing us for the rescue He was about to unfold!
In 2009, God tugged on our hearts to venture into Haiti. Even though the plane ride from Florida to Haiti is only a few hours, it’s a different world entirely. This was before the earthquake that brought Haiti into the world’s focus. I’d actually never even heard of Haiti as we prepared to go. As I did research, I found myself wondering how the people would act and if they would welcome us. I’d read much about the voodoo practices and witchcraft that was prevalent throughout Haiti.
My fears were not alleviated when we arrived at the chaotic Port Au Prince airport. Men where fighting over our bags, so they would get the tip. I was overwhelmed with the yelling and foreign smells everywhere. Trash covered the streets and the smell of burning tires made me almost nauseous. We got a ride to the mission we’d be working out of in the open bed of a dilapidated truck. The pot holes in the road are infamous in Haiti and I felt every one as we bounced down the road for about an hour in the sun. When we arrived at the mission, Betty, our host was warm and welcoming. The gates closed behind us at the shaded property and I felt a sense of calm.
In the days that followed I fell in love with the people of Haiti, particularly the precocious children. I even wrote a song called “I See God In You’’ about one of the mentally handicapped boys I bonded with there. I loved Haitians for their laid back demeanor and sense of humor. After long hot days of acting as a “dental assistant” cleaning, disinfecting and then preparing new trays of dental tools for the hundreds of people we would see, we would relax in the evenings by singing worship songs and playing card games on the cool veranda with the kids . The kids clung to all of us, poking and touching our foreign faces. Their giggles and smiles were infectious. Our translators became particularly close and took us to the beach to see the natural beauty of Haiti. I loved the coffee and bananas each morning and rice, beans and red sauce served to us at night. One day you’d see a bony chicken pecking around the yard. The next day it would be added to the red sauce as a treat! I felt like I had found a home among the team and the children, working and eating together. It was hard to leave them.
I remember remarking to my sister as we surveyed the whole city of Port Au Prince from a lookout mountain, “these buildings don’t look stable, they look like the could just crumble on top of each other, I hope an earthquake never happens”. I was horrified when a few months later I turned on the news and saw the devastation the great earthquake had caused. I tried frantically to find out how my new friends were. Some that we knew, some that had helped us as translators and drivers, had died. I thought of the children, what would happen to them?
The nation of Haiti was born in struggle. The Spanish, French, and countless others dominated and plundered the rich land of this island, until the native people established their own rule in 1934. These resilient people then came under the most oppressive regime with the infamous “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc”, his son, dictators who were said to have called upon satanic forces for their own gain, while sending the nation into utter poverty. Just like the nation itself, many children in Haiti are born into struggle.
The name “Restevek” is given to children whose families are so poor, they send these children to work in other households that can house and feed them. Restevek children, sometimes as young as five years old, are made to fetch water, cook, clean, are often abused sexually, physically and verbally and given inadequate nutrition. Two out of ten children in Haiti would fall under this category of “Restevek”. If that wasn’t a problem enough, after the devastating earthquake matters only got worse. Now, orphaned children roamed the streets, looking for shelter, food and the ability to survive.
At just this point, where the situation seems beyond repair, God steps in. He has always been with the vibrant believers in Haiti, though the country as a whole did turn away from Him accept the voodoo religion. I witnessed, first hand, their remarkable faith and devotion to God as believers gathered in bare bone churches and sang praises until the wee hours of the morning. I saw Haitians helping one another and smiling their huge, welcoming smiles as they waited patiently for long hot hours in line for medical care.
We’d witnessed many amazing ways God arranged and aligned for our teams to go in before and after the earthquake and help many hundreds of desperate people, forge friendships and be inspired by their humility and joy, but the story I’m about to tell, is nothing short of a certifiable miracle.
Near the port town of Port Au Prince a new believer in God named Frantz, had just been baptized. The day after his baptism, God awoke him before dawn and told him clearly “go to the orphanage in Trou du Nord and help them”. Frantz didn’t know anyone in the northern part of the country where Trou du Nord is located and didn’t have money for the long bus fare through the mountains but he asked his friend to help him scrape together money and set out. He arrived tired and hungry, to a village he had never even heard of before. He felt so strongly that this strange request had to be from the Lord.
Meanwhile, a group of seven adult believers had been taking in orphans since 2001 in Trou du Nord. Out of their own poverty they gathered money to find a shack with a dirt floor and leaky roof to house the kids, and they each would take turns feeding them. After the ravage of the earthquake, more orphaned and Restevek kids roamed the streets and they felt compassion to try to take them all in. At the same time the earthquake caused a surge in food prices so some days, there would be no food at all. They would boil water and add salt to give the kids something hot to fill their bellies. There is an old saying “when there is no food to eat, it's time to fast”. That is what this group of desperate people did. These seven caregivers decided to pray and fast for seven days. They needed God to break in supernaturally and provide for them or they might literally die.
As Frantz walked through Trou du Nord, asking where the orphanage was, people pointed him to the shack. It was the seventh day of the fast, and there came a knock on the door.
The kids jumped up in excitement! Everyone thought God had sent food and provision, but to their surprise Frantz asked them if they had anything to eat! He had absolutely nothing to give them, except the word that God had sent him there that day. But, there was one thing that he could try to do for them after hearing their story. He thought of an Australian woman he had translated for named Cay. He called her and explained the situation and immediately her heart was touched. She got on a flight without delay and got to work trying to improve their situation. She was able to provide them with food, found a better rented home for them to stay in and she even gave enough money to start sending some of the kids to school.
This group of seven had a vision of housing many children since they came together in 2001. They prayed to God and asked the government for land to build an orphanage. They dreamed of giving kids land where they could play soccer, have a garden, clean water and safety. Without any resources at all, they kept praying and knew that with God maybe one day it would be possible.
Cay, the Australian lady who rushed in to help, had met my sister Laila in the airport on the way to Port Au Prince, but they had lost touch. Laila and the New Reality International team had been praying about what projects to take on as their was so much need and many people asking us to help with their efforts in Haiti. None of these opportunities felt quite right so we kept praying. As Laila was on an anti-human trafficking tour in Australia, she was invited to a church service and the person serving communion looked strangely familiar. It was Cay. They rejoiced in finding each other so randomly after so much time had passed. Cay filled Laila in on what her and her small church were doing to support the orphans in Trou du Nord. They were barely able to keep the children somewhat housed and fed and were nowhere near being able to build them the dream that the seven caregivers had of a beautiful orphanage on their own land. Laila felt in her spirit that this was the project New Reality International needed to be a part of. Through more fasting and prayer, with Cay, Laila, and our team, the government gave the elders seven acres of land to build the orphanage. Because of the seven caregivers, the seven days of fasting that brought Frantz to them, and the seven acres of land, we named this endeavor “Project 7”.
Now the dream is a reality for the caregivers and children we’ve come to know and love. We don't call it an "orphanage" as these kids are no longer orphans. They are adopted into a family now. We call this place a "Children's Village" and it truly is a safe haven for these precious ones who have endured so much. The kids are safe within a wall that was built all around the property, they have nutritious food, clean drinking water and loving caregivers. They attend school, tend the garden and play soccer.
Could this have come about any other way than God’s hand reaching down to orchestrate just the right meetings at just the right times? As I reflect on this great miracle of provision that I witnessed first hand, I’m struck by how God used seemingly powerless people and orphaned children’s prayers to accomplish His plans. He truly is a father to the fatherless and will not let one sparrow fall to the ground unnoticed.
Countless miracles are happening everyday, but we get to take part in them when we open ourselves to the things God is about. “If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." Isaiah 58:10
When these awe-inspiring events occur, it increases our faith and gives us a testimony of just what kind of wonders our God can perform! I will never forget how he scooped up these children, just as a Father would, and showed his undeniable presence in their lives. The supernatural definitely broke in to save these kids and it broke in to show me the power and mercy of God.
Today more than twenty children, some whom would have been household slaves, are living under the protection and care of trusted caregivers, getting an education and even receiving vocational training. The miracle of God bringing together just the right people and resources at just the right times is still unfolding.