FINDING HAITI

One of my last endeavors of the decade was *finally* sitting down and reading a book. The last month of this year has been a whirlwind. My rhythms of reading and writing had fallen by the wayside. That’s what busyness does — it overstays its welcomed allotted time and spills over into joys nestled in resting. For me, resting looks a lot like a book or pen and paper. Maybe you can relate in some other way but the same feeling runs true — if you run with busyness, soon it will run you.  I have to consciously put my work down and step away. It’s good to work — we’re called to it. But it’s holy to rest and wholly ordained by God. Oh how I need to press into this rhythm in the new coming year.

But back to the book I read — Finding Chika by Mitch Albom. This week last year I was in Haiti for the 2nd time. Then at the beginning of 2019 Winnefred Austin started sponsoring a child in Haiti. This book was timely because of those things, but I didn’t know just how much Chika’s story would connect with parts of mine.

Chika was a little girl from Haiti, a place that has made its way into my heart over the past year. So naturally, this book pulled me in and did not let go until I had read every single page. That’s right folks — it was a one night read. Give it a try.

Chika was just a few years older than the little boy Winnefred Austin sponsors, but she was orphaned and terminally sick. What struck me even more than the challenges she faced was her joy and faith in the Lord. Her hope that infectiously spread from page to page of her story despite her sickness. It was astounding.

I shouldn't be overly surprised at this because although our sponsor child is healthy (praise Jesus!), his life strikes me the same way. His joy and faith and hope surpasses circumstances in Haiti, in the world. The praise our sponsor child gives to God for the gifts in his life fill the letters he sends with the help of his mentor. He is just 6 years old of course. But these words from a child make me stop in the middle of my busy rush and look around. Simple things I take for granted daily—like a shower and my own bed—become pure magic in the eyes of a child from Haiti, a world away. It brings me wonder and heartache at the same time, but more than anything it brings me back to the Lord.

These are the kind of eyes I pray to have in this new decade—those of total wonder and gratitude—those of a child—especially a child from Haiti. My perspective has been turned upside down, and I think that’s the point God makes with children. We’re not the same anymore when children come into our lives, whether close by or far away. Our lives were forever changed when Jesus came into this world as a baby. I believe He still shines through children today, pointing us back to Himself— to His humble and helpless beginning.

I won’t give away the book’s details — Chika’s story is not mine to tell. But one part in particular so closely harmonizes with my story about finding our sponsor child. Towards the end of Chika’s story, she was found singing Bethel’s song “No Longer Slaves.” 8 minutes straight of pure worship and surrender of fear to her God. To our God. I'm no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God. I froze when I read that because last year I went to Bethel’s concert. They sang the same song when I found Compassion International’s envelope under my foot, as envelopes were scattered around the room with children in need of sponsorship. There in that moment I found our sponsor child. Somehow, through an envelope and a worship concert, this child also found me. There’s something about that song—the kind of searching and finding only God can provide.

I had been praying for children in Haiti the months leading up to that moment at the concert. I had no idea those prayers would lead to a name — to a child the Lord was placing in our hands to carry — as Chika’s caregivers carried her. The song she sang rings good news to you and me. We are no longer slaves to fear. We are each a child of God — safely held in His hands. We don’t have to do the heavy lifting either—physically, spiritually, or whatever else we carry. He carried Chika. He carries our sponsor child. He carries me. He carries you, too.

Circumstances and challenges aside, we can all worship and proclaim we are God’s children because, well, we are! Nothing can change that — neither place nor trial. Here in my little studio corner of Birmingham. And all the way to the rural hills of Haiti. No matter where we are, we are found in the Lord. Our Shepherd finds us.

As we are approaching our first full year of child sponsorship with Compassion International, I’d love to invite you to pray for our child and the children in Haiti. When you purchase from Winnefred Austin, you are taking part in this joy of supporting our child too!

By the way — add Finding Chika to the top of your reading list in 2020. You’ll be glad you did. All author profits from the book benefit Chika’s orphanage, Have Faith Haiti Orphanage. Learn more about it here.

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