Recently I overheard some folks joking around with each other, saying that the one guy did not do any work because they never see him. His job was to run the audio and visual equipment. He responded by saying that he is always working! Another voice was heard to say, “Sometimes the most important work is done behind the scenes.”
Was it a coincidence to overhear such an interaction? I do not believe in coincidences as Scripture shows that God is intimately involved in the smallest details of our lives. Luke 12:7 says the very hairs of your head are all numbered. A strand of hair may be insignificant to me but obviously it is not to God! Romans 8:28 says God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. All things means every thing, not just some things; thus there are no coincidences. (Interesting side note: Soon after referencing the Romans 8:28 verse, one of the boys in Haiti, Mackenson, sent me the same verse through Messenger!)
That previously mentioned conversation replayed in my thoughts over the next few days and God brought to mind examples of important, yet behind the scenes work. The teacher or coach who inspires another to become their best. The parent or grandparent who prays for the salvation of their loved ones. The customer service representative whose face we never see and whose name we may not remember. The public servants who strive to maintain safety and order in our world. The antivirus programs that run in the background of our computers. The dependable employees who, day in and day out, perform the routine tasks of their jobs without complaint.. The beating of our hearts, pumping life blood throughout our bodies, without us ever having to think about it.
Dictionary.com defines “behind the scenes” as happening or conducted out of the view of the general public. Someone who stays behind the scenes, or in the background, avoids being noticed even though the things they do are important or influential. Sometimes “behind the scenes” can have a funny connotation to it, sort of like “bloopers.”
When I was first learning to speak Creole, I was eager to use the words I was learning. On a day I was scheduled to fly back to the States in the afternoon, I decided that I wanted to share a meal with all the boys before I left so I told a few of them, “Mwen vle mache.” (I want mache.) I thought I told them, “I want to eat.” Now the word for “to eat” is manje and it sounds like ma-JAY. The word for “to walk” is mache and it sounds like ma-SHAY. There was not enough time to cook a meal before I had to leave for the airport so I expect to be taken to a food vendor where we can buy already cooked food. Max and two or three other guys proceed to walk me around the neighborhood. I think we are going to get food. We walk around the block and they are not stopping to get any food! I say again, “Mwen vle mache.” Being the gentleman they are, they kept walking me around block until it is almost time for all of us to gather and say our farewells. Hungry and frustrated, I approach one of the other guys who had not escorted me on the numerous walks around the block. I handed him some money and said, “Mwen vle mache.” After a few minutes, an English and Creole speaking guy came up to me and said, “Josue wants to know why you gave him money and want to go for a walk!” We all got a good laugh when it was finally understood by everyone that I had incorrectly said, “I want to walk” instead of “I want to eat!” A few of the boys ran to a local street vendor and brought back lunch, which we ate together before leaving for the airport.
But back to the original idea of always working while not necessarily being seen. I dare to say that most of the transformation God does in a person’s heart is done in that way. Of course, we see the results of that transformation but much of the actual work is done behind the scenes.
I have debated with myself over sharing this story as a “behind the scenes” story or as an “obedience” story but have decided to share it now. This past fall, I received a message from a friend I had not seen in a over a year. She wanted to get together and when we did, we caught up with each other as we chatted and then she shared something truly remarkable. She had applied for a job she really wanted but did not get the job. She stayed at the job she did not like and after a while, the other position came open again. She was scared to apply for a second time, thinking she would get rejected again. She prayed to God that if He would allow her to get the job, she would give a certain portion of her earnings from the new job to a good cause. She did get the job and more importantly, she followed through on her promise to God. She handed me a homemade envelope with the handwritten words on it that said, “Use this where it will do the most good.” There was no way either of us could have known that it contained the exact amount of funds that would be needed within a matter of days for a completely unexpected expense!
As was mentioned earlier, we see the results of transformation but much of the actual work is done behind the scenes. It is no different in Haiti. Many things go on behind the scenes. The late nights of studying because that is when the electricity comes on. (The sun sets early in Haiti too!) The numerous days a student shows up for school only to wait, hoping the teacher shows up. Often there is no teacher because the administration has not paid the teacher for months. Students are still expected to show up and pass the major exams, teacher or no teacher. The countless hours of planning how to start a business so hopefully one day the person or persons can rise out of poverty. The day to day tasks of running that business. Or working a job to earn an income.
As I sit down to finish this message tonight, my heart is very heavy. Today I learned that the beautiful, historic and massive Iron Market in downtown Port au Prince was destroyed by fire early this morning. The good news is that no one was seriously injured and no one died in the flames. However, Iron Market had housed hundreds of vendors who sold their goods to earn a living while being protected from the searing rays of the hot Caribbean sun. It was a “must see place” for any tourist visiting the city. I recall the many times I visited the one side of the Iron Market to purchase groceries. One day I ventured to the side where native Haitians displayed their handmade crafts and artwork for sale. It was the first time I realized that more than food was sold in this huge marketplace. A person could have spent all day in the place and not seen everything!. I did not have a lot of time that day to admire their handiwork and had always hoped to go back. Please join me in praying for all the vendors who have lost their businesses and the families that those businesses affected, that they are granted grace and mercy as they figure out how to move forward. (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/article199833424.html)
The theme for this year’s Carnival, which was celebrated today is “Ayiti sou wout chanjman” which means “Haiti is on the road to change.” Recently, the president of Haiti reaffirmed his Christian faith, dedicated the country to God and called for three days of national prayer. (http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-23249-haiti-religion-president-moise-salutes-the-path-taken-by-christians-and-reaffirms-his-faith.html) There are positive changes going on that may not always be seen by folks living outside of the country!
Often the boys will send me pictures of things they are doing and tell of things they are planning but ask that the pictures not be posted on Facebook. Perhaps they think the pictures are not flattering or maybe they want to remain behind the scenes too. One of the boys recently sent a picture of graduation day at a vocational school. He and the other students were dressed in their caps and gowns. I was so proud of him and wanted to share the picture on Facebook but he asked me not to do so when I asked for his permission.
Be The Change Haiti (https://www.facebook.com/BeTheChangeHaiti/) is planning another gathering this Saturday with the children currently living on the streets. They have many things planned for the children including a nutritious meal and teaching them the basics of macrame.
New Generation English School starts a new session this weekend where anyone over the age of sixteen and wanting to learn to speak English can enroll in the year long course.
Technology has made keeping in contact with the boys on a daily basis easier while I have been in the States but Messenger and WhatsApp pale in comparison to face to face conversations. I am looking forward to being back in Haiti at the end of this month but I have anxiety about it too. Another behind the scenes situation that you may or may not know about is the road to recovery after surgery this past October has taken longer than expected. I still have a pain in my side that has never completely gone away and some days flairs up and becomes debilitating. I have not figured out what causes it to become worse but think it may happen after eating meat or consuming dairy products. I have cried out to God to take it away but, as of today, He has not. Some days I wonder if it will always be with me and I reflect on 2 Corinthians 12, Paul’s thorn in his flesh and how the power of Jesus is made perfect in weakness.
As I close, thank you for all you have done to help with this mission God has us on. Please continue to pray for us and to pray for how God wants you to be involved. Whether He is calling you to serve financially, prayerfully or in some other way, please listen to that call and respond accordingly.
Matthew 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
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