What impacted me the most during my week in Haiti was a man named Alex. I first met him on Wednesday as we were going house-to-house praying. My team (Paloma, Kellen, and Mario- our translator) and I were praying for a young woman, and when we were finished praying, we turned to leave the little community of houses. There was a man sitting on the ground, half outside of his tent, and stopped us as we walked passed. "I heard you praying for people, and I want you to pray for me," he said. "Of course we'll pray for you," we replied, "what would you like prayer for?" He told us that he was born with Tuberculosis and had trouble walking. With all of the faith in the world, I started asking God to heal his physical body. Alex stood up, and we saw how deformed he was with his skinny legs and deformed torso. As we were praying, the Lord spoke to me and said that physical healing was not what he was needed. He needed healing in his heart, and it would come through forgiveness. As I heard the Lord speak that to me, I was very unsure of how I would go about ministering to this man! I told the rest of the team what the Lord had said to me, and everyone was in agreement, and said they had heard the same thing.
We began to talk to Alex about how God desires for our hearts to be healed from things that have happened to us, and about the power of forgiveness. I asked him if he had any bitterness in his heart because of something someone had done to him. He said yes, that there was a friend who had wronged him, and that he would go to his house later on that day to tell him that he forgave him. We prayed with him again before we left, and I heard the Lord say that we needed to follow up with Alex and come back both Thursday and Friday. I told Alex that we would be back the next day.
On Thursday afternoon, we went back to Alex's house. We found a very different Alex than we had met the previous day. He was angry, yelling, and extremely upset. We found out through our translator that his mother had threatened the only woman who gives him food, in order that he would starve to death and die. We then listened to Alex as he bitterly poured out his heart to us and the pain he had experienced due to his mother. When he got sick as a baby and became deformed, he became a curse to his family and was unwanted. His mother burned his birth certificate to try to erase his existence. Because of this, he does not know when his birthday is, or even how old he is. (We estimated between 15 and 30.) His mother refused to pay for his books and education, and he only went to school for a couple of years because a pastor took pity on him and bought him the uniform and books necessary to attend. His mother did not feed him, and he was constantly at the mercy of neighbors and church members to give him food and water. During the Cholera outbreak, he contracted the disease, and only survived because of people in the church. His mother wished him dead, and let him know as often as possible. Every day she would go by his tent and throw rocks, or shake the tent so that it would fall down. He was kicked out of his house 10 years ago, and has been living in his little tent for those past 10 years. Alex was the most rejected man I have ever met in my life. As we listened to him, none of us had any words. But the Lord confimed in all of us, that his heart being healed had do do with him forgiving his mother. We prayed with him in a very general way, asking God to bring peace on him and his home. We didn't have any other direction from God as to what we should do or say, so we left him after about 2 hours, and told him we would be back for the last time on Friday.
On Friday morning, Paloma and I decided to fast and pray, and bring Alex our breakfasts. As we prayed for him before we left for AFTA Village, we cried out to God, asking for Him to do a miracle in his heart. Paloma told me that she felt God saying that she should ask Alex to forgive her on behalf of his mom. After our prayer time, we went to straight to Alex's house, anxious for what God was going to do and how he was going to move.
We found Alex in much better spirits when we arrived at his house. His face lit up when he saw us, and got even brighter when he saw his breakfast. He took a small piece of the bread and egg, and we realized that this would probably be his meal for the next couple days. We talked to him about how much God loved him, and sometimes we relate God's love toward us as how our parents love us. We shared with him that his mother's actions and the way she had treated him is not a reflection of how God loves him. Paloma asked him what he thought of when he heard the word "mother." He responded that "it's just someone who birthed me, gave me life and nothing more." Paloma then knelt down in front of him, and said, "On behalf of your mother, I want to tell you that I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I haven't given you the love that you've needed. I'm sorry that when all you've wanted is a hug, I've rejected you. I'm sorry that I burned your birth certificate and tried to erase the day you were born. I'm sorry for throwing rocks at your tent, for trying to tear your tent down, and from stopping people from helping you. I'm sorry for every discouraging word, for every negative thing that I have said to you to devalue you. Your life has value and purpose, and I'm sorry for not telling you that, or showing you that."
As she was apologizing to him, the presence of God was so real and so strong. I felt as if I were watching Alex's mother actually apologize to him, and I could tell that Alex was recieving it as if it were his own mother telling to to him. Paloma then asked, "Do you forgive me, son?" He responded, "Yes, I forgive you mom." As he forgave her, his face changed. It was as if a burden was physically lifted off him. He smiled for the first time, and even sang a song!
God did a huge work in Alex's life and in his heart. Perhaps his body remained in it's crippled condition, but his heart was set free and made new. During the 6 hours I spent with Alex throughout the week, God ministered to my own heart. He taught me that it is better to walk in a crippled body with a free heart, than walk in a healthy body with a crippled heart. I learned how to really listen to God's voice as I ministered, so that I truly could be God's hands and mouth, and not just do what I thought was best.
Before we left, we asked Alex if we could take a picture of him. I happened to be sitting next to him, and have the honor of being in the picture with him.