One day, while visiting with a neighbor, I noticed that one of the ladies had a piece of string tied around her toe. We asked her why and she said that it was because she had a stomach ache. This is a Voodoo practice. Another time, there was a little boy - maybe a year old - who had a string tied around his stomach like a belt. It was the only thing he was wearing. We asked why it was there and were told that it was to protect him from the curses of Voodoo. Many people, when sick, will visit a "witch doctor" and drink many different kids of concoctions given to them and perform other rituals before actually visiting the hospital. Then, as a last resort, pray to "Bondye," God. Often, by the time the person arrives at the hospital, they are more sick from waiting and from doing the rituals that sometimes they end up getting very sick and even dying from a simple sickness. We've heard stories of times when people would be thrashing around on the ground when different curses were put on them, but most of the time, the impacts of Voodoo here are so small and "normal" that they can go unnoticed.
When I was sitting on the porch with my neighbor, I didn't even really think twice about the string tied to her toe until later. It seemed like such a small, harmless thing. I thought it was weird and silly and almost laughed it off, but these small things can open the door for evil to enter and rule their lives. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." These people are opening the door the the enemy, and out of tradition and fear, giving him space to rule in their lives.
Last week, we were told about another tradition. We were sitting around our dinner table talking with friends when they told us to be very careful about what we were eating and allowing our children to eat outside of our home. They said for now that it was very important to not accept food from anyone and not to pick up any food or money, or anything else for that matter, off the ground. All year long, people have been making deals with the gods. For example, if they are given wealth, or health or protection for their families - in return, they will give a certain number of souls to that god. Well, their deal has to be met by the end of the year. So people are looking for souls to give. They do this in a number of ways - one would be by poisoning food. People will put poison on candy and crackers and then drop them on the ground for children to find and eat. Or, they'll tamper with motos and vehicles and hope to cause an accident.
I was not sure I believed that this really happened, so I asked a lot of my Haitian friends and they just confirmed it, telling us to be very careful because this was a dangerous time of year. We are by no means living in fear, but we want to be wise and aware of the reality that is around us. The other evening, I was reading a book and kept noticing things moving around out of the corner of my eye. I started feeling like there was a presence there. My spirit was alert. I walked through that area of the house and just rebuked the presence over and over in the name of Jesus. I had peace and no longer saw the movement. Last night, Morgan came into our room crying saying that she had a "really bad dream." She was very scared. I felt my defenses rising. My spirit was ready to fight. We talked about her dream and prayed and I couldn't help but think that the enemy is always roaming...looking for someone to devour. It's hard to explain to kids why God allows them to have bad dreams.
During this time especially, will you pray for us as we feel this very real spiritual warfare? We are so thankful for the body of Christ, who we know supports us in prayer while we are here. There are so many things that we are unaware of. Pray that God will keep us alert. That He will guard our hearts and minds. Every night, as we tuck the kids in for bed, we go through putting on the armor just like it tells us in Ephesians.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."