Finding Freedom in Haiti

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“… slavery to society, slavery to this world and slavery even to ourselves is not the identity of freedom Christ has given us.”

Less than three years ago, my life looked great.

I would wake up every weekday at 6:30am, shower and dress for the day, then drive to my amazing job as a marketer and event planner for a children’s hospital. My life revolved around work and after work activities.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was bound. 

– Bound by normal.

– Bound by my job.

– Bound by the expectations of this world.

Then, two years ago my life was rocked more than I could have ever imagined when God’s persistent voice called me to move to Gressier, Haiti, after visiting just once.

Here in this beautiful and challenging place, I created an organization working with Restaveks (child slaves or domestic servants, usually between the ages of 4 to 15) and began building a school.

And the Lord began to teach me what walking with Him looks like—what freedom in Him really is.   

He taught me that the freedom Christ is cannot be fully understood; it can only be lived. 

Walking through a strange land by myself I had two choices: be afraid, or be free.

Being afraid was easier. My emotions were telling me to be afraid. My friends and even family were telling me to be afraid. 

Being free was harder. Much harder. 

Being free involved more of the unknown, placing all my trust in God. Being free meant dying to myself and living through Him, leaning into His voice and His whisper instead of the world’s shout.

To choose freedom was the harder choice, knowing that often Christ’s voice may not look “normal” or even acceptable to others. Sometimes the freedom that Christ brings may look like naivety, disorganization or a lack of wisdom. 

But this was the place where I knew I would find my identity. I knew it was what Christ had promised.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”   –Galatians 5:1

The words of this scripture often ring in my head and my heart. “A yoke of slavery.”  Here in Haiti my work with Restaveks often has me focused on physical slavery, which is heartbreaking and devastating to this country.

But, slavery to society, slavery to this world and slavery even to ourselves is not the identity of freedom Christ has given us.

How can we fight for freedom if we aren’t free ourselves? 

How do we reach out to child slaves, child trafficking victims, sex trafficking victims and show them freedom if we are confused about our own identity in Christ?

Letting go

After trying numerous times to plan out what I thought God “wanted” me to do, I realized that the only One who truly knows the plans for my life is Christ. 

Walking with Him on a daily basis and trusting Him moment-by-moment doesn’t mean planning everything out, having all the answers or knowing how things will happen.

Waking up every day, I stare up at my mosquito net and rarely have any idea what the day will hold.  Living this way here in Haiti is difficult; many times I want to know my schedule, my day, the children I will meet, the problems I will face.  But God does not want us bound to a schedule or to expectations. He wants us to be free. 

I am grateful I am not bound by normal. I am not bound by a job. And I am no longer bound by the expectations of this world. 

Instead I wake every day knowing that the freest place to be is in the centre of God’s will. 

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Main image: Students from Respire Primary School walking up together on their first day of school on Bellevue Mountain, January 9, 2012. Courtesy of Respire Haiti.

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