Manis had to make an unexpected trip into Port-au-Prince, so I was filling in for him in his baptism class. He has been working with this small group of professing believers since February, going through basic Biblical doctrine in preparation for a baptismal service this month.
We had come into a discussion about love in the life of a follower Jesus. One of the women in the class—who has been part of our group of believers for many years—began to share a story.
“If somebody is yelling insults at me,* I’m usually the type of person who throws an answer right back at them. I don’t just sit back and take it. But, not long ago, there was a woman standing outside my gate yelling and going on and on at me. I don’t know why, but I didn’t say anything to her; I just went inside my house. Then, I sneaked out the back door and went to my garden. I sat there under a tree and thought, ‘Now, why didn’t I yell back at her? I must be changing!’"
“After that, I passed by her on the road. I didn’t feel at all inside like I could greet her politely. but I did anyway. She never answered.** Then I saw her again. Once more, I greeted her, and she still ignored me.
“Then, when I got really sick, she was the first person to visit me! Before even any of my family did! She visited me three times. The third time, she even asked if there as anything she could do for me.”
Changed lives take time. It takes time to change the way you see. It takes time to grow out of lifelong habits. It takes time for a seed to grow into a mature, fruiting tree, sewing more seeds in its turn.
But, by the grace of God working in our lives, it does happen. And it thrills our hearts every time He gives us a glimpse of new leaves, buds, and fruit.
*Cultural note: This is a relatively common way of dealing with frustrations or conflict. The
kreyòl word is joure. It can involve yelling/insulting/swearing,etc....an appropriate translation might be "cussing someone out."
**Cultural note: Both of these actions--ie, intentionally not greeting someone OR not responding to someone who greets you--are a huge, social slap in the face.