I was seventeen the first time my feet met Hatian soil. As my team of missionaries and I arrived at the small Haitian village of about 75 people, I so badly wanted to turn my eyes. I wanted to turn away because of the devastation I saw, it hurt to look at. Houses made out of sticks stuck in the mud with a tarp thrown over the top. Children drinking muddy water, dead animals laying around the streets. And their eyes; I hated looking into the people eyes because they were so empty. An emptiness I wanted so badly to fulfill but wasn't sure how to.While getting to know some of the villagers, I looked out towards a field to see a girl standing alone, just watching as everyone interacted, I was immediately drawn to her. As I walked towards her my heart started racing. There was a pulling in my heart for this little girl that I knew nothing about.She was timid at first but it only took a few minutes before she was telling me about her life. It didn’t take her long to reveal to me that she had no recollection of ever having family or friends, and had never experienced a warm embrace or a gentle kiss. As our conversation continued the young girl told me she didn’t even know her real name, yet she called herself Leah. Only 14 years old, Leah lived alone in the village. She had no family, no home, no money, no shoes. Leah was a village outcast yet she was happy. Despite her story of abandonment, her smile was radiant, she had one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen.
I was wearing a simple necklace with one pearl hanging at the end of it the day I met Leah. I loved this necklace because it was a gift from a dear friend. Yet for some reason, I knew Leah needed this necklace. Not for the sake of fashion, but as a symbol of hope. Without even thinking I took the necklace off for the first time in three years and placed it around Leah’s neck. As I finished fastening the necklace around her neck, you would have thought I had handed her all the money in the world. Leah started laughing, crying, jumping, hugging me, and I was crying along with her. After her parade of emotions, she proceeded to tell me that a few days before our team visited her village she had been crying out to God asking him for a sign, any sign, to show her that He still loved her. She needed to know God could still see her and hear her cries. I looked at that necklace as just another gift from a friend. Leah saw the necklace as a sign from God that her life was still worth living, a trinket symbolizing hope for the future. It blows my mind that by simply giving of yourself you can literally change someones life.
There are millions of Leah’s out there just waiting for a signal of hope from God, you can be that light. You have the capability to fulfill the mandate God calls upon us in James 1: 27 which is: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
Join Go International this February as we travel back to Haiti to fulfill the mandate, save innocent lives and be a light in a world full of darkness.
Written By: Lauren Bruhn