El Market Day spectators and sellers milled about: buying, selling, and bringing each other up-to-date on the latest gossip. My group and I quickly became part of the five thousand plus crowd. Deafened by the drone of voices, it caught us by surprise when all suddenly grew silent, from the outer section inward.
Heads tilted in to hear the whispered secret passed quickly from person-to-person until it reached my ears. “Andre is here, Pastor. You better leave quickly.”
Fear gripped me immediately. My wife stood so close I could hear her whispered prayer. I shouldn’t have brought my family out today without a body guard. I should have listened to the warnings.
The safest thing to do would be to leave quickly. The crowd gave me space to do so, but I felt God-strength rise in me, probably from my faithful wife’s prayers. We stood together and waited for the inevitable.
A man walked slowly to us, his eyes fixed on mine. At six feet, he towered over my average stature. Andre, the most feared man in Haiti, soon stood within arm’s length of me. One of the men in our group moved my wife away. I missed her calm presence and incredible faith.
The curious people gathered in close when they heard Andre speak. “Are you RoRo?”
Much to my amazement and relief, this voodoo witchdoctor stuck his hand out for me to shake.
“You’ve done something for my son that I wasn’t able to do.” From out behind the man came his son, wearing a familiar pair of tennis shoes. I heard my wife, Eline gasp.
Memories flooded me.
The hot sun beat down on the short-term missionary group from the states. I’m always amazed when others take hold of my vision. My dream to build a Christian retreat for missionaries and Haitian children to attend was a gigantic undertaking, but our God is a dream-fulfiller.
The small group stopped for a break, but a dark-skinned boy, in the midst of winter white, sun-burnt adults, kept at his self-appointed job: carrying rocks. Remito was ten years old, but because of malnutrition, looked to be around eight. I had seen him hanging around, and happy to have his help, I put him to work. If anything, it kept him out of trouble and provided him a good lunch.
Later that day, my wife walked to my side carrying a brand new pair of tennis shoes. She stood on tiptoe to whisper in my ear, “RoRo, go talk to him.”
Together we walked over to the boy. “Remito?”
“Yes, Mister Pastor?”
“These shoes will make your work easier. Would you like them?”
Remito smiled big.
“Put them on and go play now. You’ve done a good job today,” I told him.
When he got to his friends, he stuck out one foot to show off his new possession then he pointed to us and waved.
The young boy said, “Hi, Mister Pastor. Thank you for the shoes.”
I collided back to the present at his words. “You’re welcome.”
We heard the murmuring of the crowd. My relief proved to be their disappointment. The leading witch doctor in all Southeast Haiti didn’t live up to his reputation. Instead, he amazed us all. He took his son’s hand and placed it in mine.
He said loudly for all to hear, “I want you to take my son and teach him to follow your Jesus.”
“What about you, Andre?” Boldness welled up inside me.
“It’s too late for me.”
“It’s not too late.” The crowd quieted again as I shared with Andre about the grace of God.
“I know the Spirit within you is far greater than the spirit within me.” He had never read the Bible, but he knew this truth.
I shared with Andre the plan of salvation in that crowded village square, and within weeks, both he and Remito gave their lives to Christ. The two led the way as we marched to his temple. We tore it down then set it on fire, along with all his tools used for ‘doctoring.’ The villagers looked on in fear as the building went up in flames but there was no missing the drastic change in the former witch doctor’s countenance. All of us together, including the confused and angry villagers, walked to the river. Nothing was shushed about that day. Even the angels rejoiced loudly when Andre and Remito were baptized into Christ.
Author’s Note: This is a true story loosely based on an event that happened to the native Haitian Pastor Remito Eustache at Haitian Christian Outreach. God is doing mighty work in this destitute country.
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