Lex and Renee invited me to speak at their church on the last Sunday of my regular visits to Haiti. We are planning to move classes into the new school in January. Even though I tried to use simple words for translation, Gama got tongue tied a few times; there are so many English words without Creole equivalents.
Bonjou, zami mwen.
I have asked Pastor Lex and Renee to inscribe this Bible verse on the wall of your new school. The Gospel according to Luke, Chapter 6, Verse 48:
He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.
I have spent the past year living among you, working with you to create a house well built. It is a large house, with many rooms, and even though it is not complete, we have built enough that is strong and good and we can begin to use it. Over time we will finish this part, then add more rooms. The building will never be completely finished. It will change and grow old with us; for it is so sturdy it will outlive the youngest person here today.
Every person in this church today is a person with strong beliefs. We hold many beliefs in common. We believe in man’s ability to improve his lot here on earth. We believe that when we work together we can create something greater than when we labor alone. We believe in constructing our buildings strong.
Some of our beliefs are different. You believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That is a powerful belief. It is a belief that brings you peace and brings you strength; it helps you face the difficulties in life and be strong in the face of adversity.
There are more than seven billion people in this world and there are thousands of ways people believe in god. Some practice religion, some do not. Some find peace in their faith, and make peace with people of other faiths. Some people insist their religion is the only true faith; and they use it as an excuse to go to war. I believe in every faith that celebrates peace and I reject every faith that champions war.
There are as many ways to worship god as there are different countries and different cultures and different personalities. There are Buddhists and Christians and Hindus and Muslims and Jews. And within each of these religions they are many sects. Among Christians alone there are Methodists and Baptists and Catholics and Fundamentalists and Evangelicals and Lutherans. And among evangelicals there are many, many churches, each with inspired leaders.
You are lucky here at Mission of Hope because you have Lex Edme, a truly inspired leader. He is a man of great faith as well as a man of great action. He is firm in what he believes, he is unwavering in his devotion to Jesus, and he guides this congregation with a clear vision.
But Lex is not just a man of faith; he is a man of wisdom. In his wisdom he knows that this congregation, this community, this Mission of Hope cannot reach its full potential by itself. In order to provide the church and the school and the opportunities the people of Grand Goave so deserve, Lex knows he must reach out to other evangelicals, he must reach out to other Christians, he must reach out to other religions, he must even reach out to those who practice no religion, because there is so much to be done here, and so much worth doing, and Lex knows the world is full of people with talent and energy who want to lend their hand here.
I have known Lex for many years now. I love him very much. I am thankful for the opportunity he gave me to come to Grand Goave and work among you. You are some of the finest people I have ever met and you have allowed me to do some of the finest work I have ever done. Not every pastor has the strength and courage to invite a non-believer into his fold but Lex is a man of strength and courage and Mission of Hope has a new school because of his vision.
I do not know when I will return to Grand Goave, but I will return. We will complete your building together. I hope it will be a place where your faith in Jesus Christ can grow stronger and stronger. I also hope you will remember it was built by people with many different ideas about god. I want your faith to turn solid as the foundation Luke tells us about in his gospel. I also want you to remember that the reason our foundation is so strong is that we all built it together.
Thank you very much. God bless you all.