“Wow, what a generous gift! Thank you very much.” As I said this, I wondered why the Haitian man who had once stolen from us offered such a sacrificial gift. I lifted potatoes, turnips, spinach and watercress from the piled high basket and admired each offering; it was a beautiful and expensive gift for a poor truck driver with a family.
Charles nodded and grinned, “When a man is healed he must go back and say, ‘Thank you for what you did for me. Thank you for healing me.’” Immediately I knew Charles was referring to the ten lepers in Luke chapter 17. Jesus heals the ten lepers but only one comes back to thank Him. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:15-19
Charles lives in a two room concrete house with a tin roof on the Kenscoff Mountain. His brothers and mom have similar homes nearby. On Thursdays, peasant merchant women with heavy hand woven baskets balanced on their heads walk for miles to the market near Charles’ home. With the help of another merchant, the women lower their baskets to the ground and arrange lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes and other produce on a burlap sack or piece of carton spread on the packed earth and then they squat in a deep knee bend behind their wares as they wait for customers. Charles drives a Mack truck up and down the mountain delivering sand and gravel for concrete construction projects. His salary provides for his children’s education and daily needs; the family is healthy and well fed. For five years before his job as a truck driver, Charles drove a pickup for our mission Haiti for Christ. His happy go lucky, jovial face was always a welcome sight at the mission office; unfortunately his exuberance was a mask hiding a disfiguring and deadly leprosy. (Leprosy is often a symbol of pervasive, addictive sin in the bible.)
One day my husband Joel left the mission checkbook on the pickup dash while he went into the office; Charles was in the driver’s seat. Hours later Joel discovered an entire page of checks missing from the checkbook! (Employee theft is rampant in Haiti.) We knew our only option was to dismiss Charles immediately and pay his severance with no accusation or charges. Haitian law is Napoleonic Code thus to accuse someone without absolute proof, the checks in his hand, would jeopardize our mission. Since we did not have that eyewitness proof we knew the process was to send him home without explanation and stop the missing checks. When Joel fired Charles later that day, the driver did not object or question the action; he knew why even though it was never mentioned. We did not see Charles for years after that but we often thought of his smiling face and warm greeting. Our forty years in Haiti have taught us to be wary of thievery but our hearts are always pained for the sin that enslaves Haitians. Charles knows the gospel; he knows what we stand for as does all of Haiti. We host and produce Haiti’s favorite television show, a Creole Christian travelogue shot on location; it is our powerful pulpit to the nation. We film a different Haitian village in each episode and show the beauty of the country and her people and then Joel ministers a word from the Lord often about repentance from leprous sin.
To date we have produced eighty-six shows and La Bonne Nouvelle, The Good News, is aired on eighty stations throughout Haiti, the Caribbean and Haitian markets in Montreal, Boston, New York and South Florida. Our estimated viewing audience is two million Haitians every day! Last month as we sat down to dinner, the doorbell rang; after years of not seeing him, Charles was at the gate. Joel went out to speak with him. Charles greeted him and said, “I have been watching your television show every day and it has changed me.” Joel came to get me. “Yvonne, come and see this!” I went to witness the wonder my husband was so excited about. Charles sat on the low wall beside our driveway, next to him was a basket overflowing with produce; he greeted me with his customary wide smile and strong hug. “Charles,” I said, “Look how fat you are!” (In Haiti, weight gain is a sign of prosperity and to notice it is a compliment.) Charles beamed and pointed at the basket, “This is for you and Pastor Joel!” I asked about his wife and children. “Everyone is fine; God is blessing us,” he happily assured me.
Charles helped us carry the heavy basket into the house and then he again shook our hands. “I am healed because of what you did for me.” He said, “Thank you.” As we returned to our dinner table, Joel asked, “Can you believe what just happened? God healed him of his sin and he came back to thank us for it.” I agreed. “It makes it all worth it. If he was the only one that got right with God, he just made it all worth it. Forty years of praying and preaching I would do it all for one soul, glory to God.” But to myself, I thought, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Yes, Christ is using us; yes, souls are being saved every day but until we get to heaven and see Jesus face to face, we cannot imagine the transforming power of the gospel – The Good News – that we practice and preach every day.
We cannot imagine the convicting impact of our soul winning television show watched by young, old, rich, poor, voodooist, drug dealers and even politicians, but on that day we will see them in Heaven! Our driver Charles was a thief, but now he is a blood washed saint with his name written in the Lamb’s book of life. He is brand new, born again; old things are passed away and all things are new. I have often told friends, “When you get to heaven, I will be sitting in the Haitian section!” Now we are assured that happy go lucky, once leprous Charles will be there too!
Submitted by: Yvonne Trimble of Haiti for Christ