An Overwhelming God in Haiti

By Tony Walther

The team, from left: Donnie Cardenas, Tony Walther, Bud Lenker, and Tom Albon.
The team, from left: Donnie Cardenas, Tony Walther, Bud Lenker, and Tom Albon.

When we stepped from the plane onto the tarmac in Haiti, the heat greeted us with a sweltering hug. On the way to the OMS compound, the amount of poverty and pollution was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I had heard stories over the years, but it was worse than I had ever imagined. How could this be real?

The heat made sleep elusive, and I was awake in the middle of the night thinking about such a hopeless situation. I felt unworthy of His calling, and unworthy to be in such a place of need with nothing to give. We were to build a portion of a school, but I know nothing of construction. Why had God called me on this trip? My inadequacies bubbled to the surface, so that I wanted to go home. I didn’t know how I could last seven more minutes, let alone seven days.

In those dark hours, oppressed by the heat, lack of faith, and feelings of unworthiness to represent Christ, God’s graceful and merciful hand held me fast. He confirmed His calling, and calmed my fears. I had assurance that He had chosen each of the men for the trip. We had something to give, whether we knew it or not. In the early morning moments, I simply prayed, “I don’t know what I can give, but I will hold nothing back from the people. I will give everything I can and trust in the Lord to multiply our efforts.”

During the next week, God worked many miracles for us. In a village 12 people accepted Christ’s salvation and forgiveness. God healed us of sickness, made our paths straight and safe for travel, and multiplied our efforts at the work site where we accomplished more than we expected. God worked through us, equipping us with what we needed for everything we encountered. It was only because of God we accomplished anything of value in Haiti. Our only option was to rely on God, and that’s exactly what He wanted of us. While we were the “missionaries,” the people of Haiti extended just as much of God’s love to us as we to them. Their hospitality, genuineness, helpfulness, and gratitude reflected God’s nature better than we ever could. God overwhelmed each of our team members in the perfect way we all needed, and while we made a small impact on Haiti, Haiti made a lasting impact on each of us.

By Donnie Cardenas

In June my father-in-law asked me to go to Haiti with the team leaving July 14th. The team was a little light, and I said, “Yes.” Although I did not have a passport, we expedited the request, and I had it in a week.

Our group included one former missionary, one semiexperienced short termer, and three newbies. Out of the first timers, I felt like I was the most prepared, as I have served in the military and had several deployments. However, I quickly learned it doesn’t matter how well prepared and strong you are physically, emotionally, or spiritually. When the presence of God comes you are changed.

I wasn’t expecting a life-changing spiritual transformation or enlightenment. I expected to work hard and accomplish the tasks to be done. What happened to me was more than I could have wanted or thought. To explain what happened in Haiti is extremely difficult. We were to help with the construction on the addition to the Cowman International School. However, that paled in comparison to the work that God performed in my heart.

I am a faithful, God-loving man and have felt the presence of God on numerous occasions. In Haiti, I felt His presence like never before. I never felt strong, yet so weak; felt I was where I needed to be, yet completely lost; felt confident, yet so unsure. How could I be faithful, yet faithless? Paralyzed by His presence, waves of emotions came over me. I have been a master of my emotions, so what happened? The presence of God consumed me. For the first time, I submitted to His call. I was done planning and preparing for what I thought He had for me. I submitted to Him and proclaimed, “Use me, Lord.”

Not expecting any type of life-changing spiritual transformation or enlightenment, but a life changing spiritual transformation is what I got. The work God did in my heart was not me opening the door completely to Him, instead it was Him giving it the final kick I desperately needed. In Haiti, I felt the presence of God stronger than I had ever felt in my life. Not only could I feel His presence, but I saw firsthand how through His people He is doing a great work that is much more than raising structures; the Kingdom of God is being expanded in a way that I could have never imagined.