Sam: Where’s your mommy? Isn’t she coming to the beach?
Sofie: No, my mommy’s at the witchdoctor with her friends.
It doesn’t happen often.
But Friday afternoon the film crew came to me with a problem after we got back from shooting the evangelism team.
While they understood our staff’s explanation of darkness in Haiti, while they could feel it and see it in many ways, they hadn’t been able to capture it…to show it. How to you SHOW darkness? How do you show the great need for Light? On film? In a few seconds? How do you show transformation? How do you show the clutches of fear? The enslavement of mind?
We talked for a long time and brainstormed, and finally someone asked if we couldn’t just go see a witchdoctor.
I know I pound the relationship pavement hard, but this was no exception.
I wasn’t taking them to the witchdoctor as tourists, or for an informational experience, not even for interesting footage. But we COULD go through a relationship, I supposed. If Matt was here, we could go visit Noah. Better yet, HE could take them to go visit Noah. There was lots of darkness to capture there.
But without Matt?….I finally called him, and asked what to do. “Call Lucner!” he said. “He has five or six witchdoctors living in his community, and I know he has relationships with them. He’ll take you!
I wasn’t quite as sure he would. While a lot of people love and follow the Lord and are in full pursuit of the light, there is a persistent fear of voodoo, of witchdoctors…a lingering trail of fear that drives deep even in those plowing hard.
I was wrong. There was no lingering scar of fear in Lucner.
“Sure, let’s go, that is no problem” Lucner said without hesitation. “I’ll go visit a few tonight, and set it up for tomorrow.”
The next morning at 9 am, we wove through the alleys that make up Lucner’s home village, the place he grew up, the neighbors who knew him as a boy but now all call him nothing more than, “Pastor.” I don’t think we passed a person who didn’t know him, and the respect and love the community has for him touched me. I see it daily at Emmaus, but it was beautiful to see it in his home land.
I asked who we’d be seeing, and was surprised when he said, “Innocent.”
I thought Innocent converted, years ago, I said.
Oh, he did, Lucner affirmed. He said the (evil) spirits killed him for converting, and when his family took him to the morgue, Satan offered him one last chance to serve him faithfully forever, or to die. Innocent repented and agreed, and they say Satan brought him back from the dead, and ever since he’s been his faithful servant.
My western brain tried to follow along as my feet tried to keep up with Lucner’s strides.
I heard the clanging and knew we had arrived, though they wouldn’t let us in until Innocent came to the door and splashed his bottle of pungent red liquid to the North, South, East and West, all over the skull and the knives.
Lucner’s relaxed self didn’t change, though he sobered, and with no doubt or fear in his eyes, he entered, and with a silentprayer we followed. He led us through the yard, littered with strategically placed junk, through the “temple” where all the parties and late-night services happened, though today it was mostly full of chickens and young men, lounging about.
Lucner introduced me as Pastor Matt’s wife, and Innocent smiled, remembering, and shook my hand…but the rest of the morning he was distant and slurry and mysterious. There was no question asked that he directly answered, and he led us into a tiny shed in the back, full of bottles and books and dolls and talismans hanging from the ceiling, and as soon as he sat down, motioned one of his “servants” to shut the door.
It was pitch black and full of smoke and 100 degrees, and I was so thankful that he allowed the door to be reopened when Sarah insisted more light would be needed to interview him.
Lucner was fabulous, calm and respectful and strong, and we talked for over an hour. Innocent never referred to himself as “I”, but always referred to “his son, Innocent” and spoke to us as an evil spirit, possessing Innocent.
It all should have been far creepier than it was, but more than anything it was a show, more than anything the only thing choking was despair and sadness and anger.
He, of course, is not one of those bad witchdoctors that hurts people. No, no, he is one who helps people! If someone is sick, you just come and see him, and he’ll pour a little of this and a little of that into this here skull and you will drink it, and you will be healed, by the magic of his spirit.
Oh yes. And anyone can come, anytime they want, yes, just as they are, there is always a place here, and he will always help, he just wants to serve the community.
And he’ll just write down your dossier right here, on these stacks and stacks of papers full of indistinguishable marks, and just write down what you needed, and what he did for you, and oh, yes, what you owe.
And if you don’t pay what you owe, or can’t, that same medicine he gave you to help you will become a poison and it will kill you and you will belong to him. Forever.
Or if you traitor, if you reflect on the Gospel or think a bit of Jesus, all that ‘help’ will poison you bit by bit, so live in fear, live in darkness, live ever faithful.
It’s all poison and lies and death and darkness in the name of friendship and community and help.
Heavens, even his sheer name, Innocent, is the boldest of lies.
And people are poor and desperate and sick and hungry and in an instant, they will owe him forever. In an instant they are enslaved.
I was ANGRY because it is NOTHING but Satan…a guise in the name of help and prosperity that thinly covers death and destruction.
An image of intent to help and to trust that is actually a plot to kill and destroy.
I was angry because it. is. working.
Who could ever enter that yard and choke on that smoke and see that man chewing on glass and rubbing hot pepper oil all over his face and think, “This is my friend…this is going to help…this is what is good.”?? How could anyone not see the trap, the destruction, the hatred, the business, the lies?
Because everyday, we too are deceived. Every day, we TOO do not see it.
This is only one of the faces of Satan…there are many more we’re far more comfortable with.
I was angry because he has NO file for anyone who didn’t come to him freely, he insisted over and over simply that he is always there, always welcoming, and only helps those who come to him freely.
I was angry because so so so many do. I was angry to see the CRAP, the lies, that continue to deceive and control and kill SO MANY. I was angry to see the enemy, and to shake his hand and to see the root of so much struggle and so many fallen away and so many in-too-deep to abandon and follow Jesus.
There is no peace in it. All the while he is appeasing one demon, he is doing ten more things to defend against 100 others. There is the Eternal, he said, and there is US. Two kingdoms. And mine is always fighting.
There is no peace? I ask, Never peace? Only continuing to manipulate evil so it won’t do you harm while it is harming you?
Anyone is always welcome, he answered in a haze, avoiding my question, filling up the cups and horns of the neighbors in the yard anytime they asked with klaren, whiskey.
As we left, I realized that Lucner was angry, too…but for a very different reason, his pastoral heart.
This is where the church comes up SHORT, he said passionately. Here he is in the middle of the neighborhood, welcoming ANYONE, feeding and serving ANYONE, anytime, come as they are, anyway. Here is where people find help and community, and again and again the church makes it too hard. You have to dress a certain way. You have to come a certain time, you have to live a certain way, you have to follow all these rules, you have to talk a certain way, and you have to come when the gate is open.
This is where the church comes short, he said again, walking quickly, and I could see his passion forming into an exhortation for tomorrow’s sermon.
He was right. I never thought about that.
We finally made it back to his church, and sat on the front pew as Lucner shared his heart.
This is why what we’re doing at Emmaus is so important Lucner exuded, and Sarah quickly pulled out her camera and Matt started taping an entirely different kind of interview in an entirely different place.
In this ‘ministry’ there is NO hope, there is NO peace, there is NO help, there is NO freedom, there is NO truth, and my people are SLAVES to it. It is ONLY the Gospel that stands up to such darkness, it is only the Holy Spirit that frees and convicts and leads peoples minds to freedom, it is only in Christ where our true good lies, and there are still so many who do not know.
Satan uses men like Innocent to dig in his claws so deep, so deep that men and women owe everything they have, their homes, their lives, their children…all debts that only JESUS can pay. That Jesus HAS paid. In Christ alone is there freedom from such darkness, and we must tell people, we must teach people, we must persist with people, for FREEDOM.
His interview was fabulous and powerful and passionate and I can’t wait to show it to you…can’t wait to show all of the day to you.
There is no fear of Satan in this form or any other. There is only righteous anger at the deception, and Christ’s strong love and burden for the world being deceived. If we KNOW the truth, it is impossible, inexcusable, inexplicable not to share it. If we LIVE the truth, our lives must ALSO be ALWAYS available, always ready, always welcoming, always feeding and caring and loving, HIS love.
Satan is alive and well and at work in Haiti…and just as alive and well and at work in your world, and we must be the church, church, and be living the freedom, free brothers, and be about our Father’s business, which. is. this: