Samuel_HaitiThrough the bout, I have held close to my Lord and his everlasting grace has submitted my life into order and peace. (Genesis 32:22-30)

It is hard to explain and put into words what I experienced out in the country of Haiti. Most approach the expedition to a foreign land for a strictly humanistic reason which we addressed with many feeding programs and handing out clothes and shoes. Some people will go for exploration and experiences of the foreign, which we experienced walking through the various streets and ministries in the jungle areas. Many go for spiritual retreat, which we did through all day devotions and prayer. I however, left with expectation to meet God, face to face. I didn’t want anything else but to know I have met with Him, because I know I would not be the same again.

The first couple of days were trying, weary and downright almost disappointing. Our mission, for the men at least; turned into a labor camp of some sorts. It wasn’t the act of having to labor in the hot sun that was disappointing, we’ve been doing missions for a while, if anything we have grown to expect hard work and in a sense feel we have been trained for it. No, the sense of disappointment came in the anticipated routine. I have come so far to escape routine, escape the expected however; it was the very thing that greeted me.  This continued for four days straight.  The sun was unrelenting, the food was short on our accustomed consumption after hard work and our labor seemed to be redundant and not important.

This is when the breaking down started.  I began to experience digging and stone removal not only in the physical sense but in the spiritual as well. I began to discover how much corruption, filth and self was lingering in my heart. I was faced with everything from my vain pursuits, ambitions, thoughts full of greed, lusts and ungodliness. These things manifested themselves through grumbling and outburst masked as humorous banter but so much truth was embedded within them.

Being only left to my thoughts, I began to question and dissect my very character. My life seemed to roll before my mind as an athlete looks at a playback video of his last performance. So many things started off with good intentions and with a good heart but only to end up in such heart break. Pursuits that seemed to fulfill, at least in the physical and natural; only came laced with internal spiritual consequence and moral strife. It was there I began to meet my adversary; I was forced to look in the proverbial mirror, my greatest enemy was myself. I realized now the cause of every heart break in relationships or lack thereof, pursuits of monetary gain and physical fulfillment, academic accomplishments and human notoriety. It wasn’t that these were wrong to pursue, it was that they captured my heart, they had my affection, and they had my worship and devotion.

“At what point did it all begin to go wrong?” I asked myself. At what point did my heart leave the source of all joy and peace? To pursue what?  For all of this can be taken away and stripped in a matter of a couple of seconds. I got to meet people who lost generations of wealth in a disaster or unforeseen “market correction”. I walked the streets of failed governments and poverty stricken people who have lost all hope, Husbands and Wives leaving what were the ideal marriages for another pursuit based solely on feeling. It can all turn so quickly, but there is One Who remains the same.

This is where I heard God speak and show me many things literally. I began to see and hear the many stories of how faithful God is. How a people who were rocked literally to the core, instead of murmuring began to invite Christ in.  They began to denounce their voodoo ways that were not only suppressing them spiritually but physically as well. This earthquake shook so much more than the physical. We heard the sound of the people at all hours of the day, praising and lifting up the name of the Lord in their tarp tents, in their shattered homes. What could bring so much joy to a people stripped of so much? I have never met a people so hungry to know about God.  Bibles where just as valuable as clothes or money to them. I am in no way diminishing the need for resources out there because the need is great and there are very few organizations still helping, but it was an awaking to this California guy to see such dependence and true gratitude for every little blessing.  I’ve never seen a kid so happy just because they got to walk with us down the street holding our hand.

We got to hear account after account of how doors where opening for our friend Pastor Brian McDaniel and his ministry Cross to Light. Some of those stories just blow your mind and you can only leave with the notion of MAN, GOD IS NO JOKE!  I have never before met a man completely 100 percent dependent on God’s leading.  You can see the trail of God’s hand behind him. It was powerful to see the country of Haiti praying for the blessing of Israel simply because the word of the Lord says to do it and to see God bless them in major miraculous ways in return. I mean literal miracles! It was so impressive that the new President read from Psalms 118 and stated that the government of Haiti will submit to Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Could you imagine that proclamation from the white house?

I needed humility; I needed to see obedience and I needed to understand Grace. I found it; I was forced to deal with it with no distractions, hence my understanding of why I was called out to that island.

God had allowed me to exhaust all my being and wrestle with Him until He blessed me beyond measure that just like Jacob His touch left a permanent mark on my life.

There is so many that look with skeptical eyes, but yet I find those people never awaking to any revelation. They toss everything to the wind as chance, never finding an answer.  They are left with more questioning because we are built to be satisfied with truth, and truth is definitive.  My questions were answered, my purpose has been refined.  As humans we cannot undermine four truths;

Love: we all seek it in some form or another and we resent when it has been withheld from us at some point in life.
Justice:  we seek it when we have been wronged.
Evil: Cannot deny its presence in our world, like in recent events in our nation.
Forgiveness: What we yearn for when we have done wrong.

All of these truths are found in the person of Jesus, for He showed His love on the cross to defeat evil forever. He offers us forgiveness for all the wrongs we have done that separated us from Him if we would just believe and confess with our mouth (Romans 10:9). He did it all so we wouldn’t be held guilty before his throne of judgment (John 3:16).

I had to travel 2,500 miles to realize what I already knew, My God is a real and living God, My God is mighty, My God is Sovereign, He reigns and HE LOVES ME and you. We can rest and rely that God is working all things for His purpose and His purposes are good. He simply asks us to Obey, and hold on because it’s going to be a ride.

Samuel Villalta
Moreno Valley, CA