Some encounters change our lives forever, this is one such situation.The story you are about to read has many characters, but truly, only one Author. Through my interactions with Simon, John Simon, Naika and their voodoo priest father, I have seen and experienced the powerful transformation that is “the Gospel.” A special thanks to one of our CPR-3 partners in Haiti, Stephanie Taylor for her persistence and godliness through this story.
It was just another one of my walks – the walks I take every day while in Haiti to pray, listen to God, clear my mind and explore – when a young boy, John Simon took my hand and forced me to walk with him and his father to their home. It was my first exposure to John Simon and his family–or so I thought. I was excited to be welcomed into a Haitian home and was on the lookout for what God might want to teach me.The fact that John Simon’s dad was wielding a machete as we walked only added to the intrigue.
Once inside John Simon’s home, I was greeted by a dirty floor, some voodoo graffiti, a cross tied to the center post surrounded by liquor bottles, and my first exposure to a little girl that stole my heart, Naika. Upon seeing Naika, the voodoo artifacts and machete faded away and all I could do was kneel down, wipe away a tear, and gently touch this little girl’s head and tell her in english, “God loves you, sweetie and He will take care of you.”
Instantly I knew that this was the reason, this was the person, that motivated John Simon to grab my hand and lead me to his home.
After posting a video of this incident, I received this Facebook message from a dear friend in Indiana on January 25th at 4:03pm:
“Seriously, have her seen by a pediatrician ASAP. John Simon’s sister is a hydrocephalic. If she can get medical aid they can shunt her. It’s a pretty simple procedure, but has to be done soon as the fluid not draining will cause brain damage. Can you get her to a doctor?”
With the push from Joan, my dear friend from Indiana, I knew that God was calling me to do more than just cry and pray, we wanted action… Naika needed more than sympathy, she needed help.
After showing the video to Stephanie, one CPR-3‘s amazing missionaries in Haiti, and talking with her, she said: “Wow, I think that is Simon’s father.” To this I responded, “You know John Simon?” and she said “No, but I think that is the other Simon’s father, you know, the Simon that is always hanging around selling bracelets to teams that come to Haiti.”
Now I felt lost and confused. What should I do? I had no idea that I was in Simon’s father’s house – the house that had caused him so much pain. This was the man that had thrown Simon out and made him fend for himself at the age of 15.
Simon had my heart long before the day I took that journey with John Simon. Simon had my heart earlier – as soon as I had learned his story.
Simon, the young boy in the photo at the top of this story, accepted Christ as his Savior and Lord through the work of CPR-3. Upon accepting Christ, his father started to beat him as a means of letting him know that he did not want “Christ” in his family. Simon’s father continued to beat him, but Simon’s new found life in Christ would not allow him to denounce his new Heavenly Father, even in the face of pain and persecution from his earthly father. Not only did he beat Simon repeatedly, but after learning that Simon not only accepted Christ, but joined a church, he kicked Simon out of his home, leaving Simon, a 15 year old boy to fend for himself.
Now what was I to do? I hated this man that I had never met until that fateful day. (Yes that is a strong word, but instead of compassion I had anger towards this man.) Yet he needed my help — needed me to help his daughter. After a few repeated trips to John Simon’s house, Simon’s former home, I pulled Simon aside and had a heart to heart, man to man, follower of Christ to follower of Christ conversation.
“Simon, does it hurt you that I go to your father’s house and that I am trying to get help for your sister?”
“Yes,” was his reply. But after a short pause that seemed like forever to me, he continued, “But I know that you are only trying to help my sister, and I still love my father even though he beat me and kicked me out. I want my sister to get better. Please keep going and do all you can to help my sister, father and family.”
Now, as tears were flowing down my face, a common occurrence for me in Haiti, well, anytime I come face to face with Godliness — I realized that this 16 year old “orphan” just revealed to me the Gospel. This boy, turned man, knew something about the transformation that takes place in the life of someone that gives their life to Christ — a lesson that I needed to learn. Simon’s Gospel included not only the forgiveness of his sin’s, but gave him the strength and courage to forgive his own blood who disowned and hated him.
This story of “saving” Naika is still unfolding, but as of this writing she has gotten the surgery she needed. Thanks to financial help from one of our partners, Movement Church and my dear friend from Indiana. The road will be a long one, but we have seen progress. More money will be needed to make sure this young girl has a chance at life.
Simon has been instrumental in getting his sister the help that she needs. On my last trip to Haiti, I needed to go and connect with Naika and her father. Simon asked if he could go with me and interpret for me. Again, I was blown away. Simon’s Gospel is not just a story of forgiveness, but it is one of action and doing whatever is needed for Christ to shine.
When I asked him if he was scared or angry as we walked to his father’s home, Simon’s answer was priceless. “Yes, this is hard, but it is the right thing to do. My Father needs Jesus and my sister needs help.”
I am sure that John Simon had no idea when he grabbed my hand that day that this story would unfold, but God did. Through that hand in hand walk, a little girl’s life may be saved, and a voodoo priest may come to Christ. Last time the CPR-3 team was able to visit, Simon’s father asked Stephanie if she would pray — pray to the God that once drove him to beat his own son. God is at work!
My understanding of the Gospel has now been shaped by a 15 year old Haitian boy, and I pray his life speaks to you as well.
Would you like to help Naika get the medical help she needs? You can give towards health and hope for Naiki here.
E. Scott Feather is the Sr. Director of Operations for CPR-3.