“What was that phrase in Creole everyone was singing over and over? What does it mean in English?” I asked our Haitian pastor, brother, and friend.

My husband and I were part of a small U.S. contingent invited to join the celebration and dedication of a building in the barren foothills outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which would one day give birth to an entire “green church” network.

The new church building wasn’t green, exactly. Rather, in true Haitian spirit, it was dubbed the “green church” because of its metal roof color. Even from a distance, the building stood out like a beacon—a promise of life—in the otherwise harsh landscape.

Hundreds of Christian Haitians had come to the dedication. Many of them had been displaced from Port-au-Prince by the devastating earthquake of January, 2010. As in much of Haiti, living conditions in the area known as Onaville were deplorable and malnutrition-related illnesses and death were common among their ranks.

Yet never have I been surrounded by so great a chorus of joyful worshippers of Jesus Christ as on that day.

Inside the building, the dedication saw wall to wall people with many others outside, peering through its open windows and doorways. There were child dedications, recognition of men who had faithfully studied and been certified as pastors and Bible teachers, a wedding, prayers of thanksgiving, and a beaming women’s choir who could sing like nobody’s business. The entire assembly began worshipping in song, wholeheartedly and all in Haitian Creole. An hour into their glad worship, they were still going strong and I found it all rather amazing.

Then came “the song”.

It was new and clearly spontaneous, sweetly arising out the believers’ singing. It contained only one phrase, “Nou beni”, and began growing in power. I didn’t know what those words meant, but joined in, having no doubt it was pure worship of God Almighty. One could just feel the holiness of God and the joy of His people flooding the place. And it just kept going!

Nou beni!

Nou beni!

Nou beni!

While singing, I looked over the sea of beaming faces. Nearly everyone was somehow—melodiously—half-shouting in rapture. After a while, people began to jump up and down in rhythm to the song. It evolved into an unashamed, God-honoring mosh pit.

Nou beni!

Nou beni!

Nou beni!

I again took in the radiance of the Haitian believers. This was not hype, but a clear, beautiful, and holy worship of God. No doubt!

The Haitian sisters in the choir were dancing as they sang and I knew I would have life-long regrets should I talk myself out of joining them.  I made my way through the crowded room to be happily welcomed with open arms and hearts. It was glorious.

Nou beni!

Nou beni!

Nou beni!

This song lasted for a good ten to fifteen minutes. When it ended as sweetly as it had begun, there was laughter, hugging, joyful tears and cries of “Hallelujah!”

I had experienced a taste of heaven here on earth, amazed to be a part of anything so beautiful. And I was fascinated:

What in the world did “Nou beni” mean?

* * *

Much later, after the dedication celebrations had concluded, the chance came to ask Pastor Noel that question.

“Ahh!” he said with a broad smile and clear delight. “Nou beni? It means, ‘We are blessed!’”

* * *

These believers knew hardship. They had buried too many of their loved ones. Many had no idea how they would feed their families in the week ahead. But they knew this:

Through faith in Christ Jesus, they were adopted sons and daughters of God.

Who chose them to be a part of His kingdom and joint heirs with Christ.

* * *

I had witnessed, and been invited into, a celebration of reality.

The vast, spiritual wealth these believers possessed through God had nothing to do with their health, status, the clothes they wore, or what they did or did not have. It was a secured truism, sealed by God’s Holy Spirit, and all because of Jesus.

They rejoiced for they knew this world is not their home and the trials of life are temporary. They thrilled to know they were cherished by God and held in His hands. They knew forgiveness and fellowship with Him now and that glory awaits them beyond the grave.

* * *

The reality of what it means to be in Christ, showcased through these believers, exceeded anything I could ever hope to offer them.

* * *

What happened in Onaville is important for all of us. Perhaps life’s twists and turns have seemingly robbed you of hope. Or dignity. Maybe your status has changed. You might be carrying cruel or painful labels, self-imposed or otherwise.

 It could be you’re feeling like anything but blessed.

Nevertheless, if you have placed your faith in Jesus for forgiveness of your sins, you’ve entered into a right standing before God.

You are (not will be) an adopted son or daughter of the Most High!

No matter what you face in the mirror, how complacent you’ve become, or how you feel or are viewed by others, you are a part of God’s royal family.

My friend, this is worth celebrating right now; no matter your circumstances.

* * *

Your friends at Encouragement That Lasts and its prayer team are petitioning God that your heart will expand to glimpse the stunning reality of Ephesians 1:3-6, as did our Haitian brothers and sisters:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.”

Nou beni!

* * *

 Would you like to know more about a portion of what God is doing in Haiti?

The “green church” in Onaville became the first of several. That’s in terms of church buildings. These structures aren’t the church, but gathering places for the Christ followers who are growing in faith and love who are part of His global Church—a world-wide community of believers.

The Lord is building His Church where poverty, devastation, danger, and hopelessness abounds. The green church network is, indeed, a beacon of hope. God is using it to display His unstoppable desire and ability to transform marginalized, suffering, or cruel and evil people into His beloved sons and daughters: members of His royal family. Nonetheless, please pray for them. Their “sonship” to God through Christ is a reality, and their temporary—but current—struggles are, too.

* * *

Thank you to my friends and brothers, Stan Horrell of MissioCare Collective, Pastor Noel Gespere of Onaville Green Project Ministries, and Dave Gossett of GracePoint Church in Ephrata Washington for contributing to this blog.  Nou beni!

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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