Mission: Haiti 2008
A brother from another planet
By Gary Fallesen
[NOTE: On Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009, Chalisma was struck by lightning and killed in Gentilhomme, Haiti.]
Chalisma was the first person from the mountain village of Gentilhomme that I met. We encountered him as we crested the hill, thinking we were climbing Pic la Selle as part of a 2005 mission trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Miguel, who was our translator on that trip and who would become our missionary to Haiti, asked Chalisma if he could show us the way up Pic la Selle. He said yes, but told us he wanted to introduce us to the pastor in the village first. That was the beginning of our relationship with Gentilhomme, where we continue to minister.
Chalisma, left, on the first day we met in 2005.
When we returned to Gentilhomme 10 months later to help the people finish building a church that God funded through us, Chalisma was the “Boss” on the project. I was happy to see my friend. I have always felt a special bond that transcends the chasm between his life in Haiti and my life in the United States. It may be only several hundred miles from the U.S. to Haiti, but it is as if we live on different planets.
What I didn’t know until then was that my friend was not my brother. Chalisma was not a Christ follower. Yet God used him to bring Climbing For Christ to Gentilhomme.
'Boss' Chalisma admiring his handiwork: He wrote his name on the church wall he'd helped build in Gentilhomme in April 2006. It was later painted over.
Recently, hunger has rocked Haiti. The poor there rarely have enough to eat. It is why 14-year-old boys look as if they are 10. The people are nearly always under-nourished and in need. But a drought from the end of the hurricane season in the fall of 2007 through the spring of 2008 led to even greater suffering.
In the wake of this agony, God began a Climbing For Christ Food Bank & Seed Bank program to serve the people in Gentilhomme and Malasi. The Spirit moved members and supporters to give to this project and in early June we made our first food drop.
On the eve of this drop, God planted another idea on my heart. I instructed Miguel to personally take Chalisma some food with a message from me. “Tell him I sent it because God told me to help him. Tell him about Jesus and that God loves him. Ask him if he will accept Christ as his Savior.”
I said to Miguel, “God has told me to give you these instructions. Please do this so we may one day call Chalisma ‘brother in Christ.’”
Miguel did as I asked. When he returned from Gentilhomme he told me: “Chalisma said, yes, he would do it.’ He accepted to take Jesus as his Savior.”
In times of desperation, God leads us to Him. “In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles” (Psalm 34:6).
God is The Provider. He delivers food to the hungry and living water to those who are thirsty.
“God is inspiring in us to work where He want, when He want, and how He want,” Miguel said after the first food drop. “We must be as Pastor Rick Warren said in his book, The Purpose Driven Church, like a surfer who waits patiently for the good wave to go on. We must be patient, too, to wait for our good wave to obey God in what He wants, when He wants, and where He wants us to do something.
“God enjoy today for many people can warm their stove today.”
We brought more than food to the people of Gentilhomme in early June and again in late June. We brought more than food to the people of Malasi in late June. We brought the love of Jesus and the joy of our Father in heaven.
We take care to make sure the people whom we serve realize it is God’s work, not ours. We are His hands and feet. If not for Him we would not go where we are serving. We never would have found Gentilhomme. I would not have known Chalisma, let alone been able to call him “brother in Christ.”
Gary Fallesen is the president of Climbing For Christ. In December, he will lead this ministry’s fifth short-term mission trip to Gentilhomme. This story originally appeared in The Climbing Way (Volume 10, Summer 2008).
Posted Oct. 12, 2008 / Updated Dec. 20, 2008