I was so nervous when I woke up. It was my second day in Haiti. And it was the first day of our ladies conference. We loaded up in the van and prayed before we left. I wasn’t the only one who was nervous. We were all nervous. Marie, Krystal, Kinsley, and I all confessed that we were struggling with fear. And the subject we would be teaching on was putting on the armor of God. Boy did we all need that armor right about now.
None of us knew what to expect. There were no flyers that went out to advertise this event. No email invitations. No Facebook announcements. We didn’t know if anyone would even show up. We drove down an unpaved road through what looked like numerous neighborhoods of broken down buildings and shacks that the people here called “home”. I wondered where we would be doing the conference. I kept looking for a church or a building in the midst of all the ruins. Finally the van came to a stop
beside an old broken down chicken coop.
Half of the roof was missing. There were no doors. No bathrooms. The entire structure was open. There were thin benches and a few chairs scattered inside. In the middle was a small table with a tablecloth. On top was a vase and some artificial flowers in it. These flowers were the only decorations. A kind neighbor had set it up for us. I later learned that this old chicken coop was actually used as a church for nearby neighbors. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
The four of us gathered inside that chicken coop and prayed. Then Kinsley started playing praise and worship music on the portable speaker we had brought. Slowly ladies began to trickle in. They came, excited, all dressed up in their Sunday best for the conference. Some came with friends. Some brought their children with them. Others came alone. And they all sat shoulder to shoulder crammed together like sardines on those old rickety benches. We had over 50 ladies show up. We sang and worshipped God in that chicken coop. We opened God’s Word and shared truth. Everything just flowed. Working with the translator was seamless. I don’t know how else to describe it other than to say that God just showed up.
God’s presence was pungent in this place. We could feel it.
We took a break and passed out crackers and bags of water to the ladies. They seemed overjoyed to get a drink and snack.
I sat there, in a rusted chair with no back on it, taking it all in. Tears welled up in my eyes. I thought of my own church back in Tennessee.
Our church provides coffee, drinks, and donuts every Sunday. We sit in cushioned chairs. Our building has sturdy walls and a roof. It has air-conditioning, heat, and bathrooms. We have a band, instruments, televisions, technology, childcare.
Our church conferences have door prizes, t-shirts, and gifts to take home. They usually provide a full catered meal, which I have grumbled about in the past because I get tired of having Panera Bread all the time. Oh, my goodness!!! My ungrateful heart!!! I sat there broken, so ashamed of myself!!!
Here in this chicken coop we had none of those things. Yet interestingly enough, we didn’t need any of those things. God showed up. We had Him. And that was enough.
He is always enough.
“Heart of Worship,” written by Matt Redman, began to play in my mind.
When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart
I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what you have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about you,
It’s all about you, Jesus
Yes! The heart of worship is about one thing. Jesus.
Why do I make worship about everything else? In trying to get everything just right and comfortable, I often leave out the only thing that truly matters.
Those ladies sat there in that hot chicken coop from 9 am until noon. We sang, worshipped, read God’s Word, prayed, and worshipped some more. Several ladies lingered after it was over as if they didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to leave either. I just wanted to hold onto this moment and treasure it for as long as I could.
Later that night, as the four of us reflected on the day, we were all in awe of how God had showed up. Marie said, “Isn’t it amazing how God called four unqualified women, who all struggle with fear, to leave their comfort zones, to go to Haiti, and share His truth with others.” Amen sister! I don’t speak the language. I don’t know the culture. I could go on and on with a list of reasons of how unqualified I am.
But you know what? None of that matters.
Christine Caine says, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”
I am learning that it’s really not about me at all. It’s not about my ability, but my availability. It’s about me emptying myself of me and allowing Him to fill me up and take the reins.
It’s about obedience.
If God calls us to do something, we need to do it. Sure, when we step out of our comfort zones, it can be scary. Was I nervous? You better believe it–like a cat on a hot tin roof.
But you know something else I am learning about God? He usually doesn’t remove the fear. He wants us to do it afraid. And when we do, that’s when He takes over. That’s when His power flows. And there’s nothing like it when God takes center stage in our lives. He gets all the glory! He puts on quite a show when He shows up!
Even in a chicken coop.