The following story is true. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent, but they have in fact been misspelled due to the writer’s incompetence.
Marjorie Antwoine is one of the hardest working women at Restoration Ministries in Jacmel, Haiti. She works in the sweltering heat, preparing food for the kids. In 90 degrees plus temperatures standing over a giant vat of boiling stuff, she serves. When teams arrive on mission trips, she is part of the team that cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for those teams. Did I mention the sweltering heat?
When church services are happening, she joins in the choruses with a reckless abandon that in the United States would make church people uncomfortable because of the distraction. Of course it’s only a distraction because in America it’s unusual to worship like that. In places like Haiti it’s normal. Just standing there? That’s a distraction.
One of her daughters; Dashka, is sponsored by Theresa Swain and so visited her home while we were there. Her “home” is actually a tent that is in front of the tiny building that used to serve as her home. The house is too damaged by the quake, so she faces the elements inside this home made of cloth.
When we got there, she started testifying about how she had given her life to the Lord because of the work that Pastor Lafleur had been doing there. Some time ago, Lafleur had been in an accident that could very easily have taken his life, and she told about how that was a moment for her that caused her to give her life over to the Lord completely.
I learned that in addition to Dashka, Marjorie has 3 other children, from 3 other fathers. She had lived a hard life of poor choices made when poverty and the sin nature collide. Desperation is the mother of sinful decisions.
Desperately poor, a man comes along, shows her some attention, and becomes not only a potential for a relationship but a bridge to provision. Loneliness can block out the truth, and it’s easy to fall into the trap. In fact it’s a miracle that any one doesn’t. As a single female in Haiti, it’s extraordinarily difficult to survive. A man comes along, pays them some attention, dangles hope in their face, and disappears. There is an irony in being left with less than she started with but greater need in the form of one more mouth to feed.
Sitting there I realized this is a story that was familiar. Jesus was on His way home for a weekend in Galilee. On His way, they stopped off in Samaria for a break.
He encountered a woman there that was not unlike Marjorie. Desperately poor, had multiple lovers, and it can only be assumed, multiple children. She was drawing water at noon. That’s important to note because there had to be a reason for being there at noon. In the brutal heat of the desert, the women draw water in the morning hours to avoid the heat. I suggest that she was drawing water at noon to avoid the heat too. Not the literal heat, but the heat that comes from the stares, the comments of the other women; those things that burn right to the heart.
And it’s here, in this setting. To this woman whose life was marked by sin that comes from desperation. To this woman who was from a race of people that were looked down upon as animals by the “higher class” Jewish people. It was here that Jesus told of the rivers of living water that would come. The holy spirit, the refreshing that would take care of her thirst that she had tried to quench on men. The thirst that always left her thirsting for more.
Marjorie was living proof of this promise. If you’re around her at all you can’t help but be encouraged, refreshed, and receive life. Just like a good river, she’s almost invisible. The results of the meals, the cleaning, the service, are easy to take for granted just like the trees and fruit that grow alongside a river.
But if you look, they are there. The fruit of the spirit. The rivers of living water that flow from Marjorie Antwoine just as Jesus Himself had promised the Samaritan woman 2,000 years ago. They are the results of the water that flow.
Marjorie might not be rich in our economy, by our definitions. But I assure you in God’s Kingdom she is loaded. This side of heaven she might be living in a tent, but when this life is over, and this life is nothing but a blip on the screen, She will be living in a place that Jesus said is specifically and uniquely prepared for her.
When I realize that Jesus took time to hang with the Samaritan woman, when I realize that Jesus is hanging with Marjorie Antwoine, I’m real glad about that. As much as I’d like to relate to the “hero’s” of faith listed in Hebrews, I’m much more like the Samaritan woman. But my sinful heart, my sinful past, don’t disqualify me. If anything they do the exact opposite.
And that grace, that water that washes over me, it cleans out the sin, the gunk, and then overflows out of me bringing that same kind of refreshing to others around. Jesus had this way of making religious people feel very uncomfortable, and sinful people feel very comfortable. My prayer is that Conduit can be a place just such as that. I hope that religious people are very uncomfortable in our presence, and that sinful folks feel right at home.
I pray that is the truth in Jacmel, Haiti, in Togo Africa and right here in Middle Tennessee. I pray that we ourselves can have those rivers of living water flowing in us, to meet our needs and quench our thirst and flowing out of us to do the same for all we encounter.
I hope you can join us on Sunday. I had an amazing experience yesterday that started with a complete stranger asking me if I was a minister. When I said yes, He said “Is God real? Because I’ve gotta know right now”. It was one of the craziest experiences of my life and falls right into what we’re talking about in Acts 3 where Peter and John were interrupted in their life with an appointment from God.
I’ve been alive for 39 years, and I’m just telling you that God is doing some crazy stuff in our lives right now. I’m so honored to be part of it and to serve beside each and every one of you.
1030 on Sunday morning at Independence High School.
CENTERPOINT KIDS: PARENTS, A MESSAGE FROM JIM HENDERSON
Dateline: April 20
If I say nothing else this week, let me say this: your kids are so precious. One of the things you as parents may want to know is that as a leadership, we have decided that rather than purchasing a set curriculum, we have opted to write our own. By doing this we are not saying there is anything wrong with curriculums that are out there, but instead, by the leading of the Spirit, we just felt that we could meet your kids exactly where they were at and give them a unique experience, something different, that is less canned and more relational.
With that said, this week we dove into a 4 part series that will take the kids of CenterPoint, on a journey of self discovery. This week we began in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 18 – the Potter’s wheel and talked about how a Potter will take a lump of clay and shape it, mold it, into something unique and beautiful.
In a similar fashion God shaping us, each one of us different, unique, and beautiful. Like a potter, he is shaping us, healing our sins (read: as the pot is marred, the potter will work to reshape and heal it). The good news for the kids is we all marred….the better news is the Master Potter will continue to work on all of us, from Pastor Darren to Mr Jim to you their parents all to way to each of them – equally!
We also began a special project…so please understand Mom’s that they will not be able to share about it, but I will say this….the Love I saw on each of their faces as they worked so hard was moving – you Moms are truly blessed!
This week, remind the kids of their memory verse taken from the book of Isa 64:8 “Lord you are our Father. We are the clay. You are the potter. Your hands made all of us. See you Sunday!