As Christians, sometimes we get the wind knocked right out of us. A horrific event occurs and we cannot breathe, cannot think…our chests heaving with a struggle that we cannot fathom. It actually seems like the devil has won. And we just cannot comprehend it.
Such an event happened this past weekend. Many of you have probably heard about the ambush and shooting death of Roberta Edwards in Haiti. Jeremy and I (Kristen) were in our Sunday morning Bible class when we got the awful news. We met Roberta in Haiti two years ago on a mission trip and didn’t know her well at all, but this news burned through us with a savage intensity…especially since several friends of ours had just arrived in Haiti a day or two before to run a medical clinic. We were in complete disbelief. How could this be real? Why would someone ever want to hurt such a good woman? Who in the world will ever be able to take her place? Are our friends safe?
I have had such a tremendous respect for Roberta Edwards for many years. She was an American who married a Haitian man and then moved to his homeland. At some point, he left her. But she had already started taking care of Haitian orphans and couldn’t bear to leave them to return home to the United States. So she stayed. And for 20 years, she has run the Sonlight Children’s Home in Port-au-Prince. She became a mother to those orphans and created a family in that house.
Besides raising numerous orphaned children (there are currently 20 living in the children’s home), Roberta was called to other good works in Haiti. During the week, she helped with feeding and educating about 120 other children, many of whom wouldn’t have access to much food otherwise. And she raised money to purchase sewing machines for a group of ladies to begin a business. These ladies were able to make money to feed their own families because of the jobs that Roberta provided. And of course, she always worked with the various mission teams who ran medical clinics several times a year.
When I think of all that Roberta has done in her lifetime, I am blown away. And I feel so humbled.
But now that tireless worker for the Lord has been called home. And we are left to wonder why evil seemed to triumph in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Because, not only was Roberta killed, but three of the children witnessed it. And one of them, Jojo, was kidnapped. Talk about heartbreaking. What a miserable, sick feeling in our stomachs! What can calm our hearts in face of such a troubling situation?
By the end of yesterday, I realized once again that the shock doesn’t have to give way to fear. God wants more for us than to live in tortured fear of evil men while we’re here on earth. We have to trust Him and purposely redirect our thoughts to find the good in the very bad. And we can find some very, very good promises in the midst of the mental struggles.
#1 First of all, we can be grateful that a child of God is safe in the arms of our Lord. Roberta worked so hard for Him and how happy she must be to finally be able to rest in Paradise! When a faithful Christian we know passes from this life, Jeremy always says, “What a great day he/she must be having today!” I love that he reminds me of that each time; it’s so true. That thought always cheers me considerably. If they were a true Christ follower, there is no more pain or sickness or death in their new world. They’ve claimed the victory! Even if they had the choice to come back, they would not. They are at peace.
#2 The Gospel spreads in adversity. The New Testament church is evidence of this. They endured persecution but did their numbers dwindle? No, indeed; they grew in strength and number by God’s power. (See Acts 6:7 – and well, the whole book of Acts)
Thousands of faithful Christians are united in prayer over this incident in Haiti. If you have been on Facebook yesterday and today, you’ve probably seen numerous posts about Roberta Edwards’ passing. And each post details the good works she was involved in. Roberta’s many years of work in Haiti have touched more than the orphans she has helped and loved; her servant’s heart touches us, too. She inspired us. Her example was an encouragement to each of us. And her legacy will live on for many years.
I am reminded of Dorcas. (Acts 9:36-42) That good lady sewed clothing for the widows and orphans and they loved her for it. After she became ill and died, her many friends were absolutely heartbroken. They came to Peter and showed him the clothes she had made for them, weeping in sorrow over the loss of a good lady.
I find myself wishing that Peter could have been there to take Roberta’s hand and heal her the same way he healed Dorcas. But miracles have ceased in this present age.
It is healing to know, though, that the many lives she touched will hold her memory dear. I feel certain that the way she lived her life will continue to change the trajectory of many others. And who can know the far-reaching effects of the seed she has sown?
#3 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) A familiar passage…but sometimes we truly can’t imagine how God will work something out for good. But we can trust that He WILL. And I look forward to seeing what beauty He will bring out of the ashes.
#4 Spoiler alert…we’re involved in spiritual warfare, but Jesus wins in the end. We already know that, thanks to the book of Revelation. (chapter 20:7-10) And we can know that if things aren’t O.K., it’s not the end. The Lord will exact vengeance on the devil and his followers at the true end of the world. We’re on the winning team; let’s not ever forget that.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their affliction,
and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)