There are a few missionary families that I know of in Haiti, some I'm more closely acquainted with than others. Being concerned for them, I poked around on facebook trying to discover if they were okay or not. I want to share with you a miracle that unfolded on Wednesday.
Biz and Erica Lerisse, along with their children, are missionaries to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This letter was written last Saturday, before the earthquake.
Dear Praying Friends,
I remember hearing in Bible college over and over again about the evil days that would surely come to every believer, and especially to those attempting something for God. So it has never been a surprise to us when things went wrong or contrary to the way we prayed or planned. I have seen the inside of the Haitian jail twice. I have had thugs stone our bus. I have seen our church property vandalized and demolished. We have been lied about; accused by Haitians of having voodoo powers to get people into the church and accused by American bothers in Christ of "all those people did not really get saved." We have fought severe asthma in one child, and have fought worms, parasites, salmonella, and malnutrition in others. My wife and children have been in a near death accident and walked away unharmed. Along with these wrestlings from without we have had our wrestlings from within - those evil days of our own making.
But recently we were confronted with news that we never expected to hear. My wife has been extremely ill with acute bronchitis and weight loss in her 7th month of pregnancy. Upon taking her to the doctor and an ultra sound being done, it was found that our little baby Steven Ray has fluid on the brain and a disconnected spinal column that is known as spina bifida. We will not know the severity of the complications until the baby is taken by C-section on January 18th in Santo Domingo. Immediately upon delivery, surgery will be performed to cover the exposed spine or vertebrae, and surgery will be done on the brain to implant a shunt to drain the fluid. Of course we covet the prayers of all of God's people. We know that God is able to correct these problems before the due date, and of course we are praying to that end. But more than we want these "problems" corrected we want His will for our lives, His grace and mercy to be demonstrated to unbelievers and weak believers, and we want to be more like Him; and to that end we pray.
In the midst of these days, we have seen victories in Saint Marc and what seem like defeats. While out of town a few weeks ago, the people opposing us for the church property came and demolished the foundation we had raised for the wall. A few days later they came to the property with the city commissioner to sell a portion of the land. We still have possession of the front part on which the church stands, but they have taken possession of and sold the back. And yet, in the Living Baptist Church of Saint Marc souls are still being saved and baptized, and young men are preparing for Bible College. God has allowed me to see over 35 souls saved this month in personal soul winning, and our second church is growing.
Pray for us. Pray for my Beloved. Pray for our precious children. Pray for the ministry and that God's perfect will be done in His perfect way. Pray for the finances that we need in the starting of this Bible College: for dorms, furniture, meals, and curriculum. Pray for the expenses we are about to accrue with the birth of our little baby Stephen and the special needs that he will have. Pray that God would give me wisdom and understanding. Pray that through all these things Christ's kingdom would be enlarged and our family would become more like the Master.
We love you, and we thank you in advance for your effectual, fervent prayers.
This letter is so poignant. I can feel the raw emotion and am reminded again that our missionary friends are just regular people like us. Not to minimize their great faith and sacrifice for Christ; I truly admire them. I only mean to say that they are afraid just as we would be. They get homesick and lonely and discouraged and sad. They worry for their children's health and safety just like any one of us would. They are not some super breed of Christian who are not affected by all the persecution and hardships. Missionary wives don't hate huge bugs in their cupboards any less than I would! And yet, they go anyway. They stay anyway. Their lives are not their own but the Lords. And we don't have to have a foreign address to live the same way.
After reading this and learning of the diagnosis in their unborn baby, I felt such sadness for the Lerrises. I don't know them well; they attended the same college I did but were a couple of years my senior. They do however have a reputation among anyone who does know them of being very humble and sincere servants of God. Thinking of all the trials they've been enduring and then the earthquake hit, I and many others, held them in prayer on Wednesday that somehow they were safe.
On Wednesday evening, I decided to check facebook before going to bed to see if there were any updates on the Lerisse's and other missionary families for which I was concerned. It was then that I learned about a miracle God had done!!!
The c-section, which took place in the Dominican Republic, had been changed from the date given in the prayer letter to the 13th. Wednesday. The day after the earthquake. The Lerisse family was safe and not even in Haiti during the earthquake. Not only this but....
The baby does not have spinal bifida. The baby is fine.
"Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD." Psalm 135:1
Of-course, they and all the missionaries down there need our continued prayer. Their churches are hurting, people are devastated, supplies are hard to come by and violent people are trying to take advantage of the situation. Haiti is spiritually in darkness and even before the quake, it was a hard place to labor.
And lastly, here is an article written by one of my friend's young brother. He, with his parents, are missionaries in Haiti. All those faceless thousand who are injured or killed have faces and names to them. They knew them and loved them. Kasey Baker can tell you better than I.