Moments from Haiti... "Do you believe in that cross?"

Our trip to Haiti was full of moments that tell parts of a larger story. Here is one such moment...

I was walking home from school one afternoon with one of the older boys from the orphanage. Everyone else had drifted away from us, and we were talking alone. I usually wear a small cross on a silver chain around my neck, and this boy became interested in it. Pointing to the section of chain visible above the back of my t-shirt collar, he asked, "What's the bling you are wearing?" (I doubt many Haitian boys know the English word "bling", but this one does.)

I pulled the cross out from under my shirt and showed it to him. "This is a cross I wear. When I put it on in the morning, I say a prayer."

He asked, "Do you believe in that cross?"

"Yes, I believe in the cross."

He asked again, a little more pointedly, "You believe in that cross?"

Suddenly I realized what he was asking. In a world saturated with voodoo, superstition, and "familiar" objects, he wanted to know whether I was a Christian who also approved of the practice of some form of voodoo or local superstition.

"No," I replied, "I do not believe in this cross. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for us."

"Oh. Right," he said.

That was the end of the conversation, but I was sure he was probing to see what kind of pastor I was. As I understand Haiti, many are the people who believe in Jesus and voodoo. Few are the people who believe in Jesus and not some form of voodoo or superstition. It took me back to ancient times when Israel had to mark themselves off from pagan cultures by worshiping only one God and not God and everyone else's gods. This boy wanted to know where I stood in an ancient story that plays itself out every day in Haiti.

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