I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti with Steve Anderson and Chelsea Landis this week, to connect with a few other ministries working on the goal of feeding kids in one of the toughest places in the world, Cite Soleil. When we arrived, we were greeted at the airport by our friend, Pastor Noel Gespere. Noel is a brother in Jesus Christ, who willingly gives of himself over and over again. He is a true Philippians 2 man. "Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges ; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross." (Philippians 2:3-8 NLT)
I saw a living example of these verses in Pastor Noel this week. He met us at the airport when we arrived Monday and drove us to our hotel. We were not in town to work directly with his ministry, but he knew we were coming to town and offered to pick us up. Kind gesture...right? Well, consider that our hotel was a one-way drive of over 2 hours from the airport.
Pastor Noel is very unassuming, kind and always willing to help. When I first met him, I didn't know he was a pastor, but thought he was hired by my friend Stan Horrell as a driver. On the way down to Haiti, I learned he was not just a part of a pastor's organization of 65 churches (most of these churches also have schools) and 4 orphanages, but that he is the Bishsop over this organization. Our good friend, our driver - the Bishop! I have heard of bishops having drivers, but it's great to know one that is willing to be a driver!
The day Noel picked us up, he had just returned home from a trip out to the southwestern tip of his country, where he led a revival. Along with several of his pastors, they baptized 732 people on Sunday afternoon, then boarded a bus at 6:00 PM and made the 10-hour trip home. After arriving at 4:00 AM, sleeping a little while, he drove over an hour to pick us up, drove us 2+ hours to our hotel through what has to be some of the world's worst traffic and then drove another 2 hours home. We saw him on Tuesday and Wednesday, too - each time he drove Stan Horrell, with Mission Discovery, over an hour each way to meet with us.
How many church leaders do you know that would make themselves available for this kind of service? He had a huge Sunday...baptizing 732 people. Didn't he deserve some rest? Blogs to write? I mean surely he's due a victory celebration and some rest, right? Really, I'm not knocking church leaders, but how many of any of us are willing to serve others like Pastor Noel? He was sick, tired (sick and tired of us, I bet!) and could have opted out at any time without any scrutiny. Not Pastor Noel. He was there everyday, smiling, kind and giving himself away. He considers others better than himself, takes an interest in what interests them and never complains.
One other story about Pastor Noel I have to share with you:
While he was preaching a sermon in 2010, he sensed the Lord telling him that there was going to be an earthquake. He felt like the Lord told him 33 people in that service needed to trust their lives to Jesus Christ. So, Noel shared this vision with the congregation. Thirty-three people came forward and trusted their lives to Jesus. From death to Life forever with Christ! In a moment, they turned to God and became His forever. Six days later, one of the worst earthquakes of our time rocked Haiti. Pastor Noel said he has no idea if those 33 survived that day, but he was totally confident that no matter their outcome, they are alive in Jesus. I share his belief and rejoice with him in the victory over death for 33 souls.
Being with Pastor Noel inspired me to want to love and serve others like he does...like Jesus did. I hope you're inspired, too.