Some months ago, I visited one of my favorite churches in Haiti, located in an area of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, known ironically as Cite Soleil or Sun City. This particular community has been identified by UN peacekeepers at various times, during the last ten to fifteen years, as one of the most dangerous places in the world because of violent crime, gang warfare, kidnapping, domestic violence, hunger and disease.
In the middle of this hard place is a thriving church worshipping in a new building built literally on top of the rubble of the old sanctuary destroyed by the earthquake. This particular morning, the worship service was really hopping. The young musicians were obviously enjoying themselves and the congregation was in celebration mode.
But at the close of the worship the mood changed as the worship leader introduced a slow, thoughtful song. Singing words inspired directly from the scriptures “Non janm tout sel,” "No, Never Alone." With hands raised, closed eyes, lots of tears people sang the song through several times. Sometimes during worship it’s annoying to sing the same words over and over again, but judging from the intensity that these simple words provoked in the worshippers, they needed to hear these words of comfort repeated.
In a few moments, I was going to drive through the steel gate out from behind the high poured concrete church wall, already riddled with bullet holes and drive carefully, but rapidly out of that section of the city. They were going to stay, to shine and to serve. They needed to be reminded, to be comforted by the Promise of God that they would not be alone or serving in their own strength.
As I looked around that morning at the Cite Soleil worshippers, I realized that I knew very little about the kind of courage needed to live, shine, serve in such a place.