Funeral services for Haitian Pastor David Charles, who was murdered Wednesday, May 26, will be held Saturday, June 5. As Pastor Charles was leaving a Port-au-Prince bank after cashing a check, two motorcycle robbers accosted him to steal his money (and perhaps kidnap him). While the robbery was taking place, a security guard stepped into view. The robbers panicked, shot the guard and Pastor Charles, killing them both, and then fled. Pastor Charles was the legal representative for the Haiti Annual Conference.
Missionary Rick Ireland Reflects May 29, 2010
Every Thursday at noon, a group of Free Methodist Haitian pastors gathers in the office of the General Superintendent for a time of worship and prayer. I happened be there as they gathered this week. The mood was somber. The day before, a prominent and beloved pastor had been robbed and killed as he left his bank after withdrawing some money to replace his car. The murdered pastor’s son was among those who slowly and quietly filed in. Each greeted the grieving son. Someone handed out hymnals and one of the pastors led out the singing, marking time with the snap of his fingers. The first song was slow and sad. A pastor prayed. The second song was a bit more upbeat. Another pastor prayed. And so the pattern continued. At one point, a pastor opened his Bible and began to preach. I couldn’t understand all the words but the name “Job” figured prominently. More singing and praying followed. And though I did not understand all the words (except the ones I was asked to share), I did watch in wonder as God filled that space, lifting people up in a difficult time. By the end of the meeting, even the grieving son was singing these songs of faith. As the impromptu service wound down, there was still sadness but there was also quiet resolution. These pastors did not face the future alone. They have one another, and they have a God who is bigger than their suffering, and who understands their suffering, sharing the journey.
Our faith doesn’t exempt us from suffering. What I could see first hand is that what faith does do is give us the resources to face the suffering that is part of life in a fallen world. We do not serve a God who is watching a show from a distance. We serve a God who took on the very flesh of man, experienced life in its joy and sorrow, in its victory and its suffering – a God who understands the pain of grieving over a much too early death. There is a strength in that and I saw it in the faces of the men as they left that day.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV) we read:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
I saw that lived out in the in the flesh this week. These pastors are no strangers to suffering. They have lived through floods, political upheaval, and now earthquakes. Everyone of them lost people close to them on January 12. They knew the pain of the grieving son, but they knew the Son who saw them though the suffering of the past would be there in this as well.
I knew the pastor who died. I will miss his quiet gentle spirit and his words of encouragement as I adapt to life in this very different place. I am strong in the reality that this time of separation is not permanent. We will meet again.