By Betty B. Gray
Once you have been to Haiti you never forget the unbelievable poverty. The first glimpse is really more than one can comprehend: the shacks people call home; families sleeping in shifts because there are not enough mats; streets filled with garbage; open sewers; overwhelming smells; naked, starving children lining the streets; people walking for miles with their burdens on their heads to sell anything to meet their basic needs.
“A Little Farther”
I had sponsored a child at this mission for many years. Each day he came to the mission compound to see me. He asked if I would walk to his home to meet his family. One of the missionaries said, “I will go with you to interpret.” We walked and walked and walked, and he kept saying, “Just a little farther” (which turned out to be over four miles).
When we finally arrived at his hut, the bare earth was swept clean. His mother asked her son to go get a chair for “the rich white lady.” He ran from hut to hut and finally came back with a broken-down chair for me.
“That Kind of Love”
The mother kept thanking me for sponsoring her son. Soon other families began to gather to see “the rich white lady.” One mother was holding a beautiful baby girl. She asked if I would take her baby. The missionary whispered to me, “Don’t take the baby.” I replied, “Can’t I just hold her?” She repeated firmly, “Do not take the baby.” Not knowing the culture, I shook my head no.
After a lovely visit, we started our long walk back to the mission compound. I immediately asked the missionary why I could not hold the baby. She said, “That mother was asking you to take her baby, not just hold it.” I said, “I don’t understand that kind of love, that a mother would give her child away.”
I will never forget the missionary’s response: “Betty, I hope you never have to know that kind of love, that you would be willing to give up your child so that it might have a better life.”
In the midst of extreme poverty, I found extreme love.
Betty B. Gray is the director of Encourage Me Ministries and nationally performs living dramas of women of the Bible and great women of the faith. Betty is a widow with two daughters, five grandsons, and two great-grandchildren.