stoop church

by Kayla Raymond

“The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.” – Proverbs 34:15

I am always asked questions like “what do you miss most from America?” or “what’s the hardest part?”

After nearly three years of living here, hands down, the thing I miss the most is the convenience of going to the grocery store or running to Target. Not only is the nice grocery store over an hour away from my house, it is also not necessarily safe to go there by myself. So, everything becomes a spectacle. Much planning goes into grocery runs and it just sucks (sorry mom for using that word) some days.

That would be the biggest thing for the day-to-day stuff.

For the life stuff, though, I miss church the most. I’m exhausted by the church. I’m tired of the politics and the people asking for money in the house of God.

Haitian worship is so beautiful and it fills me up with all the good stuff. The sermons are hard because they’re in Creole and I have to use too much of my brain to understand it all. There’s a two-year-old who sits on my lap during church; she requires a lot of attention. There’s shaking of hands and kisses on the cheeks, but mostly from strangers or from worn out moms who offer a begging hand. Teenage boys ask me for one dollar and I tell them – in not a very pleasant tone – how I come to church to worship God, not hand out money. Call me what you want, but the Sabbath is my day off as well.

Maybe this is hard to understand and maybe I am just being too harsh, but it’s the truth of my heart and it’s hard.

I miss real fellowship. I miss grandma serving me cookies after church and handshakes from familiar faces. I miss being honest with people and having conversations that include laughter and sometimes tears.

It’s hard to always be the person who gives, the person who always has the one dollar.

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So, I’ve been searching for a new altar to lay it all down at. A place to sit and be with the Creator. A time to tear off the masks, show the burdens and come as I am.

I’ve been waking up as the rooster crows and finding myself sitting on the stoop in front of my house that leads to the ocean. The quiet ripples of the ocean, the promises of a new day and the fisherman at sea warms and settles my heart.

I go and He meets me there on that stoop. I am certain of it. I ask Him for things: peace, redemption, justice. I pray for things: provision, new chances, forgiveness. I lay it all out there. The ugly and the good.

He has been showing me how church doesn’t have to be a Sunday morning thing. Church can be an anywhere thing. He shows me scripture and turns them to life. He walks with me through the day. He’s brought church to ViBella, where we gather each new morning to pray together. He’s shown me church in the small huts, where I pray for my elderly friend. He shows me church on the mountaintop where the children’s laughter fill my empty cup. The little school boy grabs my hand to walk me across the schoolyard, the walk reminding me to have a simple faith like a child.

Yes, it would be best if I could find a church that I felt a part of. Would be even better if they offered a nursery, children’s programs, and a Bible study for little worn out me, but for today the stoop is going to be enough. The church shall be on the stoop and the stoop shall become the church.

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“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.” John 17:20-23

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