How Voodoo Taught Me to Cherish Silence

I bolted upright in bed—my heart racing.

Eerie chanting and wailing surrounded our home. I flung off the sheets and ran to the window. A few feet away a crowd of Haitians were singing, swaying, and banging drums. I crawled back to bed, admittedly a little shaken, and stuffed ear plugs in hopes of getting a little rest before a long day of flying.

025330-Haiti-2008Q2D-NATWe lived on a corner in Port-au-Prince. The fact that it was a corner was a significant detail—one Tanya and I could not have anticipated as we began our tenure with MAF’s Haiti program.

Voodoo permeates Haitian culture, wrapping itself around nearly every aspect of life there—and corners play a key role in voodoo. They are believed to be locations where spirits can be contacted and supernatural events often occur. Corners are seen as the points where the spiritual and physical worlds touch.

The corner our house was on was affecting me physically—I was exhausted—but it also had an effect on me spiritually—prayer became absolutely essential to my daily life!

No matter how many ear plugs I went through, I could not drown out the clamor that began around midnight every night. Constant noise surrounded our home and seemed to saturate all of Port-au-Prince. Silence eluded me. I found myself needing time alone with my Lord more than I ever had.

I thought of Luke 5:16 often while in Haiti: “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

John Boyd when he served in Haiti.

John Boyd when he served in Haiti.

Silence and solitude were vital aspects of Jesus’ ministry. He was sought after by crowds of people but made it a priority to find time to be alone with His Father. If silence was so vital to our Lord, it should also be important to us.

While I am no longer surrounded by the chants of voodoo priests each night, sometimes silence can be overwhelmed by the “noise” of daily life. As I manage the roles and responsibilities of leading this organization, I must continually remind myself to find time to be alone with God. If I don’t make this a priority, I find my stress level rises and my spiritual well-being suffers.

As you think about what Luke 5:16 tells us about Jesus, consider the “noises” that are distracting you in your daily life and think about ways you can make time to be alone with God each day.

Tanya and I are thankful to no longer live in a corner house in Port-au-Prince. But that experience was indispensable for our spiritual growth. Our focus on Jesus became laser-like. Being surrounded by voodoo forced us to trust Him in ways we never had before.

God is with us through all sorts clamor—whether voodoo chanting or the hustle and bustle of the corporate—the key is finding the silence in which to seek Him.

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