One morning while still living in Haiti, I had a conversation with God that I will never forget. I began to ask Him concerning some mission opportunities that had presented themselves. I asked Him about a well-known mission organization where I could receive training and be stationed in almost any nation in the world. He replied, “If you go, I will bless it.” Then I petitioned Him about another possible mission opportunity. He repeated, “If you go, I will bless it.” Exasperated, I replied, “What do You mean You will bless it? I don’t want You to bless it; I want to know Your will!” Silence. Then I enquired, “What about Apostle Paul?” Again, there was silence. I still didn’t understand how the revelation Holy Spirit had ministered to me concerning my connection with Apostle Paul was possible as long as we were separated from one another in two different nations, especially since I believed God’s will was for me to remain in Haiti for the rest of my life.
Then, suddenly, in that instant of silence, an understanding rose up in my spirit. God was asking me what I wanted! A reply arose from deep within my spirit. “I want the deeper depths of Your Spirit!” With my own confession, I had God’s answer.Through this conversation, God taught me that He permits us to make choices in life. These choices are tests because God wants to know how far we desire and are willing to go with Him. Truly, there are no limits to the heights and depths of experiencing the manifest presence and glory of God in our lives. This was the beginning of God’s teaching me concerning another key lesson of the apostolic process of our becoming, which is that our God–breathed assignment is much more about who we are becoming than the things that we do physically, even in ministry. We are human beings created in God’s image, not human doings. Yet, all that we think, say, and do flows out of our beings, carrying the essence of who we are in God’s perfectly keen eyesight.
After fifteen months of living in Haiti, God tested me again by asking me to surrender my life to Him in order to live permanently in Haiti. I experienced another struggle similar to the first time of surrender in the church, and I responded, “Yes,” to God’s call, no matter the cost or consequences. Immediately, I experienced peace and freedom in my surrender. Within a week or so, Apostle Paul returned to Haiti, and I struggled to understand how all of God’s words to me fit together. Finally, one morning in prayer, God spoke clearly to me saying, “I have released you from Haiti.” Then He explained that He had tested me similarly to the way that He had tested Abraham when He asked Him to sacrifice his son on the altar.
More than sixteen years have passed since I lived in Haiti. Interestingly, God recently instructed me to return to “the land of the covenant.” When He spoke these words in my spirit, I instantaneously knew and understood that He was referring to Haiti. For this reason, Haiti will always have a special place in my heart. The Biblical concept of covenant refers to a formal binding oath or agreement between two parties. You see, Haiti was not the place where I first said the sinner’s prayer, asking Jesus to come into my heart. Neither was Haiti the place where I first cried out to God in prayer or walked to the altar to surrender my life to God. Yet, it was the place where (like Abraham) God sent me away from all I knew in order to meet with me and graciously bring me to a point of complete surrender to Him. Yes, Haiti was my “place of surrender” to God’s Unchanging Hand in my life. It was the place where God tested me and revealed Himself to me in an unforgettable way. Holy Spirit has ministered to me that Haiti is my “Bethel” (House of God), similar to the place where He met Jacob as he fled from his brother Esau’s wrath. Remember, this was also the place where Jacob spoke a covenantly-binding oath to God, just as I also did in Haiti. Truthfully, I did not grow into the knowledge and understanding of this covenant until years later, and neither did Jacob.
I believe that all those who have been led by God’s unchanging hand and have entered into covenant with God have such a place. Where is your “land of the covenant”? Where is your Bethel? I believe God is calling many back to Bethel… back to your point of full surrender to Him. After all, this is the meaning of repentance. It means to return to the covenant. Of course, THE Covenant is the Word of God. Yet, God’s Covenant becomes personal when He reveals His unchanging hand in our lives and we encounter Him in an intimate way. For some, this may be your first time. Therefore, Holy Spirit is calling you to Bethel… to a place of full surrender to Him through the establishment of His covenant with you. God’s unchanging hand really is that personal. He truly desires to establish His covenant with each of His children in a very personal and life-transforming way. Therefore, let us cry out to God together, “Abba Father, take me back to Bethel. Take me back to the place where you first established your covenant with me. Let us be bound together once more. Help me to return to my first love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”