Ashley with a child in Chambrun Photo by Kalen Ney

Ashley with a child in Chambrun
Photo by Kalen Ney

Skeptical No More

Story by WND reader Ashley Clemens while in Chambrun, Haiti

It’s quite humbling to reflect on how God works through sermons, quiet whispers, and striking photographs. His voice is able to penetrate the human heart when we stare into the face of suffering, whether that is in a picture or meeting someone face to face. I had heard stories from people who claimed that God “spoke to them”, but still had a fair bit of skepticism as they told the story of how the Lord called them to a task. My skepticism has been eliminated thanks to the Lord and World Next Door.

Three years ago, Barry Rod published photos of his trip to Haiti. I don’t even remember how I stumbled across the online social justice magazine of WND, but I’m sure it was by the grace of God. One photo in particular stood out to me – a Haitian tent city with blue tarps stretching for miles. Immediately, I felt a tug in my heart, driven by the Holy Spirit.

Visiting Haiti has changed Ashley’s life. Photo by Kalen Ney

Visiting Haiti has changed Ashley’s life.
Photo by Kalen Ney

For the next few weeks I couldn’t get the image of this so-called city out of my mind. One simple thought echoed through the photo: go. A few short months later, Barry came as a guest speaker to my parents’ small group meeting. Naturally, I went to the meeting to pick Barry’s brain about life in Haiti. After a few questions and many prayers, I made the decision to go. As I write this, I am currently on my second trip to Haiti, a place I now consider my second home.

Sitting on the concrete that has finally cooled down from a long day in the Haitian sun, I can still smell charcoal in the air. In my mind I can still hear young voices singing “deep and wide” with a lovely Haitian accent. And I can already feel the emptiness in my heart as I prepare to leave Chambrun. My spirit has been nourished by those who live in homes made of mud and whose babies are covered in dust. My hope is that the Lord will help me return the favor by pouring into those who poured so graciously into me.

Part of me wishes I had discovered World Next Door sooner rather than later so that I could have embarked on more of these life-changing experiences. However, I am confident that God’s timing was perfect. My brother once told me that God doesn’t outright reveal his plans to us because we, as humans, would mess them up. I am so thankful for this often over-looked gift. I would hate to have altered this plan and risked having an eternally empty heart.