Happy Birthday, Charles

  • Jan. 18, 2016
  • #8796

A disabled man in Haiti receives the best birthday presents ever: the Gospel and mobility.

Happy Birthday, Charles

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a heart-warming story from Haiti.

And yes, it’s pretty challenging to find anything heart-warming in Haiti, right? I mean, last week marked 6 years since the devastating earthquake that rocked that tiny nation in the Caribbean. And ever since then, life has been very, very difficult for the people of Haiti. Some time after the earthquake, the government decided that it no longer wanted Tent Cities in the capital of Port-Au-Prince. Thousands of people had been living in tents and makeshift lean-to’s in the capital, and no homes had been rebuilt. And so, the government sent buses into the tent cities and ordered the people that they would have to pack up all the belongings that they could carry and board these buses. They were tearing down the tents and moving the people. But to where? The crowded buses left Port-Au-Prince and stopped on the side of a small mountain beyond the outskirts of the city. There, the people were dropped off. This unpopulated area was to now be their new home. The community was named Onaville and it’s made up of small cinder block dwellings. The streets are not paved, there are no sidewalks, but it is a step up from living in a tent. And Onaville was where our Wheels for the World team had the privilege of distributing wheelchairs to the disabled in this part of Haiti.

Our Wheels team members set up the distribution in a newly constructed church, the floor was just crushed rock and dirt, but at least it was flat and stable. As our Wheels team set up the clinic, we started calling disabled people to various stations to be assessed and then fitted to their new wheelchairs. When the name Charles Henrissaint was announced, an older man climbed down off the bench and began crawling on his hands and knees, dragging his feet behind him. Charles was born with club feet and never had any medical intervention. And so, he grew up crawling on all fours. His hands and knees were callused and dirty from so many years of walking that way. He had even made himself knee pads that he wore on his knees to keep them from scraping open. This is the way man lived. But no longer. Today would be different. Today he would be fitted to a brand-new wheelchair.

Now, it took a few hours for our Wheels for the World team to fit Charles Henrissaint to his new wheelchair, his needs were pretty complex. But the whole time he was waiting, this guy had such a huge smile on his face. Charles was simply ecstatic to be there! After he got his wheelchair and his Bible in the Creole language, our Wheels team member led Charles through some closing paperwork. When Charles showed the Wheels team member his Haitian ID, we discovered that that very day was his birthday! He had not even remembered that it was his birthday that day. So you can imagine how big his smile got (in fact, you don’t have to imagine. Just come to my radio page today at joniandfriends.org ‘cause I’ve posted a wonderful photo of Charles) when everyone paused to sing Charles Henrissaint “Happy Birthday to You.” Of course, the best birthday present for Charles that day was not just his wheelchair; it was the chance to hear the Gospel message about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that day in Onaville, the love of Jesus was surely evident.

Last week our Wheels team was back in Haiti again, delivering wheelchairs and Bibles. If you’d like to see our team at work, I’ve posted some wonderful photos on my radio page today at joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends

 

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