I had tried to lose my religion before. I was single then living with my brother. Just the two of us in a two-bedroom apartment. I had noticed how narrow-minded the church was and judgemental. I had noticed how hypocritical everyone was. I had noticed then how controlling the church was, always wanting to know what’s going on in anyone’s life to sow judgements. So I had stopped “attending church” altogether.
The main reason behind my separation, I think, was that my dad had recently kicked the both of us out of the apartment where we were living with my mom. And I didn’t want to meet with anyone at the church to either explain what in the world happened. It was easier for me and maybe for my brother too to not have to explain ourselves to anybody, as we were trying to support each other.
I still listened to worship music, hoping the church would one day be as the lyrics of the songs would describe her to be.
In those days, I had my college friends then. Weekends were mostly lonely days for me. When you tried to abandon religion on your own, you will soon find out that you’re all by yourself and no one wants to have anything to do with you. There were two members, not the pastor or anyone from the leadership staff. They came to our apartment and spoke with us, and invited us back to the church. I will never forget those moments. So we went, clothed with shame, hoping to see folks we haven’t seen in a while. I said, “clothed with shame”, because it doesn’t matter the reason a parent kicked his child out. Regardless of the reason, it’s an honor for the parent, a shame for the child. That’s how the Haitian culture and the religious community define it to be.
Our re-attending the church was the beginning of rebuilding our religious profile, a profile “worthy” of acceptance by the religious community. And there I was, trying to become a pioneer at this religion, by following the steps of those who came before me.
It wasn’t until I started struggling with financially upkeep my religion that I started making enemies, not so much with the members, but with leadership, the pastor to be exact. My progress with religion was rather seen a threat to the pastor’s family. Somehow, I seemed to have been more interested in keeping up the “works” of God than the pastor’s own family. That was welcomed by the congregation, but not so much the pastor’s family. It was a mixed feeling too, I must say, for the pastor. He’s thankful on one side that someone was standing with him, but not so thankful that it wasn’t one of his family. And those are one of the dilemmas religion will throw at you.
It wasn’t until in my moments of trials while still subdued by religion, while still oppressed by religion, while still in chains with all the religious responsibilities I had, that I heard the gospel from Basic Gospel Ministry, with no additives. And for the first time in my entire life I truly rejoiced, feeling a large burden fallen off my shoulder. That burden was religion.
A lighter burden then came onto my heart since then. It is to rejoice unceasingly in the gospel of Jesus Christ while in the chains of his love for me.