Chapter 1


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Chapter 1 of "Do It for the Story - The book you can watch"

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Chapter 1

  1. 1. Do it for the story CHAPTER 1 All The Clowns have Gone - September, 2006 - The woman was naked from the waist up. Seconds earlier Iʼd watched as she was thrown to the ground. As she struggled to rise, her shirt was ripped from her body. One man, I think it was her friend, jumped in with fists flailing. He was trying to drive the others away. He was unsuccessful. I watched as he took a fist to the face and immediately went to the ground. The crowd was large, easily more than fifty and it was growing by the second. The woman was at the center of it all. She was being pulled back and forth like a rag-doll. I couldn't tell who was trying to help the woman and who was trying to hurt her. Suddenly, a knife flashed high in the air. The priest was on his cell phone. He had answered it seconds earlier and was only now seeing what was happening directly outside our vehicle. I still feel shame when I remember that I was just sitting there, doing nothing. I was inside the medical truck trying to imagine what I could do that would be even slightly meaningful. The woman was being attacked right beside me, directly outside my car door, while I just sat
  2. 2. there. It was total mayhem now; fists flying in every direction. I saw another knife, but I couldn't tell if anyone had been stabbed yet. The woman wrestled one of her arms free and slugged one of her assailants hard in the face. All around her, men and woman shoved each other wildly. I didnʼt know what had caused the mob to gather around this woman, but it didn't matter; someone was going to die. It's not that I would usually sit and spectate at a time like this; I was racking my brain, trying to figure out how I could help this woman. I didn't even speak the language. This was only the second time I'd come to Haiti and I definitely wasnʼt prepared for something like this. I've had two separate occasions where Iʼve been in a fight to protect someone, but neither of those experiences were even close to what was happening now. - - - - - - - - - - - - TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE GIRL - - - - - - - - - - - - - December, 1996 - Our conversation was cut short by a womanʼs desperate scream.
  3. 3. Before we could react, we heard a loud crashing sound. Stuart and I ran to the window. We were three stories up, inside a church in the center of Pittsburg. It was ten in the evening and the building was locked for the night. I was there with a team of students who were volunteering with the church for a week. We spent our days serving in soup kitchens and helping out wherever we were needed. The church had graciously offered to let us sleep on their floor. Stuart and I had decided to investigate all the different floors of this huge building that was so unlike any church I had ever seen. I didn't know Stuart very well. He was one of the many students who were with me on this trip. The woman screamed again. This time she sounded like she was struggling with someone. We were trying to pry the window open, but it had been rusted shut for the past twenty years. Without another thought both of us darted for the stairs. Stuart was in front of me as we raced to the ground floor. There was an emergency exit that seemed to be in the right place. Stewart shoved it open and stepped aside, allowing me to run out at full speed. My feet crunched on newly fallen snow as I slipped on the ice, barely keeping my balance. I turned frantically, already feeling the intense cold. I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt and it was well below zero. A man was choking a woman, both hands around her neck, holding her against the wall in the back alley of the church. They were standing directly beside the door I'd just exited. He was wearing a suit and a
  4. 4. warm looking leather jacket. She was dressed in an evening gown that shimmered when she moved. When he saw me he took his hands off her throat and grabbed her by the wrist. I looked at Stewart who was still standing in the open doorway; he'd gone completely white. Without warning and with a look of fear clearly painting his face, he slammed the door. The door didn't have a handle on the outside. Stewart had locked me in the alley with the man. All of this happened within a few seconds. I didn't have the time to get angry – that would come later. "Take your hands off the girl," I said in a voice that squeaked with fear. It was the only phrase that came to mind. It probably came from watching too many superhero movies. "Get out of here," he said. "Leave us alone or you're going to get hurt." The man said this with the calm surety of someone who knew he didn't have anything to worry about. He was right. This "man" was probably twenty-five and I was only eighteen. I was a kid from the suburbs who had dreamed of moments like this but had never been in a real fight. This was a guy from the city who definitely knew what to do with his fists. "I can't do that," I said. I started to breathe a little slower and tried to stop my mind from racing. That's when something amazing happened, something that completely surprised me. The fear left me. I knew that I was about to
  5. 5. get hurt, but somehow I had this surreal feeling like I was watching a movie. It was like this whole experience was happening to someone else and I was just a spectator. I now understand that this is how my mind reacts when I am in danger, but this was the first time I'd encountered this feeling. I quickly prayed a silent prayer and then spoke with a calm surety of my own. "I'll let you walk out of here if you leave now. But if you don't let her go, you and I are going to have a problem." I tend to speak like this in these kinds of situations because I am a man who spent his childhood dreaming about being in these kinds of situations. I would practice these and many other ridiculous lines in my mirror with the desperate hope that I could someday have a reason to say them. I still practice these kinds of lines, but now itʼs usually while I'm driving, which is much more grown up. I found myself laying flat on my back in the snow. My jaw was throbbing and I had no idea where I was. I never saw him hit me. I was looking at him, but the whole "fist coming towards my face" thing, somehow escaped my notice. After a moment of lying on the ground, my eyes focused on the man. He crouched low and grabbed my shirt. I didn't know what was happening, I'm not even sure if I knew where I was, I just knew I was in trouble. I started thrashing around, my arms
  6. 6. flailing wildly. Just then, the emergency door opened again and this time there were five men standing in it. Stewart had come back with help. When my friends saw me, it looked like I was "wrestling" with the man. I was simply trying to figure out where I was. Until now, I haven't felt the need to tell the truth of this story. If they wanted to think I was wrestling, who was I to tell them different? I only tell this story to say that I don't usually sit around and do nothing when I see someone being attacked. But when I was in Haiti, I froze. - - - - - - - - - - - - DEATH ON THE WIND - - - - - - - - - - - - – September, 2006 – Just hours before the woman was attacked outside my car door, I was oblivious to what this day would hold. I met the priest at his hospital in Petionville, a section of Port Au Prince, the capital of Haiti. As soon as I walked in the gate he asked if I would help his staff load the trucks. We were heading into Citi Soliel and we needed medical supplies. In 2006 the priest was the only white man who could come and go in
  7. 7. Citi Soliel with relative ease. He was seen as a man who stood up for the poor and the oppressed and his love for the people resulted in action. After being with the priest, I now believe that love without action is simply pride that goes around calling itself love. But the priest loved in deed and most of his love was given to the broken, the hurting, the dying and even the gangsters. He healed men and women who needed healing, no matter who they were. It was this love that allowed him to ransom back hostages on a regular basis. The gangsters owed him and they knew it. I followed a few young men up a long stairway to grab some supplies from a storage room. They all seemed to be in a hurry to load the truck and get moving. Later I would learn that each of the young men who accompanied the priest on these outings owed him their lives. Every one of them had either came out of gangs or off the streets and he had loved them enough to actually step into their worlds and be the love that I usually only talk about. I don't want all this talk of love to give the wrong impression. The priest is a rough, hard man who doesn't back down. He is confident and unyielding in his purpose and service to the poor. He knows what he wants and he gets what he wants and people who don't want to give him what he wants generally get out of his way. The way he
  8. 8. interacts with the gangsters is the same way he interacts with his staff. People jump when he talks because his manner of engaging commands an authority I've rarely seen. At the top of the stairs was a storage room filled with portable X-ray machines, boxes of medical supplies and coffins. We carried everything down to the trucks. I had never touched a coffin before. These weren't the fancy coffins Iʼd seen in movies, these were thin, long boxes made of cardboard. I helped carry them down, wondering if we were going to a funeral. As we drove away from the hospital the priest told me what the coffins were for. "When we drive through Citi Soliel we often find bodies rotting on top of the trash heaps scattered throughout the city," he said in a casual tone. "I started bringing coffins with me because I can't imagine what it would be like for kids who have to walk past these bodies every day on their way to school - not to mention the diseases the bodies spread." "You find bodies just lying on piles of trash?" I said in an unbelieving tone. "How did they get there?" "On a bad week we will find seven or eight, but sometimes its only a couple," he said. "They are people who have either been killed by a gang or have died from malnutrition or some disease. Most households lack the money for a proper burial, so the bodies are thrown on the piles of trash. Imagine what it does to a five-year-old
  9. 9. child to walk past a rotting body on a daily basis. That child doesn't have a chance of growing up normal. People wonder how some of these gangsters can be so cruel. Just think about that five-year-old and then see if you still wonder. In just a few years, these boys and girls will be young men and women, and unless someone does something, they will be the next gang leaders of Haiti. So, I pick up the bodies when I see them and I bury them. The people appreciate it and the kids can walk to school without having to experience that kind of thing." I couldn't fathom this. My mind couldnʼt comprehend this kind of horror. I didn't say anything because I didn't know how to respond. And then he said something that I will never forget. "The current life expectancy in Citi Soliel is sixteen. Can you imagine that?" he said this with a look of incredulity. "The gangsters I am going to introduce you to are mostly in their early twenties. They are some of the oldest people in Citi Soliel.” We talked about many things that day. Every word that came out of his mouth carried with it a weight and a wisdom that can only be found in someone who has experienced the things that he has. I watched as he treated the poorest of the poor. In his every interaction he gave them a dignity and respect that many had never received before. The priest doesn't see himself as doing anything special. He simply does what the bible commands him to do: he loves with actions. He doesn't love with pride.
  10. 10. It was a life changing few days that I was able to spend with him. Every time I go back to Haiti I try and spend more time with him so I can once again learn how to love. Each time I am able to spend a day or two in his presence I feel like I am in the presence of Jesus. In fact, when I think about Jesus I often see him with the face of the priest. - A few hours later - The woman was on her knees now, struggling to rise. Her shirt was lying on the ground, trampled by the madness that was growing around her. It had changed from a crowd to a mob quicker than I could have imagined. I was rooted to my seat. I couldn't make myself grab the door handle and get out of the truck. As the woman rose unsteadily to her feet I saw another knife rise high in the air. The sun reflected off the blade like a mirror. This knife was different than the others I had seen. The others had been shaken violently in a threatening manner; this one was raised with the clear intention of striking the woman in the chest. That's when the miracle happened. I watched it unfold right in front of my eyes. Out of nowhere another hand shot into the air, grabbing the hand with the knife and stopping it before it could plunge it into the heart of the woman. The mob quieted in an instant as if a supernatural force had descended into their midst. The man with the knife lowered
  11. 11. his eyes with an embarrassed, apologetic look. Thatʼs when I saw him. The priest was standing in the center of it all. He is not the tallest man, but he definitely stands out in a crowd of Haitians. I watched as he took off his jacket and put it around the half naked woman, wrapping her in more than simple clothes. He said a few things to her in a language I didn't understand and then walked the woman over to the young men who had followed him out of the truck. They were trying to look like his bodyguards but merely ended up looking like boys who were standing next to a real life hero. He must have instructed them to take the woman home because they all surrounded her and walked her away from the crowd. The priest said a few more words to the people, putting his hands on some of their shoulders and calming them. A minute later he was back inside the truck. He put his phone to his ear and continued with the call he had been on before the whole incident happened. He hadn't even hung up his cell phone when he stopped the murder. After he hung up, he simply continued telling me the story he been in the middle of before we'd been interrupted by the call. He didn't mention what had just happened. He wasn't being humble; he just didn't see it as anything special. I think Jesus was like this. I used to picture him doing miracles or saying incredible truths and then pausing, allowing the words to sink in.
  12. 12. The pause would also allow the crowd to "ooh and ahh" for him. After spending time with the Priest I now know that Jesus just did what he did. He performed miracles, loved in action instead of pride, and changed the world without ever stopping to get kudos for it. Sometimes the disciples would make a big deal out of the miracles. But Jesus would always get irritated that they didn't get it. The disciples wanted a show; they wanted a person they could point to as a real life hero. They wanted to sell little Jesus action figures. But Jesus was never impressed with what he did, he loved those who needed to be loved and that was that. Meeting the priest changed my life. I had never imagined a man like him. He is like Jesus, only hard-core. I now understand that Jesus was hard-core too, but I didn't always think so. Growing up I envisioned him with sheep around his neck and kids sitting on his lap - usually his legs were shaved as well. I never imagined him in the middle of a crowd in Haiti, stopping a knife fight. But he was there. I saw him there, and I was able to walk with him on the streets of Haiti and my life will never be the same. - - - - - - - - - - - -
  13. 13. THE MONOTONY OF HISTORY - - - - - - - - - - - - I bet when The Old Testament was written, men and women who had access to it couldn't believe their eyes. The Old Testament was the worldʼs first bestseller. In fact, it was a whole conglomeration of bestsellers that were put into one great big book. The marketing was sheer genius. Not only was The Old Testament a book of bestsellers, it was a book, that rumor had it, was inspired by God himself. Talk about a publishing companyʼs dream. This thing had gold written all over it. And then, one day, hundreds of years after this book hit the shelves, along came these guys who decided to write a sequel. In Hollywood, great films are often ruined by their sequels. But this group understood the risks and bravely moved forward. "Lets call it The Old Testament, Two" one of them said. "No", said another, "letʼs call it Return of The Old Testament." “No", said yet another man, "letʼs call it The New Testament". And with that, all of their mouths dropped open at the sheer genius of the man. The New Testament, one of them mouthed silently. "That's brilliant!" he said. "It's like, the same - only newer!" I understand that this is not how the Bible was put together. I have
  14. 14. actually learned quite a bit about the process that put the word of God into our hands in the format that it is today and it is quite an inspiring story. But I am not a thinker and this is not a book about theology. I am a storyteller, and I think my version has a lot more wit than the true story, so I am sticking with it. I grew up thinking that God's history was already written. It was done. We had two accounts of the God breathed history of the world. These two books climaxed with the epic "Jesus moment" and then the ink, quill and parchment were put away. The story was complete. From that moment onwards we were simply meant to learn how to live out what had been “taught” in the scriptures. No wonder we are all bored. The story has already been told. We are all late to the party and the clowns have all gone home. We have no role to play in this two-part epic adventure series. All we can do now is read it as a textbook and try to learn from it the way a historian studies the writings of ancient worlds. It was while I was in Haiti, walking with the priest that I began to wonder if God's epic adventure series was still being written. Maybe, like all great series, this story is a trilogy. And if this is true then just maybe weʼre all playing roles in the most exciting installment of the entire story. The third act in any story is always the most intense, magical and beautiful. And as a general rule, the third act is always bigger than the first two.
  15. 15. Just maybe, somewhere in Heaven an angel sits with a pen. That angel is watching our stories and making notes in a book that will eventually be released as The New-est, New Testament. I'm not sure about the title, but I am sure that God's story is still being written and it is an epic one. The best stories contain tragedy and comedy, true love and adventure, heartache and joy, magic and beauty. All I have to do is take a look at the world to see that all of the pieces to the best story ever told are in place. - - - - - - - - - - - - THE BOOK OF PRIEST PART 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - What I find to be truly amazing is that I get to play a part in this epic tale. I get to help design the character that God has written into existence. I co-write alongside the bestselling author of all time. At times God will write in a bit of tragedy or adventure that I never expected, but I also get to write new stories within this framework he has set up. I was born a Canadian white male on December 12, 1976 to Lloyd and Mary Clark.
  16. 16. I didn't have a say in that part of my story. In fact, my life has had a large number of scenes that have played out like Forrest Gumpʼs feather or his box of chocolates. But as the secondary author of this story, I have to go with the structure I've been given. What excites me is that there is still a large majority of my story that remains to be told. I can choose my own adventures. I can say, "yes" to someone in desperate need or I can say "no." I can open the door of a truck or I can leave it closed. I can knock, or I can walk away. The priest understands this more than anyone I have ever met. I have yet to live a story that truly compares with those in the Old or the New Testaments. But I know someone whose current day stories definitely compare. The priest has collected at least a whole chapter in The Newest New Testament. He might even get his own book.