The Tontons Macouts

A street in Port-au-Prince

Acts 18:9: "Do not be afraid."

In some countries the secret police are given total freedom to do anything they need to do in the fulfillment of their duties. According to locals in Haiti (at least in 1980 when this story happened!), their secret police had such unrestricted freedom. Rumor had it that people were often arrested and never seen again. Some even said the missing people would become crocodile bait!

While serving as a relief missionary in Haiti, I had the "privilege" of meeting some of these secret police. In fact, I even had the "privilege" of being arrested by them! Here is how it happened:

The father of one of our student missionaries from Canada had come for a visit. While in Haiti, this gentleman planned to spend a considerable amount of money on local artistry, but in order to fulfill his goal, he needed two things: A car and an interpreter. The car was generously provided by a local, and the interpreter-well, that's where I enter into the story!

Happy to have the freedom of riding in a automobile for once (what a difference from the local cramped transportation called Taptaps!), we drove into Port-au-Prince and parked our borrowed vehicle. But we hadn't even opened the car doors when we found ourselves surrounded by men in uniform: The Tontons Macouts, the Haitian secret police!

"May I see your papers?" one of them asked my Canadian friend.

He handed him his passport.

"Canadian, eh?" commented another. "Do you have permission to drive this car?"

Fortunately, we had been given a note from the vehicle's owner. My friend handed it to them and they examined it solemnly. Then they said: "Follow me!"

We had no choice but to obey, and with our uniformed escorts, we were brought to one of their offices. We were told to sit in a corner, and there we waited for at least an hour before we were even told why we had been arrested. Apparently foreigners are NOT allowed to drive cars belonging to Haitians. We were being held on suspicion of espionage!

I tried to explain that we were innocent, and I suggested that they call the owner of the car. To my astonishment, they agreed, and fifteen minutes later, he appeared at the front entrance of the building. After several minutes of loud discussion, we were finally released; but only on the condition that we would NEVER drive a local automobile again! They even kept my Canadian friend's passport and refused to return it until he was boarding his flight back to Canada!

The owner of the vehicle told us we had been lucky, as no one was ever released that easily from the Tonton Macouts! It could have only been by the hand of God that disaster was diverted. And believe me, I spent some time praising Him afterwards! Becoming crocodile bait was NOT on my "to do" list for the summer!

I am amazed about how many times the Bible tells us to "be not afraid". God's Word assures us that we have an ally, and because of Him, we do not need to fear. His name is Jesus, and He has promised: "surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt 28:20).

With such a powerful ally on our side, why should we be afraid? Rom 8:39 says: "neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." God is faithful and will NEVER abandon us, not even when we've been arrested by the Tontons Macouts! Our choice is to either trust in ourselves or trust in Him. What will your choice be?

"May I see your passport?"

Rob Chaffart

Receive our free newsletters

The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available. 


The Nugget: Published three times a week, this newsletter features inspirational devotionals and mini-sermons dedicated to drawing mankind closer to each other and to Christ.

Visit Answers2Prayer

Subscribe Here:
The Illustrator
The Nugget

Your email:

Please be aware that you will receive a confirmation message via email. Once you receive it, please click on the link mentioned in the email. If you have problems please email us.