Darrell Cheek opened his backpack and pulled out a small device about the size of a cell phone. Then he handed it over to the warden of a women’s prison in Titiyan, Haiti, where Cheek, an American, regularly travels on mission trips.
“What’s this?” the warden asked. Cheek explained it was the In Touch Messenger, a solar-powered audio Bible with sermons from a pastor in America. “Can I keep it?” he asked. Cheek agreed and after explaining how to use the device, shared what the Lord had done in his heart. The warden, moved, said, “I need this in my life.”
Over time, Cheek gained favor with the warden, who allowed him to distribute Messengers to the 45 officers working there. Then as the Bible began changing the warden’s heart, he allowed all 375 inmates to receive one.
Decades ago, Cheek was the owner of a business selling boats in a small town. Times were hard and bills piled up, the business near failure. Then one summer his brother, who worked for him, committed suicide. Cheek’s world unraveled—very little of his life made sense anymore. But in the depths of his grief, a question nagged at him: Why did God create me? What’s His purpose for my being here?
In the months that followed his brother’s death, Cheek made the acquaintance of Pastor M. A. Thomas, who challenged him to go on a short-term mission trip to India, Thomas’s homeland. He promised that if Cheek would simply go, he’d find the answers he was looking for.
As promised, the trip to India delivered answers. The faith of persecuted Christians in the country not only challenged Cheek but also deepened his love for Jesus. “For two weeks God had me, and I felt like a wash rag. He was wringing my life out, and I saw that Christianity was real.”
In addition to Haiti, Cheek has taken the Messenger into India, Russia, and Lebanon. Now he wants to target new Haitian pastors who lack access to biblical training. Having listened to Dr. Stanley’s teaching for decades, he insists the sermons on the Messenger are vital for these ministers. “It’s not giving out a Messenger from just anybody. It’s giving out a Messenger from a man who, for all these years, has been consistently faithful to the truth.”
Photograph by Ben Rollins