This week I am back from Haiti and as I get back into the swing of work and home, I am still trying to process just what happened last week. As you might know already it is hard to do a short term mission to the poorest places in the world and then just jump right back into you day to day when you come back. That is why I am useless this week. It is extremely hard for me to sleep in my comfortable pillow top mattress while knowing the people who will sleep on the ground. It is hard to see my excess in light of their lack and at times I feel a mix of guilt and anger. Guilt, because I have so much and anger, because there are those around me who have even more yet care even less. And yet we have so much to gain from the Haitians. Even though they have so little (or nothing in some cases), they have a joy we do not possess in America. Last week our whole team was surprised to see not weeping and depression but a country that has gotten its joy back. It’s almost as if the earthquake there lifted a vale and the people could see God at work. Since the quake, churches have been growing and revival happening. It reminds me of what Joseph said to his brothers. “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” Even though the devastation is severe (in fact, more sever than I can portray), God takes together all things “for the good.”
As for me, I learned many lessons in Haiti, which I am still in the process of unpacking. One that stands out the clearest to me is paying attention to the Holy Spirit. For many of us in the US church this is more of a theory or a good sermon than an actual practice, but after talking to some of the missionaries who have been engaged in the work of God outside of America, Spiritual Discernment is an essential. To listen to where God is leading is a key element in the work of a missionary. The take home message for me is to learn to pay as much attention to the Holy Spirit here at my church. If we cannot listen to God’s promptings through His Spirit, we cannot be as useful to His purposes here on earth. The question that I have to ask myself and I hope that you do the same is this: What does God want me to do right now? Many times I confess that I snuff out the flame of the Spirit with my unwillingness to be a fool. What I mean is simply this, if God prompts you to go pray with someone on the street the first thing that we tend to worry about is an awkward moment rather than grieving the Spirit of God. What is more grieving than to disobey? While we were in Haiti we had amazing translators and a team that went with us as we walked through villages. When we saw someone or felt a nudge we prayed with them. Yes, sometimes I felt awkward going up to people and asking them “How can I pray for you?” but the more we practiced the more natural it felt. The more that we step out of our comfort zones in our lives, the less we care about comfort zones because once you feel the joy and power of walking in the will of God, there is no comparison. For me, the true awkward moment will be standing in front of my God when He asks, “Andrew, why didn’t you talk to that man? I sent him into your path for a reason and you let him slip by.”
With only a few days left in the States, I am getting both excited and nervous about going to Haiti. Reasons for nervousness are obvious: I’m leaving my family behind, I’m leaving for a country I’ve never been to, and I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing there. But, the reasons for being excited are more than I can list. Having just finished the Easter season, my thoughts are on not only the Resurrection, but the cause that Jesus left His followers with…”Go…”. And that’s exactly what I’m doing, I’m going to where people are hurting. Tony Campolo once said, “wherever people are hurting, that’s where Jesus is” and that’s where I want to be!
In the last month I’ve received not just support from my church, but criticism as well. Some folks don’t believe you should be there unless you have a specific skill set that is in need, or people going there are just in the way of professionals. While from a strictly secular point of view this makes sense, it fails to see the sacred element of going to bring food and water to those who have none. I read this morning that there are 1.3 million homeless in Port-Au-Prince, and with that many homeless, food and water are going to be huge necessities. I cannot look at this topic without hearing Christ’s words ringing in my head. Possibly some of the most powerful words I’ve ever heard…”For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”(Matt. 25:35,40) What sticks out to me the most out of that scripture is that Jesus says, “you did it to me,” not “it’s almost like you did it for me.” He says that when we feed and give water to “the least of these”, we are giving it to Him. It shows that Jesus looked at taking care of the oppressed not as just something nice, but something divine. Can we call ourselves Christians (like Christ) without actively feeding and caring for the “least of these”? It’s like calling yourself an American without paying taxes.
The opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Haiti is a divine one, but the question I am asking myself is, what about when I come back? How do i continue to love and seek out the “least of these” in Arizona. I am hoping that in the next weeks, God will help me to see what areas I am not serving him yet, and where He needs me to be searching for Him at home.