Monday, July 25, 2011

Learning to Breathe in Haiti

After every trip, I usually find myself overwhelmed by a number of things; the experience, the stark difference between how we live in America and how they live and the daunting falling back into the rhythm of normal life when nothing feels normal. There’s usually this part of you that longs to hold on to the experience no matter how difficult it was. Worse yet, you feel this pressure of having to report of how your trip was in five minutes or less when words can’t even describe the depth of the experience. This is my attempt at sharing with you some of what we experienced.

We served a group of children in a camp called Camp de la Grace in Pignon Haiti, these children came from a neighboring town. We paid for their feeding and their lodging for the week of camp. We taught them that God loves them so much that He is WILD and CRAZY about them. We taught them these lessons through games, arts and crafts, times of reflection, snacks and bible stories. For these groups of children, I suspect this was a message they desperately needed to hear. Especially when the highest level of education is maybe 6th grade and if they’re lucky high school. When poverty is something they are quite familiar with. When all of what they own can fit into one small backpack. When many of them have never had their pictures taken. When death is something they see every day. And in the midst of all of that to hear a message that God is WILD and CRAZY about you, how does one respond? These children went wild and crazy! They sang the songs we taught them from sun up to sun down. They laughed, played and danced.

I know what many of you are thinking, if God is WILD and CRAZY about these children why doesn’t He do something to get them out of these deplorable conditions?

I have also asked this question of God and the more I ask it, the more I sense God telling me not only are we a part of the problem, we are also a part of the solution.

Here’s a quote about the income of churchgoers alone, if you’re not a churchgoer multiply these numbers by three because the world consist of only 30% Christians: “The total income of American churchgoers is $5.2 trillion. (That’s more than $5,000 billion.) It would take just a little over 1 percent of the income of American Christians to lift the poorest 1 billion people out of extreme poverty. Said another way, American Christians, who make up about 5 percent of the church worldwide, control about half of global Christian wealth; a lack of money is not our problem”. (The Hole in our Gospel, p. 216 Rich Stearns)

I was convicted by that as well; a lack of money is not our problem! If money is not our problem then what is it?

I really don’t know but I suspect it has something to do with: selfishness, lack of compassion, envy, greed, laziness, fight for control, wanting to be the best, the richest, discontentment and not wanting to see ourselves as equals. The truth is every time I go on these trips, these things seem to surface to the top because I’m always struggling with how impractical it is to do more and I feel my grip on my things get a little tighter. I sometimes feel like the 2-year old screaming “mine, mine, mine!”

I am even more convinced now than before that part of the solution lies when we are able to say: “yours, yours, yours!” and surrender it ALL! I know it scares me too!
When we are able to do this only then will we be able to have impact on those we serve. Only then will we be able to see them as equals and breathe dignity and messages of worthiness into their souls. We won’t measure our work by how much we did for them but the time we spent laughing, dancing, playing with them and working alongside them as brothers and sisters. We will no longer look at them as these poor defenseless people in desperate need of American saviors but we will look at all of our own levels of brokenness and we will repent. You will no longer look at them as unclean, filthy and without hope but as brothers and sisters in the human race.

A short term mission trip’s success cannot be measured by how many homes one builds or how many bowls of food you served or the numbers of medical patients you saw but only when you see those you serve as an equal and you breathe dignity into the lives you serve.

This week’s message for me was dignity and worthiness. Are these people worth your treasures; time and money? Are they worth interacting with your children? Are they worth the effort to fight alongside them?

You can learn a lot by observing children. This week I observed how my children interacted with the children in the camp. They played alongside them. It was a reciprocal relationship. Our children taught them arts and crafts, dodge ball and they even lent a hand in serving meals and in return the children in camp taught them techniques in soccer and helped sharpen their kreol skills. They were running around camp together as if they’d know each other for ages, they became friends! There was something healing and human about watching that interaction throughout the week. This is the kind of interaction that’s needed to end poverty and to fight for justice. You must first see those you serve as worthy, you must be willing to breathe dignity into their souls and only then are you ready to join the fight.

Bob Pierce said "Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything." How about we start with sharpening our breathing techniques!


  1. Beautiful post. I don't think it is selfishness or lack of compassion. I think it is that we are caught in the Matrix. Don't laugh...seriously we live an illusion. This is why our kids are confused about what they want to be when they grow up because they have no idea how the world works. The kids from Haiti probably can explain more about things grow, what can be made, why its important, who uses it, how to sell it...etc. We are taught to be consumers we are aimlessly wandering trying to earn money to consume, not to disconnect ourselves from this illusion. Myself included. If we start taking small steps to free ourselves and live simpler - because living simply is actually really living...unless we are talking about engineering or some sort of science that actually assists with or helps to maintain life or shelter. Otherwise it is all a rouse...and sadly one we can't seem to free ourselves from.

    In your last paragraph you said you must first see those you serve as on point. I second that and add to it that we must also see other ways of life as worthy and not think our own as the only way.

    Much love as always

  2. Dieula, Nicely said dear.... Absolutely we need to breathe dignity into others' souls & see all as worthy.
    IF only we all start doing breathi ng techniques as u said & get closer to the one who gave us our breathes the world will surely be a better place!

    Love your point about sharpening our breathing techniques! Lovely & well put in words.

    Hugs Hepzi

  3. @TinayaTinaya, you and I are on the same page. Lack of exposure is huge, we definitely have tunnel vision when it comes to looking at other nations and humanitarian aid.

    Hepzi, thank you! hope to see you soon!