Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Haiti: No Mask, No Pretense!

  This was one of the hardest blogs to write, unfortunately doing mission’s work and pastoring around the world doesn’t necessarily make you a Saint.  We struggle like everyone else; the beautiful pictures and great stories are often covered with great challenges, spiritual assault and our own hardened heart.  Well this blog only scratches the surface on how human we all really are.

On July 27th I embarked yet another challenge in my spiritual journey; I Co-lead a team to Haiti, my beloved country, to teach a group of some 200 students on what it means to live for Jesus! I have often been a part of many teams going to Haiti with the goal of introducing Jesus to the people, not realizing that Haiti is like, "the bible belt of the Caribbean". They've heard of Jesus and many would call themselves Christians but  that doesn’t necessary mean they know and understand what it means to actually LIVE for Jesus. It's kind of funny that our team made up of all Americans would attempt to teach on such a subject since we, too, struggle terribly with that concept; though they struggle with voodoo, we struggle with our own idols.  

 Nonetheless our plans were set to teach on love, forgiveness, and working together. To our surprise and God's perfect planning; we ended up working in a community where signs of poverty and lack of development were quite apparent on the faces of the children. The church where we worked was surrounded by corn fields. Space was limited and we thank the Lord we traveled light; this year we decided we were not going to put the “Dollar Tree” out of business or attempt to design paper crosses where all would end up on top of the rest of the other trash that's pilling up in that community.

 We began teaching on Monday and instantly the smell of material poverty hit me hard, I took a whiff of those children and my sense of smell was immediately challenged. Many of their clothes were torn, dirty and their hands were pretty grimy. Did I tell you I was a borderline germaphobe? And every last one of these children wanted to hold my hands and get physically close to me. Ugh...And yes my mind started going there, you know that place (I'm so clean and you're so unclean) and I fought hard to dispel those thoughts, I was so disappointed in me. After all, I am Haitian and I've traveled enough to know better but each day became increasingly harder.

On top of the challenging smells, these children struggled with the concepts of love; forgiveness and what it means to live for Jesus! I could not understand it because they've heard of Jesus; they new the songs, they have memorized key bible passages and even knew to "look" their best for church! I was  so disappointed when they answered "hurt them back" when asked what should be done if someone hurts them.  One teenager was adamant about her convictions, she even sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes at me for challenging them to forgive.

Each night I would ponder these issues, not able to make sense of their complexities. It wasn't until the last day of camp that Jesus cracked heaven open for me to see deeper, through one of my children.  I took notice of him in the back of the church playing joyfully with one of the toddlers. The child had "booger goo" all over his face (as my son calls it), his clothes were dirty and I'm pretty sure he did not take a bath prior to coming to camp that day. But my son was caught in a joyful exchange with this kid that I would not dare touch. He went down on his knees, to the kid's height and they both exchanged great sounds of laughter through their game. My son accepted him "goo" faced and all, when I could not.

And the Lord spoke to me; Dieula,  if you lived here would you not smell the same? If you found yourself living in this community would you not believe the same? If everyone in this community was only looking out for their own interest, would you be so inclined to forgive those who were trying to walk over you to get ahead? See dieula where you live in America, you are able to cover the stench of your heart with fancy homes, fancy clothes and education. Material wealth can cover many smells, so much so that you can fool one another but you cannot cover the stench of the heart. Dieula, What you see and smell in these children is what you fear about your own being!

  I'm still pondering and processing these nuggets from God...but I walked away realizing that these children were living more authentically than any of us in the US; their outside actually reflect their insides.  I can't remember the last time my outside reflected my inside.  God is present to do amazing work with those who  come to him authentically; no mask, no pretense.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Your Homophobia is Killing My Sons!!!!!

I’m the proud mom of three young men; 13, 11, and 11.  These boys have the ability to make me laugh till I cry and so angry that I may spew out words that will not found in the Bible.  Nonetheless, they’re my babies and we understand each other very well.  A couple years ago, when my precious little babies started leaving the child category into the young men category, I started noticing the “mandate” society had for my boys.  It was no longer acceptable to play with the little girls on the playground; they had to do boy things like push girls around and act mischievously; society started “teaching” my boys what it means to be men. Rule number 1; you must never show any signs of having female characteristics.  I find this rule to be quite puzzling since most of our children’s elementary school years are spent with “females”. From time spent with mom at home to years in the classroom and even the shows they watch, they are inundated by females and I believe many of the parts that determine who we are is partly due to socialization.  The twins are entering six grade and they’ve never had a male teacher.   I would often hear in my house: “stop acting like girls”, my usual response is always: “what’s wrong with little girls?” I want them to know that being a man is not about putting girls/women down and I believe the categories for being boys and girls are not as rigid as we want to think, of course some stand out more.  Not only do I respond with the above question but in my heart I say a little prayer that says: “Jesus come quickly”. 

You see, only a society who has lost its way to God can pray “God let my boy be anything in the world but please don’t let him be gay”.  Only a society who has fallen far from God would rather have their sons be murders, liars and all sorts of other sinners but never gay because that is an abominable sin.  Only a society who has fallen far from God, would take their sons to strip clubs on their 16th birthdays to ensure they are not Gay.  Only a society who has fallen far from God, would allow their young men to disrespect women to prove how tough and masculine they are. Only a society who has fallen from God would abdicate their role as parent into the hands of a coach to help their sons “man up” but in return this manly coach repeatedly abuse these precious boys taking away their very being and dignity.  Society, your homophobia is killing our boys!!!!!

Instead of focusing on our sons not being gay, why not focus on developing strong men who will bend the knee to Jesus.  Why not focus on developing men who are great husbands who love their wives as Christ loves the church. Why not focus on developing resilient men who will not give up on life and their responsibilities.  Why not focus on developing men who stand up for justice and fight for the rights of the poor and the defenseless.  Why not focus on developing men who stand up for women.

This past week my oldest son said: "mom for my next birthday, I want three pairs of sneakers, one for me and the other two for my brothers in Haiti." You see we sponsor 2 third graders in Haiti and my sons have seen how they live, although they can't fully articulate what they’ve seen; I believe they’re on a journey to seeing Jesus through the eyes of some of the poorest children in Haiti. Yes!!! Our boys have the potential to do great things, let your homophobia not extinguish their potential. 

Society, get your act together and Stop!!! Stop trying to make my boys so homophobic that they are reluctant to showing compassion, cry or be kind. Your homophobia is killing our boys’ spirits and they can’t fully live for Christ in fear of being called gay!

So my prayer for our sons is: “God order the steps of my sons, let them follow you all of the days of their lives, let them love you with all of their hearts, mind and soul, let them know you intimately and follow the only one true God of love and grace; let them stand up for justice and defend the defenseless ”.  Let this be our prayer for our boys.