I want to spend a few posts just writing about what I have learned over the past year from going down to Haiti, and what we can hopefully teach some of our friends in Haiti because we have grown up in America. I love that I was born here and I love being American. I would not trade it for any other place in the world. I think about the advantages that I have had growing up and the way that this culture has shaped my outlook on life (both for the positive and for the negative). I will not, by any means, take the arrogant stance of saying that what I have learned is what everyone should learn and I will not speak in generalities with the full knowledge that each of us are different. We all have our own individual strengths, weaknesses, histories, stories, etc. I simply want to write about some things that I have noticed about Haitian society that is changing me, I hope, for the better, and some things about our society that could help change our friends in Haiti for the better as well.
The first thing that I have learned and I absolutely hope it changes me to the core is what it means to live by faith. If I am being completely honest, it has been very hard to understand what it means to truly live by faith. That is not to say that I did not have faith in my GOD, but it is to say that I feel like I have always had what I will call “faith+.” What I mean is that I have always had faith + something else. For instance, when people get sick, I have faith that GOD is the only one who can truly heal. The problem is that while I would state that as my belief, I would only believe it along with medicine or hospitals or surgery. I always believed that I shouldn’t worry because it shows a lack of faith in GOD. But when worry creeps in, I always know that I have a bank account that can get me out of whatever jam I might be in (granted, not a huge bank account, but you get the point). Even in ministry, I truly and fully believe that only GOD has the power to make a ministry strong. But when it comes down to it, I remember how often I have faith in GOD’s power + my own intelligence and ability.
Some of you might be reading this and thinking something like “you should have faith, but you should also do things that you have the power to do to make things happen.” You might be thinking that I am describing a “lazy faith” that could possibly allow someone to shirk their own responsibilities. I assure you, this is now what I am talking about. What I am talking about is coming to a place in our lives where we are at the end of our own power and we have no choice but to rely on GOD. In Haiti, I see this in the life of many. Oftentimes, this is not of the person’s own choosing, and I do not want to lessen the struggles that many people their face. But what I have seen is the joy in the heart and on the faces of children who have not eaten in days. I have seen (firsthand because I got a truck stuck in the mud once) men come and help complete strangers just because they were in trouble. I have worshipped with people who, in some cases, have no physical reason to worship but do anyway because they know their GOD.
I am not trying to romanticize this nation either, and I hope that is not what you start to think when reading this blog. You know that Haiti is a nation full of struggles and corruption along with the many positives aspects of Haitian society. What I am trying to do is help us (even if it is just me) understand what it means to be joyful in GOD and to have faith in Him when nothing else seems to be working. I am saying that many of us have no idea what it truly means to have faith in a GOD who is so much more powerful than anything else we have ever seen or experienced. There are 2 people that come to mind specifically:
- The fat, dumb, and happy Christian that believes faith is simply going to church, going to small group, tithing, and spending time with other Christians. We (and I absolutely include myself in this description please know that) think faith is waking up early on Sunday and showing up at a service or 2. But when is the last time we did something that could not succeed if we were to rely on our own power? When is the last time we came completely to the end of ourselves? When is the last time our friends or our money or our own skills/intelligence were not enough and we were given the privilege of relying on a holy GOD?
- The person who cannot bring themselves to place their faith in Christ because they have seen too much. Maybe you have lost a loved one or gone through a divorce. Maybe your Mom didn’t care about you and your dad left you. Maybe you look around the world and think that if GOD exists there is no way that you want to know Him. And here is what I say to that…I have no idea what you have been through. In all honesty, I have never had a truly horrific thing happen to me in my life and I cannot speak to how I would react if I did. But there is one thing that I do know. I have a GOD who is my Father, my King, my Savior, my judge, my deliverer, and the creator of the whole world. I have a GOD who loves me, and when I cannot handle something I can rely on Him to get me through it. I have a GOD that, even if I were starving, even if I was a child whose Mom and Dad abandoned me (like many of the children at All Things New), and even if I did not have one thing to my name, He would still be the person who loved me and saved me from the evil that threatened to destroy me. He would still be my GOD, my Savior, and the lover of my soul and I cannot imagine for one second living without Him.
To sum it up, one of the things that GOD has been trying to teach me lately is what it means to truly live by faith. Not “faith+” but true faith that can only manifest itself when you come to a place in your life where you just can’t do it. Sometimes this happens because of experiences that you have no control over and you learn true faith from that experience. But I would challenge each of us (especially myself) to live everyday hoping and striving for the chance to live a life completely outside of your own ability because it is only then that you truly get to see what GOD can accomplish through you. Don’t wait for these chances to come to you, but place yourself in these faith requiring circumstances. Let’s pray for each other that GOD takes us to that scary place where we have to truly place all of our faith in Him, we will never begin to comprehend what He can do.