If you live in the Southeastern United States, and specifically South Georgia or North Florida, then you have probably seen a lot about the huge 140,000-acre fire that has been tearing through the area. Conditions are dry and local agencies are on high alert for the possibility of other forest fires in the area. One of our good friends, Jared Nobles, is a forest fire fighter in the Ocala National Park and he has worked a lot of long hours lately because of what has been going on. Well, while those things are happening here, quite the opposite has been going on in our area of Haiti. Over the past few weeks, there has been a constant barrage of rain in Port Au Prince and all over the country really. You may remember when Hurricane Matthew came through and devastated much of Western Haiti, and now they are dealing with this.
If you have been down to Haiti to visit All Things New before, then you probably remember the stream that runs right next to the kids’ house. If you are standing on the upstairs balcony, you are directly over the stream. Lener, one of our friends and employees, recently sent us a video of that stream rising so high that it spilled into the farm on the other side of it. The only reason the kids’ house was safe from the stream rising to it is because our wall is higher than the farm on the other side. The bad part of this storm, however, is that the kids’ house did not hold up very well against the rain and the roof will have to be repaired. We knew that it was leaking, but after that many days of hard rain coming almost every day, the inside of the kids’ house was a mess. Please pray that we get it fixed soon and especially as hurricane season is coming upon us again. There was also a lot of flooding on the street where the kids’ house is located and our friends with Reach Global (another mission organization on the same street) have had a lot of cleaning up to do over the past few weeks. Please pray for them. Most of all, continue to remember our Haitian brothers and sisters out west, where Hurricane Matthew did most of its damage. They are still recovering from that storm and trying to rebuild homes and lives and every time it rains those plans get pushed back even further. This storm definitely did not help and they could use your prayers throughout their rebuilding efforts.
It’s funny, I never used to think about things like I do now. Before moving to Haiti, if I were to see a news report about people being displaced by a fire, hear a story about a famine or natural disaster in another part of the world, or even hear reports of the number of malnourished/sick/orphaned children in the world it did not take me very long to move on with my life. When I heard the story I would feel sad and maybe even feel what I thought was compassion (which it was nothing more than guilt because compassion moves us to action) and then I would just keep doing what I had been doing. I don’t think it was really an “ignorance is bliss” kind of situation, I think it was more of a selfish and privileged attitude that I had allowed myself to adopt. I would, subconsciously, allow myself to think that someone else would help, or I would wonder why they allowed themselves to get in that position to start with, or at my worse I would just pretend like it was not a real event and they were not real people. Notice I used the word “subconsciously” because these were not outward feelings and thoughts, they were just ways that I allowed myself to move forward with my life and not do anything outside of what I was used to. I would say that I had become “complacent” but that word is not strong enough. Complacency is the correct word to use when we are talking about a diet, our career path, our education, or some other aspect of our own life where we have grown comfortable. When I would see others around the world that were suffering, starving, helpless, and had nowhere else to turn and then I turned my back on them even though I had the resources (however limited I may have thought they were) to help…That was not complacency, that was selfishness and that was heartlessness.
I am not saying that we can or should help everyone in the world that needs us. In the arena of orphan care alone, there are over 100 million orphans in the world and I do not even know 10 people who are wealthy enough to join together and give even $1 to each of those children. We cannot help everyone at the same time…it is impossible. My point is that we cannot see these things happening around the world and do nothing! Do you know that now when things like these fires, the rain in Haiti, or any other type of natural disasters happen, 1 question immediately comes to mind:
What if this happened to our kids while they were still at the old orphanage?
I think about what they would have gone through alone, with little to no shelter, and unable to care for themselves because they are children. When I see these things happening it makes me want to work even harder to make sure our kids and the people in our community are able to handle disasters when they happen. These types of things stir up in me the desire to act and to help and to push forward as hard as I can to make sure I am doing something to help the people that GOD has put in my life. This does not mean that I would not send money to another disaster or help others who are struggling around the world. It simply means that I cannot live my life like I used to…Completely oblivious to anything else in the world besides my family, my job, my money, my next vacation, who my friends are, and my own life.
The truth is I have to fight against that type of thinking every day. It is so easy, especially being back here in America for a little while, to fall right back into a selfish, privileged, complacent, heartless mindset where everything revolves around me and my family, but that is not why we were created! We were created for GOD’s glory (Isaiah 43:7) not our own. To live like we were created to live we have to follow 2 very similar commands (Matthew 22:37-39):
- To love GOD with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
- To love our neighbor as yourself.
I can tell you 2 things with absolute certainty:
- I cannot love my neighbor as myself if all I ever think about is me.
- I cannot love GOD with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength if I do not love my neighbor as myself.