Friday, August 17, 2012

Shortly after arriving in May I was given the task of meeting our Haitian pastors at the border. Every month a representative from the ministry meets with the seven pastors G.O. partners with to check-in with them and give them an offering that allows their ministry to function for the next month. Two days after arriving on the field I was asked to make the four hour journey to the border and meet with the pastors. I was told to take them their pay, feed them lunch, collect their ministry reports, gather prayer requests and encourage them with a devotion and some scripture.  Traveling across the country by cramming into a series of public transportation and busses is not my idea of a good time but it didn’t bother me- a 5 am wake up, suspect chicken and yuca for breakfast, military checkpoints, language barrier and not really knowing what direction is home are all components of a great adventure. None of it bothered me at all, except that little thing at the end. Encouraging devotion? Uhhh. Ok. Share scripture? I was terrified. Paralyzed was probably a better description of my behavior leading up to my trip. I didn’t want to crack my Bible or journal for days. It felt like I was being asked to show doodles I made on the back of a placemat at Steak ‘n Shake to Picasso. 

I had no idea what to say to the seven men who work in a country where the poverty is beyond my ability to describe with words. A place that is surrounded with such hopelessness.  My first time in Haiti I felt like I was going to drown. How does a guy like me even begin to try and encourage them? For the days leading up to the trip it was all I thought about. When I got up at 5:30 am to begin my journey to meet them I still really had no idea what to say to them. Part of me wanted to give them their offering, pray and high tail it back to Santiago. But I didn’t. As I prayed on my way to the meeting my thoughts started to take shape. Below is some what I wrote in my journal to share with them.

Phillipians 1: 3-14
I’m always struck by this first paragraph of thanksgiving and prayer Paul writes to the church in Philippi. The guy is in jail and he starts of his correspondence by telling them “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.” My letter to supporting churches would be more along the lines of a desperate plea for help in my release. Paul is just the opposite.  He tells his friends in Philippi that his imprisonment has served to advance the gospel. Paul is in a valley. He is in a place that most people would see as the low point in their lives. Yet he is flourishing. As I look back on my life it seems like there has been a lot of valleys. The main difference between my valley’s and Paul’s imprisonment is that my valley’s result from me bumbling through life. I usually wind up in a valley because of a series of poor choices or chasing sin. Paul wound up in a valley because he was fulfilling God’s plan in his life. Paul was in a valley, a beautiful valley. 

In our first year of ministry Lydia and I have hit some valleys. But those guys doing ministry in Haiti live in a valley. As Christians I think we expect our faith in and commitment to the teachings of Christ to come with a halo of protection. The truth couldn’t be more than the opposite. When Jesus sent out his 12 disciples in Matthew 10 He tells them they are headed into many deep valleys. They will be like sheep among wolves, flogged in synagogues and that brother will betray brother to death. The idea of seeking safety and comfort don’t really have anything to do with what Jesus is asking us to do. Besides safety is incredibly boring and unfulfilling. Faith should be an adventure. Being crammed in stinky hot bus and not really knowing where you’re headed or where your going is a much better story!

Thanks for all you do,