At the beginning of January Brent was able to take a trip to Haiti with our church. Here is what he wrote about the experience:
Before the trip even began, God was moving within me. As my disdain grew for my own indifference towards the vulnerable, it was clear God was calling me to grow and be challenged by the biblical call to care for orphans, widows, and the vulnerable. It had become too easy to ignore the poor.
But as God was moving, I was slowing him down. “Wait God. Not all at once, let me address this issue in small doses.” And so I procrastinated a bit, which unfortunately is a usual occurrence, and the trip to Haiti filled up quickly. But even after the team was capped, I was allowed to sign up. One of many instances that seemed small at the moment but all combined into an overwhelming message of, “Brent. Go.” So I listened and obeyed.
A song struck me as I drove to the airport to leave the country: “My Heart is Yours (I Surrender All)” by Kristian Sanfill. I often look for brilliant-C.S. Lewis-type revelations from God when I go on trips like this, but often it’s as if God wants to show me another side of a basic truth. When this song, one I’ve heard many times before, played that that early morning the simplicity struck me: “Take it all, take it all, my life in your hands....All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.” I wrote in my journal later that day that “More and more the Spirit is leading my heart into a better understanding of what it means to “surrender all and freely give”. At that time I didn’t know just how my heart would have ample opportunity to surrender and freely give on this trip.
Upon arrival in Haiti our first destination was the Go-Ex manufacturing plant which was started by Global Orphan Project. This plant offers opportunity. It houses jobs for some 80+ Haitians to earn a living wage. The purpose of the plant is to prevent children from being orphaned by creating jobs-- to prevent parents from having to make the unbelievable choice between allowing their kids to starve, or giving them up to an orphanage that will take care of them. This plant also helps fund the orphanages. With unemployment near 70%, I was struck by the sheer magnitude of the problem as the manager shared an example of this desperation. He said, “If I told my employees we’re needing 5 more employees and to tell their family and friends who needs jobs to apply, that he’d have 2,000 Haitians at his door the next morning.” That was one of many times in which I experienced the reality of many Haitians. Desperation. I slowly began to realize that there were walls in my heart of privilege and affluence that kept others at arms length--from being compassionate, kind, generous, and empathetic.
Although we visited a few other similar places that provided jobs for Haitians as well as orphan prevention/care, we were able to visit 3 orphanages [we maximized our time there and kept busy!]. Our bus would arrive carrying 16 of us and in an instant 80 kids would surround our door. We were sucked out of the bus at each place like a wave slams into you. A child or a few children would take us off one by one into the orphanage. Leading us by the hand or with one arm around our neck, they’d have us from the very first moment we met. I was so humbled and blessed by the time spent playing with those kids. Whether it was soccer or marbles, spinning them or throwing them up, teaching them to juggle or playing a made up game with rocks, it was all slowly changing me in some way. Before leaving for the trip I read a passage that spoke to this change that was happening. It said, “Simply being with someone is difficult because it asks of us that we share in the other’s vulnerability, enter with him or her into the experience of weakness and powerlessness, become part of uncertainty, and give up control and self-determination.”
Late one evening as we gathered to try and verbalize our physical/emotion/spiritual state, one spoke up and made the connection between how the kids would come to us and how Jesus called a little child to come to him. Matt. 18:1-4 says, “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus challenged us that night to ask ourselves, “Do we run to him like those kids ran to us?”
Lastly, the question I’m wrestling with is, “What now?”. What areas of my life do I need to surrender? How can I care for the vulnerable in my sphere of influence? Do I run to Jesus like a child? As the questions pile up, the only answer I have reached is to have the faith to trust God knows how to best answer them. I tend to answer for God in ways I feel would be best for my life, but they often work out to be just the opposite. At one place we visited, I stood amazed as I watched Haitian women form mugs on a pottery wheel. It was a visual picture of the work God is doing in my heart.
So maybe you gave to this trip to help, or support me, but I hope that through this process God is challenging you also to step out and experience God’s heart for the vulnerable. Would you join me in the scary journey surrendering all and to whatever God has for us? To asking God each day, “What would you have me do?”