Life in Ministry or Ministry Life?
Caption: Youth Pastors Joel Diaz, Josh and Kansas Corley at Pastor David's house in Carrefour, Haiti
Sometimes stepping out of your own cultural context can reveal something deep about your own context.
Last week, I lead a group of church leaders and friends on a mission trip to Haiti. (You may remember I also went to Haiti in February) It was an amazing experience on a lot of levels. If you've never done ministry in a third world culture I want to encourage you to go. For me, there is something incredibly refreshing about spending time with people with literally nothing but are filled with joy. This is my second trip to Haiti and on both trips I believe I came home with greater gifts than I took.
Our group lived in the home of a local Baptist pastor. His family of about 15, some his children and some girls he has taken in over the years, live in the lower level while they rent out the upper level to visitors like us. By Haitian standards he was doing pretty good. He had a roof over his head, his family is well cared for, and he's been able to largely resume his life the way it was prior to the January 12th earthquake which rocked his city.
During the week, I received and unexpected blessing. Being around Pastor David for a week gave me a glimpse into a totally different paradigm for doing ministry.
He didn't have an office at the church he worked at. Rather, he went out and visited his congregation in the his neighborhood. Most of his congregants lived within a short walk of his house. Nearly everyone, even those who went to other churches, knew Pastor David because he was so visible in the community.
His ministry was fully integrated into his life. Orphaned girls became his daughters. Young men came to the house for Bible studies. He and his wife lead worship in his kitchen regularly. People came to his house at all hours of the night seeking prayer. Several times, at 3 or 4 in the morning a person would knock on his door. And he would, despite probably being wrecked, get up and pray and sing hymns with them.
People from the neighborhood came to his house when they needed food. And when the lights went out in the neighborhood for 27 hours… people hung out in the street near Pastor David's house during the evening as a place in the light the community could meet up. (He had an inverter system that stored electricity when the poor was on for when the power was off.)
On top of that, on Friday night, Pastor David's family lead a praise and worship service at their house that spilled out of their kitchen and took over the streets. They sang and prayed from 8:30 PM until midnight. And then Pastor David preached from midnight to 1:00 AM. (I collapsed in my bunk while he was preaching. The cadence of his Creole sermon whisked me away to dreamland.)
Pastor David's house was literally a light in the city. A place of refuge. A place for orphans. And a house of worship.
It was beautifully disturbing for an American pastor to observe.
By now, you are probably thinking that Pastor David lives a horribly unbalanced life. And, in some ways, I completely agree with you. I am huge proponent of the concept that you need to protect your family and take care of your own soul. Yet, at the same time– seeing Pastor David, his life in ministry, and his joy has made me wonder if our goal is a bit out of line. He truly lives a beautiful life of ministry.
Pastor David isn't in ministry. His life was ministry. It literally knocked on his door 24 hours per day. It wasn't a vocation. It was his life!
Obviously, context and culture dictate a lot. But this experience definitely has me rethinking, yet again, my ministry life.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.