Packing for Haiti
My empty backpack is calling to me. “Adam, it's time to go.“
Today is my last work day before I begin traveling to serve with 9 other people on the Youth Ministry Advance Team: Haiti. My mind is swirling. Haiti. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Over 200,000 confirmed dead from the January 12th earthquake. Millions left homeless. There were 350,000 orphans before the quake. The World Food Program fed thousands every day– before the quake.
Perhaps there was good reason my mind didn't let me think about actually going there in a few days?
Why did God call me to do this? What am I going to actually do there? How can someone like me actually bring relief to someone who has lost everything? What does it mean to be the hands and feet of Jesus?
I don't know the answers to these questions. But I do pray that God reveals those answers to me over the next week.
Why am I qualified to go now? I've got a few answers to this question.
- Every believer is called to respond. When I was asked to go on this trip I wrestled with the question, “Will I just be in the way?” But as I prayed about the opportunity, the Holy Spirit convicted me with Matthew 25 and the story of the sheep and the goats. As a conservative Evangelical I struggle with the theology of this passage of Scripture. It really had never made sense to me in light of Jesus' action on the cross. Sola Fide, right? But this opportunity shed new light on this passage for me. “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” I rest knowing that I am called to Haiti to feed the hungry, bring drink to the thirsty, offer help to strangers, and clothe the naked.
- I can offer a ministry of consolation. I've struggled to put a word to this. That's why I was so thankful when Seth Barnes shared this paragraph from Henri Nouwen with our team. “Consolation is a beautiful word. It means “to be” (con-) “with the lonely one” (solus). To offer consolation is one of the most important ways to care. Life is so full of pain, sadness, and loneliness that we often wonder what we can do to alleviate the immense suffering we see. We can and must offer consolation. We can and must console the mother who lost her child, the young person with AIDS, the family whose house burned down, the soldier who was wounded, the teenager who contemplates suicide, the old man who wonders why he should stay alive. To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, “You are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry the burden. Don't be afraid. I am here.” That is consolation. We all need to give it as well as to receive it.”
- Telling stories that need to be told. I actually learned this by watching CNN. I know, fancy right? And yet it is true. When I watch Anderson Cooper tell a families story of burying their dead it reminds me that this is a human story. All too easily we disappear in the volume of the numbers or the sensational story of people stealing children. 200,000 dead is unfathomable. It is the same amount of people who died in all of World War I... in a single day. I cannot identify with that. But, if you are like me, you've done funerals for families and you can understand and empathize with a single family mourning the loss of a child, mother, or grandparent. Their stories deserve to be told.
And so I pack my bag. It is a priveledge to pack that backpack and go. I'm excited to see what God will do.
I only ask that you join me for this journey. Follow along here on the blog the trip. You'll get to know the team and you'll see what we're up to. Please leave comments or ask questions. Thanks to AT&T I will have my handy-dandy iPhone to keep in contact when its appropriate. So my hope is that this will be a journey you can interact with!
This trip is serious. But it's also a bunch of youth workers, so how serious can it be?
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.