What we are called to do, let’s not confuse our ideas with His calling.
As I watch and have heard first hand accounts of the reality on the ground in Haiti, my heart is stirred. Stirred by the depth of hurt and pain created by the hurricane, stirred by the lack of food and water available to people, stirred by the lack of clothing people have, stirred by their loneliness, stirred by their sickness and stirred by those who no longer have a home.
I read in scripture that we as believers are supposed to help our brothers and sisters in need, Matt 25 as one example. All through scripture we are told to care for the orphaned, the hurting, the broken. We are told to get dirty to speak, get involved, go and serve. Matt 28
It is important as we evaluate the needs in these situations such as natural disasters to determine whether it is a crisis or development issue. Make no mistake, many in Haiti are in a crisis situation.
In a crisis situation we do things FOR people, like sending funds to purchase needed supplies. But it is so much more! We are to go and help people rebuild, to get in the trenches and help people. We serve alongside others who are leading the way, those who are getting it done so to speak. Yes it means GO AND SERVE! At this point in Haiti and even over the next few weeks, many are in crisis. We are called to go and serve! It is not someone’s idea, it is Jesus directive.
My guess is that if Jesus was here on earth at this point that he would make his way to Haiti to help! He would make his way to Aleppo to help! He wouldn’t listen to the critics, he would be serving, loving, giving, interacting, praying and so much more!
In a development situation it means that we do things WITH people. We can still go and serve but how we do things looks different. We shouldn’t go to a nation like Haiti and build houses and take jobs from people, we shouldn’t bring in goods to tear down the local economy, we should go and build relationships and serve along with nationals. We are called to go and serve!
Each situation looks different!
In a crisis like Haiti there are thousands of people that lost their homes, suffering in so many ways. Let’s say just 5000 people lost their homes and all need to rebuild. How can that happen? It will take a very, very long time. But, If 4996 are rebuilt by nationals and receive missionaries help and encouragement if required that could be amazing. If because of the volume of the need, mission teams come in and serve under national leadership who know the need and rebuild 4 homes, that cannot be detrimental. It actually helps four families more.
After serving in hurricane Katrina for s number of months, it was obvious that if the people had to rebuild on their own without any outside help they simply could not do it. The magnitude of the hurricane was widespread. In their crisis, those who came to truly serve, give of their own time and resources made a huge impact on so many lives. It made a difference that day for those families that got the help they needed because they knew they were not alone.
So let’s stop calling short term mission groups: missionary tourists or job stealers or whatever negative words we want to say and thank them for their commitment to serve others, bless others and do exactly what Christ told us to do.
I am sure someone today in these crisis situations will be more than happy to know someone else also cares enough to give of themselves to come and serve.