In the middle of June I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Haiti with a group of 25 young adults from a few local churches. Going into this trip, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what to expect… and more than a week after our return, I’m still not sure that I have the words to describe it.
We spent 9 full days in Haiti, 3 days at each of the 3 locations that we visited. We spent time in villages, schools, orphanages, medical clinics, and soccer games… anywhere that we could interact with the people we were there to reach. Our primary objective was to form relationships with the people we got to spend time with, especially the children. The missionary that we were working with, Rodney, explained that Haiti’s biggest need is not for food, water, money, or resources. Haiti’s biggest need is for Christian leaders who will lead the country in a godly way; and the kids we had the opportunity to pour into are the next generation of leaders in Haiti. We weren’t going to be the ones to change the country of Haiti, but those kids are… and we got to make a lasting impact on their lives.
We will probably never get to see the fruit of each high-five, hug, or heartfelt prayer spoken over those kids, at least not this side of eternity. But I know that we serve an amazing God who hears our prayers and who loves to bless His children. Furthermore, I believe with all my heart that He is moving in Haiti, and will continue to move in ways that far exceed anything we could ever ask or imagine. I eagerly anticipate the day when I will get to see all the pieces put together of this amazing story that God is writing.
Although I may not know the full extent of the impact that we made for the kingdom of God in Haiti, I do know the impact that this trip had on me personally. There is something very special that happens when a group of people comes together in the name of Jesus, and sets their focus on a common mission and purpose. I had the privilege of witnessing a group of flawed and broken people come together in a way that can only be facilitated by the work and presence of the Holy Spirit. As we gathered together each evening to worship and share our testimonies, there was a degree of vulnerability and authenticity that ministered to my spirit in such a powerful way. It was evident that God had handpicked each and every individual on our team, not only to come together to impact the lives of the people in Haiti, but to make a lasting impact on each other’s lives as well.
The thing that probably left the biggest impression on my heart was how hungry for love those kids were. So many of them just wanted to be hugged, held, or even to just hold our hands, because most of them don’t get that kind of affection at home. I’ll admit, it can be a little overwhelming at times when it seems like you have a child attached to you from sun-up to sun-down, and at times you feel like you have nothing left to give. But I think it was through that experience that God wanted to drive home a very important truth in my heart. During our time in Haiti I was reading a book called “Abide in Christ,” and speaking of a Christ Follower abiding in Jesus it says:
“He has the power to offer that to others of which they can eat and live. Amid all who surround him he becomes like a tree of life, of which they can taste and be refreshed. He is in his circle a center of life and of blessing, and that simply because he abides in Christ, and receives from Him the Spirit and the life of which he can impart to others.” (Andrew Murray)
This passage sparked my memory of a portion of scripture, which also happened to be our devotional verse one of the last mornings in Haiti:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)
Yes, I was tired and overwhelmed and I felt like I had nothing left to give. But I was reminded that I am not supposed to be giving love out of my own limited resources, but out of God’s endless supply… a supply that I first need to receive from Him. As long as I remain in Him and receive from Him FIRST, I can keep going out and sharing that love with those precious kids, and anyone else I come into contact with. But it starts with prioritizing my time with God; being in His presence in prayer and worship, digging into His written Word, and listening to what He has for me.
One final thought. As I was journaling one morning, I felt God reminding me that it’s not just the kids in Haiti or other poverty stricken countries that are hungry for love… it’s every single human being on the planet; the person sitting next to you on the bus or in class, your friends and family, the person at the front desk of your gym, and yes, the kids in a Haitian village. God tells us through His Word that the identifying quality of Christ followers will be in the way that we love others.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35, NIV)
Overseas missions are wonderful and impactful, but you don’t have to wait until you visit a different country to begin sharing the love of God.