This guest post is from Lauren Anderson, a young mother of two who participated in the August 2014 Haiti Mission Team with our humanitarian outreach, the Chanje Movement. We are thrilled to be able to share her observations and experience:
There is so much I’ve learned this last year with my involvement in Chanje. One of the greatest lessons I learned is that sometimes when God calls you, it starts as a whisper. The whisper calling me to go to Haiti was gentle at first, so much so that I even ignored it. But overtime it began to grow to a point where it was so loud and so clear that if I were to have said no it would have felt like direct disobedience to God’s plan for me. When I finally agreed, I didn’t even know where Haiti was on a map! I thought it was in Africa!
Before long I found myself with 28 other people who answered “Yes!” to the call and we were on our way together to a small island that’s a two hour plane ride away from Miami airport. After just the first day in Haiti, a different level of understanding swept over me like a heaviness. To be honest, I was rather surprised by it’s weight. I thought over the past several years that I knew all about what was to come. I had seen the pictures that our missionaries shared in church, I had watched the footage on the news, I had listened to the stories, I had even been moved to tears… But nothing can prepare you for what it is to physically step in and experience this other world that exists outside of your daily reality. For me, it was all about the connection. It was about making a connection to the people. A connection to their suffering. A connection to their struggles. A connection to their pain. A connection to their endurance. And most importantly – a connection to their hope.
In seven days, there were times that I felt overwhelmed. There were moments where the ability to keep a brave face breaks down and the tears stream out of even the biggest, burliest, toughest males of the group. There were times I would turn to the veterans for assurance that we were making a difference, and with a brutal explanation of what [Haiti had been like] before, I would be calmed by their confidence in God’s work being done. Nonetheless, my heart was broken in places that had never been touched. A sense of panic started to form within me throughout the trip… “There’s so much to be done!” “We’ll never be able to help everyone!” “We can’t go home yet – we need to do more!” Every thought of concern felt like a needle in my heart stitching me to this country, it’s people, the children, their suffering. My panic grew to a search for answers to questions I couldn’t quell.
Thankfully, a very patient leader who was experienced in these thoughts and fears simplified a connection to the bigger picture. Dave Brodsky made it so beautifully clear to me and to all of us: we are not here to simply help provide food, water, clothes and shelter… for if that were all we brought with us – how hopeless would we feel once we left? It is not our main goal to build up lives here on earth; it is our great mission to build up lives in eternity. If we were simply focused on making everyone’s lives on earth more comfortable, we would certainly lose hope. But our hope is in the Lord and His promises. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 it says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (NKJV)
Keeping the focus on this main mission purpose gave me instant relief and a great peace came over me. Yes, we are going to do our best to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, love the suffering – but it is all in the name of Jesus Christ, being the hands and feet of the Savior of the world, showing the love of our Heavenly Father through acts of service. These beautiful people of Haiti will better understand God’s love by the love He is showing though His missionaries that answer that call and step into their world to make connections that last for eternity.
We can listen and find so many different opportunities to be a faithful servant whether it’s a loud call or a gentle whisper. For some of us it may be a path of action, for some of us it may be by means of financial ability, for some of us it may be by using the gifts God blessed us with to bring glory to His kingdom. Perhaps it can be all of the above and even more… Giving our contributions to those who need it the most. Today I am changed by the connection I have to the people I got to know in Haiti. Today when I pray, I don’t just pray for faces without names – I pray for my friends, I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, I pray for them like I pray for my family. I can’t wait to return to Haiti, but I also find great peace in knowing that even if I don’t get the chance to see each and every Haitian friend once more, we are forever connected in the love of Christ. I will surely see them again in eternity where we will be servants together forever side by side.
To learn more about the Chanje Movement, the humanitarian outreach of The Global Mission, and how you can be involved, please visit www.chanje.org.