First, I was greatly blessed yesterday by our staff meeting, in which 20 people, from doctoral students to dish washers, from professors to maintenance men, from cities and mountains and, lot bo ("the other side", the term for America), met together for an hour with genuine respect and love for each other. We talked about upcoming board meetings, we talked about some changing policies, we talked about how to do a few things better...and I can testify that it was truly, the entire hour, of one accord.
There were different opinions, of course, and there was lots to talk about and consider, but there was NEVER a moment that our staff was not of one heart and voice of love for Christ and each other and the students, that there was anything other than kindness and respect, that there was one instance of someone's heart not being in just the right place.
Additionally, questions were not turned immediately to Matt as the president, as a foreigner, but instead were most often answered as a community, and again, with love and respect and even Christ-like correction, one to each other.
It is one thing to talk about special community during Christmas parties. But to experience and observe true and Christ-like community during a business meeting, in which there were 20 different perspectives? To see a mutual and sacrificial love for the men and women we are here to serve and a mutual desire for His glory above all else? THAT was some great kind of gift. Praise the Lord.
It was small.
But it was fruit, precious sweet fruit of many many years of discipling and learning and growing and hard change and much prayer and God's unmerited grace.
So I went. And the community worship was good and the message by fourth year student Kerntz was good, but the biggest blessing was a small example of Christ-like living.
Roselande was up for sharing special music, and I'd never heard her sing alone before. She started in, unaccompanied, singing her heart out just beautifully. On key, unwavering, it was stunning. Everyone was on the edge of their pew, and you could see how she is loved, and how her voice to the Lord was blessing us each. There is very little in Haiti more important than music.
Near the end of her praise, however, as she went to belt out the next line, her voice cracked and dropped and she hung her head, humiliated. In this extreme shame culture, when someone trips going up the stairs or falls and cuts their shin, or misses the ball in soccer or destroys a note during a solo...there is loud laughter. Laughter, instead of glaring silence, seems to help alleviate the obvious shame, though from my North American mindset, it always feels mean to hear loud laughter at someone's mistake.
But as I waited for the laughter, I heard something else instead. Almost without missing a beat, while Roselande struggled to get her voice back on stage, a strong voice from beside me picked right off where Roselande's voice had trailed off. Rose d'Haiti's powerful voice continued...swelling right through the verse, and as she did, several other students picked up the harmony. By the time Roselande was able to get back in, she joined a chorus of brothers and sisters and they finished the song together.
They took her shame, met her there, and covered it. Beautifully. And as she finished, loud applause met her and brought her from stage back into the family.
I was proud because this was counter-cultural. I was proud because it was something of Him.
How many times have we messed up and needed met and covered and brought in closer, and instead faced shame and alienation? How many times has another tried to help us, and instead we've been mad that they pointed out our need, when today was OUR solo, OUR chance to shine? How many times have we seen someone's life drop out, and wanted to jump right in boldly pouring out ourselves in their place, to cover them and give them rest, and instead we let uncertainty and fear of not helping the right way keep us from doing anything? Finished their song, instead, with total silence as we sit awkwardly by?
The students gave me a powerful image of what it is to be community, of how to give and receive help without hesitation, redeeming brokenness with beauty.
It was small.
But it was fruit of much harvest, much prayer, much teaching, much help, much water.
I continue to be touched by far more than I touch. I continue to learn far more than I teach. I continue to grow far more than I water.
He seems to often work like that.
Side note : Uncle Don is here, praise the Lord, and Nora dear has been sick since Philly and actually seems to be continually growing worse...deep chest cold, complete congestion = hours of coughing and wheezing throughout the day and night. Would you please join us in praying for her healing and good health? Thank you!