A good friend of ours who works for a different mission in southern Haiti has recently put out a few devotional booklets for their visiting teams, and sent me a few copies today because she used a few posts from our blog in one of them. As I was reading words written long ago, the memories of the day I wrote each post came flooding back. Each thought, each conviction, each struggle....as real today as it was then.
This one from June 2014 is no exception...I am reminded, again.
The more we speak in Haiti and in America, and the more we spend time in both places, the more obvious it is how very DIFFERENT these two cultures are, AND the more obvious how very SIMILAR a mission field they are.
The first night at [a church in America], I was sitting at a table talking to an older man I had never met. Following several major back surgeries, he continues to live in a considerable amount of pain. "I'm in so much pain," he struggled to share with me, "and I just don't know WHAT to do."
As soon as he said it, the images of SO MANY people came to mind. I have heard SO MANY people say that, in mud huts and in beautiful churches: There is so much pain in my life, and I don't know WHAT to do about it.
What a mission-field.
Then Sunday morning during the service, we broke into small groups for a few minutes to pray together.
I noticed a woman sitting alone that no one seemed to know, so I moved over to her table and asked a very simple question:
Hello, I'm Stacey! How can I pray for you?
She started to share some very significant health issues of her own, and then of her husbands. They are almost always homebound. There are a lot of reasons for anxiety to creep in. Sadness. Loneliness. Then, she shares that her only child recently told them that they are a homosexual, and is now living with their partner.
By the time she finished sharing, I couldn't imagine how she brought herself to church this morning. Couldn't imagine how she got out of bed. Couldn't comprehend how brave her smile now seemed. Couldn't comprehend the overwhelming love of Jesus I felt for His daughter.
We prayed, for strength, for courage, for her to throw it all on Him and lean heavily.
When we finished and headed back to our seats, she grabbed my hand: "Are you new here? Could we pray together each week?"
Even as she was asking, my desire was overwhelming to become a part of this woman's life...to bring them supper once a week, to share our happy girls with their lonely lives.
There is such a powerful mission field RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.
For the Gospel, which is a PERSON. For Jesus, who lives in you.
And in ANY country, I'm starting to wonder if lives would be changed and transformed simply by walking with Jesus in YOU for a while.
Takes time. Not convenient. Costs some money. Costs some sacrifice.
But writing that man or that woman or a lot of men and women we know in Haiti a check is NOT gonna cut it. Praying for them once or twice, NOT gonna cut it. We need to BE IN THEIR HOMES AND HAVE THEM IN OURS. Meet their spouses and children and parents and go again, next week.
Praise God He didn't send a check, didn't send a prayer, didn't send a good wish, didn't send a care package.
He sent a PERSON. JESUS.
And now He's sending a PERSON. YOU.
It doesn't have to be Haiti. I met so many people just this weekend who need a missionary so badly.
Go start a relationship with somebody today...let God bring the mailman, the homeless person, the loner in your church, your kid's friend's mom...to mind. Just ask them, "How can I pray for you?"
As you listen to what they need, you will hear that it is more JESUS.
Let God answer that prayer through YOU.
I bet it will be frustrating at times. Most definitely inconvenient. Maybe costly. Probably awkward at times. Most surely a long-term commitment. Lots of grace required.
PRAISE THE LORD HE HAS PERSEVERED through that kind of a relationship with ME.
Because of who He is, I can be, too.