Last week I had the unique opportunity to travel to Haiti and visit with our sister church, The Corail Baptist Church. For almost 20 years HCC has partnered with this wonderful congregation. Although we have sent many teams to Corail, this was the first time one of our pastors was able to make the trip. Even though we went for the purpose of encouraging and blessing them, it was us who were blessed. Below are some of the lessons God is teaching me as a result of this trip:
- I am incredibly spoiled!
That statement does not shock those who know me. Like many of you, I am accustomed to living with a certain degree of comfort. I like hot showers and cool temperatures. I hate bugs and love cleanliness. I prefer to sleep in the air-conditioned comfort of my own bed and not in stifling heat under a mosquito net. Wow! Does that sound terrible! How spoiled am I?
When I returned from Haiti I was deeply convicted by my complaining spirit. Why was I unable to happily experience for a few days what many people live out every day? Why is my level of contentment so dependent upon my circumstances? Quite frankly, I have much to learn. My prayer is that, like the Apostle Paul, God will teach me to be content with whatever I have, be it a little or much (Philippians 4:11, 12).
- We are sheltered
We live in a bubble that is called the United States of America. As such, the poverty, hunger and heartache that much of the world experiences are foreign to us. Although the daily news programs remind us of the world’s tragedies, they seem so distant from us. Since we do not personally experience them, we are disconnected and do not relate or feel the weight of human suffering.
How tragic! As Americans it is so easy for us to live out our lives oblivious to the suffering of others. Yet, is that the way God expects us to live?
When Jeremiah, from his mountaintop hideout, observed the suffering that was being experienced in Jerusalem, he made a powerful statement. In Lamentations 3:51 he said, “My eyes bring suffering to my soul.” In other words, the things he saw deeply affected and changed him.
Like Jeremiah, I trust that the things I have seen in Haiti and other countries will profoundly and permanently affect my soul. How can malnourished children not affect me? How can I ignore the needs of a remote city and an impoverished church? The answer is that I can’t and neither can you.
I am more determined than ever to not live a sheltered life. As a church we must not be oblivious to the needs of the world in which we live. Let’s burst the bubble, tear down the shelter and realize that we have been called to change our world.
I am convinced that in order to change our world we must change the way we do ministry. For years, churches like ours have taken a shotgun approach to ministry and missions. Like buckshot our ministry is widespread, sending little pellets of help to the far off reaches of the world. Yet, how much are we really accomplishing? Is it enough to just support missionaries and not get personally involved in changing their communities?
In the next few months our Elders, Pastors and Missions Team will be working on a strategy that will enable us to focus on a few areas where we can concentrate the majority of our efforts and resources. This needs to be done both locally and globally. As one pastor stated, this needs to be a “glocal” strategy. Here are a few things we would like to do…
Þ Adopt a neighborhood close to HCC and minister to the spiritual, economic and relational needs of its residents.
Þ Develop a partnership with foreign communities with the purpose of impacting them for the cause of Christ.
Þ Send missions teams to Corail, Haiti, Burkina Faso and other places were we can make a long-lasting impact.
It amazes me how taking a short missions trip heightens awareness and bring things into focus. Let me encourage you to take a trip to the mission field. I promise you that, like mine, your life will never be the same.