Motivation for Missions
God’s main goal and our main goal in missions ought to be the same. God’s chief desire is to be worshipped and glorified. He wants us to praise Him and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He also wants this adoration and worship from every nation and people-group around the entire globe. Our heart and vision for our potential work in Haiti needs to be primarily centered on God’s glory. This is the starting point. We purposely do not want to begin from a humanitarian or people-focused perspective. Please don’t misunderstand us; we desperately want to be a source of encouragement to church leaders in Haiti. Andrea and I have a continual desire to help orphans. We want people to have enough clean water to drink and food to eat. We want the justice of God to prevail in a hurting world. Helping to alleviate poverty and caring for the orphan and widow, as James the apostle commanded, is the desire of our heart. We just want to make certain that our driving force and starting point is a desire for God to be worshipped and glorified among all people.
“Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength God provides - in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.” 1 Peter 4:11
From this perspective I will outline more specifically what we want to do in Haiti and our vision for it.
In Acts 4:36, Luke tells us that the name Barnabas means “the son of encouragement”. By the grace of God, our ministry will mirror that of Barnabas. We want to develop relationships with people, and specifically church leadership. From the time we got back on the plane to leave Haiti from our missions trip last summer we both had a driving burden to help pastors and leaders in the church. We saw faithful men and women of God serving the Lord and their churches in, as Billy put it, “a very hard place.” They are helping people who are facing troubles from every side and they are doing it with the joy of the Lord in their hearts. Relationship building is our first goal. We want to be a great support to them, both spiritually and practically. We desire to love people and be friends with people in the Haitian churches. We hope to gain their confidence and trust. We want to help them in everyday situations and problems. We want to encourage them towards God-centered and Spirit-filled marriages and parenting for His glory. And we know without a doubt that we will gain as much or more from them. One of the highlights of the trip was Sunday morning worship. This time encouraged us greatly and it continues to be a motivator to go back. We have a good deal to learn from the Haitian believers and are eager to give and receive in this context.
The Theological Famine
Another goal that I have in Haiti is to partner with Desiring God International Outreach to provide biblical resources in Haitian Creole. Below I have included the vision statement from Desiring God International Outreach:
“Global Christianity is radically changing. Africa, Asia, and South America are experiencing explosive church growth: 77,000 new believers worldwide everyday. Yet, thousands of Christians in these regions are deprived of sound biblical teaching. Leaders and congregations lack sound theology, leaving them malnourished and vulnerable. International Outreach is working to relieve this theological famine. We are building a network of collaborators who provide biblical resources, in appropriate languages and formats, to equip church and missions leaders around the world.”
While I am aware of the great men of God in Haiti that are, in fact, preaching sound biblical truth every week, it also seems that there is a lack of discipleship and focus on Christian growth. This may be caused, in part, from a shortage of good resources. I want to help them get those resources in their native tongue. I desire to help pastors obtain books in Haitian Creole that will help them be better pastors, husbands and fathers. Biblical resources and books have been a great encouragement to us in our Christian walk. We have learned what the Bible says about God in greater detail and accuracy and it has shaped us in profound ways. We hope to help them develop biblical resources in their language so they can also benefit in these ways. At this point I think it is appropriate to include a good definition of theology. So many times, in our culture, words like theology and doctrine have been misunderstood or misrepresented. Paul Tripp and Tim Lane in their book Relationships, A Mess Worth Making, define it well:
“We see theology as a systematic study of religious thought that has little to do with everyday life. But, rightly understood, theology is the real life story of God’s relationship to us and our relationship to one another lived out in a broken world. By this definition, whether you “think” theologically or not, you are “doing” theology every day in the decisions you make, the words you speak, the feelings you have, and the attitudes you nurture in your heart. All of these responses are rooted in your perspective on the nature of God, yourself, your relationships, and the world around you. These “perspectives” are theology because they inform and frame the way you live your life. The question is not whether you are a theologian, but what kind of a theologian you are!”
In Christ’s time on earth it was evident that His heart was for children. When the disciples tried to send away children He rebuked them and said let the children come to Me. He stoops down and ministers to the seemingly lowest and the least. We desire to have His heart for children in our work in Haiti. While we are not completely sure what form our ministry to children will take, we are sure that it will be a part of what we do. Some of our ideas include helping to implement a Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated, God-glorifying children’s ministry program in churches that are lacking that. We desire to help orphans in very practical ways such as assisting in CWO’s feeding program and possibly growing it. We want to explore sustainable ways to provide food and income to families and churches that would in turn help orphans in their communities. We have also been praying and thinking about adding to our family through adoption. We see God’s example and approval of adoption throughout Scripture. He has adopted us into His family and we want to follow His example.
In one of my conversations with Greg he mentioned an idea that resonated with us. It is churches in the U.S. partnering with Haitian churches. We would like to be instrumental in pairing churches in the States with the churches in Haiti for the purpose of mutual edification. As he said, the relationships wouldn’t be about financial support as much as they would be for mutual encouragement and spiritual growth. There are many benefits that could potentially come from this relationship for both sides. We recently shared this idea with some close friends of ours and they shared in our excitement for it. I think it would be well received in American churches and Haitian churches alike.
Haitian Churches = Sending Churches
Finally, our long-term desire is to see the Haitian churches participating in missionary sending and church-planting. A church’s spiritual growth and sanctification will be hastened when the church tastes and sees God’s love for the world and His unrelenting passion to reach people from every nation and tongue. An ongoing opportunity for growth in the Haitian church is independence on American resources and more initiative-taking for their own support, growth and training. I would like to see this idea expanded. My desire is for these believers to catch God’s heart for the lost in their own country and around the world; fostering a risk-taking, war-like attitude towards winning the lost and unreached for Christ. I want them to think of themselves as being a part of something much bigger. Christ gave them the Great Commission too. They are a part of the true global church and the true historical church. And as they see, my hope is that they would have a strong desire for the message of the gospel to be heard in every people and every language and for God’s glory to be seen everywhere. In essence, their goal will be the same as God’s goal.