Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two Souls In Tow

Ethan 9 and Makayla 12

To our delight, we journey with two precious, precious souls.  Many of you kindly ask about Makayla and Ethan's perspective on being future M.k.'s.  So I sat them down for a little Q & A.  It was a good opportunity to hear their hearts and take note.  Please pray for these two.  A very wise woman (once a missionary kid herself) exhorted me in a timely way, "God loves your kids more than you do and He knows what is best for them."  It's true!  As we pursue God in this direction pray that they would know and love God more as a result of being missionary kids.

They are so different from one another and yet the best of friends.  It's fun to take them in.  Makayla thoughtfully shared her heart with me in such a focused manner while Ethan was much more cut to the chase; bouncing around the living room randomly spouting his thoughts.  Sometimes if Makayla suggested something that resonated with him he'd add, "Yeah, me too."  The following is a little window into their most recent reflections (in no particular order) about obeying God to Haiti.

      I'm excited to know Pastor Joel and Riguad's families. 
      I'm looking forward to discovering what life is like at
      CWO's Training center.  
      Learning a new language is exciting.
      I'm worried about the possibility of adoption, though it seems fun.  
      Wondering about where we'll live and what that will be like.  
      I'm bummed that we won't get mail - especially, no Netflix.
      The unfamiliarity seems scary.
      I'm concerned about sharing my mom and dad so much in ministry.
      I'm excited to experience life differently than in the U.S.
      and I think it will be helpful in my spiritual growth.
      I want God to use the experience to build in me more of a
      kingdom mindset and a love for the world.
      I can't imagine not going-this is what our family is preparing to do.

She capped the conversation off with this, "I want to be where ever you are and so because you're going then that is where I want to be."

      I'm not sure what it will be like.
      I'm excited to meet the Haitian kids and be friends with them.
      I'm scared of the bad things that can happen sometimes
      - like violence.
      I'm excited to learn a new language.
      No mail - no Netflix is a bummer.
The two agreed that as it gets closer to our launch date they feel more nervous and there you have it.  Reflections from our two sweet kiddos.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monochronic and Polychronic Cultures

Dominique - Worship Leader
   When he was conducting pre-trip meetings with our small group, Greg told us that one of the main things Haitians appreciate is our willingness to just be with them. He spoke about their culture as being highly-relational and how they are really blessed by spending time together. Although internal and unspoken, "Yeah right" was my first response. My thoughts quickly turned to "What are we going to do?" or "What will be the most effective way to spend this week?" I, like many Americans, wanted to use the time we had to be as helpful as possible. It just didn't seem important to go all that way to hang out.
   Fast forward to 2010. Before leaving for Haiti for the second time I read When Helping Hurts, a book about poverty alleviation and missions. This book is an indispensable resource on missions in the developing world. It, like Greg, spoke about a highly-relational form of ministry. In the section on cross-cultural engagement it graphed different concepts of time. Two types exist in the world, monochronic and polychronic. Not all cultures, of course, fit neatly into these two categories. There are varying gradations across the spectrum between the two. "The monochronic view sees time as a limited and valuable resource. Time can be lost or saved. Good stewardship of time means getting the most out of every minute." On the other hand, polychronic cultures see time as "a somewhat unlimited resource. There is always more time. Schedules and plans are mere guidelines that have little authority in shaping how one spends one's day. Tasks typically take a backseat to forming and deepening relationships." The point is not that one type of culture is superior or inferior to another. The point they made was that the USA is an extreme monochronic culture and many developing countries like Haiti are strongly polychronic.
  Another section of the book highlights a ministry in inner-city Baltimore. Here's the story from the book: "We decided to locate to an inner-city neighborhood-not to change or save it, but to be neighbors and learn the agenda of the community and to live by the terms set by our neighbors...We held tightly to a commitment of God's shalom for Sandtown [the neighborhood they moved to], but we had no plans or programs. Instead of imposing our own agendas, we sought to place our lives in service to the community...For over two years we weren't working to renovate houses, we were out and around the community "hanging out."...During this time the foundational relationships of the church were formed...Everything revolved around building community together."
   In the end this ministry ended up being a model of success for inner-city transformation. They have transformed an entire area of what used to be a hopeless ghetto.
One example of the importance of relational ministry was brought to my 
attention the last time I was in Haiti. Around the middle of the week Dean 
passed me a short note written in broken English. Dominique had written it. 
He expressed his thankfulness for us coming to Haiti and being with them 
and caring about their situation. It was very nice of him to express his 
thankfulness and it was good to know that our presence was a blessing to 
him. Interestingly though he didn't list anything materially that he was 
thankful for. Not the food for the children's feeding program, not the 
motorcycles that CWO had just purchased for 5 of the pastors, not the 
feminine training center or any of the other ministries. 
He was thankful for us just being there!

   The point is this: Everything in my reading and experience so far points to a highly relational form of ministry as being the most effective form of ministry. But it's very difficult to ask people to partner financially to go "hang out" with people on some remote island somewhere between Florida and South America. But as we prepare to go to Haiti it is becoming more and more clear that our ministry, if it's going to have long-term effectiveness, will have to happen inside of relationships with Haitians. 

   Haitians will be the ones to change Haiti. Americans can assist and train and give, but in the end Haitians will be the driving force behind the real, lasting change.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Undefined

The other night I woke up in a tense and anxious state, "Lord, what are we doing?! This is impossible. This is crazy. This is foolishness." Quickly, I started preaching to myself about the character of God; reminding my heart of His rich and exceeding promises for those who follow Him in obedience. Martin Lloyd Jones would have been proud. I cling to his advice often. "O soul, HOPE IN GOD!" It was intense to say the least. I am so glad that as a child of God I can come boldly before His throne in the finished work of Jesus, His Son. He hears us when we pray!

A bible story that kept coming to mind was, "The Battle of Jericho". God had given a promise - there would be victory. God had given the command and they obeyed. Think about it. It had to have looked so unhinged. Really?! Yet, God in His superior power and reign doesn't need valiant horses and beautiful steel armor. He often uses the simple and unassuming things to confound the wise.

It is hard to capture in words where we find ourselves. The land of in-between. Apart from His sheer miracle-working power and grace an impossible road leads us onward. Whew, nothing is impossible with God. It is a good time of sanctification. Intense. but. good.

Tonight, we are staying up way past our bedtime and I found this quote on The Livesay's blog (they borrowed it from someone else & we're borrowing it from them). I can't, "Yes & Amen!" it loud enough. It totally sums up where we're at. We're making the jump and praying for the parachute to unfold and catch the wind. Bellies in throat - hearts thumping, "Lord! You are worth our complete surrender. For Your Name alone keep us."

"Our story is perhaps a paradigm for every trusting disciple. The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity; not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise."
-Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning