Our guest blogger today is Scott Holdegraver.
Bon swa (good afternoon) from Tabarre, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Today is the last full day for out team and was somewhat casual day for us. Mike, Andy, and Paul (another guy staying at House of Hope) wielded machetes and a weed whacker on the outside of one of the orphanage walls to cut back the foliage to try and keep the rat(s) at bay. The rest of the day was more about spending time with the girls than anything else. If all I was going to do was share about our activities of the day this would be quite a short post. However, tonight, we’re going to look at our trip from a different angle.
Why in the world would five Americans want to give up a week of their lives and spend it in Haiti? That is quite a common question from people when they hear that you’re planning such a trip. I know I’ve heard that question countless times and I’m sure the rest of the team heard similar questions as well. So why would we want to take such a “crazy” overseas trip? Let’s look at a few reasons.
First, Christ commands us to go. He says in Acts chapter 1 that “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We want to be obedient to Christ’s call to be witnesses (Eureka, greater St. Louis area, US, out of the country). We are already witnesses in Eureka and the greater St. Louis area. We just took a trip to Charleston, MO (our Samaria). We wanted to take the next step and be his witnesses to the uttermost parts of the earth. All are not called to go overseas but we are all called to be His witnesses. We are responding in faith and love to our God who went on mission for us. What are you doing to respond to Jesus’ call to be his witness?
Second, James tells us in chapter 1 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James is not saying that we earn God’s favor by visiting orphans but we do get to experience God’s mission in a way that we can’t by staying in Eureka. Visiting orphans in a third world country opens your eyes wide open to just how blessed we are in the U.S. God can also use a trip like this to experience God’s love in a whole new way that you can’t even imagine. By spending time with girls that have come from the worst conditions you could or could not even fathom, God will touch your heart for something that deeply touches his heart. Also, with our trip we got to go out into a local village and experience the deep poverty of Haiti as we passed out hygiene kits and Kreyol New Testaments. The first time I came to Haiti, I was somewhat skeptical. As soon as we pulled into the yard of the orphanage, God did something in my heart that he never had before. My heart broke for these girls. As I learned more about Haiti and the people, God has put a burden in my heart for this country. Have you ever had God touch your heart in such a way that you can’t get the burden out of your heart and mind?
Third, we wanted to do something that required us to really walk in faith and something that is bigger than each of us individually and bigger than us as a group. Trying to pick up a foreign language enough to share the gospel. Worshiping with a local body of believers that for the most part was in a language you don’t understand. Walking in a village where you’re almost mobbed by kids and some adults where they are desperate for the basic hygiene materials (soap, wash cloth, toothpaste, toothbrush, lotion). How does one make a difference to a culture that is so broken and needy? That is exactly what this “crazy” adventure is that Mike is referring to. We’re only going to make a lasting, eternal difference if we’re walking in faith and relying on God to work through us. What are you doing in your life where you have to rely on God in order to accomplish his purposes?
Five years ago, I would have never imagined of being involved in orphan ministry and gospel ministry in Haiti. Had you told me I would be, I would have called you crazy. God had a different plan for me and I am so blessed because of it. I have two wonderful daughters because of it. God has used me to preach the gospel to Haitians. So many things that completely blow my mind. I am not trying to talk you into getting involved in Haiti, though I won’t complain if you are interested in getting involved. I am trying to encourage you to live on mission with God, not only where you’re at, but also to open your life to the possibility of God calling you to something farther away from home. Maybe it’s just to support the ministries that do this work. Maybe it’s to take a short term trip, like us. Maybe God is calling you to something even longer term. I really want to encourage you to seek God’s face and see how he wants you to live on mission for Him.
Last but not least, I love you Leslie! If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be doing this right now. Thank you for being obedient to His call. I miss you, Ben, Venie, and Sophana and can’t wait to see you tomorrow night.