For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. I Corinthians 3:9
So today I leave for Haiti.
I am joining eMi (Engineering Ministries International) for 10 days in Grand Goave, Haiti. This is one of those rare times when God very clearly told me “Go!” I hemmed and hawed and didn’t tell my husband for two days because I knew he would say yes. While some adventures God reveals are invitations (this blog was one of those – saying no the the invitation would not have been disobedience but I would miss the opportunity to see and experience Him in new ways), this was an issue of obedience. And I did not want to go.
I have wanted to join eMi on a project trip for several years but circumstances continually thwarted those attempts. You would think I would be excited to finally be able to go. Funny thing is, circumstances still provide numerous excuses for me to stay home. A short time frame to prepare (five weeks!), the financial challenges of paying for the trip, leaving my little man for 10 days, health problems during this last week – all of these real challenges tell me this is ridiculous. And if I’m really honest, Haiti is not at the top of my travel list.
I will be working with a team of engineers and architects to design a church and conference center for Haiti ARISE. We will also be developing a master plan for a new parcel of land (which will include a goat farm. Ha! I doubt any of my architecture professors imagined the expertise they imparted to me being used on goats!). I am the team architect, and I feel utterly unqualified to hold this role. Between the obstacles to leave home, the intimidation I feel at being the team architect, and the challenges of Haiti itself, God has me so far out on a limb I can feel it bounce beneath me.
This is what happens when your word for the year is Brave.
Perhaps this kind of obedience strikes some as radical. But, really, I had no choice but to say “yes.” My obedience stems not from fear of consequences if I disobey or because I robotically must do what I am told. But I love God so much, I am so humbled and grateful at all He has done for me, how can I say no? How can I turn my back on this God who has saved me and transformed me and who walks so intimately with me through each day, no matter where that day leads me?
It is easy to think that we North Americans have all the answers, from the practical to the spiritual. We feel so smart and privileged and enlightened – and as architects we are trained to be proud and arrogant. But then I read the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians and Paul reminds me that, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” The message of Jesus – the central reason for this trip – can seem so simple as to be foolish and insignificant in the face of daunting physical need or next to the expertise and knowledge our team possesses. Yet it is all, all about Christ. It is not about me or what I bring or even the building I design. I want to come to the people of Haiti with the humility demonstrated by Paul, to have a heart filled with fear and trembling because of the weighty and glorious task that has been given me. I want to “know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This is what unites us across distance, cultural and language barriers, life experiences – we all love and serve the same God. It is an honor and a priviledge to serve these brothers and sisters. I am their servant these 10 days. I do not come to fix their problems but to serve them so that they in turn might transform their community and country with Christ’s love.
There is no way to prepare for the kind of poverty and need I will see. My heart wants to erect defenses to protect itself from the onslaught of ache that I will experience. To steel itself, to harden itself from the reality of the Haitian people so that I won’t have to face those difficult, messy emotions. But I don’t want to spend the week detached and distant. I want to consciously make my heart vulnerable to hear their stories, to see their poverty, to experience their joy in the midst of tragedy. I want to love the people of Grand Goave without pretense, without expectations of return. To see their beautiful, messy stories and then enter in.