Saturday, December 26, 2015

Life, Abundantly.

The experience has become so normal to me that I often forget what a privilege it is. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 7 years since I first set foot on the island of La Gonave, and entered the village of La Source, Haiti for the first time. I was a senior in high school, loved traveling, working with kids, and adventure. I knew I was going into another culture. I didn’t know however, what that seemingly small first step would lead to- such a love for the people of a little village that some days it makes me want to weep, and other days, makes me want to burst with joy for the blessings they have been in my life. It has taken time to go from the happy-go-lucky girl who wants to help people to one who has a better (though far from perfect) understanding of positive, lasting, sustainable ways to go about that helping. It has been a process. I have not done it all right, and would never claim such. But I can say, that in these 7 years of growing up, and all that it has entailed, there is one thing that I have learned is a theme of my life, work, ministry, and purpose-it is to be pro-life.  
Over the years, I have come to understand more and more about what partnering with a third-world people group looks like- and that is what it is, a partnership. It is not about handouts or Bible-thumping- no one needs that and that has never been what we as Christians were called to do. It is not an “us and them” mentality, or a view of “I’m going to help someone, look at me taking my missionary selfie.” Instead, I like to think of it as being “pro-life.” We hear it all the time, “I’m pro-life,” or “I vote pro-life.” But do we understand what that really means? Because if we say we are pro-life to support an unborn baby, we must also be pro-life when that baby is born, and as he is growing up, and in his awkward teenage years, and when he becomes an adult. For me to be pro-life means more than just support for someone to be living and breathing- it means I am pro-quality of life. When we see the world through the eyes of one who has been transformed by our Father, his work for us, and his inexpressible love for his people, we begin to see people, not as mere bodies, but as people with souls, people with hurts, people with gifts, and people with stories. Being pro-quality of life in La Source, and in many other places, looks like grace- living out grace in the words we say, the way we listen, and the way we relate to people. It looks like development of jobs, and teaching leaders to lead, and holding someone’s hand as they tell you of their child who recently passed away. It looks like investment- long term, committed investment. On the flip side, it also looks like allowing people to pray for you, serve you, and love you well- because you know you are just as in need of Him as the next person.
Countries like Haiti don’t need help from people who come to hug a baby, take a selfie, and walk on out. They need people with grace-filled eyes and hearts, who understand the need for balance of justice and mercy, who can encourage men, women, and children to live with dignity because of who they are in Jesus. They need people committed to investing in their quality of life, and that of their family. They need people who can admit that they are messed up too, and need Jesus just as much. Maybe they do need a selfie or two in their lives, because they are people too, just like you and me. But, they need people with a mindset of promoting quality of life- a mindset of self-worth in Jesus, of joy, and of hope.  
People don’t just need to be alive, they need to live, and live in the joy and peace that comes from a loving Father who is always faithful to keep his promises to his people. I say these things about Haiti, but it could easily be said about any type of ministry or intentional focus. For many of us, these people, the ones that we are committing to being pro-quality of life for, look different. For some, it is our children. For some, the students we teach. For some, the neighborhood kid always looking for a safe place to play. And still for others, it is people in places like the village of La Source-teaching a woman to knit, or listening to a father’s story about his children. Jesus has never called us to happiness or hand-outs. Instead, he called us to grace, to peace, to love, and to rest in who he is and his promises to his people.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10