Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A new way of thinking...... Part 3

Sand Castles Vs. Madam Maxo

Last weekend my family went for a couple of much needed days of camping on beautiful Lake Michigan. We spent a couple afternoons sitting by the beach playing in the sand and swimming. As I watched my kids build sand castles, my thoughts traveled back to this “new thinking”series of blog posts.

My kids would spend hours filling buckets with sand, shaping them to look like castles. They would build moats, walls, tunnels and all kinds of intricate things out of sand. When they were done, they looked great, and they were so proud, wanting to show everyone what they had built. The next day, when we would go to the same spot, everything was gone. There was not even a trace of all the hard work put in just the day before.

Does this sound familiar? Before starting Ebenezer, I spent an amazing amount of time, energy, and resources leading mission trips to Haiti. We would do all kinds of things for all kinds of people, yet, whey returning with the next team, often these people were no better off than the last time we were there. Money, clothes, food, and all kinds of things given, yet a few months later, the people were still in just as much of need as before. I started to think about this, and try to understand why. The conclusion I came to is not an easy one to share, and it may be taken wrong by some, but I pray not. What I realized, as I was honest with myself, was that a lot of what was being done was not as much to help the people, but to have the perfect photo shot of us helping someone, or a great story / testimony to share with those back home. These, unfortunately, are sand castles. They are the result of a lot of effort, and are beautiful to see, yet, within days there is no evidence that anything ever took place, except in pictures and stories. So, I will ask, is this really helping, or making us feel good? Now, before I go on, I am not saying that doing the short term helping stuff is bad, or that we need to stop. That is not where I am going. What I AM saying is that we need to have a long term solution to go along with the short term help. There HAS to be a way. Let me give an example...

The church was instituted by Christ to be His physical presence on earth in the day of salvation, which we are in now. The church, as they selflessly help others draw the world in by their love for each other, especially to the “least of these”. As Paul traveled planting churches, notice something. He raised up leadership within areas, and let THEM be the local church. This is our core belief at Ebenezer. The local Haitian church needs to start ministering to their own people instead of depending on others. If this happens it will be a huge step towards independence.

Before my family left this summer, someone from the local Haitian community gave me some money, telling me to give it to whoever needs it. That morning I had received an email that a dear friend of mine, Maxo, had died of Cholera. We had built him a house the summer before. His wife was hurt badly in the earthquake, and one of their 4 children were killed. I knew immediately that the money was for her. Upon arriving in Haiti, I shared with Pastor Marc that I had the money, and that I thought it should go to her. He agreed and said I could give it to her. I laughed and told him he knew that I don’t give it, but told him that she needed to know it came from the church. Then, instead of Marc giving her the money, he gave it to someone she did not know. He gave it to her, and said it was for her, from the church.

A few weeks later, a couple from the local Haitian church here in Michigan came to visit us in Haiti. I brought them to see Madam Maxo, so they could share with the donor where her money went. I told them not to mention the money, but just to say we were there to visit. During the visit, Madam Maxo was asked how she was getting by with her husband gone. Here is her answer... “ It is very hard. I am struggling to provide for my family. But, God did an amazing thing and provided a miracle in my life. He provided for us in a way I did not expect, so I took the money and started a market. Now I am able to provide for my family from the money I make selling things.”

See the difference? Because the money came from church, without the fanfare of pictures, GOD receives the glory, and the money has a lasting impact. Now, every time I pass Madam Maxo’s house, I smile as I see her market, neatly arranged, clean, and a big smile on her face.

This is just one example we have seen of a lasting impact that can happen when relief is brought through the church. With the economy situation, and so many other things that are wearing on the churches outreach, we need to start asking ourselves if we want to continue to build sand castles, or houses built on the rock, that will last for a lifetime, and eternity.

I need to get back to a few house stories, but I will continue this series soon. Thanks for the comments some of you have given me. I am open for your thoughts. Let’s continue to learn together!
Nate Yonker

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