Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Haiti: Why Bring The Kids?


We returned early Sunday morning (1:30am to be exact) from a 9-day trip to Haiti. This is Tim and I’s fourth time to Haiti, and our four children’s first time. Our children range in age from 5-12 years old. As you can imagine we were asked a lot prior to the trip: “Why bring the kids?”

As you would also imagine there’s not just one simple answer to be given, but many. However, there was one REALLY big reason why, and it was the only reason we needed.


OBEDIENCE & GOD’S GLORY
The short and simple answer was/is, because we felt called to go to Haiti with our children. We felt as though this was God’s calling for our family and it is out of obedience that we followed through with it.

Tim and I knew from our first visit to Haiti that we were being called into long-term ministry there. We didn’t know exactly what it would look like or how it would all play out (we still don’t) but the calling and heart we felt for Haiti were unquestionable. As the Lord began to open doors for us, and we began to walk through those doors, it also became obvious to us, that this calling was one our entire family was meant to be a part of. Our kids have been a huge part of our ministry in Haiti.

When given the opportunity to bring our children to Haiti, we both felt very comfortable and even certain that it was the next step for our family in this journey. God continued to open doors and give us confirmations that we were taking steps in the right direction.

(The young lady with her arm around Audrey was practicing her english on Audrey to see if she could understand her)  

So, simply put, we brought our children because our ultimate desire in life is to glorify God and that is done through obedience.

Obedience is not always easy, in fact, I would say, that in my experience, obedience is rarely easy. Being a Christ-follower, living a radical poured out life for the Lord, is not the safe option. Jesus Himself tells us that following Him wouldn’t be easy, or well accepted or understood.

Tim and I have tried to teach our children that being a Christ-follower will be and SHOULD be difficult at times. We’ve tried to teach our children that we should obey God in all things, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s dangerous. Even when other people think you’re crazy. Or stupid. Or Reckless.  Even when other people judge you (and trust me, they will).

 

We have read to our children out of the Bible since before they could talk – we have shared as a family the stories of those who obeyed the Lord and we see that their choices were NOT easy, and that many of them were dangerous, and/or not well received. (Examples: Esther, Daniel, Jeremiah, Elisha, Paul, Elijah, Moses, Noah, etc., etc., etc.)

We have also valued and read many stories with our children of missionaries and the heroes of our faith – people like Corrie Ten Boom, Gladys Alyward, William Carey, Martin Luther, and more.

We have hopefully taught them with our words what we believe.
But even more than with our words, we want to show them.
Tim and I want our lives to be examples to our children – and while we will be flawed examples for sure – we want to live our lives in a way that is constantly pointing to Jesus. Whether it is here at home, or across the world, our goal is always to bring glory to our Savior.

(Driving from Port-au-Prince to Haiti.... Titus didn't make it out of P-A-P before clunking out... traveling is hard) 

We were very honest with our children about the risks, dangers, and unpleasant possibilities that we would encounter on our journey. We were as diligent and thorough as we knew to be in preparing them and ourselves for whatever would come our way. Obviously our desire was to keep everyone as safe and healthy as we could.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I would love for each of my children live a long, happy, comfortable, life.
But ultimately, that’s not our primary hope and prayer for them.

Our prayer for them is that they love Jesus with all their heart, mind, and soul.
We pray that they follow and obey Him all of their lives.
Whatever that means.

(Helping the ladies at the compound lay out the washed laundry to dry)  

Our ultimate desire is not that we (or our children) live safe comfortable lives.
Our ultimate desire is for us to live radical lives poured out for Christ.

We want to teach our children to be willing and prepared to obey Christ, no matter what that looks like. No matter how dangerous. No matter how unacceptable. No matter what.

(The kids helped bag rice and beans for the sponsored student's families) 

FOR THE CHILDREN
I certainly don’t want to act as though bringing our children to Haiti was a completely spiritual act – we also wanted to bring our children to Haiti to give them an opportunity to set foot into a country & culture beyond their own. To see the world from the eyes and perspective of others is something that cannot be taught, but must be experienced. We speak so often in our home about other countries, and missionaries around the world, and how God calls all of us to reach the nations in one way or another. Experiencing a different country and culture is different than hearing or even seeing it on a screen. The sights, sounds, smells, faces, emotions, and relationships that you experience by doing and being is something that cannot be quantified or explained. We wanted our children to understand and experience that too.


FOR OTHERS
Another reason for bringing the kids with us on this trip, is because it is what our work in Haiti is all about. One of our primary hopes and objectives when we are in Haiti is to build relationships, to share in the lives of the people there. We want to get to know them better, and we want them to get to know us better. By bringing our children to Haiti, we hoped to share a part of our lives with those we were asking to share their lives with us.

(Audrey kept saying - "I have so many friends here - we love each other so much!!") 

Children have a way of knocking down social walls and barriers that we don’t even realize are there. When our group would walk up with 4 children included in it, the neighborhood kids would immediately start playing with them, parents would smile down at them, and conversations were started. While watching our kids play with the kids (whether it was at the school, orphanage, or compound) it was easy to forget there was even a language barrier between them.

Alexa was surprised by how much the kids would touch and rub her arms and hair :)  

FOR OURSELVES
I loved having my children with us in Haiti. Having them there with us, I saw Haiti in an entirely new way. I had always looked at Haiti from the eyes of a mother, because I am a mother, but to experience it with my children I began to see Haiti from the eyes of my children. I saw things I didn’t see before. I experienced things, I hadn’t experienced before. I realized things I hadn’t realized before. It was eye-opening and a blessing to experience so much with my children, to be able to talk through things, answer questions, and point out things to one another.


For us, bringing our children to Haiti is a decision we will never regret. It was an act of obedience. It was a great opportunity. It was an educational, eye-opening, fun, relational-building, family-strengthening, God-honoring ministry moment that none of us will forget. It was an honor and a blessing to be able to serve God, the people of Haiti, and our children in this way.

This little girl lives very near the school and was often around when we were. Treyton was really taken with her :) 

Mark 16:15 “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

1 comment:

Alexis said...

Well said!! Your heart for Haiti spills over. I don't know that I will ever be able to go there myself. But through your eyes and stories these people now have a place in my heart, too. Thank you for being willing to do all that you do to be "the man on the ground" for the rest of us.