This is part 2 of a post about principles for good serving trips.
Be sensitive to their culture: this is where these people live. We’re not trying to change them or force our way of doing things on them. We’re their guests and their servants. We represent Mission of Hope when we’re there, so we have to be aware that our actions and words can positively or negatively impact their mission.
Build relationships: In the past, people came on ‘mission trips’ for the sole purpose of evangelism, with an “I’m going to save your soul” mentality. Most Haitians have “been saved” and now need developmental relationships to help them grow in their faith.
Be in it for the long haul: Brad started 12 years ago with 100 students and now has 2,200 students. But it took 12 years before he saw the first graduates. Those students are now starting businesses, going to college, and becoming pastors in their community. It’s a good thing Brad didn’t give up after year one. Not everyone can take a trip to Haiti, but everyone can invest in the life of a Haitian child. We can all sponsor a child for $35 a month…and that changes the trajectory of a life!
For more great info on serving physical and spiritual needs, read When Helping Hurts.
In a church staff role, we have to remember we are in the business of saving lives… both physical lives and spiritual lives. Our days are often taken up with meetings and keeping the organization running smoothly. But Christ came to do 2 things: 1) give spiritual life to those that follow him 2) provide physical life and healing for the poor.
How much of our day is spent on the two things that were at the core of what Jesus life on earth was about? Does a quick review of my day show that less than 50% of what I do is in sync with Jesus mission:
- spending 3 hours working through interpersonal conflict with 2 mature Christ-followers…death (more people die because I’m taken off mission).
- spending 2 hours on optimizing budgets so more money goes to those in physical need…life (more people live because I am on mission).
- spending 1 hour editing a video that communicates the love and grace that comes from knowing Christ…life.
You get the idea. We have the responsibility above all else to ensure that we are saving lives. If we can’t account for how more and more of our time is going to physical and spiritual life, then we’re doing something wrong.
While in Haiti, I had a chance to ask Brad Johnson (president of Mission of Hope) what separates good serving trips from bad. Here’s a summary of our conversation:
Be prepared to serve at all times: The trip is not about you! Although you’ll get a ton out of serving with Haitians, come ready to dig trenches and clean toilets.
Be strong: Conditions are rough, sleeping with no a/c, no warm showers, bugs, mosquito nets, malaria and 100 degree weather. Christ came to serve, not to be served… follow his example.
Be flexible: Things will not go the way you expect, so you have to be willing to flex any moment. This summer we were supposed to paint an orphanage, but the paint didn’t show up, so we built a sidewalk.
More to come in Part 2.
Arrived in Haiti today and drove through Port au Prince. It’s great to see the progress that’s been made since I was here in July. Most of the rubble is off the streets and there are fewer collapsed buildings. Also took a tour of the property the Haitian government donated to Mission of Hope and saw 4 of the new homes that have been built. Living Water is partnering with Mission of Hope, so I watched them work on drilling a well that will provide fresh water to the 2,000 students and 60 orphans on their property.
There have been lots of great additions at Mission of Hope: the orphans have moved into their new rooms/homes; Maggie’s Kitchen is open (this is where the orphans eat); a new student lab has been built (one day will have computers); construction is progressing on the new hospital; and a slab has been poured for the new guest house. All of this in the last 6 months!
Most of all, kids are being loved, cared for, and shown the love of Christ. It shows in their smiles.
Headed back to what is becoming one of my favorite countries (other than the U.S.). This trip is about providing much needed medical care for 400 Haitians and planning to build 3 homes for families that were displaced in the earthquake (way to go Gateway on rallying to resource these initiatives).
I’m going to meet with lots of different people who are leading all kinds of initiatives in Haiti through Mission of Hope: construction, medical care, orphanage, a school, churches, feeding programs. I’m also going to get to try out all kinds of different products from water purification (for cholera prevention) to mosquito nets. Hopefully I’ll have good reviews of these products (the best review will be staying free from viruses and parasites).
Today marks 12 months since 200,000-300,000 people lost their lives in the earthquake. Hundreds of thousands more were injured and many more left homeless. Yet, there is still hope for new life and a new nation to emerge. This Summer while in Haiti, I met young Haitians who are the future doctors, business leaders, pastors, and teachers of this nation. One young man I met has plans to become the future president of Haiti. So while there has been so much devastation, hope has the opportunity to be even greater. Join with me today to pray that many will find a hope that comes from trusting in a God that is greater than any situation or circumstance this world can throw at them. Let’s pray for these young leaders to stay strong and put their hope in Christ. Let’s pray for the birth of a new nation!
Last week at Gateway we dove into a new series called Momentum. We all get stuck and need to regain ‘momentum’ to get us moving in the right direction. Is there one area in your life that you need to admit you are ‘stuck’ in? If so, the best way to start down the path towards healing is to tell one person what that ‘one thing’ is and then stick with us for the next 6 weeks as we gain momentum together. You can listen each week to the podcast here.
Do you feel like your family life or personal life is ever unfocused? I recently read Patrick Lencioni’s book The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family and it re-oriented the way our family operates. We tried his exercise of answering 3 specific questions back in November and then over the last 2 months actually saw progress towards the things we want to see our family become.
I’m also meeting with a group of guys and we’re personalizing these questions for us individually. Pick up the book for more detail, but here are the 3 questions to get you thinking:
1. What makes me (or my family) unique?
2. What is my rally cry (or priority) right now?
3. How will I keep answers to these questions alive?
Mission of Hope Haiti has had a full year of meeting needs since the earthquake on January 12, 2010. I think I’m busy, but when I see what they’ve accomplished in 12 months, it makes me proud that Gateway is supporting them and that I’ve been able to be a part of serving in Haiti with them. Here’s a summary of their work this year:
* Delivered over 15 million meals
* Began feeding 50,000 children a day
* Treated 27,000 patients at the Clinic of Hope
* Performed 266 orthopedic and plastic surgeries
* Provided 75 prosthetic limbs
* Constructed 18 village homes
* Started construction on building a 500 home community
* Built a patient ward and medical storage facility
* Expanded the School of Hope to include over 2,500 students
* Equipped over 200 family farmers with agricultural training
* Witnessed over 1,000 people make first time commitments to Christ
So out of 11,000 people that attended Christmas services at Gateway, only 50 people gave via text. That’s a pretty poor response. We linked text giving to a specific initiative: resourcing needs in Haiti and India, but it just wasn’t an effective way for our audience to contribute. They did rally and give in other ways, so overall the messaging was effective…thousands of peoples needs will be met, so I can’t complain…just won’t use text giving again anytime soon.