When I heard that Tropical Storm (now Hurricane) Issac was headed for Haiti, part of me wanted to hold up one of Glenon Melton’s WTF?!?! signs towards heaven. Seriously, can these precious people in Haiti not get a break? And now what? Now what? I imagined the tent cities I’ve seen on the news, blowing away any small gains since the earthquake, again and again, the loss of water and food, I thought of the Livesay family, and what can you do, but pray?
This next part is hard to write out loud. After all, maybe I’m the only one. But if there is one gift that writing my life out online has given me, it’s this one: I’m never alone. Every time I crack open some part of my heart, make some confession of my own inadequacies or fears, I am met with a chorus of “You, too? Me, too!” and “I thought I was the only one!” and that makes me brave. So I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this, either. At least, I hope not.
I’m scared of extreme poverty.
I’m scared of my own privilege, I’m scared that I’ll hurt more than I’ll help. I feel my white-Canadian-girl-privilege sticking out all over me, prickles and stings of my place in the world, my luck of the draw. I’ve written before about how I wrestle with it, how my heart is wounded at the slightest exposure to poverty, and then I quickly move on, stuff my fingers in my ears and sing lalalalalalalalahallelujah loudly to drown out the inadequacies of my response, look busy! look busy! look busy!
Also, I feel frustrated when I read about how our efforts can often hurt the very ones we all seek to help, and how even the language or methods of it all, just smacks of colonialism and imperialism, racism, sexism, nationalism. I’m scared of my apathy, of my comfort, and I’m scared that if I do take a risk and get my hands dirty, that really, I’ll end up hurting more than I’ll end up helping.
I want to love well, and I have no idea how to love the world’s extreme poor well.
So, sure, I pray. I sponsor kids in Rwanda, and India, and Mexico, because I’ve become convinced that it’s a model that works. I try to do some good in my local community, too, with my real hands with real people in real life. And I believe that it matters, because if anything matters, everything matters.
But I still feel afraid of poverty because, honestly, I don’t know how it fits with what I think I know about God, with the Father-heart, I can’t reconcile my first-world problems and my first-world understanding of provision and prosperity and wellness, with the raw survival of poverty. Where is God and what is it that I don’t understand about him that this is happening? There are people who love and know God, that are faithful and good and holy, in a way that should probably shame me. It’s scary.
But fear is never God’s way. The comfort of the divine is this: do not be afraid. Over the years, particularly over this past year of learning the meaning of fearless, God has gracefully, wholly, generously, ferociously, broken the chains of fear in my life.
And now I know that fear must always be cast out, and the only fix, the only key of the unlock moments, is love.
So Love is greater than fear, and Love wins.
I want to love the poor, and recognise my own poverty, and I don’t want to make caricatures or sob stories or manipulations or success stories out of another person. I would like to love. I would like to meet my brothers and sisters in the developing world, to know them, and I’d like to learn, and I’d like to help, if I can, and I don’t know where else to start but right where I am, right now.
And because I don’t know how to help without hurting or making a mess of it, I’ve decided to start with Help One Now. They’re a tribe – people like us – committed to caring for orphans & vulnerable children by empowering & resourcing high-capacity local leaders in order to transform communities & break the cycle of extreme poverty.
Jen Hatmaker introduced me to this tribe, she’s someone I trust, and she does these garage sales for orphans with them. (I think a few of us could probably do that, if we’re feeling disconnected from this stuff. I’ll think about it some more. What do you think?)
We Have Not Forgotten Haiti
Anyway, they’re also part of the We Have Not Forgotten Haiti movement. Part of what I liked about these folks, is that it’s all local-led and it’s church-based. So instead of the Great White Hope from the North showing up with a toolkit, they seek to partner with and support the church that is already there, doing the work of the Gospel for their own communities. You can read more about the whole thing here (yep, totally cried my way through it, don’t mind me…).
(RSS subscribers, if you can’t see the video, you’ll need to pop over to the site to watch it. And it’s worth it.)
Above, I said: what can you do but pray?
I also want to pray with my feet.
I want to pray with my hands.
I want to pray with my voice.
And I want to pray with my money.
Let’s push back a bit of darkness with St Cyr in the tent city of Haiti.
You know, I wasn’t planning on this big post this morning. I really wanted to tell you about St Cyr (that’s him below) who has worked in this tent city for years and years, and how we have a chance to send some money to him, for food and water and his work there, because he’s seen suffering, and he still pushes back the darkness, with hope.
Help One Now has set up an emergency relief campaign to raise money for the aftermath of Issac in Haiti, it will be led by him on the ground.
There’s a goal of $2,500. They’ve already raised $1,275. 100% of the money, minus transaction fees, goes straight to Haiti. Straight to Haiti.
So I wondered if you’d like to help, too? Push back a little darkness, a little hopelessness, a little apathy, with me?
(This donation, this campaign, isn’t the end of this for me though, I can sense it. You know that feeling of a bird fluttering over the water? the movement of the waters, right on the surface, a stirring coming. That’s what I feel, right now, that fluttering.)
I want to remember the poor, I want to pull my fingers out of my ears, I want to engage, and I won’t turn away, because of my own ridiculous insecurities anymore.
Not anymore. I hope.
Fear won’t win, not this time, no more, and it won’t hold me back from my future-friends, my God-family, around the world. I’ll start to practice loving the best way I know, with the people I trust to show me the way forward, and hope that we can make space for God, over and over, to sweep in with healing, wholeness, a spirit-wind of unity and love, as an outpost of the way of Jesus, one daily completely unglamorous step at a time.