Haiti Mission 2014 – Day 1 – Love One Another

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and anyone who loves is born of God, and knows God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

We’ve made it to Bamboula Beach, in Torbec, Haiti – our center of operations for the next week on our Mission trip. It’s hot and humid here. We expected that, but I don’t think any of us were really prepared for just what kind of toll this heat and humidity can take on you. We’ll be drinking lots of fluids, and praying for a break in the heat.

Our study on the Fruit of the Spirit began tonight with a study on Love. Love is a word that gets thrown around pretty casually today. In one breath someone will say, “I love my wife,” and with the very next breath say, “I’d love a cup of coffee.” I’m hoping that our definition of love adapts to our usage.

We tend to love that which benefits us. If a bit of technology (like your phone or tablet – ahem!) makes life, work, play, a little easier – then we tend to treat those things with special attention, spend a little more time with them than we ought, and give them a central place in my life. Being here in Haiti, with no cell coverage, and iffy WIFI access, I’ve noticed how often I turn to my iWhatever whenever I don’t know what else to do. (Maybe this week away will help me enact a tech-fast – unintended blessing). Is this love – not really, but it looks and acts a lot like it.

What we learn of love in Scripture is not a love that exists for selfish gain, but rather a love that gives sacrificially. Jesus said in John 15, “Great love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 John 4:9 teaches, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, that we might live though Him.” This is love, sacrificial, merciful, giving love.

When trust in Christ for our life and our salvation, when we walk in the power of His Spirit, when we come to know the Amazing Love of God, then we will live in and grow in that love. We will love more like He has loved us.

That’s what brings us here to Haiti: Love. God loved us with a love that would bring us life and transform us with hope. Because that love has been borne in us, we serve one another in that love. We sacrifice our time at work and with our families. We do without so that we can afford to be here. We sweat through the night and long for our comfortable beds, cars, etc… But in God’s amazing love, none of it really seems like a sacrifice at all. When we consider all that He has given, whatever we give up here seems so small.

I am so honored to be able to serve a congregation, and this particular mission team, who have known the love of God, and as they grow in that love, are dedicated to loving others. I pray that over this next week, we will not only see the love of God in our own lives, but we will be able to pass that love on to those whom we serve.

SDG

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Countdown to Haiti 2013

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:5-7

One week from now I will be leading a group of 10 adults from my congregation to Les Cayes, Haiti. One week from tonight we will be in Les Cayes.
One week.
To say I am somewhat anxious about this trip would be an understatement.
This is the first adult mission trip for our church in living memory (there may have been others, but no one knows). I have sensed for quite a while now that the biggest need of our congregation has been an active and personal role in mission and evangelism; actually getting up and going to help and serve others while boldly proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that this kind of mission spirit will revitalize our congregation, open us up to new growth and ministry, and encourage a continually developing participation in the mission to the world. I believe that mission minded Christians lose their gripping clutch on their resources and saving accounts and begin to give freely and generously to help reach the lost with the Good News of God’s kingdom. I believe that mission shows (to ourselves and to the world) where our treasure truly lies.
That’s if the mission goes well.
I’ve never led a mission trip before, not even a day trip to the “big city.” What if I’m the shepherd who loses one of the sheep. What if there’s that one person (or worse, all of them) who come home from the trip disillusioned and frustrated by the experience, and we’re forced to go another generation without seeing the promised land. What if I’ve overlooked the blazingly obvious details in my planning and everything falls apart.
Now I know I’ve said I’ve prayed about this. I believe God will do, and is doing, wonderful things through this trip. I’ve already seen it, and we haven’t even left yet. I’ve prayed, but the “what if’s” linger on. I’ll echo the prayer of Scripture, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”
If planning the mission trip weren’t enough – we’re also in the midst of a search for a new youth ministry director at the church. There are calls to be made, interview to hold, references to check, and here I’m going to be gone in a week – and the youth ministry programs start the week I get back.
There are a couple of sermons to write, worship services to plan, all the stuff I’d normally do during the week that I’ll be gone.
But here’s the thing. This trip has become such a part of my life, I’m dreaming about it now. I actually wake up in the morning having vivid memories of conversations, and seeing faces of people I expect to meet. I usually don’t put a lot of stock in dreams (“there’s more gravy than grave about you”) but these are different. I’m billing this trip as a “relationship building mission,” opening doors and building friendships for future missions. I wonder if maybe the Holy Spirit isn’t already building those bridges, opening those doors, establishing those friendships. Oh, I pray that is the case.
I know I say I am anxious, but tonight, again, I will bring these things before the Lord with prayer and thanksgiving; and I will let His peace, His peace which surpasses my understanding, my comprehension, that peace will guard my heart and mind.
SDG